“I've had the privilege of growing up in the church, where I learned about God and His everlasting love for me from a very young age. I attended summer camp at the age of nine, where I heard and understood the gospel and accepted Christ as my savior.
“I didn't fully understand what it meant to have a relationship with God. The things I read in God's Word was knowledge in my head, but not affecting my heart. Going to church on Sunday mornings and knowing all the answers during small group made me feel superior in my faith and better than the people around me. I let my pride rule over me, and I was living my life only for myself and the approval of others.
“For years, I set myself to a higher standard to be the perfect daughter, sister, and friend. But what I was doing was in no way to glorify the Lord. As I entered middle school, my mind was consumed with thoughts about what clothes I was wearing, what I looked like, and how much I weighed.
“In March of 2020, I found myself spending most of my time scrolling on social media, where I continued to silently battle the thoughts of what my body looked like to others. Eventually, I let these things take over my heart, and I started to develop an eating disorder, in hopes of changing the way I looked, which I thought would then give me the affirmation and approval I so deeply desired from others.
“I knew what I was doing wasn't the best for me, but I didn't care. I slowly started to forget everything I was taught about God growing up and allowed my flesh to grow stronger.
“Through all of this, I continued to wear a mask, acting like my heart was fully devoted to Christ. At the time, I didn't think about God; even when I did, it was to question Him about why He made me the way He did. I kept asking, ‘If God loves me and wants the best for me, why would He give me a body He knew I wouldn't like?’
“I continued to silently battle thoughts of my worth based and my outward appearance until February of 2021 when some friends and I took a trip to visit one of our old small group leaders. We decided to read some discussion cards at our last breakfast together. I’ll never forget the last question: ‘What is one secret you've been keeping that you haven't told anyone?’
“After a long silence, all my friends were willing to take a step of vulnerability and share something they'd felt convicted by. I remember the stubbornness from my own heart refusing to share, but at that moment, I felt the Lord tugging on my heart to confess the sin I had been trying so hard to hide. After confessing my eating disorder and struggles with body image to my friends and small group leader, I felt the biggest weight taken off my shoulders. We cried together, knowing the growth and freedom that was to come out of this time together.
“In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, God's Word reminds us that our bodies are a temple. For a long period of time, I didn't think my actions of disordered eating were sinful because I was justifying through my own opinion and feelings. But after bringing it to the light, I could see the truth behind it; that my body is not my own, it is something Christ gave me to steward for His glory. Looking back at the sin I once struggled with, I can see Christ's abundant faithfulness and the various ways the Lord has worked in my life.
“Truthfully, there are still hard days where I have found myself doubting the Lord's power or His overall plan for me. Although I have spent much of my life striving to please others, I have found how to live only for Christ and rely on Him during trials. I can seek His Word to gain a new perspective on my sin and learn how to battle it.
“Anytime I find myself in a situation where I am wavering in my faithfulness to seek God's approval, I try to find ways to remind myself that my worth is in Christ alone and that my identity must not be rooted in the things of this world. Things like success in sports, good grades, or what I look like on the outside are all fleeting and will only give me temporary happiness. God is our only source of true joy that everyone is capable of finding, no matter how far gone you think you might be.
“God has recently been teaching me what it looks like to trust in Him through all things. Being a Christian does not mean everything will be easy, we will still go through trials, but by allowing Christ to have full control over my life, I can live everyday walking in the love and grace the Lord offers!”