In recognition of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, we want to share with you a blog written by two of the counselors at our Nashville residential home. We hope that you find it both informational and encouraging.
When it comes to eating disorders, there is hope!
The worldly view of mental health often says that once someone is afflicted by an eating disorder, this person will wrestle against it for the rest of their life. However, the word of God says, “…if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). This begs the question, what are the Lord’s blueprints for transformation? “… be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2) and ‘We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Renewing the Mind
Renewing the mind is not just a biblical principle; its value is backed up by science.
Neuroplasticity is the brain’s ability to rewire neural pathways in response to new information. At Mercy Multiplied, our goal is to teach residents to rewire their brains in response to God’s truth. A person struggling with an eating disorder often has many false beliefs about themselves, God, and food. These false beliefs then produce harmful behaviors.
For example, one may believe, “I am so fat no one could love me. I cannot stand myself. The only way I can be loved and accepted is if I take control of my body and reach my ideal size.” This false belief does not represent the truth of who God says they are and where their value and worth come from.
This false belief can then lead to eating disorder behaviors. To counteract these lies, it is imperative to speak truth over oneself, which begins the process of renewing the mind. The right belief would be, “The issue is not my size. I must see myself through God’s eyes. The Lord loves me just as I am. Instead of being ruled by control, I am choosing to release control of my life and trust the Lord with all of my heart.” “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Identifying the lies that one believes about themselves, God, and food and declaring truth over oneself is one of the ways transformation and healing occurs.
Getting to the Root
While there are many facets to eating disorders, regardless of the specific disordered behaviors around food, rarely are the behaviors the root issue but rather symptoms of the issue.
Three roots that commonly show up in patterns with disordered eating are fear, rejection, and control. While body image plays a role in keeping a person stuck in a negative relationship with food, it is often not the issue in which the struggles originate.
We all have God given needs of love, significance, and security. Often times when these needs go unmet, or one suffers betrayal in these areas, and it results in fear, rejection, and a need for control. This person may seek to have these needs met in whatever way possible. God gave us the needs of love, significance, and security so that we would rely on Him to meet these needs in our lives, but we often do not turn to Him. In order to obtain healing in these areas, it is important to look back at where the need for love, significance, or security went unmet. If one does not know, they can ask Jesus and then invite Him into that pain and ask Him what He wants to speak to their heart about.
When He brings healing to the roots of one’s deepest hurts and longings and they begin renewing their mind with the truth, the harmful behaviors will begin to diminish.
You are not Alone
Battling an eating disorder is not overcome in isolation. It is very important to invite others into the battle. This can be difficult because oftentimes, those suffering with eating disorders feel shame. Jesus came to lift us up out of shame. As one begins to reveal their struggle, God will begin to bring healing.
Because of the damage an eating disorder can have on the body, it is important to seek medical care. A doctor and dietician can often provide meaningful counsel and treatment. It is also important to obtain counsel from a mental health professional. This will provide a safe space to process the deep issues/the roots of the eating disorder behaviors. A counselor can also help identify false belief patterns about oneself, food, and God.
Lastly, it is important to connect with other believers. We are to “carry each other’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). Having friends who desire to follow Christ, who are open about their struggles, and who lend their support is essential for maintaining lifelong freedom.
There is Hope
If you or someone you love are suffering from an eating disorder, please know healing is available. Jesus can fill the deepest longings of the soul. He loves with an everlasting love, and has a perfectly designed plan and purpose for all our lives. He can provide lasting sustenance for all emotional and spiritual hunger.
There is hope- victory is found in Jesus!
Mercy Multiplied exists to provide opportunities for all to experience God’s unconditional love, forgiveness, and life-transforming power. We offer multiple programs and resources online and onsite designed to equip people to live free and stay free in Christ. For more information about the services we offer, click here.