”For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.”
1 Thessalonians 5:9-10
“Let’s just agree to blame your eating disorder on your mother. Ok, now that it’s settled, can we start talking about your recovery?”
Although those are not the exact words my therapist said to me one day in a session, it is basically the gist of her point. Of course she wasn’t actually saying that it was my mother’s fault. Rather, she was pointing out that we could spend a lot of time talking about the contributing factors that got me stuck in ed OR we could focus on how I was going to get OUT of my Ed. This was the beginning of a great turn around in my recovery and in how I looked at my circumstances in general.
“But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” Philippians 3:13b
You see, I was used to being a victim- of difficult family circumstances, abuse, divorced parents, and my own physical health issues. Whenever I was faced with any kind of problem- at work, with friends, in my marriage, I had always pointed to something other than myself as the cause of the problem and completely ignored any role that I might have had in the circumstance. Bad grades in school were blamed on my difficult home life; getting fired was because my boss didn’t understand me, and my marriage problems I placed all on the shoulders of my husband. All through my life, when I was confronted with the idea that I might have just made a mistake or a poor choice, I came up with an excuse that made ME not at fault. I was afraid of mistakes and I was also afraid to admit that, at times, I made poor choices or selfish decisions. Yes, you guessed it, I thought I was perfect…or at least that I should be.
What my therapist began to show me is that although there were many circumstances in my life that might have contributed to my eating disorder initially, stopping my eating disorder behaviors was something for which I had to take responsibility. Even if we could identify a person, an issue from my past, or perhaps an inherited trait, I would still need to do the hard work of recovery. There would be a time where I needed to acknowledge the hurt and brokenness I was feeling as a result of my past, but it would be as a means to move toward what was ahead in my life, not as a means to figure out where to place the blame for what was already behind.
Looking back on all of this, I see how I played this same kind of blame game with regard to my faith in Christ. I did not want to see how my eating disorder related to my walk as a Christian. The two were completely unrelated in my mind—I mean, what I ate and how I exercised didn’t affect my belief in God..did it? Over time, I began to see my eating disorder not as some sort of unfair affliction caused by my past nor was it a punishment from God. However, I did sense that God was allowing the eating disorder to happen in my life to reveal those things that were pulling me away from Him. My eating disorder behaviors were a result of my focus on other things besides God and HIS plan for my life.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1
In order for me to be able to see these things, I first had to understand that God’s work in me was not about condemnation. As it says in the serenity prayer, I had to accept the things I could not change (all of those ‘excuses’ from my past) and the courage to change the things I can (my current negative behaviors). God did want me to accept responsibility for how I was contributing to my illness, not so that I would be condemned, but so that I would recognize my need for Him and His Son.
The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart. Proverbs 17:3
This was a long process, and to be honest, it still is. But I believe it is a refining one also. Now that I have walked through the crucible of my eating disorder and recovery, I realize that God was using all of it for good, to cleanse my heart. Even now, He continues this process of refining. In this, He calls me away from those things that would distract me from pressing on toward Him. In recovery, God slowly began a process that continues today of peeling away the excuses, insecurities, and sinful patterns in my life so that I can truly follow Him unburdened, unbroken, and unashamed.
It is interesting to me thinking about all of this now that I so wanted to not have to take the blame for anything in my life and once I was able to admit the parts for which I WAS to blame, God showed me that His Son, Jesus, had taken it all for me. All I had to do was admit my need for Him and then I accept the grace and mercy that was already mine.
Breathing In (Bible Study):
- Take a look at the verses from today’s devotion and respond to the questions:
- For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 1 Thess. 5:9-10 what does this tell you about God? About Jesus? What do the words “suffer wrath” mean to you in this context? Do you ever feel like you are a victim of God’s wrath or maybe that you are not “good enough” to receive His mercy/grace? How does this verse speak to that kind of thinking?
- “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” Philippians 3:13b Are there things from your past (circumstances beyond your control or past sinful behaviors) that you need to “forget”? What is “ahead” for you is whatever you are looking at…whether it is backward or forward. How would it change your recovery if you focused on what is truly in the future for you. What is in that future? (Hint: read Phil 3:14)
- “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1 what does this verse mean to you? What is the difference between condemnation and conviction? What is the result of each?
- The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but the Lord tests the heart. Proverbs 17:3 what is your recovery revealing to you about your heart, your center, your focus? If you are not sure, ask God to show you.
Breathing Out (Prayer):
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever and ever in the next. Amen.
The Serenity Prayer, Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr