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Could You Be in Bondage to an Addiction?

  • Cindi McMenamin Author, Women on the Edge
  • 2010 7 Jul
  • COMMENTS
Could You Be in Bondage to an Addiction?

Studies show that one in five women suffers from an eating disorder or disordered eating. Could you be one of them? Read Kelly's story to find out.

Kelly was a happy and content teenager with no real "issues" at home. It was her search for significance, however - her desperation to find herself - that led her down a dark path of eating disorders that threatened to take her life.

Kelly was active in sports and cheerleading and involved in just about every social club on her high school campus. She was a fast runner and that soon became her identity. But during a cheerleading competition her senior year, she fell during one of the routines and broke her ankle. Endless doctor visits brought an end to her track career and any hopes of college scholarships. 

"All these changes began to scare me," Kelly said.  "Who was I?  If running was my identity, and it was why people liked me, what would happen if that was taken away?"

She began to fear that she would gain weight, because, for the first time in her life, she wasn't active.  So she began to diet, but it soon became obsessive. 

"I started to lose a lot of weight and gain attention from my family and friends; attention that I desired so much."

Her dieting spiraled to a downhill path of full-blown eating disorders.  When she graduated from high school, she had no idea what to do, which compounded her fear and her addiction.

"I felt like the rug was being yanked out from under me," she said.

A week after her high school graduation, she accepted Christ as her Personal Savior, after listening to some friends who had been sharing the Gospel with her for several months.  That Fall, she moved away to attend college a few hours from her home.  But her newfound faith didn't solve her eating disorder. 

"My eating disorders got worse and worse.   I didn't understand that I could call on the Lord for help.  I just figured I could ‘fix' this problem; I could get over this all by myself.  I sank deeper and deeper into a black prison of endless cycles of eating and throwing up, or starving myself. I bounced from Anorexia to bulimia.  No one knew how to help me. I told everyone I was fine.  I even fooled some people. But I never fooled God. I was depressed, discouraged and distraught.  I really did want help, but knew if I asked for help, I would be made to eat, so I couldn't risk it. I felt like I was looking at the world through prison bars, watching the happy people live their lives, dreaming that I could be one of them someday. It didn't even seem to stem from a desire to be liked, or for attention and identity anymore. It was simply a bondage that was wrapped around me like a glove."

When she moved back home to have her foot operated on, she began attending a local Bible-believing church and developed a hunger to read and study the Bible for herself. "I began to understand who God was, what sin was, and how a holy God viewed ugly sin," she said.  

As she was reading Psalms 51:3-4, her heart was convicted. 

"It was at that moment that I realized that what I was doing was sin.  My body; my self, had become my idol. I was in control of my life, not God. Every time I chose to not eat, or throw up, I was sinning against God, and was breaking His heart."

That day she finally surrendered her life to Jesus Christ and gave Him control of every area of her life.

"I cried out to God for forgiveness and strength to help me overcome this addiction.  He forgave me that night. He gave me strength to fight the battle against my addiction.  It was a struggle to make the right choices, but God helped me every step of the way. It was a long, upward climb, but God did it.  Jesus delivered me from darkness and despair into His glorious light and I am forever grateful!"

Now that Kelly is delivered from her eating disorders, she realizes she is also delivered from her desperate search to find herself. She doesn't need to be "thin" to know who she is. She doesn't need to be "in control" to know who she is. As she focuses on the One who loves her, she knows she is loved. As she focuses on the One who is all-powerful, she knows she can do all things through Christ. As she focuses on the One who has purchased her with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20), she knows she is of great value.

Today, Kelly no longer desires to find herself, but longs to know God in a deeper way and as a result has come to see who she is in His sight. Her desperation for a sense of identity nearly led her to self-destruction. But her desperation to show Him how grateful she is for what He's done for her has led her to a life that is liberating and a ministry that is fulfilling.

One in Five Women  

Studies show that one in five women struggle from an eating disorder or disordered eating. And nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder.

The desperation for significance manifests itself in many subtle, yet self-destructive ways. Sometimes it manifests itself in obsessive behavior or addictions. Because we can be on this destructive path of trying to find ourselves without even realizing it, here are a few of the symptoms. Do you ever find yourself:

Continually searching for your significance - Are  you constantly agitated over not knowing your purpose or special niche? Are you known to have one hobby or interest after another, none of which lasts longer than a year or two?

Obsessing about your age - Are you aggravated by thoughts that your life might be half over, that there's still so many things you haven't done with your life, that you're no longer able to do (or wear) certain things, that you have more wrinkles and rolls on your body and less muscle, energy and vigor?

Obsessing about your weight - Do you think, several times throughout the day, about  what you're eating, whether or not you should eat, how much you've eaten, or what you weigh? Or, are you constantly thinking about exercise, your heart rate, the number of steps you've taken, or your daily caloric burn?

Obsessing about your looks - Do you fantasize about  plastic surgery, fitting into a smaller size dress, having a smaller waist or nose, having larger lips or bust?

When we are consumed with thoughts about ourselves, we are headed toward self destruction.  But if we were to become consumed with thoughts of God, our lives would look completely different. Think about it: An addict is one who will do anything - whether it be immoral, illegal or unethical - to get her fix. To be obsessed with God, on the other hand,  is to be willing to do anything to have Him, to please Him, to sense His presence. If we became that  consumed with Christ our identity would be wrapped up in His and we would become more like Him.

(For helpful steps on overcoming food and other addictions, see the article Surviving a Struggle for Identity.)

July 8, 2010

Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and the author of several books including When Women Walk Alone. This article is an excerpt from her newest book Women on the Edge. For more information on her ministry or books, see www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.