For all the perfectionists, control freaks, socially awkward, anxious, depressed, and/or scared girls out there (myself included): stop it! Just stop it! Stop competing with each other. Stop comparing your life and your body with someone else’s. You are you, plain and simple.
You may call me crazy, dumb, cliché, narrow-minded, or any other choice of words after reading that opening paragraph; but don’t write me off just yet. I promise, I have a point to make.
So with that being said, I also know it’s not easy…I know, because I can’t “just stop” either. But our striving to be perfect and control the world around us, is robbing us from experiencing the perfectly imperfect life we are living right now. I don’t know about you, but sometimes I get pretty sick and tired of people telling me to just stop. Just get over it. Just move on. Just let it go. Because quite honestly, those are just not possible without stepping backward, into the craziness that has become our minds and figuring out how and why we got this way.
I want perfection. Why? Because somehow, someway I learned that beauty, love, and my all around value as a person came from the size of my waist, the number on a scale, and the beauty of my face. At no time, until recently, had I ever placed any value on the size of my heart.
At the age of 10, I started weighing myself; and every time, I thought the number was too high. By 11, I started experimenting with restricting food. At age twelve, I discovered binging and purging. And by age 13, I was trapped in the world of a crazy, eating disordered obsession.
I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to be beautiful. I wanted to be loved. I wanted control. I wanted to be protected. I wanted to be wanted. I NEEDED to feel like I had a purpose in this world. And from what I could tell of the world around me, purpose came by way of beauty, which came from being perfect, which extended from being thin.
But the perfection that I so desperately strived for, would never be possible. I would never and can never be a perfect person. But at the time of my eating disorder, I didn’t see that. At the time, I kept thinking that if the number on the scale just got lower, I would be happier and find perfection. But each time the number got lower, that voice in my head told me it still wasn’t low enough.
And since we’re talking about eating disorders here, I want to clarify a very common misconception. Eating disorders are not necessarily about weight or appearance; although that’s the way it manifests. Ultimately, eating disorders are a way to gain control over a life that’s uncontrollable. Eating disorders are just one tool we use in an effort to attain perfection. When my weight issues started, I had been sexually abused by a friend and sexually harassed online by some guy I didn’t know. I was 10 years old and I felt like my life was spiraling out of control. So I grasped for control and my grasp landed on eating disorder. For a good while, I believed that I was in control. I couldn’t control anything else in my life, but I could control food; and that gave me a sense of pride like I’d never known before.
But that sense of control and pride that I felt, quickly gave way to a new emotion: depression, the state of feeling completely and totally alone and worthless. Depression soon led to self-harm and self-harm to suicidal thoughts…all for the sake of beauty. For the sake of beauty, I was willing to flirt with death, to test my chances. Between the eating disorder, the “perfect” façade I put on, and the seriousness of my self-harm, my body was barely fighting to be alive…but my mind didn’t even know that I was slowly killing myself. I was sure that I was still in control and that I would, one day, find perfection if I could only get thin enough and pretty enough.
My point in telling you all of this is simple: we are killing ourselves for the sake of beauty and unattainable perfection. We are so pressured by the world around us and the enemy within us, that we believe the message that we’re not and never will be good enough. We put ourselves and our bodies through physical and mental anguish for the approval, praise, and acceptance of others. We rarely even stop to consider the rationality of what we’re doing; the eating disordered mind no longer understands rationality.
2 Corinthians 4:16 – So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.
The normal, rational, logical mind tells a person to eat when they are hungry. But the irrational and illogical eating disordered/distorted body image mind has been physically conditioned to find euphoria and happiness in the feeling of hunger.
I’m fairly certain that pretty much every girl and woman has at some time in their lives struggled with body image issues. I’m sure we’ve all experiences the heart-breaking pain of believing we are ugly…for whatever reason.
Maybe an eating disorder isn’t your struggle to find to beauty. Maybe your body image issues show themselves in another way. Maybe you overeat and try to make yourself unattractive so that you will never have to feel the shameful, sensual touch of a man ever again. Maybe you are obsessed with exercise, you work your body past it’s breaking point so that you can find the power to fight back. Maybe you go under the knife, you choose surgery as a way to get rid of the things you don’t want and add the things you do want. Maybe you use alcohol in an attempt to “loosen up” and be more social and friendly. Maybe you cut yourself to cope with the guilt and shame of not being enough. Maybe you jump from one relationship to another; giving your body away to every man you meet, just hoping that someone will stay, that someone will love you.
The list could go on and on…but I think you get the picture.
Our culture, our society, the messages we push out, not only to young girls – but to girls and women of all ages…it all points us to a gut-wrenching lie that we’re not good enough and, no matter what, we’ll never be good enough.
1 Samuel 16:7 – The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
But as hard as it is to believe, and I say it like that because I often have a hard time believing this myself, you are enough. You are beautiful. You are worth it. You are loved. You are cherished. You are the daughter of a King.
Song of Solomon 4:7 – You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.
Can we, for just a minute, step back, close our eyes, and stop focusing on the world and the pain that is right in front of us. Let’s look further beyond what we can see. Instead of finding our value in the mirror, let’s look at our hearts.
Proverbs 31:30 – Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised.
I know that it is easy to hear all these things and think, “Well, that doesn’t apply to me. You don’t know the things I’ve done.” And you are absolutely right, I don’t know the things you’ve done or the circumstances of your life, but I can bet that whatever it is that you think you’ve done or been through that is too much for God – I’ve probably done it too. I thought the same thing, I thought I was too far gone. I never thought He would reach out to me…but He did, and He wants to do the same thing for you.
Romans 8:6 – For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
After living most of my life in my distorted mind, I thought God could never use me. But I was seriously wrong, He has already used me and is continuing to use me on a daily basis. I still struggle with body image and eating issues. I still, quite often, fail to see myself the way God, my husband, or anyone else does. And to be quite honest, I will probably never be able to actually see myself in that way.
So ultimately, it comes down to a choice. Am I willing to accept that I am perfectly imperfect? That God cares about me in spite of and because of myself? That even though I may not see Him moving or active in my life, He loves me anyway? Am I willing to believe that I have made choices that have steered me away from Him? That my own sins have drawn me further and further away from the truth? That I have spent much of my life “spitting in God’s face” by trying to destroy my body; the very body that He created? Am I willing to confront my past and look to God for comfort and reassurance when my pain feels too great?
Matthew 7:13-14 – Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
It’s your choice. A choice that must be made on a daily basis. What will you choose?