I tried everything. Well.... every earthly thing. I tried every supposed remedy. I went to therapist after therapist. Treatment center after treatment center. I met with all kinds of dietitians and tried all sorts of meal plans. I read book after book. Listened to lecture after lecture. And yet not once, did I ever think to turn to God.
Keep in mind, I did not accept Jesus Christ into my life until five months ago, and I have been enveloped with anorexia for the last five years. But in every time of desperation, even once I knew Jesus, I not once thought, or should I say, believed, that He could be the remedy to the demons that had consumed my life, and nearly stolen my life altogether. Not once did I trust in Him to take away the pain that I felt. Not once did I confide in Him when I was suffocating in sadness. Not once did I cry out to Him when I felt like it would never end. Instead, I cried out to people, to substances, to food, to addiction, to just about anything I could get my hands on.... to try to fill the gaping hole deep inside my heart.
But you see my friends, a God-shaped hole in your heart, can never be remedied by anything of this earth. We all have one, a God-shaped hole, and yet so many of us fail to realize what it is that we are truly craving. And when we do realize it, it tends to be after years and years of great pain before we recognize we have a pain taker right in front of us, ready to envelop us with His love and healing at any moment.
I've had many "God moments," I've witnessed many miracles right in front of my eyes, it's actually kind of funny how when you look back at your life you can pick out the little miracles in each day, but in the moment you don't even think twice about them. But nonetheless, even though I've had many moments of deep healing filled with nothing but Jesus, I still never thought THE moment, when everything clicked, when everything fell into place, when all the healing hit, would be a moment shared with Him. Perhaps this was because I didn't truly have the faith that could sustain the belief that the maker of miracles, could make a miracle out of me, but that's sure what he did.
So about a month ago (four months into my journey with Jesus) I was face-timing a dear friend and telling her about my desperation, my hurt, my mistakes, and my shame. I was pouring out my hopeless heart, and although I thought I was speaking to my beloved friend Lizzy, the one speaking back to me THROUGH Lizzy, was not of this world. Although I probably should have gone straight to God with my cries of desperation, God heard me and he used Lizzy so I would hear Him. The way he used Lizzy as a vessel on my journey of healing absolutely blows me away every time I think about it.
So Lizzy and I kept talking. Or should I say Jesus and I did? The lines are blurred. It's hard to remember exactly what was said, but it's easy to remember what we both felt. The indescribable, undeniable presence of Jesus Christ.
Lizzy encouraged me to surrender, fully, once and for all, my anorexia over to the Lord. And as simple as that sounds, it is the hardest thing I have ever done. My eating disorder was my best friend, my security blanket, my sense of home, and in some ways even... my God. I worshiped everything the eating disorder told me and trusted in it the way I should have been trusting in HIM.
Now, I'm a full believer that God's timing is perfect. Had Lizzy and I had had this conversation even a day prior, I truly do not believe I would have been ready to actually surrender my anorexia over to the Lord. But on this day, during this perfect moment, it was time, I was ready.
I believed in that moment, and even more so every day, that if I gave the Lord my eating disorder, He would give me back everything I ever "had" or per say longed for in my anorexia, and much much more. So I finally did it. I took a leap of faith. A leap that I once would have laughed hysterically at the idea of taking. A leap that could have been wrong, could have backlashed, could have left me even emptier than I already was. But, it didn't.
You see, because when I took that leap of faith, I didn't fall... I began to fly. Soar even, on wings I didn't even know I had. But God knew, He knew all along that I was always meant to fly. He just patiently waited for me to trust Him enough to take that leap and see the world from the view of a butterfly.
I did it. I prayed aloud. I surrendered it all, and I meant every word I said. I had tried every other route. And I had nothing left to lose. My eating disorder had led me down the same dark path time and time again, and I finally, FINALLY, let God have a chance to write my story instead of the devil.
Now I can't emphasize enough, that prior to this moment of deeply genuine prayer, I was a deeply disturbed and broken individual. And perhaps I'm still a little broken. Perhaps we all are. But I am a broken person, with a perfect savior. And once I realized the power in that statement, I never once had to fear Satan's lies ever again. Prior to this life changing moment, I truly never thought I would recover from anorexia. I thought my eating disorder was not only my identity for life, but my pathway to death. I preached hope and recovery, but I was never once truly living what I wanted others so badly to believe in.
And then in that moment, that shared moment between me, Lizzy, and Jesus, something unbelievable happened. Something broke. My chains.... they began to fall off. And as the old me broke apart, I was immediately filled with immense healing. I remember once telling someone "If you take away the eating disorder, there is no Natalie left to salvage." Boy, was I wrong. Because I tell you what, that eating disorder is nowhere to be found just a couple months later, but Natalie.... well she's everywhere.
I kid you not, the demons that consumed my life every second of every day, for YEARS, vanished in that very moment of prayer. This is something that words will never be able to fully express. It's one of those things that are just better off felt, and witnessed, but I'll do my best to explain this.
Anorexia Nervosa and Natalie up to this point in my life, were interchangeable. Two months ago, I could not so much as eat a granola bar without being filled with panic, desperation, and terror. And yet every single day, since that day of surrender, I have sat with friends or family, or just with the Lord, and eaten meal after meal, snack after snack. I have had salads for lunch, and I've had donuts at 3 a.m. I have not once been consumed with thoughts, and even greater, if I do have any irrational thoughts, I haven't acted on them. Like the snap of a finger, IT, my anorexia, my death sentence, was, and is....gone.
It's like I never even had an eating disorder to begin with. There are days where I forget that anorexia is even a thing, or even more... a thing that once consumed my life. A thing that stole my childhood, that left me in countless hospital beds. And with the power of a single prayer, it's gone. Vanished. Without a single trace. NEVER, to return again.
The best part is, it's not just me who sees it. The change not only in my eating but my heart, is so drastic that people can't help but rejoice when they see me. The pain that once drown my friends, family, and self, now is replaced by this indescribable joy.
And there are bad days. There are days when the devil tries as hard as he can to win me over. But it's so funny now. Because even when I hear Satan's whispers, listening to him isn't even close to an option anymore. I acknowledge his nonsense, pick up my fork, eat my waffles, and go on about my day with Jesus.
Please, my friends, whatever you do, never doubt the power of prayer, or better yet, the power of our GOD. We read and hear and share all these stories of His great love, but how often do we truly believe his love could be enough for us ourselves? You, are NOT the grand exception. The Lord's love IS enough. It's enough for you, it's enough for me, and it's enough to save us and set us free.
Healing looks different for everyone. Mine didn't come instantaneously when I accepted Jesus into my life. Mine came months into my journey with Christ, and after almost an entire childhood and adolescent life of pain and hurt. Mine came unexpectedly. Mine wasn't a life changing epiphany that happened while I was reading my bible. Mine didn't come with some secret formula, some magic code. Jesus has a different plan for all of us. I can't speak to what your journey of healing will entail, but what I can speak to, what I can promise you is that healing, healing that you can't even fathom until you experience it firsthand, is real. Not only is it real in general, but it's real for you. You can run as far from the Lord as you want, but if there ever comes a day where you're tired and just don't want to do it on your own anymore, the Lord will always be waiting with open arms.
You are NEVER too far gone. You are not a lost cause. You are not the grand exception.
Don't underestimate the power of faith, the power of love.
Miracles are real. I know this, because He took a mess, and made a miracle out of me.
And I, after a lifetime of bondage, I am free.