To finish your journey of breaking free from food addiction, you will need a few key elements. One that made all the difference to me is bringing TRUTH back into my life. You can not afford to wear a mask anymore. You need to GET REAL in the full sense of the word in order to complete this journey.
I was in a very legalistic church for about four years. Not the “in your face” kind of legalism, but rather the kind that almost intoxicate you, drawing you into the relentless pursuit of “sticking to the rules” without you even realizing it. I always felt awkward and out of place. Unlike me, the other moms were so skinny and well put together. The few odd ones that didn’t quite qualify as one of the “beautiful people” somehow didn’t make it into leadership.
At one point the church went through a major split and many yucky things were revealed. I realized for the first time that this nagging feeling of inferiority that I had (because of a few extra pounds on me) didn’t exactly aid me in my pursuit to freedom or holiness. I never told a soul about my struggle with food, because no one ever spoke about their struggles, and no one ever admitted to being “only human”. Everybody was so spiritual, so driven to win the lost, so focused on not wasting time with frivolous things such as building friendships or finding personal healing.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am all for evangelism, but I also know that God never intended for us to stop being real, give up on friendship and neglect our hearts.
I never felt so alone in a congregation and I never felt so incapable of ever overcoming my food addiction. You see I had to keep it secret, because admitting to it would have been to admit to what everybody already suspected: “I was an immature Christian who should have had my act together years ago”
After the split things changed gradually and I started a small group for women who struggle with food issues. I found that there were actually a bunch of ladies who were just waiting to talk about this “thing” they were carrying around.
How great was my relief when we moved and were swept up in the loving arms of the people in our current church. They invited us to small groups where people wanted to get to know us, care about us, and most of all, they were not afraid to be real! Our church also sets high standards for holy living and growing in relationship with God, but although we have our problems like every other church, I personally never felt that cloud of condemnation.
I want to encourage you: If you suffer from an eating disorder or any other addiction, please find a place where you won’t feel afraid to be real. A place where you are encouraged by other women and where you experience the Holy Spirit’s presence to heal you and change you. Yes, we have to build our own relationship with God, but He also created us to be part of a community and to have genuine friendships. These friendships are best know by their “giving and receiving”. In these friendships you will experience acceptance of both your good and “not so good” parts. You need to be loved for who you are to break free from this disorder. Pretending to be perfect or okay when you are not will keep you in bondage. Pleasing others and not being truthful about your needs and fears will prevent you from finding the healing you so desperately need.
I know change is hard, and I’m not telling you to give up your church either. I just want to nudge you to keep looking for a church or even just a group where you can receive love and support. Start today. If your church doesn’t offer any support groups, start your own. You can use my program for your support group if you want, or look for the following groups in your area that focus on freedom from food struggles and other addictions:
Celebrate Recovery (look for a group in your town)
First Place (look for a group in your town)