My Eating Disorder Is Eating Me
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us."1
A Daily Encounter reader writes: "I need help. My eating disorder is eating me. I have tried to give it to God, but I am not sure if I have wholeheartedly done this. I want to stop but I am hooked on the skinniness thing."
When under- or over-eating is an addictive behavior, it can be a serious problem. Seeing what the cause of the problem is may be the hardest thing to come to terms with. With all addictions the problem we see—the presenting problem—is usually just the symptom of the real problem—"the fruit of a deeper root."
While symptoms need to be treated, it is critical that the root cause/s are treated and resolved. If only the symptom is treated, the root will pop out in another area. I know of one man who claimed he was healed of alcoholism the moment he became a Christian. In reality all he had done was change from being an alcoholic into an anger-aholic!
The bottom line in many, if not most, addictions is that somewhere in the past, mostly in early childhood, there has been a failure somewhere in love. The addictive behavior is used to medicate and not feel the pain of one's inner hurt of not feeling adequately loved. Besides asking for God's help and praying for deliverance, we need to do our part as well. As we get damaged in damaging relationships we get healed in healing relationships. This is why support groups such as twelve-step programs can be very effective, and why working with a skilled counselor or therapist may be needed and even critical.
As alcoholics need to be in an alcoholic-anonymous support group, food-aholics need to be in an overeaters anonymous group (and so on), where they can be loved and accepted for whom they are. As it is a failure in love that drives people into addictive behaviors, it is unconditional love that is one of the greatest healing agents to deliver one from addictive behaviors. When people feel genuinely loved and accepted, the need to "act out" in self-destructive addictive behaviors is greatly lessened.
A support group also helps the addict to keep accountable for his behavior, for it is only as he stops his addictive behavior and feels the real pain of his hurt or rejection, can he face and resolve the root cause of his problem.
Suggested prayer: "Dear God, thank You that You love and accept me just as I am ... even with my addictive behaviors. Thank You, too, that You love me too much to leave me as I am. I admit my problem of _________ (name it). Please give me the courage to face the root cause/s of my problem, and lead me to the help I need to overcome these. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus's name, amen."
NOTE: For recovery resources click on (in English): http://www.actsweb.org/counseling_resources.php
1. Hebrews 12:1 (NIV).