I’ve been struggling the past few weeks. Not really sure why. It has to do with that feeling of being out of control. When I used to feel out of control, I would get angry, frustrated, severely depressed, anxious. My world felt like it was spinning through space, hurtling toward a collision I couldn’t avoid. That’s not a good feeling. It always came on when I felt like I had been eating too much and couldn’t get a handle on it, when I felt like my exercise had become too routine and basic. I felt like I had no power over my mind and what I was doing.
I felt out of control.
It was that feeling that ED thrived on. That is when ED could grab hold of my brain and take back his control. ED had a switch in my head. Like a fuse box. That downward spiral into out of control was like the power surging behind the walls, going unnoticed. But unnoticed doesn’t mean nonexistent. ED traveled those wires in my brain, feeding on my anxiety and fears, overloading my emotions on that one wire until all other emotions and functions were pushed to the background. ED powered my surge until I couldn’t handle all the anxiety anymore and my switch flipped off for a moment. I went numb. I wanted control back. That is when ED reached out his bony, gnarled finger and . . . FLICK. He turned himself back on. My eating disorder turned on and just like that, I’m not lying, just like that, in one moment, food no longer mattered to me. I could stop eating because I had no desire to eat. I razor focused on my exercise and found extra ways to burn calories. And I was in a good mood. I was happy because I had control back. Within a couple of days I could drop numerous pounds and would pat myself on my back, congratulating myself for avoiding that outer space collision.
Oh how I wish I’d known all those times ED flipped my switch that that outer space collision was what I had needed. I had needed to accept that anxiety for what it was: the doorstop wedged under the door of my heart trying to keep God out when I knew he could see through the door anyway. I never had control. Never. ED gave me a false sense of control. This is what an eating disorder is.
A false sense of control.
A life founded on a lie is a life ready to crumble. I praise God every day that my life crumbled into God’s waiting hands. He caught my pieces and with kindness and love, started putting them back together. But make no mistake, the crumbling, the falling into the anxiety without seeing God’s hands below, that is the scariest feeling in the world. That’s why it’s so hard to recover. We don’t want to let go when we can’t see if anyone is below to catch us. Recovery takes faith and trust at the deepest level. Trusting that life is more. Trusting that letting go means freedom in the fall. Trusting that free falling into fear will land us in the arms of the King of the Universe. God let me hit the bottom, but he had to. Without hitting the bottom, I wouldn’t have looked up to find the top. I wouldn’t have reached out my arms and pleaded for him to lift me out.
There was no switch at the bottom of my pit because darkness allows God’s light alone to illuminate the shadows. God pulled ED’s wires and rerouted my source of control to Jesus.
Do you see now what an eating disorder is? Do you see what an eating disorder does? Do you see the force of those emotions, the false need for control that ED creates? Do you see how scary it is to let ED go? Do you see in your mind someone hanging by their fingertips over the cliff of the Grand Canyon? Now look down. Do you see God’s cupped hands? Do you see the incredible power of God’s redeeming love?
Do you see Grace?
Letting go seems to be the dumbest option in the moment. But when you rise up on the eagle’s wings as he soars you up and out of the pit, you know letting go saved your life. The contrast between ED’s “control” and God’s perfect love stands brilliantly in opposition. I may be struggling right now, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to flip ED’s switch. My struggling means I need to pry my tired fingers off the ledge and let go. I know God’s ready to catch me, and even though this time I know he’s there, it still catches my breath to remember the free fall. But I know by experience the peace of lying curled into the perfect curve of God’s palm. I know the joy of surrendering my fears. That joy is what makes every new free fall I have to make easier and shorter. I don’t flip any switches anymore. I simply let go all over again.