Have you ever had to endure well-meaning friends or relatives say to you, “So why don’t you just eat less food?” Or “Can’t you just stop?” These clueless but loving folks don’t understand that there seems to be something else at work…something that almost seems compulsory. They don’t understand that things are misfiring and, at times, we seem to be controlled by food.
So how did this happen? How did we get to a point where the natural way we were born…to cry out for food when our stomachs were empty and to be pleasantly content when our stomachs had an appropriate amount of food in them…how did this process get derailed?
How DID we get to a point where our eating is/was so disordered?
In chapter one, the authors begin to wade into the deep answer to these questions. Connecting these current behaviors to experiences that we have had earlier in life, helps us to understand that we did the best we could at the time…and began to cope differently with life than the way we might have apart from the experiences that unfolded. We were beyond ourselves. For some of us, it may have happened when we were 6 and ridiculed by an older brother. For others, it may have been as a result of repeated deep trauma. And for still others, it may have happened later in life, when we were betrayed by our spouse or a dear friend.
Something, somewhere in our stories, triggered something in us that caused us to step out of God’s order…into survival mode.
“I felt unprotected and vulnerable and my feelings of self worth eroded.” GTST p. 21
This is the result of one story included in the book–one which I could identify with. Can you? As you look back over the past year, the past decade, your entire life have you ever felt unprotected and vulnerable? Who hasn’t? Is it possible that this is connected to the way you struggle with food, eating, or your body?
Personally, I felt very unprotected as a child–very vulnerable to being wounded by those who were supposed to cherish and protect me most. I see now that this set me up to head toward a way of coping that would fail miserably to ultimately serve me in the long haul. Nevertheless, it enabled me to survive those difficult adolescent years…
Facing the past and taking responsibility for the choices I make in the present have given me a new experience of freedom, both in my eating and in my relationships. GTST, p. 21
The authors don’t encourage us to blame our current difficulties on the past, certainly, but they do encourage us to have an honest look at our stories to see if there aren’t justifiable reasons that we may have been predisposed toward disordered eating. Many of us never intentionally headed down this road and yet here we find ourselves.
I believe that having this honest, yet challenging, look is vital to our permanent healing. I know it is for me.
Thin Within jarred me into the truth of what I had to risk to change my life. GTST p. 24
This is true of me as well. My first exposure to this material was when I was fresh out of Weigh Down Workshop. I realized for the first time that there was a LOT of emotional baggage that had set me up to have “issues.” I was going to have to risk a lot to change. I do now as well. I keep hoping that I can find a way to cut off this process…to find another way around, a short cut or something.
…as I stopped overeating and started praying, I began to accept God’s love and to know that he validates me just as I am…By being willing to experience my hunger I become more open to the joy and the pain in my life. With God’s help I am choosing to change old patterns, to trust myself, and to love and be loved. GTST, p. 24
AM I willing to feel hunger? I seem to begin the day where I am ok with this. Maybe it is because I also start the day filling up on the Bread of Life–spending time alone at the feet of Jesus. I am fully satisfied in him. I don’t mind waiting for hunger until I can “get around to” eating.
The more the day unfolds, however, the less I am willing to wait and to feel physical hunger. I wonder if, at some level, when the day gets going…and real life hits including the sense of inadequacy I sometimes feel…if I yet am relying on the old coping mechanisms?
And yet, what the person quoted in the book says is true: God validates me as I am…right now. NOT once “I have my act together.” I am so thankful that I know this truth to the depths of my heart. Sometimes I forget and get focused on performance-based living again, but it isn’t because I think I need to win God’s love…I know I don’t need to do that!
Being willing to allow God into this process all through the day is vital to my being able to be healed and renewed.
Willing to risk? Yes, I must be willing to risk that I will feel the emotional pain–the hunger–more fully, that I have, at some level–continued to numb with food and other things. But as I choose to offer myself to this process God will enable me to change, to trust, to grow. To become what he intends.
–> Are you? Are you willing to risk today? If you allow yourself to feel physical hunger it is possible, even likely, that you will experience your emotions to a greater degree. Are you willing to risk this? Are you willing to allow yourself to feel? You may also experience joy more than you have because, again, we can’t just numb ourselves to our pain and anger and disappointment. We also numb ourselves to joys, celebration, and hope. If you are willing, I want to encourage you…be ready to lean hard on the Lord. He will carry you through it. I know this from experience and, today, I choose to experience it first hand again. I am willing to risk today.
It has struck me afresh that for all of the things that he allows in my life, he has a divine purpose. He intends that the pain of living result in a holy purification, a transformation in me. Any time that I numb myself to the pain instead of going to Him to deal with it, I short-circuit his intention…leaving him with no other option than to bring yet another situation around that will cause me pain–that I might yet forsake the inappropriate coping mechanism and turn to him in fullness, experience HIS sufficiency and strength.
Transformation is at hand.