My story begins when I was five years old. At this time, my parents divorced, which meant that my older sister and I would live with my mom and only see my dad half of the time. Thus my fear began. I began to fear that I was part of the reason my parents divorced. I started to question my self-worth. I was fearful that when my mom would drop us off with the babysitter, that she may not come back.
I was saved when I was seven, but was involved in a church that was very legalistic. My experience at church, even as a young child, left me feeling as though I would never be good enough in God’s eyes. Maybe He too would leave me if I wasn’t “good” enough.
My fear and trust issues continued to grow over the years as a result of other circumstances in my life. At the age of 8, I discovered a lump in my throat that I hid for seven years because I was too scared to tell anyone. Thankfully it was discovered by a family member, who forced me to go to a doctor and address the issue. Had I not done this, it would have eventually cut off my air supply. I watched my aunt, who waited ten years to get pregnant, lose her baby on the day he was born. I watched my grandmother, whom I was very close to, suffer for many years with depression and addiction to prescription medication. The question that remained for me was “Can I trust you, God?” My heart cried this many times.
By the time I got married and began to attend Daybreak, I was getting to know God a little better. He was becoming more real to me. I started to open up my heart slowly to what it was that He wanted to change in me. Then about two years into my marriage, my mother in law suffered a severe brain stem stroke. As I watched her suffering in a hospital bed, I saw the faith of everyone around me grow deeper, but mine fell farther and farther away. This pushed me into a pit of fear and I couldn’t get out.
A few years later, I became a mother to three small children. I still struggled to trust God and to let him have control of my life. As a mom of 3 young children, life often felt crazy and out of control. I started to feel as though I needed to be in control of something. I discovered that the one area of my life that I could control was my eating. I started to deprive myself of food, only letting myself have one meal a day. I thought that I was controlling my body, but really, an eating disorder was controlling me. Whenever I felt angry or sad, I would deprive myself of food as punishment. By Christmas time of 2010, my friends and family started to show concern about my weight loss.
My close friend, Laura, who works here in the Care Ministry, encouraged me to call Jen Barnes. Jen is the leader of True Reflections, which is an eating disorder recovery group here at Daybreak. I was very much in denial that I truly had an eating disorder, but I hesitantly agreed to take the class. From the first time that I walked through the door, I found True Reflections to be a safe, comfortable place to share my story. The leaders accepted me, just the way that I was. I felt that I didn’t need to have my life cleaned up before I could participate in the group. As the leaders shared their own stories of brokenness, I felt comfortable to share my own struggles. The leaders consistently encouraged us to speak openly about our thoughts on God and food, whether good or bad. No matter what I shared, I knew that I would be loved and accepted, not judged for where I was in my struggle.
Through my willingness to be open and vulnerable, other women had the opportunity to pray for me, hold me accountable, ask me the tough questions, and support me. When I so desperately needed to hear God’s truth, they spoke it into my life. Through this group, I experienced the power of being in community. The leaders of True Reflections encouraged me to share honestly, but also challenged me to take my next step with God.
When my eating disorder began, I lost all sense of joy and peace in my life. As I began to think differently about myself and about God, I regained those true feelings of joy and peace. I felt a sense of freedom in being able to trust God and share with others. For so long I had believed lies about who I was and the person God created me to be. But through this group, God was teaching me the truth about who I am in Him and how he designed me. Through each class God revealed more and more about His love for me.
Through True Reflections, God has blessed me with amazing friends that I can honestly share my heart with. I value having these friends, who have experienced the same struggles that I have. Even though the class has ended, I am currently doing a book study with some of these same women. Through these relationships, I continue to grow in vulnerability and have accountability on my journey.
This is a journey that I continue to be on. I still struggle with eating and I am learning to lay my fear at Jesus’ feet at every meal. I have learned that every day I have a choice to pray and ask God to remind me of who I am in Him. God has been so good and patient with me through this process. As a result, my love for Him has grown so much and I can truly say my faith has grown as well. I am thankful for my eating disorder because God has used it to draw me closer to Him than ever before.
I now believe, and can say to you today, that I am fearfully and wonderfully made!