Addressing Eating Disorders

I want to start out by thanking you for providing an avenue to share openly about anything in our hearts. I am a 24-year-old female, married with no children (yet). I am writing on an issue that I feel is not getting the correct attention it needs and the problem is continuing to grow widely. This problem is eating disorders. I struggled with both Anorexia and Bulimia.

I am happy to say I am now a healthy recovering bulimic. I would like to give you a little of my background. I was treated for Anorexia when I was a young teen. I went through an extensive treatment center, which I feel did not address the real issues. My mother pulled me out eventually and brought me home. With the help of my pastors and mother I really feel that God healed me from anorexia. That was wonderful and I can always be thankful for that. The problem began after the healing. When the healing occurred everyone dropped the issue and it was NEVER addressed again. There is this thought that if you are healed you shouldn’t ever have to deal with it again. Or maybe, the issue is that if you are healed you shouldn’t have to think about that problem again. Well, I didn’t and a year or so down the road through emotional open doors, I began struggling with bulimia. I fell very fast into this disease. Not only did I then have to deal with the shame of being bulimic behind closed doors, but I also felt that maybe I was never really truly healed. I got to a point in my life where I just started praying that God would give me the desire to stop being bulimic. I can honestly say I was very scared not be bulimic and really didn’t desire it. God started to give me that desire through simple prayers. There is a lot that went on within a 6-month period within myself and with the help of the church. With a lot of humbleness and people who showed me love with no strings attached I am now enjoying a life without bulimia. It is so much better than I ever imagined!! It is so wonderful to just live life honestly and openly with no secrets.

I now live knowing that I will always be a recovering bulimic, and that IS OK. I will not hide from that ever again. By hiding from it I allowed a weakness to be attacked. There is nothing wrong with having weaknesses. God doesn’t want us to hide from our weakness. He wants them to be exposed to the light. When they are exposed to the light He is able to protect us from them and help us. I want others to know that it is not weak to admit you have a problem with an eating disorder. You are the strongest person if you are willing to admit it and let God in to help. Healing can be an immediate thing, but it doesn’t have to be immediate. God is in the process of using others to continually heal all of us everyday. He can only use us if we are willing to be used.

I feel in this society it is an issue that is pushed under the “shame” rug. It is an issue that is hidden to the world and people are taught to be shameful about it. There is not enough attention being brought to this issue, especially in the church. Whatever the reason is, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that this is the fastest growing mental illness in the United States.

People are afraid to talk about the disease and all the feelings and problems that go along with it. By being afraid of this disease we are only being defeated by it. The Lord has an answer just as he does for anyone dealing with any addiction. Eating disorders are a form of an addiction. If you avoid the addiction, you become the addiction. We can’t be afraid to talk about it in the church. The church has the opportunity to be the strongest support for this addiction, as it does for any other addiction in today’s society. The church can to be the place that people can come to open up and talk about their struggle with eating disorders. They need to know it is OK to struggle with an eating disorder.

They need to know they are no less of a person for having struggled with their addiction.

They need to know God loves them as much while they are struggling with the eating disorder as to when they are not.

There needs to be an understanding that they are loved unconditionally all the time no matter what.

The church is the perfect avenue to offer this kind of emotional support. The first step before even addressing the issue of the food or lack of food addiction is learning to believe in your heart that God loves you unconditionally. If it takes a year for someone to realize that, or if it takes only 6 weeks, it doesn’t matter. A person struggling with an addiction needs to know they are loved with or without the addiction. If you can help a person to see they are loved for who they are, then you have done what Jesus has asked all of us to help one another with.

I believe that I went through what I went through for a purpose. I am such a unique individual with unique experiences. Everyone has experiences in life; everyone has an opportunity to help others with the love of Jesus. If I choose to live ashamed of those experiences and not help or share them with someone who might need to hear it, I am only hurting others. I really believe God uses his children to help his children. He doesn’t want us to go through the hurt we go through. However, there is sin in our world and we will all go through our own hurt. He is such a wonderful Father that He puts us in the paths of others in order to share His love with one another. Sometimes just showing someone the pure love of Jesus can make the world of a difference. I pray that my willingness to be openly honest about my struggles will help others in love. If it helps one person to realize that they are loved individually and uniquely by God, then I have just begun to do my ministry here on this earth.

With love and honesty
Kari Jo

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  1. Thank you so much, Kari Jo, for letting us in to your experiences.

    The problem of becoming “unhealed” is such a nightmare – it must have been utterly isolating. I’m so glad you’re not in that position any more.

    I think if people acknowledged our own role in God working in us (he only does it if we allow him etc.) then the idea of slipping back after being healed wouldn’t be so surprising.

    God just _never_ takes away our freedom to choose – not even if we want him to!

  2. Hi Kari Jo
    I just wanted to say that I admire your honesty. Thank you for sharing your testimony with us. I haven’t suffered from an eating disorder but things have happened in my life which I feel ashamed of and therefore have not openly spoken about or shared with others. However you have made me realise that God still loves me even though there have been moments along the way when I have stubbled. And perhaps now is the time for me to honestly share things with those I love and trust!

  3. Thank you for this article.

    I think this is a huge issue which you are right to say we need to take out from under the carpet.

    I have a friend who never seems to be healed of anorexia – just up and down. Do you have any advice on helping her? She is a Christian but I don’t know how able she is to really receive God’s love.

    I’m sure as a general issue the church has a lot to learn about eating disorders and about educating people to think Christianly about body image and eating.

  4. This is Kari Jo,
    Thank you for reading my testimony. My advice for anyone struggling with an eating disorder is that some how they must begin to realize Jesus that loves them unconditionally. If you can be the one person who shows her how much Jesus truly loves her and cares about her well-being, then you are being a messenger from Jesus. Let Jesus love show through you. Let her know that this is not the life Jesus intended her to have and it isn’t her fault and he’s not mad. HE just wants his precious child to be healthy and whole.

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