Content warning: This is a personal story that contains the subject of eating disorders.
I’m a Christmas person.
By that, I mean that I’m a Christmas-tree-up-in-the-first-week-of-November kind of person. I need my Taylor Swift Christmas album playing, and my hot cocoa with a candy cane. My virtual fireplace on YouTube is all queued up . . . and I already planned an Elf watch party. And I am proud. I love every part of this season — it’s just too joyful not to.
I’ve not always been a Christmas person, though. To be honest, the last few years I really dreaded the entire holiday season. Not for a lack of festive spirit or a disbelief in all things merry and bright, but because of the gut-wrenching fear that my body might change.
Family dinners, baking cookies with my little sister, putting candy canes on the tree, and watching Mom make her famous chili were hardly opportunities for connection and joy. For me, they were moments ripe with possibilities for the numbers on the scale to change — possibilities for me to become even more disappointed with the woman reflected in the mirror.
Last fall was the first time my (now) fiancé joined my family for Thanksgiving weekend at Grandma’s house. We were both working for the church we attended, so we got up early that Sunday morning to begin church set up — Trevor on the stage and I with the children’s and nursery items.
As we spent the first couple of hours of our Sunday preparing the space, I felt a pool of anxiety start to flood within me. My mind raced with memories of the previous Thanksgiving — the not-yet-free-from-an-eating-disorder Thanksgiving. That year, I had put on a perfect play so that no one could tell how ashamed I was. I’d tried so hard to not offend my grandma when I didn’t take slices of her homemade pies.
After church, Trevor and I got in the car and made the short drive to my grandma’s house. Picking at my fingernails, I confessed to Trevor, I don’t know how this is going to go. I told him how it’d been so long since I celebrated Thanksgiving without being consumed with thoughts of not wanting to consume food. I told him how it’d been so long since I gathered with my family and ate a meal without carrying the immense weight of body shame.
The tears began to creep into my eyes.
What if I don’t know how to not have an eating disorder on a day like this? What if Thanksgiving drags me right back to the place I’ve worked so hard to free myself from?
Trevor and I prayed over my fear, asking God to help me release it. Then we prayed over my mind, asking that God would protect it. It was then and there that I began to develop an anthem — a list of truths about God, myself, my body, and food — that I could repeat to myself whenever fear threatened to come in again:
- My worth does not come from what I try to control.
- My health is more than a number on a scale.
- My beauty is far deeper than my skin and my body.
- I don’t need permission to eat what is on my plate.
- I don’t need to apologize for eating what I choose to eat.
- I don’t have to receive comments about my food, habits, or body.
- I can create boundaries — with family and with friends.
- My value comes from Christ alone.
- God already calls me good.
If I was sitting with you right now at your favorite coffee shop, I’d lean in close and tell you this: Your Creator has promised you an abundant life — a life of joy and freedom and peace. And anytime you believe the enemy’s lies about your body, you’ll miss out on the joy, freedom, and peace that has been purchased for you with the blood of Christ.
Breathe in the truth. Let it seep down into your lungs and run through your blood. Let it shimmy into every inch of your body until you know it to be true, until you are living in the truth that your Creator speaks over you.
In Christ, there is freedom from all insecurity, eating disorders, and body shame.
This is your permission slip to release your fear of food this holiday season. Freedom is for you — wave your flag and sing your anthem.
At (in)courage, we believe in making space for all stories and experiences. With heartache, we recognize the reality of eating disorders. With hope, we share this story — proclaiming the help and healing that can be found in community and Christ. We are here for you, in prayer and in the comments below, should you wish to respond to this guest devotion. If you are in a crisis and walking through an eating disorder, please seek help from a medical or mental health care provider. You are not alone. There is help.Leave a Comment