More on Perfectionism

I’ve talked about perfectionism before, but I wanted to talk about it a little more in depth because I think a lot of people who struggle with an eating disorder also struggle with perfectionism. Both boil down to a sin problem.

I struggle with perfectionism everyday. I pressure myself with unrealistic expectations, and when I don’t perform at or above the set bar, I punish myself. Then I’m left to wallow in a puddle of self-pity. It’s a vicious cycle, really.

Perfectionism is more than just working hard or trying your best. It’s the compulsive urge to do things perfectly. It’s the fear of failing followed by an overwhelming rush of guilt when expectations aren’t met. It’s an idol, and it needs to be addressed.

The problem with perfectionism is that it leaves no room for the grace of God to work. It’s an entirely self-centered focus. It’s believing that if I can just do better and be better, then I will be enough. I’ll be pleased with myself, and maybe – for once – I’ll be worthy. But where is God in that?

Perfectionism does not glorify God. Instead, it robs God of His glory.

Matthew 5:48 commands that we be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect. And yet, within this very command is the assurance that we don’t have to be perfect. I know it sounds contradictory, but it isn’t.

If you backup with me, we’ll examine Matthew chapter 5 as a whole. You might recognize this as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Here he speaks on issues of anger, lust, divorce, swearing oaths, retaliation, and loving your enemies. Crowds of people gather to listen, but Jesus speaks with a very particular audience in mind – the Pharisees. Very blunt and direct, He exposes their pride and self-righteousness.

But before He jumps into this spiel, Jesus explains His mission. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets,” He says. “I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them (Matthew 5:17).” In other words, Jesus came to satisfy God’s demand for perfection on our behalf!

Jesus lived perfectly, and that is enough. His one act of righteousness produced justification and life for all men (Romans 5:18). 

When God looks at me, He doesn’t see my filthy, sin-stained frame. He sees the perfect stamp of His Son over my heart. I died with Christ, and now I am set free from sin (Romans 6:7)! I don’t have to live perfectly, because I am perfect in Him.

This is much different than the positive self-affirmations girls preach to themselves in the mirror to feel empowered. This is truth, and it’s sustaining.

After Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, many people struggled to accept the liberating gift of grace. It seemed to go against everything they had been taught. They were so bent on rule-following that unmerited grace was such an absurd concept. The apostle Paul had a lot to say on this subject. The Galatians couldn’t wrap their minds around the fact that Jesus had completely and perfectly fulfilled the Mosaic Law – it was finished! They were relying on human efforts to save them. And Paul was grieved to see fellow believers drifting away due to this lack of understanding. He wrote to the Galatians, “For freedom, Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” He is telling them, “Stop! Don’t you see? We are free in Christ Jesus. So stop exhausting yourself with burdens you’re no longer intended to bear.”

As I study this passage, I can’t help but see a striking resemblance between the Galatians and perfectionists today. The stubborn Galatians remind me so much of myself, and it’s alarming. Over and over again, I turn down God’s gift of grace to chase after perfection (or my own interpretation of it). Not only does this prove pointless in the end, but it’s also insulting to the One who bought my freedom. There is absolutely nothing I can do to earn salvation. And to suggest otherwise is a type of blasphemy. It’s like shaking a curled fist at God and insisting “my way is best, Lord.”

When we bow the knee to perfectionism, we chain ourselves to rules and rituals. We wear the loud mark of someone who doesn’t trust God. We submit to the yoke of slavery Paul warns against. There is no freedom in being a prisoner. 

This impulse – the feeling of needing to do things perfectly – is not from God (Galatians 5:8). He doesn’t expect perfection. Rather, His desire is that we lean into the perfect person of Jesus. How relieving! This takes an incredible pressure off of us. And when we learn to depend on Him, we have more time to spend doing things that really matter.

Because of Jesus, I am not under the Law, but under grace. I am not a slave to my obsessive thoughts. I don’t have to start over when I do something imperfectly. I don’t have to be afraid of messing up. I don’t have to set unrealistic standards for myself, and I don’t have to bathe in self-pity.

I hope you take comfort in knowing that the Bible is full of broken, far-from-perfect sinners. Abraham was deceptive (Genesis 20:2). David was unfaithful (2 Samuel 11:2-4). Jonah was disobedient (Jonah 1:1-3). Peter was afraid (Matthew 14:30). Martha was anxious (Luke 10:41). And Paul was murderous (Acts 8:1). Yet God loved these people and chose to adopt them into His perfect family. We can be encouraged that God works in and through lousy people to accomplish His goal.

The fight against perfectionism is an ongoing battle. But let us not fall into the trap of believing that we must earn our salvation. Jesus paid it all and perfectly met God’s high standards. 

It’s likely that I will struggle in this area for the rest of my life. But I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). 

Throughout this lifetime, I will never be perfect. But I am learning what it means to die to self. I am being sanctified everyday. God is constantly at work killing the perfectionist in me. The process is long and painful, but He is always good. In Him I have victory over the destructive sin of perfectionism.

– Taylor

You Can’t Serve Both God and ED

    Growing up, I never really paid much attention to my body. I didn’t care because it was the least important thing about me. 

    Fast forward several years, and body image was everything to me. I became obsessed with appearance and how people saw me. 

And maybe that’s why I get emotional when I think about my eating disorder. Because I remember not caring – not caring about weight or food or my physical appearance. And I remember the dramatic shift from not caring to caring a lot. My whole thought process changed.

What started as an innocent desire to eat healthier quickly spiraled out of control. I found myself stuck in a never-ending loop of restriction. I was always looking for new ways to reduce my caloric intake. It turned into a sort of game I played with myself. But it wasn’t a fun game, and I couldn’t possibly win. 

Looking back, it’s obvious that I was actively running from God during the years I battled an eating disorder. I didn’t have the energy to cultivate a spiritual relationship because I was so absorbed with myself and food. In fact, I would say that anyone who holds onto their eating disorder is not seeking God. Maybe that’s a bold statement, but I’ve learned you can’t glorify God while focusing so heavily on self.

I’ve heard a lot of people say, “Anorexia is not a choice.” To a certain extent, I agree. I didn’t wake up one morning and decide, “Hmm…let’s develop an eating disorder today.” But on the other hand, I was the one who chose to tweak my eating habits. Sure, it wasn’t this one decision which set me down the path of an eating disorder. But this poor decision led to other poor decisions and so forth. Soon enough, I was allowing my own thoughts to dictate truth instead of looking to Truth Himself. Food became my idol, and God was only an afterthought. So in a way, I did choose anorexia. Not because I wanted to starve myself, but because I was already starving spiritually.

At a glance, eating disorders seem to be all about food. And yes, food plays a big part. But when you get down to the heart of the matter, you’ll see the problem runs much deeper than food. Maybe you wrestle with doubts and fears and questions too hard to answer. Maybe you hide from those fears. Maybe you chase them on the treadmill. Maybe you eat them in secret or purge them in the bathroom. Whatever the form of your struggle, there’s always an underlying issue waiting to be surfaced.

My battle with anorexia began when I lost sight of the fact that I had been made in the image of God. I wanted to fix myself. I thought controlling what I ate would make me happy. I thought my parents would be proud. I thought my friends would look up to me as some sort of inspirational health guru.

In the book of Genesis, we see a similar situation play out. Up until chapter 3, everything has been perfect. Adam and Eve are walking in close fellowship with God. He is their best friend, and they are wonderfully satisfied in Him. But unfortunately, this relationship is severed when Eve bites into the forbidden fruit. In her head, she is convinced she knows better than God. As a matter of fact, she wants to be like God (Genesis 3:5). Perhaps the most heartbreaking part of this story is that Eve fails to see she has already been made in the likeness of God.

And sadly, her story has become our story. Just like Eve, we want to make ourselves God. We choose separation where Christ offers unification. We grab onto the half-truths of this world and allow what we think is true to hold more weight than the truth of Scripture. We brush past the fact that we are image-bearers of God!

Maybe you struggle with disordered eating. Maybe you don’t. Regardless, my message to you is the same: run to Jesus. Cling to God’s Word and hold on for dear life! Don’t settle for twisted versions of the truth. Don’t allow Satan to distort your view of God’s character. When you honor your spiritual hunger, you will naturally start to honor your physical hunger – not because it’s all of a sudden easy, but because it is pleasing to God, and you want to glorify and obey Him.

You can’t play around with an eating disorder while trying to follow Christ. No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other (Matthew 6:24). Therefore, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us (Hebrews 12:1).

– Taylor

Atypical Anorexia is Just Anorexia

Anorexia doesn’t have a look. It’s not a weight condition. It’s not a “thin person’s disorder.” It’s a mental illness.

A person can be anorexic at any size, regardless of what doctors or medical personnel say. I hate the term “atypical anorexia” because it implies that people in larger bodies aren’t “sick enough.” It reinforces the idea that you must get below a certain weight to have anorexia. Someone with atypical anorexia meets all the criteria for anorexia except drastic weight loss.

When a person is told they have atypical anorexia, they hear, “I’m not being taken seriously. I’m not really anorexic. I’m too heavy. I need to eat less, lose weight, and exercise more.”

But you don’t have to be thin to have anorexia. And you don’t have to be thin to be underweight. Anyone is underweight if they suppress their natural body weight.

 Some say anorexia is more dangerous at a low weight. I disagree. A person in a larger body who has anorexia is still harming themselves. They’re still starving to death. And the scariest part of it all is that they might be overlooked because they don’t fall below a “healthy” weight range. They might stay in an energy deficit for years without receiving any kind of treatment. Instead, they’re told to “keep it up” because they “look great.”

I know a lot of people measure their recovery progress by the number on a scale or where they fall on a BMI chart. But this never works! BMI doesn’t take mental health into account. And many people can reach a “normal” weight yet still experience symptoms of malnutrition. In that case, they’re underweight.

If you want to recover from an eating disorder, you can’t rely on a number to tell you when you’re “healthy.” Healthy is so much more than size. Stop manipulating your body to look a certain way. Stop restricting food because you’re scared of gaining weight. If unrestricted eating results in weight gain, you needed to gain weight in the first place!

Also, if you suspect a friend is struggling with disordered eating, please check on them. Anorexia affects all body shapes and sizes. It’s time to break the stigma and not assume that people in larger bodies aren’t struggling too. Don’t dismiss all the tell-tale signs of anorexia just because someone doesn’t meet the weight requirements.

Summary

  • Atypical anorexia is just anorexia.
  • A person is underweight if they are at a weight that can only be sustained through restriction.
  • Restriction is eating less than what you physically and mentally need (e.g., if I want two cookies but only eat one, I am restricting).

– Taylor

Comfort Amidst Confusion

Today is Saturday, April 4, 2020 – another day in quarantine. But the skies are clear and the sun is shining, so I can’t complain.

It’s been a while since I last wrote, and it’s crazy how much has changed the past couple months. So I just wanted to drop in and leave a bit of encouragement for those that read this.

Anyway, we’re living in such a weird time, and I wish I had answers. But I don’t.

Many people are worried, confused, and desperately searching for toilet paper. Yes, this is real life.

But on a more serious note, I understand the feelings of fear and angst. This isn’t easy, and I know it’s especially difficult for those struggling with bad thoughts. It’s times like these that can trigger a relapse.

But there’s great comfort in God’s Word. If you find yourself worried about food, exercise, or just the unknown, run to Jesus. Don’t allow your mind to wander without holding your thoughts up to the light of Scripture.

These are some verses I’ve really enjoyed here recently:

  • “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort.” ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3
  • “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” ~ John 14:27
  • “I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” ~ John 16:33

Also, I encourage everyone to listen to I Know Who Holds Tomorrow. The lyrics are beautiful and comforting, global pandemic or not.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4GKNbmYOAow

I hope you’ve had a great day! Keep your eyes on Jesus.

– Taylor

Dangers of the “Safe” Zone

I started recovery on Thanksgiving Day in 2017. There was a sense of urgency to the situation. I was thin, starving, and desperate for help.

But what about 10, 20, 30+ pounds later? When I wasn’t at death’s door? When I didn’t look like a walking corpse? Was the situation suddenly less urgent? Was I still deserving of the same aggressive treatment? Was I even sick?

In my opinion, the mid-recovery phase is the hardest. You don’t look hungry anymore, so everyone assumes you’re fine. Friends quit checking in on you, and parents loosen up around food. Mom isn’t very attentive at mealtimes, and dad doesn’t seem to notice that you’re hiding in the bedroom to exercise.

It’s easy to plateau at a “safe” spot in the mid-recovery phase. You feel comfortable here. It’s not too bad. You aren’t malnourished or underweight. Your hands aren’t so cold. And you’ve allowed yourself to eat certain fear foods.

But I see through your lies. I’m not fooled. You’re only eating the bare minimum to satisfy mom and dad. You’re challenging yourself, but not really. You don’t relax. You don’t laugh. You don’t connect with people. Food is always deliberately planned, and you wouldn’t dare to challenge yourself twice in row.

The scariest part of this “safe” zone is that it encourages complacency. You’re content with your progress and afraid to move ahead. Actually, you don’t want to move ahead at all. You’d rather stay here, where it’s “safe.” You don’t really plan on getting any better.

You aren’t dying. But you aren’t living. You’re just functioning. And if you aren’t careful, you’ll make a home of this “safe” zone. You’ll live in this perpetual state of “just functioning.”

Maybe the mid-recovery phase is hardest because you’re very sick. You’re as sick as ever, but it doesn’t show. You’re still restricting in one way or another. You’re controlled by rules and rituals. You won’t allow yourself to rest. You’re plagued with intrusive thoughts.

You need to push past the mid-recovery phase. Don’t settle for less than full recovery. But how can you do that? You need to get help. You need an authoritative figure in your life to hold you accountable. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help.” Seek accountability! You won’t be able to do this on your own.

 

I’ve stressed the importance of full recovery, but what does that look like? Full recovery is:

  • Seriously enjoying food. It’s a second or third helping of your favorite dish.
  • Sleeping in for the sheer fun of sleep.
  • Resting without guilt. It’s sitting in a chair without feeling the urge to move.
  • Singing in the shower. This one may be different for everybody, but I used to love to sing. Anorexia took that away for a while. I quit singing. Full recovery gave me my voice back. Now I have entire concerts in the shower.
  • Laughing from the heart. The world is so much funnier without an eating disorder. I don’t have to force a laugh.
  • A new perspective on things. Truly, full recovery has opened my eyes to a beautiful world! Anorexia deadens the senses. Recovery is like a grand awakening! Everything is brighter and more colorful.

It’s easy to get stuck in a recovery rut. Relapse is normal. But don’t spend a lifetime in the “safe” zone. Don’t delay full recovery. Eating disorders are difficult because they make you feel like everything is under control. The reality is that your life is spinning out of control. You aren’t safe. Get past the mid-recovery phase and onto full recovery.

You’ve spent long enough faking it. It’s time to recover for real.

– Taylor

Volleyball Trips and Second Chances

I cram my suitcase with all the essentials – knee pads, a fluffy blanket, and a plethora of snacks. I shove the mound of things into the outermost corner to allow room for my pillow.

It’s that time of year again. Volleyball season is in full swing. October 1st announces the eve of nationals.

As I pack for our trip, I can’t help but recall the 2017 national tournament in Missouri. The memories bring back a collection of mixed emotions.

I remember feeling anxious, to say the least. Anxious at the thought of frequent fast-food outings and the eight-hour long bus ride that was to be expected. I was anxious at the thought of leaving home – the thought of leaving my strictly regimented routine.

Yet I was also excited. Excited to get away from my mother’s all-seeing eye. Excited at the opportunity to further restrict my food intake. Excited to exercise in secret. Excited for all the wrong reasons.

Overall, the week was a blur. My focus was solely food. I was starving. My empty stomach distracted from friends, sightseeing, and conversations to be had.

One night, we made a stop at Steak and Shake for dinner. In a frenzied panic, I ordered a grilled chicken salad. I asked that the bacon strips and croutons be removed. I asked for dressing on the side. I mentally tallied the numbers. Too much, I thought. Still too much. Too unhealthy. Too fattening. I requested “no cheese, please.”

My plate arrived, a pitiful portion of lettuce, shredded carrot, and chunks of chicken – a meal that provided zero happiness, satisfaction, or enjoyment.

My friends laughed through mouthfuls of onion rings. The cute cashier was probably the main topic of conversation. But I wouldn’t know. I was barely present, lost in my own world of self-destruction.

I wish I could go back. I would order the greasiest cheeseburger for the girl with cold hands. I would order a large Oreo milkshake for the girl with hollow cheeks. And yes, I would like an order of fries with that. But the experience goes far beyond a substantial meal.

I wish I could go back to the people. I wish I were there to participate in deep discussions. I would play card games and joke about the attractive cashier. I’d stay up late to talk about the newest Netflix series. I’d braid hair while playing a game of Truth or Dare.

If only I could go back, I would spend less time in the bathroom. Less squats, more socializing. Less tears, more talking. No regrets, only sweet remembrance.

But wish as I might, I can’t go back. I can’t relive my wasted past.

Throughout the Bible, we see many examples of God’s mercies. He offers free forgiveness and bestows upon us second chances.

As I prepare for a week of volleyball games, I count it all joy that I have been given a do-over! I do not take this trip for granted. I am so grateful to travel with my friends – not only to eat food together, but to giggle, grow, and play as a team.

I look forward to the long drive. I look forward to the convenience of fast-food. I look forward to strengthened relationships, and best of all, I look forward to winning the championship title with my girls!

– Taylor

Eat Food, Not Numbers

As a happy-go-lucky toddler, I loved food. I was considered a “good eater.” I found pleasure and enjoyment in food.

Then, as an irritable teenager, I still loved food. But I hated it too. I was very selective with the foods I ate. Eating had become a chore. I found no pleasure or enjoyment in food.

As a four-year-old, I cried when I didn’t have my way. I cried when I wasn’t allowed to eat a particular snack. At fourteen, I cried when I was made to eat a particular snack. Why such the extreme turn of events?

Here’s the thing: there’s no joy in eating numbers. When food is diminished to calories, carbs, fats, and proteins, the fun is completely sucked out of eating.

Food is a social thing. It is something to be shared among people. It draws families together. It brings laughter, conversation, and an occasional tear to the dinner table.

But when food is diminished to mere numbers on a box, the social aspect of eating is fully removed. Food becomes a task.

When the social component is taken out, you are left feeling isolated and detached. You might sit around a group of people where food is the centerpiece, but you are unable to participate in meaningful discussions. You might sit there, but you aren’t present. Instead, you’re wondering why she has yet to start on her mashed potatoes. Why didn’t she clean her plate? What did she eat earlier today? Has she eaten more or less than I? At mealtimes, you sit awkwardly, not knowing how to fit in.

Food is also an emotional thing, although I dislike the term “emotional eating.” Typically, this phrase has a negative connotation to it. People look down upon eating to your emotions. However, we can’t deny that eating is simply a natural response to our feelings of happiness, excitement, bliss, sorrow, heartache, and all of the emotions in between.

But when food turns to numbers, the emotional parts of eating go away. For example, an anorexic doesn’t eat birthday cake for the sheer fun of it. It is a methodical procedure, involving lots of planning. Emotions play no role in choosing what to eat. It all boils down to numbers.

Whether or not you realize it, you are robbing yourself of joy! You are selling yourself short. You are keeping yourself from pleasure and enjoyment.

If there’s anything to be learnt from this post, eat food! Eat real, processed food. Stop eating numbers. Stop eating calories and macronutrients. Stop diminishing food to digits and percentages.

Eat food for the joy that it’s worth! Eat when you’re happy. Eat when you’re stressed. Eat when you’re tired. Eat when you’re bored. Eat when you plain ‘ole just want to eat! Engage in conversations, and eat food for food.

There is nothing better for a person than to eat, drink, and enjoy his work. I have seen that even this is from God’s hand. ~ Ecclesiastes 2:24

– Taylor

Recovery and Counting Calories

Throughout my course of anorexia, I made several attempts at recovery. Unsuccessful attempts, at that. I had wanted to prove that I was capable of getting well on my own.

A recurring pattern was seen among my unsuccessful attempts. For one, I was always hesitant at the idea of full recovery, or more specifically, the idea of complete abandonment of my eating disorder. Perhaps the most constant theme was that I continued to counted calories, even amidst my efforts to recover. This seemed, to my disordered brain, a good option. After all, it was important that I ate sufficiently. Tracking my caloric intake appeared to be the best way by which to monitor that.

This thinking was very twisted and did nothing to improve my mental condition. Counting calories was not helpful. In fact, it was dangerously harmful!

How, you may be wondering, could calorie counting be so destructive? I’m glad you asked.

For an anorexic sufferer, there is an incessant fixation on food – an unhealthy obsession, if you will. Inserting calorie counting into the mix of already chaotic thinking only amplifies the disarray. When an anorexic decides to begin counting calories, they are forced to think about food in a detailed manner, more so than is already being done. It forces the individual to direct their thoughts to questions such as: What is a serving size? How many servings did I eat? How many calories are in xx servings?

Calorie counting can become a religious practice in as much as Bible reading or prayer. One may begin to elevate calorie counting to the point that it controls their decision to eat or not to eat a specific food.

In addition to calories, one may begin to count macronutrients, which could lead to further restriction of foods.

If I have failed to make myself clear, let it be known that calorie counting is an anorexic behavior. Therefore, an anorexic cannot expect to recover while participating in anorexic behaviors. All of this I say to confirm my point that it is nearly impossible to recover while counting calories.

Aside from the few exceptions, normal people do not track their caloric consumption. And yet, these same people are able to eat sufficiently. My brother is nine years old and has no trouble preparing himself a suitable meal. Mind you, he doesn’t count calories. Why then, do anorexics argue that they must record their intake in order to eat adequately?

In all truthfulness, it is a means of control – a way to satisfy the ever-present desire to manage food. It is a means of resisting recovery. A means by which to continue with your eating disorder.

When I was sick, I used My Fitness Pal to keep a history of what I had eaten. This app, though seemingly beneficial, became a hindrance to my recovery.

Perhaps you have struggled in similar circumstances. You struggle with counting calories or checking the nutrition panels of foods. Even so, you are stronger than you think.

First and foremost, I would suggest that you delete any and all apps relating to food or exercise. If recovery is the goal, do not engage in anorexic behaviors, no matter how tempting.

Eating sufficiently does not require that you count calories. Eating sufficiently simply requires that you eat without restriction. For someone in the early phases of recovery, this is a lot easier said than done. Nonetheless, you know when you are restricting. You know better than anybody else. You know what a proper portion looks like, and it isn’t always a size small.

My advice? Don’t count calories. It isn’t useful, and besides, who likes math anyway?

– Taylor

The Pursuit of Perfection and American Girl Dolls

Anorexia or not, I’ve always been the perfectionist type. I’m the type to scrap an entire sheet of paper because of (what I consider to be) poor handwriting. Then, I’ll start all over. And if the ink smears? Trash that page too. I’ll rewrite it.

My perfectionism is also made manifest in my bedroom. I like things to be kept so-so. I have a particular system of organization, and, if you’re smart, you won’t interfere with me and my methods of arrangement. I like for my bed to be made, my floors kept clear, and my laundry folded as crisp and flat as can be.

Okay, I hope you get it. I’m perfectionistic. I don’t need to rant or spend an unnecessary amount of time giving examples of my strange absurdities.

Bearing all of this in mind, however, we’re brought to a story that I’d like to share.

Anyway, on my tenth birthday, I was surprised with a trip to the American Girl Doll store in Atlanta, Georgia. Talk about pink in its pinkest form! Pink walls. Pink floors. Pink shelves. Pink boxes. An explosion of pink. And glitter – oh, tons of glitter! Glitter by the gallon.

For the first ten years of my bliss-filled life, I had considered myself a tomboy. But, it was at this very moment that I temporarily converted to girly-girlism.

To say that I was “in love” would have been an understatement. I was engrossed – infatuated – with these beautiful dolls, adorned in pink.

I wandered around the store, lost in my own happiness. I roamed the seemingly endless aisles of doll clothes, doll furniture, doll accessories, doll books, dolls.

At last, I landed on a display of look-alike dolls. I searched for my twin. Brown hair. Brown eyes. Brown-ish skin. She was beautiful – perfect even! We made an immediate connection, me and that doll. I wanted her with all of my ten-year-old heart!

In short, I left the store in a contented state with a new friend clutched tightly in my arms. She was my pride and joy!

As any good mother would, I decided that I would take my doll – whom I later named Kate – with me, wherever I went. Yet I would keep her hair in its original condition – glossy, unknotted, perfect. She would always be fully dressed and fully prepared for whatever I planned to do.

I started out with good intentions, and indeed, my intentions remained “good.” But problematic circumstances (or perhaps my sheer clumsiness) got in the way of my good intentions.

Several months into my motherhood, a terrible misfortune occurred. I dropped my beloved doll atop the concrete pavement. In doing so, the tip of Kate’s nose chipped off. It was only a small scrape, but I was absolutely devastated!

My perfectionistic (aka borderline insane) personality kicked into overdrive. I was not only mad at myself and my utter klutziness, but I was irritated with my doll for having suffered such a calamity, as if, such a thing had been her fault.

She was no longer perfect. She was flawed, damaged, marred. She, due to her wounded nose, had lost her luster. And likewise, I had lost pride in my doll.

According to my own way of thinking, Kate was now undeserving of my attention and affection. I would have argued that Kate was no longer useful, as if her usefulness had lain in the tip end of her nose. She was unworthy of my time and energies.

Contrary to my previous desires, I no longer wanted to carry Kate along with me. In fact, I would have liked to purchase a new doll in replacement, if only I had had the funds to do so. I desired nothing less than perfect. A strong demand, yes, but my standards were unwilling to waver.

For the most part, I kept these harsh emotions inward. But I did, at some point, share with my mom about how I was feeling. I briefly explained that, because of my doll’s misshapen nose, I no longer had any interest in playing with her. I even voiced that I had considered sending her off to the American Girl Doll Hospital, all in hopes that she might be returned to perfection.

I expected that my mom would rebuke my unrealistic expectations or roll her eyes at my silly thinking. But instead, she said in a matter-of-fact way, “Taylor, there’s nothing wrong with her nose. Sure, it may be broken, but it just shows that she has been well-loved. It shows that she has been worn by the experiences of life. It shows that she has ‘lived a little.'”

Although you may be thinking that I was a bit irrational or unreasonable towards my doll, you might relate to my story more than you’d like to admit.

Too often have I seen girls criticize themselves because of flaws that are out of their control. They berate themselves due to their faults or deem themselves unworthy on account of their mistakes. They condemn themselves because of their weaknesses or shortcomings. They attack themselves owing to their blemishes. Girls critique and revile their own bodies when they fall short of perfection.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with observing your body or acknowledging your frailties. But when it gets to the point that you are unhappy with your God-given frame, then it becomes an issue. In this way, not only are you harming yourself, but you are insulting the One who created you!

My friend, you are not defined by your scars. You are not defined by your shortcomings or your errors or your defects. Your worth is not found in appearance or in a number. Your value is in Jesus Christ, who died that you might live eternally!

Maybe you have some visibly obvious imperfections. You have a past that you fear may never be forgotten by others. Nonetheless, you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)!

Your infirmities and failures are proof that you have been worn by the experiences of life. I’m not condoning bad behavior or excusing misconduct. I’m not saying that it’s okay to create damage by partaking in sin. But if you struggle to accept that your worth is not defined by your past, I’m here to proclaim that your worth was determined at the cross!

Jesus loves you unconditionally. He doesn’t ask that you be perfect. He doesn’t even ask that you be close to perfect. He gently asks that you come, for His power is made PERFECT in your weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).

– Taylor

My Experience With Eating Disorder Treatment

Let’s talk about therapy. For some, this could be a touchy subject. For others, perhaps a comforting topic of conversation. Regardless of where you stand, here’s my take on the issue.

About a year and a half ago, my mom made the decision to seek help from a trained professional on my behalf. Time and time again, I had proven that I was incapable and unwilling to choose recovery. Thus, she took it upon herself to find help.

I expected I would meet with an eating disorder specialist or a recovery coach of some sort. However, this was not the case. In December of 2017, I began my sessions with a Biblical counselor.

Right away, I openly admitted my fears and apprehensions. I unloaded what I had kept hidden inside for so long. I talked through my struggles and concerns surrounding food. I confided in my counselor, as though I had known her for years.

Several weeks into our sessions, it was suggested that we do a Bible study together. I was slightly taken aback by this proposal. I was disinterested, to say the least. I was not there to listen to sermons. Trust me, I was receiving my fair share of those at home.

It irritated me that my counselor would recommend a Bible study. She doesn’t get it, was my immediate reaction. She doesn’t understand what I’m going through. She doesn’t comprehend the depth of my illness. If only she could grasp that I don’t need more lectures. I don’t need to read more Bible stories. I need someone to listen to my story. I need a meal plan, not a Bible plan.

I went into the whole ordeal with somewhat of a closed mindset. I couldn’t understand how a study titled The Gospel-Centered Life had anything to do with my eating disorder. How was this supposed to help me? Was it just mindless filler, to occupy the time?

Then, maybe halfway through the study, a lightbulb went off in my brain. Sure, the Bible study may not have specifically applied to my life, but my life could easily apply to that particular Bible study. In other words, the study wasn’t written for recovering anorexics. But an anorexic could equally use the study to recover.

If you’re still confused as to what I mean, let me continue. The author probably didn’t have me in mind when he composed his book. But even so, the book was written directly to me. And why is that?

Although the study had nothing to do with anorexia nervosa, when the Gospel is made central in our lives, it has a strong affect on every aspect of our being. In my case, the Gospel allowed me to obtain a new perspective on food and exercise.

For far too long, my eating disorder had become an idol. I worshipped food and praised fad diets. It had become the central theme of my life. Therefore, I had a distorted opinion of God. My inflated view of self and so-called “healthy” foods and vigorous workouts had deflated my view of the Gospel.

Learning to live a Gospel-centered life allowed me to truly recover. Not to say that I’m perfect or that I have ever been so. I stray away and lose focus, a typical human tendency. But continual striving towards the cross has freed me from my eating disorder.

Perhaps my counselor was the smartest woman on the planet. She recognized that I needed Jesus significantly more than I needed another ritualistic meal plan. I needed Jesus more than I needed affirmation to eat. I needed Jesus more than I needed self-care.

In the moment, I couldn’t identity my needs. I thought that quinoa and egg whites would make me whole. I assumed my worth to be found in the foods I ate and in the exercise I performed. Yet my worth is not in what I eat. I am made complete by none other than Jesus Christ!

Without the Savior, I believe recovery to be immensely hard. Until you make Jesus the main focus of your life, your eating disorder will decide your every move, justifying every wrongdoing. Lying will become excusable, and disobedience, a mere habit. Deception will become a daily practice, and secrecy will play a part in your typical routine.

I urge you, run! Run from your eating disorder and from lying, disobedience, deception, and secrecy. Run from aimless pursuits and earthly pleasures. Run from these things and into the arms of my Savior!

When I was sick, I longed to experience contentment – contentment with my body. I was searching for a piece of mind that I never received.

But, when I turned from anorexic behaviors and trusted wholly in Jesus Christ, that’s when I experienced true contentment. A sense of freedom, unlike anything else. A security that I am enough because He is enough.

You don’t need a nutritionist or a 12-step program. You don’t need more greens or grains or grapes (try saying that five times fast!). You don’t need to take a class on mindfulness or a course on intuitive eating. You need, more than life itself, a relationship with God Almighty.

“And my God shall satisfy all your needs according to His riches in the glory of Yeshua, The Messiah.” – Philippians 4:19

– Taylor