This is my testimony of freedom.
When I was sixteen years old, I moved from a little town to a big city. I had to make new friends and had the stress of a new school. At home, my dad was battling alcoholism and my mom was fighting cancer. So needless to say, it was a rough time. I became friends with a girl involved in ballet. She was tiny and her whole world was about being thin. I got sucked into that world.
For the next ten years I was held captive in the bondage of disordered eating. I was extremely thin. Then I became bulimic. For about three years I threw up everything and took laxatives to purge out the rest. I have a memory of being so ill from the laxatives. Eventually they made me so sick that I would vomit.
I remember one instance when it was about two in the morning. I was hanging over the toilet bowl throwing up from the laxatives while down the passage, I heard my mom awake and throwing up, too. She was throwing because of her cancer chemotherapy. She was trying to save her life. I was trying to end mine. In that moment I vowed never to take laxatives again and I stuck to my word.
Unfortunately, I just traded one addiction for another—an over-the-counter appetite suppressant. It said on the box, “discontinue use after 30 days.” I stopped after six years. This pill was so dangerous that eventually it was taken off the market. It damaged my colon, adrenal glands and thyroid.
But I was thin. So I didn’t care.
At some point I stopped taking the pills. My weight went from about 50 kg (110 lb.) to almost 70 (150 lb.). I turned to diets. I reached for the next diet promising me lasting freedom. I would lose some weight and then gain some. We all know the story. I did every diet known to man.
When I was 25, it dawned on me that I had devoted ten years of my life to this. I was desperate. Being locked in this battle was exhausting me, even though by now my weight was “normal.” But I thought about food constantly. I’d wake up in the morning with the best of intentions, but by 10am I had binged or overeaten or something. I was riddled with guilt and self-loathing, declaring a starvation diet, only to mess that up too.
At that time, I cried out to God in absolute desperation and exhaustion. I went to a Christian book store and asked God to lead me to books I needed to read. I bought about seven books. I got home and started on my journey back to freedom. That was on a Monday. The following Friday, as I was just waking up from the night’s sleep, I heard an audible voice saying,”Fast.” I got a big fright, but I was excited because it was a very real, supernatural thing that happened! I prayed about it and felt I needed to fast until the following Monday.
The weekend started. I lay on my couch and read the books I’d bought. I wept and read. All weekend. My body was in physical pain. Dying to your flesh is never easy. When I woke up on Monday, I knew somehow that the bondage had been broken.
God gave me some stringent boundaries, though. He said I must never diet again. And I was not to weigh myself. To this day (ten years later) if I diet, disordered thoughts come back. God doesn’t intend this for everyone. Those boundaries were for me, personally.
In those early days, I struggled to follow his mandate for me. I would get up in the morning and take out a laminated copy of a diet I wanted to follow, intending to put it on the fridge available for me to read easily. I argued with God, pleading with him to allow me to follow the diet. Even so, I felt very strongly that this was going against what He wanted for me. So, every morning, I put the laminated diet back. I had no idea how to eat normally. One of the books I bought before the fast was Thin Within. During the week after my healing, I hungrily read that book. It gave me peace. I knew that this was exactly how God wanted me to eat.
After that weekend of being delivered from my eating disorders, God not only untangled my confused and sick thought patterns, He also did some physical healing. If you have suffered from an eating disorder, you’ll know that it is very much a mental disease. So much goes wrong in your head. So when God took his hand and wiped my thoughts clear, I thought that things surely couldn’t get better. But in his loving mercy, he also healed a few physical issues that I was suffering from as a consequence of my eating disorder. In my early twenties I went to a doctor and he diagnosed me with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. He concluded that I would be bed-ridden by the time I was 40. My body was riddled with some nasty viruses. I was so malnourished that my immune system was hanging on for dear life. My thyroid and metabolism were so broken—a consequence of years of yo-yo dieting, starving and purging. My colon didn’t work properly because of the laxative abuse. I looked and felt terrible all the time. When you are in such a “yuck” state, then often your emotions and attitude also reflect your internal environment. I wasn’t being a very God-pleasing wife, to say the least.
When God healed me of all that eating bondage, I walked with Him everyday doing things his way and I began to notice healing he was doing in my physical body, too. Before the healing, I had to take my temperature everyday for a few days as part of the diagnosis of an under-functioning thyroid gland. Normal is 37 degrees. When I did it, all my readings where 36 or lower. A few weeks after starting to eat 0-5 I felt God telling me to take my temperature again for a few days. Each day it was 37 degrees! God is so good!
He didn’t stop there. He slowly corrected all the chemical and hormonal imbalances. He restored my colon to normal function. He took away all my aches and pains. And then in 2010, he really did a miracle—I trained for and ran my first half marathon! As I crossed that finishing line (in a good time I might add) I almost started to weep. My body had been so broken. It was meant to bed-ridden. But here was God, who in his love for me, healed and restored me. A body that was meant to be sick and frail had now just completed 22km of grueling terrain. As I crossed that finishing line, with my praise and worship music filling my mind from my iPod, I knew God’s goodness. I got it.
He is in the details of my life. He knows my heart. He cares about my eating and being free from things that entangle and enslave me.
He is Good.
It’s been ten years since my healing. I am not overweight but I still wonder if I am at my God-given size. I stumbled upon Heidi’s blog after calling out to God. Through Heidi’s posts, I have come to realize that I struggle with greed and some other challenges! God said to me the other day that praise was lacking from life. It is such a weapon of warfare! So I’m now trying to praise and sing to him when ever I can. I can’t lie to you and say that what I weigh doesn’t matter to me. It still does. I would love to weigh a certain number. But I’m not obsessed by it. And I think as God works in me, that number won’t matter anymore. The whole point of my recovery and my future healing will be to keep looking at The Lord. He reminded me of this hymn and it’s become my theme tune:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in his wonderful face
And the things of this world
Will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace
Carrie (South Africa)
What About You?
Do you find yourself struggling with a full-blown eating disorder? Or do you occasionally engage in disordered behavior to try to manage your weight? Will you choose to take the steps toward your freedom today? God CAN heal you. Maybe the first order of business is to pray…and follow that with a call to a trusted physician who you can be honest with. If you feel led, will you post here and let us know how we can pray for you? God intends for you to experience FREEDOM!