My story, my testimony really, began many years ago before I formed a relationship with Jesus. I was blind to faith and trying to will my way through the turbulent waters of life on my own. Every setback, failure, or struggle, I viewed as my own oversight, never once realizing that by relinquishing control to God I could finally begin to understand my path, see the fruit of my labor, and most importantly realize that I don’t have to go on this journey alone!
The summer of 2010 is when my life really began to turn upside down! We were a military family living in California (my family is from Ohio). At that time my husband and I had a 2-year-old son, and a 5-month-old son. As a stay-at-home Mom I was struggling with some minor anxiety of our new family dynamics, and trying manage our home in a “perfect” manner. I was unhappy with my appearance, as I had not lost the weight from my second pregnancy as quickly or easily as I had with my first, but for my health and fitness were on the back burner to life.
One afternoon in late summer I received a phone call from my Dad, told me he had stage 4-pancreatic cancer, and his prognosis was not good. Riddled with fear, and frozen with anxiety I wasn’t sure what to do. My Husband, a calm individual, made arrangements for me and our sons to fly to Ohio, so we could be there with my Dad and family, he stayed behind because he had to work, and frankly I didn’t know how long I would be staying.
I was beyond shocked to see my Dad for the first time, previously strong and healthy he looked frail, and for the first time he wasn’t his smiling happy self. I was distraught, and couldn’t believe this was happening. That night I prayed probably for the first time in years and asked God to help my Dad, to take away the suffering, and to heal him. The very next morning I was awoke by a crashing sound and a scream. My Dad had collapsed in the kitchen; I immediately dialed 911, while I watched my brother perform CPR on my Dad. We managed to save his life that day, but unfortunately he would never leave the hospital and passed away just 2 weeks after his diagnosis. It was a very traumatic time in my life that left me feeling void of all emotion!
I was completely numb at this point; I was angry with God and couldn’t understand how he could let this happen. Two things happened in the following weeks as we prepared for my Dad’s funeral: first, a well-meaning family member commented on my appearance. I had always been petite, but as I mentioned earlier I was still holding onto extra weight from the birth of my second son. I was shocked, but quickly forgot about it as I had too much on my mind. The second thing that happened was that my husband informed me he was being deployed to Afghanistan for 6 months. Aside from losing my Father this was the most devastating blow that could have came at this time. My Husband was my rock, I had no idea how I would survive the next few months on my own while taking care of two small boys … I was completely lost.
We had to make plans quickly and we chose to keep the boys and I in Ohio and move out of our home in California during the next six months. My elderly mother was also in poor health, and could really use the extra help, and company during this hard time. The next two months were a blur, we had a funeral for my Dad, I moved in with my Mother and said goodbye to my husband for the next 6 months.
I felt so alone, isolated, angry, and sad but I hid it for my Mom and for my boys! I needed to be brave and I needed to function or everything would fall apart. I would fall apart. This was the calm after the storm, and when I had a lot of quiet time to think and to evaluate my life, I realized that I had lost many people in my family to cancer, and I decided that while I cannot change my genetics I can change my lifestyle. I recalled the comment my family member had made, and allowed it to fuel a new desire within me. I made the decision to finally lose the extra baby weight and to get truly fit for the first time in my life. I had never dieted before this in my life, so it was completely new, a little exciting, and something I could focus my attention on to distract me from the hurt inside.
I found an exercise and diet program, and jumped in with both feet and took off running. It was an intense 3-month program, and I began seeing results almost immediately. For the first time in a long time I began to feel happy! Week after week I would exercise, diet, and weigh myself, the better and faster my results the more it seemed to fuel my happiness. I loved that in the chaos that was my life, I finally felt like I had CONTROL over something! At the end of the 3 months I surpassed my goals and was lean enough to have the coveted 6-pack abs, which I had always desired! I felt amazing, but also exhausted and to be honest pretty darn hungry! For 3 months I conformed to a strict diet plan and ONLY allowed myself the foods outlined in the diet, except for specific scheduled “cheat” days where I learned to gorge on all the foods I had restricted. Once the “cheat” day was over it was right back to my super strict diet.
Shortly after that my amazing husband returned home, our little family was reunited, and we moved again to Nevada. Once settled in to our new home I felt anxiety creeping back in and I quickly realized that maintaining my new lean figure was not going to be easy. I felt like I was again losing control with every slight fluctuation on the scale! I was desperate to maintain my outward appearance because I believed the voice in my head that told me I would be judged harshly if I regained weight! I feared that my husband would reject, and I believed if I did gain weight that I deserved to be rejected. The thought of gaining even a few pounds made me feel disgusting!
I spent hours at the gym and continued to restrict my food choices, which would inevitably lead to binging later. It was a vicious cycle, and I couldn’t figure out how to stop. I began to obsess over food; it was all I ever thought about! I would scrutinizes, weigh, measure, and track every last morsel of food. I would also read and research any and everything to do with exercise and fitness. I was determined to succeed!! I even began to isolate myself from activities with friends and family where there would be food, for fear that I would lose control. It was exhausting, and time consuming, yet I felt it was necessary and the only way. I was terrified of continuing my disordered eating, but even more terrified of gaining weight. My continued struggle also began to affect my overall health, I felt tired most of the time, irritable, and even my hair began falling out. Still this was not enough for me to stop. I wanted to stop the cycle, to have a healthy relationship with food, but I just couldn’t do it on my own.
Anxiety was becoming a daily factor in my life, and I began searching for ways to deal with it on my own. I began researching supplements, meditation, etc., but what kept coming up time and time again in my research was faith and trust in God! Exploring a relationship with Jesus was something I had always desired, but not coming from a Christian home it was hard for me to reach out and take that first step.
I decided to try out a local church with my kids in 2013. I was terrified that first morning, but I wanted my kids to know Jesus in a way I never did, and I knew somehow this was what I needed so desperately. So we went to church. From the very first service I felt like God was talking directly to me, and it was during one of these early services that I realized my issue with food, and my body had become an idol in my life. It was more important to me than my relationships; it consumed all my thoughts, and most of my time. I was suffering on the inside, I felt empty, and defeated! Worse I felt ashamed of how far I had let my disordered eating get. I also realized that I had an issue with control, and I was trying to control things in my life that only God had control over.
I knew I had to find a way out; I needed make peace with food, and stop seeing it as an idol that consumed my every thought. God was telling me to let him have control, but I was arrogant and thought I could do it on my own. So many times I attempted to break my cycle of restrict, binge, repeat, just to fail and feel immense guilt which would lead to more restricting and more binging. I would blame myself and my lack of self-control, instead of realizing what I really needed was to release control, and leave it to God. What made it so hard were the lies the enemy whispered to me everyday! I believed those lies, that I was a failure, that I was unattractive, and that if I just tried harder I could be that perfect women and mother.
I began praying, asking God to take control of my life, I prayed about my anxiety, and made a promise to lift my worries to God and to not dwell on the tings I cannot control. I told myself that it was in God’s hands now and I would not give my anxiety another moment of my time. This was an amazing moment and the exact day I began my path to healing. It didn’t happen over night and I studied the word nearly everyday for a year before I truly began to believe the truth, that I was a daughter of God, that I was loved, that he created me in His image, and that I was not to conform to what our society dictates to be beautiful and good.
I still have thoughts about my body image, and still compare myself to other woman, and I still get anxiety. God didn’t take away all my suffering and fears of being inferior, BUT I can now recognize and acknowledge exactly what these thoughts are … lies! They are all lies from the enemy! Now when these thoughts creep in I immediately change my thinking from negative to positive! I remember my good qualities, and that God designed me to be exactly who I am, and not a perfect size 2 with 6-pac abs. I am still learning to be completely free, to stop the comparisons and to embrace how strong and capable my body is! I feel honored to be entrusted with the body God gave me, and I will do my best to keep it healthy, but I will not obsess over my outward appearance anymore! I have faith in God’s plan for my life even if I don’t understand it now.
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future. Proverbs 31:25
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your Path straight. Proverbs 3:5-6