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Defeating the Real Enemy After 11 Years of Anorexia
Anorexia almost ended her life, but this is a story of God's goodness, faithfulness and ability to heal.

My testimony is evidence of God's goodness and faithfulness. It speaks of His miraculous power to heal and bring about abundant life.

My father was an alcoholic, and home life was unstable.

In April, [2006], I returned home from Mercy Ministries—where I had fought for and regained my life, after almost losing it during an 11-year battle with anorexia.

My father was an alcoholic, and home life was unstable. My mother, however, did everything she could for me—and led me to Christ at a young age. Nonetheless, there was always a lot of fear in my home. It was chaotic and stressful to say the least.

When I was four years old, my mom was pregnant with my baby brother. I was so happy, because I thought this baby would bring stability, happiness and safety to a home which was otherwise falling apart.

When my brother Neil died at birth, my world was shattered—and all hope for normalcy died.

Coping

I began using different coping mechanisms to try to escape from the world I was living in.

… I began controlling the only thing that I could: my weight.

By the time I was 11, I attempted to take my own life for the first time. I didn't know how to handle all the negative emotions that were raging inside of my mind and didn't know how to handle life or the thought of it staying this way.

Through a series of circumstances, I stayed with other families during the day—all the while wishing that they were my real family. This also caused further instability—and I never really felt at home anywhere.

At the age of 11, I began struggling with thoughts regarding my weight and self-esteem. I thought I was fat, ugly—and that no one would love me unless I was thin.

Because there were so many stressful things happening in my life that I had no power over, I began controlling the only thing that I could: my weight. I started on a diet, which led to an 11-year battle with anorexia and bulimia—a downfall that nearly killed me.

By the time I was 15, I was consumed by my weight, food, the number of calories and fat grams I had eaten, et cetera. I was ridden with guilt and shame, resulting from past abuse in my life. I displaced these feelings by consuming food.

Every time I ate, I would feel so much guilt—to the extent that, if I ate anything at all, I would usually purge it. Sometimes I would purge up to ten times a day. I hated my body and wanted it to self-destruct.

Treatment

I became addicted to exercise. By the age of 16, I had damaged my heart from being so underweight, and began seeking treatment. I saw many counsellors, nutritionists, doctors and nurses; I was a patient in several eating disorder clinics and hospital programs, all to no avail.

… I was just hoping for anorexia to end my life, so I wouldn't have to do it myself.

I was getting worse. My life became ruled by fear, guilt, shame and sadness. I became a slave to my fears—convinced everyone hated me, and that I had to be perfect to gain love.

I was so afraid of being hurt again by people that I became a people pleaser, instead of a God pleaser. I began to inflict physical pain upon myself, to deal with some of the pain which was inside of me. At this point, I was just hoping for anorexia to end my life, so I wouldn't have to do it myself.

It was such a dark time. I remember waking up every morning both relieved and depressed that I was still alive. I was headed down the pathway to death, and eventually was told that I wouldn't last six more months if I didn't change something.

Transformation

During those dark years, I had still continued going to church. I never let go of my faith in God. I knew that He was the only one who was able to free me. I was trying and trying, and just could not experience the freedom I so longed for. I needed something more: transformation, not treatment.

For my 21st birthday, a wonderful friend from my church choir gave me the book Mercy for Eating Disorders, written by Nancy Alcorn, president and founder of Mercy Ministries of America.

Mercy Ministries is a residential home offered free of charge to girls dealing with various life-controlling issues, such as eating disorders, unplanned pregnancies, addictions and abuse. In a structured environment, the girls at Mercy receive counselling, life skills and biblical training.

I read the book, and obtained just enough hope to apply. I didn't know if it was going to work; nothing else had. But it was free; all the other in-patient programs in the U.S. ranged from $1,000 to $3,000 a day! Most important, the program was totally God-centred.

Through the grace of God, I somehow cleared medical stability tests, and was able to go. I got on a plane headed to Monroe, Louisiana on April 25, 2005.

I walked through the doors of Mercy Ministries—scared of dying, but terrified to live. I arrived with so many masks, even I didn't know who I really was.

As soon as my weight started to increase, I fell apart. This was going to be too hard; I wanted to go home. But a staff member reminded me of what would await me if I went home to the same life I'd left just a few weeks before. I began to realize it wasn't really about food and weight; rather, I had to face the fear and pain in my life.

The real enemy

It was a long, sow process. I was there for a year. During my stay, I learned how to fight the real enemy. In John 10:10, Jesus says the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy.

Control is one area I had to learn to submit.

Instead of believing the lies fed to me by the enemy—that I was unworthy, or a horrible person—I learned to combat them with the truth of the Word of God, which says that I am "fearfully and wonderfully made."

Now, when I hear the thought "I will never amount to anything," I challenge it with the truth of Jeremiah 29:11, which says God has plans for my future. He is in control.

Control is one area I had to learn to submit. I had grown up controlling my circumstances to stay alive. I learned that you cannot orchestrate God, and learned to live by this motto: I don't know, but I know the One who knows.

This brought me such peace. I didn't have to know everything about my present and future, to ensure I would be safe; God already has it written in His perfect plan!

Through counselling, prayer, and speaking the truth of God's Word, I gradually regained strength and ability to live life.

Since graduating April 11, 2006, I have been blessed with the opportunity to share this freedom I have found with other teens and young women.

I desire to see people living in victory—living out their blood-bought freedom, taking authority over the enemy and standing on the truth of the Word of God.

I am so thankful Marcy was a safe place, where God could teach me how to live victoriously.

Please pray that Mercy Ministries will soon open a home in the Lower Mainland. It would be their first Canadian home. Many girls in crisis call in every day asking if the house is finished yet. They are desperate for help—and I am excited and hopeful that Mercy will be there for these girls very soon.

Contact: www.mercyministries.ca. Call (604) 596-2422.

Originally published in B.C. Christian News, February 2007.

 

 
 
 
 

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