By Esther Gallaway
It’s interesting how small decisions can lead us down paths we never intended to travel. One small step leads to another until, sitting at the end of the road, we realize the mistakes we’ve made. I can’t say I’m proud of the four and a half years of anorexia I traveled, but God has a way of taking our brokenness and making it whole for His glory.
The journey began in middle school, a time of answering the fundamental question “Who am I?” Not being in the popular or exceptionally attractive crowd, I defined my self-worth in terms of academic achievement.
If I wasn’t popular or good-looking, at least I could be smart. This system worked until Algebra in 8thgrade. I didn’t have any previous algebra experience and I remember sitting in class the first day wondering when letters had been introduced into math. Needless to say it was an uphill battle from there. I was in the teacher’s office multiple times a week before or after school, struggling to understand. My system of self-worth was crumbling before my eyes.
As I lost control of my academic identity, I sought to control the one thing I could: my weight.
I was attempting to find self-worth in the American definition of beauty. I cut calories where I could and exercised increasingly more. But ironically, the more I struggled to control my life through diet and exercise, the more out of control I became.
Food became a fear, control an idol. I lied to and disobeyed my parents, hurting multiple people along the way. Regardless of what anyone told me, I never felt I could be good enough for my perfectionist self, or (at times) anyone else.
I felt guilt for eating what would be considered a normal proportion. This was my Achille’s heel and Satan used it to his advantage. By my junior year of high school I was around 5’ 5” and 117 pounds.
So what pulled me out of this destructive pattern of life and thinking? God. Eventually I acknowledged I needed to change, though at first I didn’t want to. I needed to change the way I viewed God, redefine myself in terms of how He viewed me, and surrender my will, perfectionism, and desire for control to Him. Surrender does not mean the road will be easy, or that we won’t slip again, but it invites God to transform our lives as only He can do.
God saved me from myself and offered freedom from the bondage of anorexia. By the spring of my freshman year at Corban I was able to eat brownies and ice-cream guilt free.
It should be mentioned, however, that I did not journey alone. In addition to His presence, God provided key people to walk alongside me. Family, friends, and teachers spoke truth into my life, even when it was (at times) painful.
They encouraged me to keep going when I became discouraged and wanted to quit. They were tangible reminders of God’s love. If you are struggling in any area, I would encourage you to seek counsel and accountability. Others may have journeyed the same road, and God did not intend for us to journey alone. Corban is a safe environment in which we can be real with one another as God heals our brokenness, making it whole for His glory.
The Hilltop will be sharing student testimonies bi-weekly in an effort to build community and edify the body of Christ. If you have any questions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.