“Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, you have no obligation to do what your sinful nature urges you to do.” ~Romans 8:12 (NLT)
One of my favorite times of the day, is getting home from work and changing from my work clothes into my comfy yoga pants. Aaaah! Yesterday, it’s safe to say, that my stretchy pants reached their maximum stretching potential! I was sure they must have shrunk in the dryer so I changed into a different pair. Hmmm? They shrunk too. This wasn’t good. Clearly there is something wrong with my dryer. I made a mental note to get that checked.
I joined the gym back in September and, except for two weeks when I was sick, have faithfully worked out three to four times a week since joining. That must be it! It was bulging muscles causing my comfy pants to be not so comfy! I may need to rethink this working out thing?
Ok, so, all joking aside, I know that my dryer did not suddenly shrink my clothes nor did I suddenly morph into the body of a female body builder. It was my love-hate relationship with food causing my problem.
I used to be a smoker. Thirteen years ago I quit smoking (Praise God!) and became a compulsive, binge eater. I’m not talking eating a few extra cookies every now and again, or having the occasional second plate of pasta. I’m talking serious, doctor diagnosed, binge eating disorder. Sitting by myself, behind closed doors, with a full box of cookies or bags of candy, and eating to the point where I felt sick, both physically and emotionally, but couldn’t stop, despite the tears streaming down my cheeks.
Binge eating disorder is premeditated self abuse. I planned my binges to the point of frequently switching which convenient stores I stopped at out of embarrassment over the quantity of items I was purchasing. If I ate somewhere other than at home, perhaps in the solitude of my work cubicle, I was sure to take my wrappers with me and toss them in a public trash bin. What if someone saw all those wrappers in my trash can? That would be humiliating. Binge eating disorder goes way deeper than just the out of control eating.
I suffered in silence and shame for many years, as do most people with an eating disorder. I believe there is, and have personally experienced, a lack of understanding when it comes to addiction related to food and eating behaviors. I’ve actually had people tell me to just stop doing it. If only it were that easy.
My dear friend, and sister in Christ, Leigh, was one of the few people who knew the actual depth of my eating disorder. I would often text her when I was struggling and she would text me back “Eat the apple, sister!” which was our funny little spin on the Adam and Eve story. It made me laugh, and it reminded me that God has provided me with good, healthy food that I can and should eat.
Purely by the grace of God, I have been freed from the chains of this horrible condition. That said, I am not, nor will I ever be, a normal eater. I am a disordered eater and just as an alcoholic cannot have one drink without the probable risk of a life spiraling out of control, I cannot overeat, without that same threat.
Having been around addiction in other areas of my life, I am quite familiar with the ins and outs of its cunning ways. My not-so-comfy yoga pants are a red flag to me that I need to be more aware of the food that I am putting in my body. I cannot diet or harshly restrict myself because that is one of the triggers for many people with an eating disorder. I cannot count the calories I take in, nor can I obsess over the calories I burn. I must, simply put, just live, and be cognizant of what I am putting into my body.
So, why do I choose to publicly “come out of the closet” and share this so openly? Because I want people to know that there is hope and His name is Jesus! I want anyone suffering from binge eating disorder to know that God can release you from bondage, if you have a heart willing to surrender to Him. The way I see it, there is no other way to break free.
I know firsthand how debilitating binge eating disorder can be and how much more challenging it is this time of the year. The office where I work is overflowing with goodies (which I think need to be renamed because they aren’t really good for us) and if left to willpower, I would be right back to where I was years ago. It’s a dark place where I never want to visit again, even briefly.
There are many Bible verses that a person with an eating disorder can meditate on with 1 Corinthians 6:19 (NLT) probably being the most well known. One night, in the midst of a particularly difficult period, I was reading The Word and came upon Romans 8:12 (NLT) . Paul’s letter to the Romans is my favorite book in the Bible and I have read this verse hundreds of times before. It tells us that we are not obligated to do what “our flesh” urges us to do. Now, while I know this was not written about food, The Word of God is living and breathing, and at that moment, as I read that verse, God spoke to me. He told me that I do not have to obey my body and that nothing terrible would happen if I didn’t binge. He was reminding me that I needed to walk in the Spirit and not in the “flesh” if I wanted to be set free. (Galatians 5:16 (NLT))
Romans 8:12 is the verse that the Lord used to speak to me and it has become my life preserver. It may be a different verse for you, or the same verse with a unique message. We are all distinctive individuals and God, who knows the number of hairs on your head, certainly knows how to meet your needs. Trust Him. Surrender to Him and let Him set you free.