This week I got the chance to flip back the chapters of my life and re-read some painful pages. At the time, those pages hurt. Quite literally, the lines in my journal are smudged with tears. I don’t re-read them often.
A few days ago, a young girl approached me about personal training. I don’t have many clients yet, so I was thrilled. We sat down at Starbucks to discuss her goals and expectations. Halfway through the conversation, she admitted that she struggles with bulimia. My ears perked up and I listened even more intently to her from that point.
I heard sad things. Things like, “I just want to lose a ton of weight.” Her eyes dodged mine when I asked how often she purged. She couldn’t tell me what she normally ate – if she normally ate. I had hoped that my certification as personal trainer would enable me to foster a healthy body image in young clients. I want to instill a love of exercise in women and a sense of amazement at their body’s abilities.
This young girl doesn’t know Jesus, either. I want every relationship in my life to attract people to Jesus Christ. Perhaps God had brought her to me to be a witness and to lead her gently away from an eating disorder. When we parted, I continued to mull over our conversation – wondering where it would go, if I could help her, and feeling not a little nervous that I was getting in over my head.
I took my concerns to the Lord, and then asked my mom and best friend to pray with me. Nervous or not, it would be a blow to my ego to turn down a potential client since I’m not exactly a busy personal trainer. And if I told her no, how else could I help her? Would training her even be helping her?
At the final conclusion, I am surprised at how God chose to use my painful years of anorexia to minister to this young girl. He chose to use me by not using me. Does that make sense? Maybe it will after you read what I wrote to my potential client.
This is hard for me to write. I’d like to tell you in person, but I know you’re gone this weekend and Monday will be here before we get a chance to talk.I’m sorry. I can’t in good conscience train you. Coming from a background with an eating disorder, I know exactly the thoughts that are racing through your mind. I know that if someone jumped on board with me, when I was sick, and agreed to help me lose weight, without addressing the cause of the bulimia, I would have spiraled downhill and out of control. I know you think that working out will help you to control the purging, but 15 years experience tells me it won’t. It makes sense that it would, but it won’t. It will simply reinforce in your mind the conviction and drive to lose weight any way possible.Please understand that I say this out of love. Getting help for an eating disorder is the hardest thing I have ever done. I was a minor the first time I went inpatient and I HATED my parents and preferred to die. Then as an adult, it was just as hard, but because of Jesus, I have always had the strength to keep living. And I promise you, that even if it seems manageable now, to continue in bulimic habits will make your life a living hell.If you want any suggestions on where to find help, I will gladly help you find the resources, counselor, whatever you need.