“Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” Phil 3:19-21
One of the things that I remember most about when I was sick in my eating disorder was how much I hated the feeling of fullness. It went from sometimes being mildly uncomfortable, to being painful. I sought desperate measures to alleviate this uncomfortable “feeling” in my body which led me deeper and deeper into disordered behaviors. I was completely consumed by that feeling in my belly- like in our focus verse today, my god was my stomach! I sought complete emptiness, yet I could never find it. Even when I would feel physically empty—I did not find relief. None of Ed’s “tricks” worked…I still felt full, no “stuffed”—but stuffed with what exactly?
I was stuffed, yet I was empty…how can this be? I believe that God was calling me toward emptiness-NOT the physical kind that I was trying to achieve, but He was calling me to a spiritual emptiness. You see, in order for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to occur in us, we must first empty ourselves of all of those things in life that we have tried to use to fill the SPACE. God created a space in our hearts for Him and Him alone. Everything else doesn’t fit! It was not meant to be placed there! I may have been self-starving physically, but I was emotionally stuffed! I was filled with fear, doubt, and judgment, feelings of inadequacy, pride, and selfishness. I was stuffed with pain and hurt from my past as well as the pain in my current life circumstances. Unwilling or unable to recognize THIS as the source of my uncomfortable feeling, I turned to ridding myself of the physical fullness with my eating disorder.
We were made to need space…space for God. To love Him, serve Him, and be more like Him. When we try to fill that space with other things: food, unrealistic expectations of our bodies, approval of others, money, clothes, sex…we will never be comfortable, and we will never be satisfied. That space is meant only for Him!
“For he hath satisfied the empty soul, and hath filled the hungry soul with good things.” Psalm 107:9
As I began to address my need for physical nourishment, I had to learn to be comfortable with physical fullness. This was truly difficult, but it did allow me to notice, that the “stuffed” feeling wasn’t necessarily in my stomach; it was in my heart and mind.
“Ugh, I think I ate too much, I feel too full. Is she sure this will not make me fat? How can it not? I feel fat already!! What if I get fat? Will everyone laugh at me? Will my husband be grossed out by me? Will he be able to love me?”
I started to see that my issue was not how I felt physically, but how I felt emotionally. My fear of being judged and mocked by others, my fear of not pleasing my husband was keeping me from being able to accept physical fullness for what it was-an indication of nourishment in my body.
Once I started addressing the heart issues, the soul-stuffing that I had been doing, I was able to allow my body to be empty and full in the natural cycle as God had intended. Slowly, God began to empty my heart of all of the things that I had stuffed in there that I had held on to for so long. He emptied me of all of that pain, shame, fear, so that He could replace it with HIS Holy Spirit…the one thing that was designed to fill me up.
Today, whenever I am uncomfortable, physically or spiritually, I know that it is probably a sign that I am soul-stuffed or soul-starved. I have learned to examine my situation and ask: “With what are you filling your schedule, you time, your heart, your mind?” or “Where is the Holy Spirit living in you today? Are you hungry for His presence?” Chances are that I have tried to replace God’s presence in my life with my to-do list. It is then that I must go to Him and say,
“Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:10-12)
Breathing In (Bible Study):
- Read Psalm 51 in several translations. What do you think it means to ask God to create a clean heart for you? Does this sound like a gentle process according to the Psalmist?
- Some commentaries say that the words used to describe how God creates a clean heart are “to be cored or cut out…removed.” What do you think that God needs to remove from your heart in order for you to be renewed and restored in Him?
- Read Philippians 3:18-21 According to this verse, what rules over the non-believer? How is our focus supposed to be different? How might this differing focus help us in our pursuit for restoration and recovery?
Breathing Out (Prayer):
Today, I have chosen to not write out a specific prayer for you. Rather, I urge you to use Psalm 51 as your prayer guide. Choose the passages from those verses that you feel most address your current needs. Pray that God will continue to create a clean heart in you by removing all of the things that are not meant for you. Ask Him to fill you to fullness with His Holy Spirit and allow you to find true and lasting comfort in it.