My False god of Anorexia

Do not eat was God’s first instruction to Adam and Eve in the garden. Was this to control them or to teach them to trust God? Enter Satan, who intervened, reframing the command and causing them to doubt the goodness of their creator: God is holding back. You will be like Him if you indulge. The decision was made to believe the lie. 

God has established rules for our good, but Satan loves to deceive causing us to believe otherwise. But the choice is ours. And it always has been. Esau made the same mistake as Adam and Eve by trading a bowl of soup for his birthright. Oh, how we must understand that the tactics of the enemy are the same today! Satan customizes his presentation waiting for an opportune time to bring us down. And don’t be fooled into thinking you can’t be tempted in this way. 

My little grandson verbalized his confidence, aka pride, when he announced that God should have made him the first man because then the world would not suffer the consequences for eating the fruit—”I don’t even like apples” was his thinking process!

My friend, your struggle may not be with the avoidance or consumption of food but be sure we are all tempted to fill the void in our lives with something or someone other than God Himself who is the bread of life.

We are easily seduced by substitutes that will never satisfy our desire for comfort or control.

The enemy deceptively plants seeds of death and destruction by daily seeking entrance into our lives. As a tall and lanky teen, I never struggled with weight nor even thought much about it growing up. I ate what I wanted—a consistent diet of junk food, even though I was raised eating a slice of meat, potato, and vegetable. And participating in the marching band provided the exercise necessary to balance the sugar intake. 

Perfectionism came naturally. Innocently and also ignorantly, my parents trained me to believe performance determined identity, regularly evaluating my behavior with their “good girl or bad girl” comments. And over the years as I experienced hurt or uncertainty, control became my coping mechanism.

The world praises performance and perfection, and self-control is a biblical trait to pursue. However, the enemy twists even the greatest things into a plan for defeat. 

Gaining the freshmen ten in college came easily with the continued “eat whatever I want” diet—steaming biscuits (lots of them), pop tarts, and hot pudding for a daily evening snack. No one told me what to do or how to eat. Life was at a peak without restriction. In hindsight, it was setting the stage for destruction. 

At the very same time, Karen Carpenter made headlines, not for her beautiful music but rather for her diagnosis of anorexia, a term I had never heard before. To me, the title anorexic announced she had mastered the art of staying thin. And for some sad reason, I decided I wanted to be just like her, controlling my body, not realizing that her diagnosis was a sickness unto death.

Soon after that, an idle comment was made by someone close to me predicting that greater weight gain was to come during my summer employment at a conference center—known for its delicious cuisine. From that moment, comparison and competition joined forces bringing me down and unlocking the door to a journey I did not expect. 

Determined to prove this friend wrong, I spent the following months in “control” mode, developing an internal check and balance system that would prevent gaining unwanted extra pounds. In my mind exercise would earn me the right to eat and running allowed for the reward of that nice bowl of ice cream. I figured I could have my cake and eat it too without suffering consequences. 

Naively I was seduced into a deadly trap believing the same lie of the enemy—I would be like God ruling and reigning my very own life.

Beyond those years, eating what I wanted led to not eating at all, a way of life that was easy to maintain as a young single without accountability. Starvation was not the goal but became my comfortable lifestyle. I lived in denial that I was in control, but the reality was that I was completely out of control. On my wedding day, the scales declared an all-time low, this “victory” was an illusion. This good girl was breaking the basic command, “have no other gods before Me.”

Although my family lovingly tried to control my choices, my marriage uncovered the reality that I was in bondage.I agreed to a consultation at a treatment center thinking this would prove them wrong, only to learn I had reached my deadly goal of anorexia. Somehow it didn’t feel as glamourous as the enemy led me to believe it would. I was not in control of my life and had been fully deceived. 

We are all going to get hurt in this world and be tempted to believe many lies. We must turn to Jesus with our pain and suffering and teach our children to do the same. Satan stands ready to offer a substitute for Jesus, it may be cheap, but he will allure you in subtle ways. Strangely, controlling my life through food brought a comfort that only God could satisfy. I had to turn from this idolatry. Anorexia is a sickness, sin, and struggle not of flesh and blood. The battle was not only physical but also mental and spiritual. 

  • It was a sickness in that our bodies were designed for food. 
  • The sin is placing self, something, or someone on the throne of our lives in place of Christ—food, friends, compulsive shopping, affirmation, good works, sex, drugs, and alcohol. 
  • At the root of anorexia or any other addiction, is a struggle with demonic forces that desire to kill, steal, and destroy. 

And to think I was unaware of these schemes of the devil until a doctor announced that I would never have children. What?! All I ever wanted to be was a wife and mother, so this proclamation quite literally woke me up! And reluctantly, I accepted their parameters: don’t eat sugar, eat consistent meals with no snacks in between, drink only water, do not weigh yourself, and monitor exercise. This was a great start towards the health and healing of my mind and body. With these rules in place (even today) and the accountability of friends and the Holy Spirit, I seek to live victoriously while fighting the temptation toward disordered eating—a thorn in my flesh. 

God has been good allowing me to conceive and deliver eight babies.

I have come to learn that there’s more to freedom to be found than just following those helpful guidelines above. Instead of holding onto my rights, I had to surrender, allowing God to be the one in control. I exchanged my life for His and discovered Jesus as my greatest satisfaction.