If you’re like me, you cringe when I say that living in an eating disorder is equivalent to practicing idolatry. As a Christian, one of the most confusing, painful parts of my eating disorder was wondering why I didn’t have enough faith to get well.
Perhaps you think, like me, “But I love God and I believe that Jesus died for my sins and I am trusting Him to get me to heaven.”
And then you kind of panic.
“Is God frustrated with me? Will He give up on me? Have I lost my faith?”
I cannot tell you how many nights I cried out to God, “Please, please just take this away! I don’t want to be miserable and feel distant from you anymore. Please, just let me wake up and all of this anxiety over food and my body be gone!”
Then, I’d wake up one more morning and know, one more time, that I was still stuck. If Jesus had sat down on the bed next to me and said, “Stay here with me this morning.” I would have stood up, put on my running shoes and left Him sitting there. I could not resist the call of my other master.
Let’s start at square one. To establish at eating disorder as an idol, consider these verses:
Colossians 3:5, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.”
The Greek word for “covetousness” can also be translated as materialism, avarice, or eager to have more especially of that which belongs to others.
I won’t put words in your mouth, but I will confess that in my heart of hearts, that’s exactly how I felt about my eating disorder. I craved the attention that it afforded me, I was covetous of beautiful bodies and clamored for more of what I thought would make me perfect.
On a more obvious level, I began to see my eating disorder as idolatry when I realized that it consumed more of my time, more of my thoughts, indeed, all of my life, than Jesus did. Being thin and the concept of being strong and needless was my treasure, and yes, that’s where my heart was also. (Matt. 6:21)
So, what of this idol, this earthly treasure? Can I not have God, too?
Luke 16:13 makes it clear that we cannot serve two masters. Goodness knows, I tried. Every single day, after my workout of course, I pulled out my devotional, my Bible and journal. Every single year, I read through the Bible again. I led Bible studies at church. But hollowness lingered in my soul. I could not pursue my anorexic goals with all the passion of my mind, and give my heart fully to Jesus.
I’m sorry if this is hard to hear, but neither can you.
Let me be clear, having an eating disorder or any other addiction does not mean you are not saved. Salvation is by faith alone in what Christ did for you at the cross. (John 3:16)
But I was wondering why I couldn’t grow in my faith, why Jesus seemed distant, why I wasn’t learning how to trust Him more and more, even with things like eating and my physical body.
Back up a few verses in Luke 16. I’m pondering here, so search this out for yourself if it makes sense.
Verses 10-12 say, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in that which is another’s, who will give you that which is your own?”
It is a very great and precious treasure that God has invested in us, the very life of His Son, Jesus Christ. However, if I prove less than faithful with my own physical body, how can I ever expect Him to continually reveal to me greater levels of intimacy and freedom in Him?
Flip the passage over. Think with me of Christ’s faithfulness. In my eating disorder, I essentially said, “God, I trust you for heaven and eternity, but I don’t trust you with my body right now.”
If Jesus is continually faithful to forgive all my sins and to save my soul, is He not then obviously faithful and capable of caring for my physical body? Why would I not trade this worthless idol, this brutal task master of anorexia for the One True and Faithful God who not only guarantees my eternity, but is capable and worthy of tending my physical body as well?