I walked off the Revolve Tour stage in Hartford, Connecticut this past Saturday on a bit of an adrenaline high. The girls got it. I could feel it. They got the message poured out from the platform—they have never been, nor will they ever be, unloved. And not only that, they were learning how to receive that unconditional love of God into the places of their deepest shame, right there in front of me. Love buckets were being filled all over the room—filled to overflowing. Some girls were experiencing true love for the first time, and it took everything I had not to become a blubbering mess in front of them.
I walked up the stairs of the auditorium heading back to the green room, hoping to take a few minutes to wind down. A couple of girls in the balcony saw me headed their way in the darkness, and they jumped out of their seats and cornered me at the door.
One girl thanked me for what I had said and told me she felt loved for the first time in her life (SCORE), but the second girl looked concerned. She leaned in with a furled brow, raising her voice to be heard over the music playing loudly in the background.
“If you don’t have an eating disorder anymore, how come you’re so thin?”
A grin formed at the edges of my mouth, and I pulled her in close to answer her very valid question.
“Because, sweet girl. I’m free.”
When my parents pulled their suicidal daughter out of college and put me into rehab, I was anything but thin, despite my efforts. In fact, I was one of the only overweight girls in a treatment center filled with anorexics and bulimics. I knew the daily agony of trying to put on your ‘fat jeans’ and not being able to button them up. This was my life for years. Food, my body, and my size were a constant obsession, consuming every thought with negativity, self-hatred, and insecurity. It was impossible for me to look in the mirror without the bitter taste of disgust at the fat that constantly expanded my frame.
I diligently counted calories, made lists of foods I’d eaten, made lists of food I was going to eat, and rigorously clocked my work-out schedules and the calories I had burned on the treadmill. Food and my body were constantly on my mind, overtaking every thought, ruining every moment of life. When I ate what I considered ‘bad foods’ (pizza, hamburgers, fries, sweets), I’d usually be so disgusted at myself that I’d throw in the towel and go on a 5,000-10,000 calorie binge. Then, ashamed that I’d done something that was most assuredly going to cause me to gain weight, I’d try to fix try to fix the binge by starving myself for a few meals (or possibly a few days or weeks!). My metabolism was shot, my heart was always heavy, and self-hatred and disgust were like a dark cloud consuming every thought.
When people ask me how I got free from my eating disorder, they’re shocked when I give them the ridiculously simply answer.
“I learned how to be loved.”
What? Could it really be that easy? Yep, and I love showing people how to get there for themselves.
You see, I John 4:18 says that ‘Perfect love casts out all fear.” What’s an eating disorder anyway? It’s fear of not being perfect. It’s fear of not being loved. It’s fear of someone seeing the cellulite on the back of your thighs and being rejected, or fear of simply being naked in front of someone in intimacy. Fear, fear, fear, fear, fear. Eating disorders are always rooted in fear.
When you focus on a negative, you only produce another negative. Focusing on the food, on being a certain size, on losing weight, only focuses on the problem. But focusing on the problem won’t heal your heart. The more I focused on the solution—on learning how to be loved into wholeness—the more my heart began to heal, and perfect love displaced the fear, the shame, the insecurity, and the hatred.
The more I started allowing unconditional love into the places I believed were so ugly, that no one could EVER love them—the more I began to change. The more I felt loved, the more I believed I was loved. The more I believed I was loved, the more I acted like I was loved.
And the more I acted like I was loved, the more my behaviors changed. The need to obsess over food and my body literally went away.
That’s right, I said it…..THEY WENT AWAY.
You see beloved, I don’t focus on problems anymore. I focus on solutions. The more my eyes, my heart, my thoughts, and my words are filled with promises, with worship, with potential, with possibility—the more my life naturally looks like those things.
You end up looking like whatever it is that you focus on—and I live my life to focus on THE TRUTH.
Because I travel a lot, most times I have to eat whatever is available, and healthy goes out the window. On Saturday at Revolve, I ate eggs, sausage and an apricot pastry for breakfast. I had Doritos, cookies, and a chicken avocado wrap for lunch. I had a side-salad, french fries and a cheeseburger for dinner, and chocolate cake for dessert! I ate so many of the old foods that I would have been so ashamed to eat, but because I’m not under shame anymore—because I KNOW THAT I’M LOVED—the food doesn’t hold any power over me anymore.
I don’t obsess about it. I don’t worry about it. I eat what’s in front of me because it’s in front of me, and a lot of times, I don’t finish it because I’m full! I actually enjoy conversations with people at the table now. I actually don’t worry about what I eat or drink (Matthew 6:31) anymore.
And hilariously enough, my body just takes care of itself. Can you tell I had a baby 11 months ago? Nope. And I’ve probably worked out 4 times since then.
I’m not obsessed with the negative anymore—love takes care of it. I’m consumed with the promises. I believe I’m loved more than I believe the sky is blue, so guess what….
I’m the most beautiful I’ve ever been, in every way.
When you let God love the ugly parts of your life, believe me….LOVE ALWAYS MAKES BEAUTIFUL. (:
For more practical steps, make sure and pick up God Loves Ugly! Freedom isn’t just for a select few—it’s available for everyone! Don’t you dare believe the lie that you have to ‘manage pain’ this side of heaven. TOTAL FREEDOM exists, and I’m experiencing more of it every single day!