Fear is a lie of the eating disorder that keeps us stuck in the addictive cycle of an eating disorder, constantly engaging in wrong thoughts and wrong actions. When we live in fear we become paralyzed to break the cycle that the eating disorder presents.
VALUE OF ED
In essence, fear is about value. When something has great value to us, we fear losing it. For instance, I would not fear losing a penny because it has no real value to me. However, I would greatly fear losing my wedding ring because it has great value to me. We fear losing those things that have value to us.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, you have given it value. If you are unable or unwilling to let go, the eating disorder holds value to you. Are you fearful of losing the eating disorder in your life? If you are, then you have given the eating disorder value.
Consider for a moment what value the eating disorder has in your life. What purpose does it serve? Why haven’t you left it yet?
Remember, we value things that we fear losing.
Our group acknowledged that the eating disorder is a way to numb out from overwhelming feelings. It is an escape from feelings of loneliness, inadequacy and rejection. It has become a friend, something that will never leave you. It is a sense of control. It gives a sense of comfort, peace and calmess. It is therapy. Medication. A quick fix. Instant gratification. It is a silent presence, passing no judgments on its beloved. It is identity.
Do any of these things ring true for you?
ROOTS OF FEAR
Fears do not arise overnight. Fears often have deep roots, going back to previous experiences in our lives.
In order to move forward in freedom, we need to determine what is at the root of our fears. Most fears are rooted in some common themes. Common fears that people may experience include…
- Fear of failure
- Fear of rejection by people
- Fear of disapproval
- Fear of being abandoned
- Fear of commitment
- Fear of being loved
- Fear of change
- Fear of the unknown
What fears do you feel most connected to? Why?
Think back to the time that this fear first welled up inside of you. What was the circumstance surrounding this first experience of fear? What events preceded this experience? How has this fear kept you from living in freedom?
FEAR AS AN ONION
The fears in our lives are like the layers of an onion. At our core is a base fear, that most likely started in childhood. As life continued, we added layers of fear to that core.
For instance, a young child may experience fear of disapproval. She goes to elementary school wanting people to like her; to be accepted. As she grows up and continues through high school she fears rejection, adding another layer of fear. She must look a certain way to fit in and get certain grades to be smart enough. As she grows into adulthood, she adds another layer. She is afraid of being loved by another person. That person may abandon or hurt her. Then another layer is added any time she faces something new. She fears a new job, new relationships, or a new crisis.
You can see at the core of this girl is a fear of disapproval. Yet as she grows, she adds layer by layer of more fears, all building on that core fear.
Our lives may be a layer of fears. It may feel overwhelming to think of all the fears that have become a part of us.
God says that he can remove the layers of fear from of our lives. We are not made to fear things of this world, but Him alone. When something becomes a part of our lives that is not what He desires for us, He will peel away everything that needs to be removed.
God loves to work at the core of our being. If your core currently holds fear, God promises that He can change you. He will change your core to have an identity in Him. When your identity is found in Him alone; in being his child, then your outside layers can be transformed as well.
When your core reflects an identity rooted in Christ, then your outside layers will reveal acceptance, love, security, approval, and value. All of these beliefs spring forth from an identity in Christ. These layers of truth are far stronger than the lies. No longer do we reflect weak, soft layers of an onion, but the strong, hard layers of battle armor.
When we give value to an eating disorder, we are left with voids in our lives. An eating disorder cannot satisfy our deepest longing for God.
What does that void feel like in your life?
Our group shared that this void can be identified by anxiety, loneliness, stress, hurt, brokenness, unsettled feelings, exhaustion, hopeless, and just plain bad.
Maybe this void in your life even feels like a black hole of nothingness. If this place feels like a black hole in your life, take comfort in knowing that there are no places in your life that are too dark for God. When we take God into these dark places, He will illuminate them with truth. And when it gets too hard, God will allow us to step away from it into the safety of His arms.
When we fear or value anything other than God, we have this bad feeling of empty space.
In Scripture, we are reminded 365 times not to fear the things of this world. However, God does say that we are to fear one thing. We are to fear Him. What in the world does it mean to fear God?
Fearing God means regarding Him with awe and great value. We fear losing God because without Him we have nothing (Mark 8:36-37). Yet, with Him, we have everything.
His perfect love can cast out any earthly fears that we have. When we understand God’s great love for us, as we fully attach ourselves to Him and give him value above all else, then our fear in this life can be replaced with peace. “His perfect love drives out fear” 1 John 4:18.
If you want to learn more about the fear of God, read this wonderful article by Remuda Ranch called Fear Not.
VALUE IN GOD
When we give value to God, He fills all of the empty voids in our life.
John 4:14 says that, “whoever drinks of the water I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give will become a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
What medium is able to fill all space? Water. Sand, stone, and gravel all leave cracks and space in a container. But water is able to fill every space. God is the living water that can fill all space. When He fills us up, we are never left wanting more. With God, we are fully satisfied.
When we give value to God, then we can believe that we have value.
What does it feel like to have value? What does it feel like to stop longing for more? What does it feel like to have a new life?
Our group responded with feelings of peace, contentment, hope, security, joy, acceptance, wholeness, rest, strength, renewal, restoration, purity, safety, and love.
We watched a Nooma video entitled, Tomato. This video addresses the fears that we have about letting other people see who we truly are. We cover up our real selves with false identities because we are afraid of what people will think of us. Rob Bell says this…
“We all get consumed with ourselves; sometimes we’re not even aware of it. We learn from a young age that life is about winning and impressing. We pick up that our worth and value come from how good, how smart, and how skilled we are. So, we twist things in our favor, making us look like we have it all together. Every day we have the choice to prop up these false ideas about ourselves or to let go of them. Jesus invites these parts of us to die, the parts that tell us our worth come from the things we say and do. Maybe it’s only when we let these things die, that we truly begin to live.”
Death leads to life. Picking a tomato from a vine, causing its death, is food that brings us life. Jesus’ death on the cross was the action that brings us life.
What fears do you need to put to death in order to truly live? Rob Bell says it this way, “May you lose your life, and in the process find it. May the love of God free you from fear. And may you trust that Jesus saves.”
Watch the video here…
PRACTICAL STEPS TO RELEASE FEAR
Read the Challenge to Change for the topic of Releasing Fear. There you will find a practical activity that will encourage you to act on the truths we are learning.
Read the EAT Daily pages for the topic of Releasing Fear. There you will find Scripture verses to read every day this week based on the topic of fear.