Sometimes we recover. Old relationships resume. But neither we – nor they – stay the same. Wounds can heal, but the scars remain. They ache. We want to go back – but we can’t. We start anew: but we build on what has been.
Yesterday I visited an inpatient treatment centre for those who are critically ill with eating disorders. I met three beautiful young women, all of whom are at the very beginning of the recovery process. In their faces I saw my own, and as they spoke – falteringly – of their fears, I could have wept, with and for them.
I remember vividly what it was like to be in that place. By God’s grace I’m further along the path than they are right now – but we’re not so different.
And neither are you. Even if you’ve never struggled with an eating disorder. Even if you’ve never needed specialist help.
If you’ve ever been afraid.
If you’ve ever used food to make you feel better.
If you’ve ever wondered who you are. Or longed to be someone else.
If you’ve ever been lonely or angry or confused.
Or had a heart hunger you didn’t know how to fill.
I looked at those girls. And I wanted -more than anything – to help them. To say, ‘I’ll fix you and it’ll be easy’.
But I can’t fix myself let alone anyone else. And it’s not easy. It’s maybe the hardest thing they’ll ever have to do.
They asked me how I’d gotten to where I am today. What helped? What changed? And I wanted to tell them the reasons for recovery, from being able to lead a normal life to having a family. Good things. Incentives. But the old scars throbbed and I remembered: this isn’t enough.
I loved my husband. I loved my family. I loved my friends. But anorexia was bigger. Always bigger.
I wanted more energy. I wanted to have better skin. I wanted to be able to enjoy a meal with others and for my hair to grow back.
I wanted to live. But compared to thinness, these things weren’t enough.
the only thing that broke through was a God who was bigger and more beautiful than anorexia. A jealous God, who wouldn’t share. Who made me and loves me and bought me back – and would not let me go.
Hope is more than a programme or a list of pros and cons. Hope is a person. It’s Jesus.
The goddess anorexia demanded that I gave everything up. But nothing for her, was ever enough.
Jesus gave up everything for me. And He loved me, even at my worst. He can’t be codified or explained. But He’s real and He breaks in where no-one else can.