There I was sitting on my floor with my empty ice cream carton and my even emptier soul. I felt so full I could puke, yet so empty I could drown in my own despair. I had eaten myself into another food coma and with my spoon I dug myself deeper into my failure. All I wanted was to be skinny, but I gave into the chocolate-caramel-swirl yet again. But this time was different. This time I felt like there was no getting out.
In the privacy of my locked room the silent tears made their way down my cheeks. This chocolate ice cream should have delivered sweetness to my tastebuds, but the only taste on my lips was guilt. The shame and regret overwhelmed me, and the feelings washed over me faster than I could stay afloat. Quickly being pulled into the strong current of my abrasive thoughts and trying to keep my head above water, I told myself, “It's just ice cream.”
But this wasn't just ice cream. This was war.
The waves of thoughts were powerful and relentless, “You're always going to eat uncontrollably like this. You'll never have self control. You're going to gain more weight. You'll never fit into your jeans. This ice cream has more control over you than you have over yourself.” One after another they crashed over me and my only defense was my spoon which, mind you, wasn't much help.
With no way of protecting myself against the intrusive thoughts, I fell into the lies because I had no truth to stand on. There I was, defeated from a battle I regularly lost. The fresh wounds of shame and guilt accompanied the scars of regret that proved this wasn't my first battle. I was battered, bruised, and tired of trying. Exhausted, I held up my white flag.
That was the night I gave up.
My own strength wasn't enough. Right then a verse found in Exodus came to life: “The Lord will fight for you and you shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:14). I will tell you peace wasn't exactly what I was holding. I was holding a spoon and an empty chocolate-caramel-swirl ice cream container. Not peace. But that's when I realized I was fighting a battle I wasn't meant to fight. This was war and only God could lead me into victory.
The war began when my innocent desire to be healthy lead to a not-so-innocent obsession to be thin. But being thin and pretty were of no match against my caramel infused chocolate ice cream, especially after days of food restriction. My never ending appetite for skinny drove me from diet to diet, in hopes of finding satisfaction in the victory of getting thin. Well the war raged on even when victory was found. Never satisfied even with diet success, finding victory in weight loss wasn't the victory I had actually hoped for. I thought I could satisfy my inner hunger externally but as the numbers on the scale dropped, my hunger inside did not.
That's because I was hungry for the wrong thing.
Jesus said in Mark 4:4 that, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” I was living by bread alone. I was expecting a tiny body to give me a happy life. My expectations fell short when I realized being thin would never satiate my soul.
Picture this: you're driving in your car while drinking a smoothie when you realize you're all out of gas. Instead of making your way to the gas station you pull over, hop out, and begin to pour your smoothie into your gas tank. This is dumb. And this is definitely not going to work. Why? Because you just poured puréed strawberries instead of gasoline into your vehicle.
Cars need gas.
Bodies need food.
Souls need truth.
Unfortunately my soul was running on empty for so long that I began to believe lies instead of truth. I traded my identity in Christ for my identity in my appearance. What a terrifying place to be in.
We cannot expect a diet to fix our problems. We cannot expect thinner legs to give us happiness. We cannot expect to find true satisfaction in our appearance. We need the daily truth of God's word to fill us up because only knowing who we are in Christ will satisfy our hungry human soul. Yet so often we try to fill up our souls with other things instead of truth.
For example, for so long I tried to find my worth in what I looked like. But we cannot improve our physical appearance and expect to be made complete in that. There will always be room for more improvements. There will always be another goal post to reach and the striving will never cease when it comes to appearance. So the war rages on. And on. In fact Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, “I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14). If you're chasing anything but Jesus, you're chasing the wind.
So I decided to live by God's truth and that means I am beautifully and wonderfully made...yet that was hard for me to believe when the mirror said otherwise. So I continued to try to please the mirror but I never saw beauty in my reflection. I again started to believe I would never be enough. That lie drove me back into the vicious cycle of dieting and I was terrified that I would never be able to accept myself. But there was something else I was even more terrified of: the truth.
My greatest fear was that if I was brave enough to believe that God made me beautifully in His image then I would never be truly satisfied. Satisfaction was being thin to me. So what if I never reached that goal? What if I just believed I was beautifully made? I was scared that if I fully trusted in who God says I am, I would never like how He made me.
This is the same lie that Adam and Eve listened to in the garden. They believed they could be happier outside of God's will. They bought into the lie that eating the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would be more satisfying than obeying and listening to God. That lie brought sin into our world, and the same lie is still alive and wreaking havoc today.
Then everything clicked. I was looking in the mirror for acceptance. Literally. I thought if I saw the beautifully and wonderfully made girl God created I would be satisfied. Right? Wrong. I was still unsatisfied. Why? Because I was looking in the wrong place. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “...For the Lord does not see as man sees; for a man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I was looking at my outward appearance when I should have been looking where God looks: at my heart.
God made us in His image but this broken world wants us to believe we should be made in our own. I was not seeing as God sees. I was looking at my own physical appearance hoping I could see my worth in Him. But the mirror doesn't work that way. It can never see who you are in Christ. A mirror will never be able to show you that you were masterfully crafted and hand designed by the God of the universe. Only the truth of God's word can show you that. Who God says you are speaks infinitely louder than what a mirror can conjure up. Jesus's finished work on the cross demonstrated His love for you once and for all, and gave you more beauty than a mirror could ever show.