I have been burdened lately about an issue that seems to have been around as long as I can remember. It's an uncomfortable subject that not to many people desire to discuss but the older I get the more I see teen girls every year dealing with this.
I have discussed in older posts about my PAST struggle with an eating disorder and simply don't need to discuss it again. However, now that it seems to be popping its "ugly head" around me I feel the topic needs to be revisited. I am seeing more and more teenage girls dealing with this right now and it BREAKS my heart.
I was not the "typical" sterotype of eating disorders. Most girls that suffer from this are straight A students (I didn't fit that bill) They strive for perfection in every aspect of their lives. They feel guilt when they don't succeed. Once they realize that they have no control over certain aspects of life they turn to food which is something they CAN control. In my battle with this I learned that there was a "release" of guilt after I engaged in this activity. I would "allow" myself a cookie or "treat" if I felt I "deserved" it. The thing is I rarely felt that I "deserved" it.
There was a time when certain things were not allowed in my house and I can say that now after over sixteen years I can have a scale in my house with it no longer being a difficult thing to have. I no longer constantly think about it or have to get on it to see how much I've gained or lost. In fact, I hardly remember that it is there. However, it was a long hard battle and lasted from my junior year in highschool clear through college. I sought biblical counselling and spent much time in prayer and self evaluation. Learning that I'm a gem in God's eyes and that I am "fearfully and wonderfully made." There is absolutely nothing about my physical appearance that He would change. Knowing that as an adult is much different than knowing that as a teen. I wish I would have had that TRUE understanding of His love at a young age like I do now.
As I watch these girls struggle with the same things that I had I wonder what we can do to change the same things from happening. For me, it was words that were said that kept echoing in my head over and over again. It was me who was mine own worst enemy.As I look at all these young girls at homeschool group at youth group I wonder what I can do to help them not continue down this horrible downhill slide! Shouldn't I compliment these young ladies when they look so cute and when they've done so well instead of totally rolling my eyes at how loud they are as I walk by or how they ALWAYS stand right in the middle of the hallway. Shoudln't we be encouraging to these young girls. When we see them falling shouldn't we be pulling them close asking how they are, trying to see what's going on? Shouldn't the "we" be "me"?
The bottom line is this: eating disorders come from an issue of wanting to control our environment. There is nothing scarier than entering this world as a teenager you are going from a protected environment that we call Mom and Dad. We enter the big bad world and find it very scary. We decide that we are making plans right now that are going to AFFECT the REST of our lives! As a young teenager it can be absolutely terrifying and horribly paralyzing. I remember fearing so badly that the rest of my life was going to be so horrible if I made the WRONG decision. Obviously as an adult who has gone through quite a lot in life I can truly say that God has pulled me through and I'm a much better person for the "refining" that I have received. However, I can also say that I'm very happy to be sitting on the other side. It is wonderful to be able to say that God has given me victory but I'm not so vain to say that in Satan's ear thinking that he can't try to pull me back into my very old habits.
So, what got me through the battle? A lot of prayer, a lot of dealing with "my junk". Most importantly I learned very quickly that the world doesn't revolve around me. I realized that my problem was taking my eyes off myself. As I did this as a college student and as I still try to continue to do this as an adult I realize how quickly I can get stuck in the muck! I can feel bad about my stomach after having two large babies and then go clowning at Camp Quality for children who have cancer? Or going to a church in a poor section of town where these kids don't get balloons or their face painted. So, how in the world can I complain about these "little" things that bother me with people who have BIG things to complain about and don't? It's overwhelming me my selfishness when I take a big step back.
When I start getting a little whiny and overwhelmed for me I know its time to clown. When I'm getting down on myself it means that my eyes are totally closing in on ME and I MUST get out in our community and focus on what's really important in this life!
So, I guess my babbling boils down to this: When I feel my world closing in I need to look "OUTWARD" and most importantly these girls that are watching us.....oh my isn't that scary to think? These girls watching us MUST see us serving, they must see us as balanced adults who can reach out to them and encourage them.
Being a woman in this scary world...especially a Christian young lady is no easy task and I hope to be the kind of woman that shows these young girls that they are beautiful, wonderful young ladies and they don't need to impress anyone. The only thing that matters is our relationship with our Savior, being a Godly woman and having our heart tender to what He wants it to be. May I learn to be that kind of woman....36 years later....we'll get there someday!