Monday, September 23, 2013

Eating, Body Image, and the Gospel

Amie Patrick:
Two months into my freshmen year of college, I was forced to admit something had gone terribly wrong with the way I related to food. I'd gained 30 pounds in that short time, double the stereotypical "Freshman 15" some students gain over the course of an entire school year. Deep down I knew my weight gain wasn't only the result of unhealthy cafeteria food or insufficient exercise. I was eating constantly and compulsively for reasons I didn't understand—and I couldn't stop. I felt completely condemned and paralyzed with embarrassment, which I knew wasn't helpful or biblical, but I had no idea how to think otherwise. I was stuck.

I spent the next 20 years seeking to understand a biblical view of my body and of eating, as well as specifically examining how I'd ended up so trapped and confused. I struggled, prayed, immersed myself in Scripture, and repented. I sought out wise counselors, deep community, and biblical resources. I tried all kinds of practical strategies with varying degrees of success. I experienced seasons of freedom and moments of profound despair. I wondered if lasting freedom was even a realistic possibility. 
And then, a few years ago, I slowly began to realize my struggle with food had gradually lessened and was no longer such an all-consuming battle. My ups and downs leveled out. Food didn't consume my thinking, my weight was stable and healthy, and I no longer viewed myself with shame and contempt. I certainly wasn't perfect, but I was different. The little victories had added up, and the stretches of freedom had grown longer and deeper. Over time, I'd developed completely different beliefs and habits. I was changed from the inside out. It wasn't a flashy, overnight turnaround, but it was definitely a miracle.   
What I know for sure is that these changes didn't happen because I had extraordinary willpower or because I finally found a diet fad that magically worked for me. I am different today only because of God's transforming power in my life. Still, it took a long time for me see any connection between the gospel and my struggles in this area. In hindsight, however, it's unmistakably clear that these truths were foundational to my transformation and resulting freedom.
Read the rest.   

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