"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well" (Psalm 139:14, NIV).
For those with eating disorders, these words often become a nice sentiment hidden behind filing cabinets of negative self-criticism. We want to believe that we are perfectly beautiful in God’s eyes and yet every time we look in the mirror, we are confronted with our failures, shortcomings, and imperfections.
The concept of surrender has come up a lot in my eating disorder recovery. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been convicted of the sinful nature of my tight hold on food or heard God whisper to me,
“Daughter, let me have it. Let it go. Won’t you trust me.”
And I wouldn’t. I wanted to believe that God had so much more for me, but this thing had become a monster feeding me lies that promised me relief from one of my deepest fears:
The number on the scale I could control. And if I could “succeed” at that, I would never be a complete loss.
And so I noticed that whenever my life was going according to plan, I would allow myself to eat because I wasn’t failing. But when my grades weren’t what I wanted, I wasn’t competing at the level I thought I should be at, or I was overwhelmed with all my commitments, my eating disorder was something I consistently ran to.
But God was working in the midst of all of it. Gentle whispers. A loving hand pulling at my heart. And eventually I would let go of my tight grasp.
“Okay, God take it! You have control. I am yours.”
But then I wanted it back. Thinking that somehow I could be in control this time.
But I didn’t have control. My soul and body were starving. It was in charge of me.
I would pray. I would beg God to take it from me. I would surrender.
And I would relapse. Again.
It was a battle every single day and I grew exhausted to the point where I didn’t believe surrender worked.
“God, I’ve already tried surrendering, and look where I am now: back where I started.”
What I didn’t fully understand is that surrender is not a one time deal. Or even a ten times deal. It is a constant laying down your life.
The on and off struggle has been a constant tug of war between my desire to live for God and my desire to maintain that control over my life.
But whenever I’ve given up that control to God, I’ve felt so much more peace because I am walking in the plan He has for me.
How we treat our bodies really is a huge portion of our worship to Him. Paul speaks about this connection in Romans.
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Romans 12:1-2, NIV).
Giving up our desire to look a certain way is part of how we can live a life fully dedicated to God's call. But surrender doesn't come without temptation and so we must constantly be praying that God would renew our minds and help us see ourselves as he sees us. Choosing to sacrifice our own desires allows Him to shine through us and actively direct our lives.
And so I challenge you. What is God calling you to surrender? And then remind yourself to surrender it tomorrow as well so you can pursue a life of freedom.