A Controlling Obsession: Thinness
I sat at the table in my apartment. Lunch. Meals were my arch nemesis. My hungry stomach growled after waking for an 8:30 class and walking to two other classes across campus. “Would I allow myself to eat?” That day I planned to go to aerobics, so a little food might be okay. I counted out ten crackers. Then, I counted out seven grapes. I savored each one between big gulps of water until I emptied my plate. Then, guilt engulfed me like a black storm cloud.
I felt like a prisoner in my own body. At 16, I had harmlessly dieted after losing weight during a bout of mononucleosis. Then, somewhere along the way, dieting had become an obsession. Now, the obsession was starving me and lying to me about its true intentions. The voice I heard said, “Thinness is the key to beauty.” But, I couldn’t see when I’d be thin enough. The mirror never applauded my weight loss; it criticized me. “More,” it demanded.
Initially, I had been proud of the control I held over food. I controlled how much I ate and when I ate. To me, control over food demonstrated a life under control. I also controlled my fitness regimen, vital to calorie burning and weight loss. Even though I controlled food and exercise, the charade ended there because other habits controlled me.
Although I wouldn’t admit it, the obsessive dieting, weighing, and exercising had begun to take a toll. My tense emotions and short attention span revealed a dark side of my obsession. My one, driving passion took over my thoughts and time: Being thinner.
A New Obsession: Truth
My roommate had noticed a change in me, so she confronted me, saying “You’re destroying your body.” Her words and concern turned a spotlight onto my secret. I began opening up and talking to a few friends.
Over the next two years, I battled the old lies. And, I still wanted to control every bite at every meal because Fear plagued me. “What if that makes you fat?” Silently, I still counted every calorie. On the days when I didn’t count calories, I exercised as penance.
Slowly, with each painful step, I cried out to Jesus for help, and patient friends walked that humbling journey with me.
Today, decades later, there aren’t full-length mirrors in my house, and I don’t own a scale. After all this time, those two items can still trigger self-loathing and fear. However, I’ve learned that the truth brings victory in any battle when lies assail me. Victory over lies is as close as the next truth we believe. Our freedom depends on whether or not we listen to truth.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.2 Corinthians 3:17-18 ESV
Truth to Live By: When lies trap and cage us, Jesus wields the freeing truth that rescues us.
Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.Colossians 2:7 NLT