For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases. Proverbs 26:20
One of the things that was the hardest for me in the initial stages of recovery was learning to ignore the whispers. Even after I learned to combat the voice of the eating disorder in my own mind, I was still troubled when I would hear his whispers out of the mouths of those around me. Many times I would question my treatment team:
“Why is it wrong for me to skip a meal? So and so says they NEVER eat breakfast because they are not hungry. I am not hungry either…isn’t it healthy to only eat when you are hungry?”
“Why can’t I work out for 3 hours a day? I am not the only mom at the gym doing it.”
“My friend ordered the same thing I did at dinner and didn’t eat as much as I did. She said the portions were ‘huge’. Why is it ok for her to not eat it all and I have to in order to stay on my plan?”
“All my friends comment negatively on their bodies. They are all on some type of diet. Why can’t I just be on a diet too?”
I could write a book with all of the things I heard on a daily basis. From my friends and family, from the media, it seemed like the whisper of Ed was showing up everywhere. I was arguing with Ed in my head, and in my daily interactions with people. This served to isolate me even more as I could not go anywhere without hearing all of the reasons Ed would tell me I wasn’t sick, my behavior was just like everyone else’s (maybe even “better”). I didn’t understand why others could skip meals or exercise to extremes and I couldn’t. Why was I the sick one?
Like kindling on the fire, these words and actions of others would fuel the ED quarrel in my head. Even if I could silence the lies ED was telling me about my own habits…how could I quiet the whispers that fed the lies He was telling me through the mouths of others?
I can only tell you the truth here and nothing more. Just like everything else in my recovery, I found my answers in God’s Word. It truly is useful for EVERYTHING!
First, God tells us in His Word that just because the world does (or doesn’t do) a thing, does not mean we should do this thing:
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
Even if the pattern of the world was focused on body, body dissatisfaction, diet, etc., did not mean that it was His will for me. My mind needed to be renewed so that I could be transformed. The study of God’s Word and what His purpose is for my life helped me to reframe my focus.
Also, comparing me to others was a useless exercise. First, I could not presume to know the health of these people. Maybe some of the people around me, though not diagnosed with an eating disorder, had their own body image issues. Just because others were not in treatment didn’t mean that they shouldn’t be!! I also couldn’t compare what my body needed to eat and do with what other people needed. If they ate less than me at lunch maybe they had eaten a snack or a bigger breakfast. If someone worked out more than I did perhaps they were training for an event. I had no way of knowing why someone was doing what they did, but whatever their reason, it had no impact on what I knew I should be doing to care for myself.
But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding. 2 Corinthians 10:12b
God has made us each unique human beings. We are created for a specific purpose. Perhaps we do not know what it is, but we know what it isn’t. Our lives were not meant to be spent focusing on the things of this world, comparing ourselves with others, and using destructive means to conform to the pattern around us. We are not meant to reflect the world’s ideals, but rather, we are meant to reflect God in this world. Yes, it is difficult to put out the fire of Ed’s whispers and overcome the lies the world may tell us about our bodies, but God is faithful. He has given us another promise in His Word.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Breathing In (Bible Study)
- Read John 16 in its entirety. If possible, read it in a couple of translations. What are some of “these” things Jesus tells his disciples here? What kind of encouragement does that give you for your recovery?
- Look at the following verses:
- John 15:16
- Jeremiah 29:11
- Isaiah 43:7
- Philippians 2:1-4
According to these verses, what IS your purpose? Pray for God to reveal in detail about how His purpose for you can be made manifest in your life.
Breathing Out (Prayer)
Father in Heaven,
Thank you for creating me in Your image and for Your purpose. Help me to remember that even though we are all made in Your likeness, there is no one just like me- I am unique and special to You. Whenever I am tempted to compare myself with someone else, remind me that you gave me Jesus to follow as an example. I don’t have to conform to this world, I just have to rest in Your transforming grace. Amen