Prisoner No More

I’m so glad you are joining me on this journey to grow and put off eating disorders beloved. This topic is dear to my heart, seeing as I struggled with it for years, and still to this day I have to fight to believe God’s truth. If I’m honest, I’ll tell you that it’s a little scary to open up my heart to you–my palms sweat a little and my heart quickens. My heart is completely laid bare in hopes that you will know you are not alone, and to share that there really is hope. I wanted to share my story with you today. I won’t go into a lot of detail of the “how to overcome” today- that will come later. Throughout the rest of the week my good friend Olga Shpak and I teamed up to offer two perspectives and to hit on different areas of God’s truth on this important matter. Olga is currently finishing up her masters in Biblical Counseling, and as one who has struggled herself and has studied on this topic, she offers ample truth. We know that eating disorders don’t disappear overnight, it’s a journey to constantly choose to believe Jesus and to put off the lies. Our hope this week is that if you find yourself struggling, that you’ll begin the journey of freedom, beloved. That you’ll step out in faith, and ask for help. That you’ll choose Jesus. Alright, let’s get started! I love you girl! 

photo-16

It was another sunny day in California. The flowers were in full bloom. The trees showed off their bright green leaves. The sun hit my face as I huffed my way up to my dorm room. Why in the world they put the dorms up at the top of the hill is beyond me. Except, I must admit it did wonders for my thighs!

Despite the beautiful day, inside I felt cold and lonely. Tears welled up in my eyes. My chest felt heavy as I tried to breathe. My mind felt dark and depressed. No hope flooded my heart. No joy. No thanksgiving. I had just come from the school cafeteria, where I managed to eat a salad, again. Only a salad, with very little dressing, and water. Oh, I had a smile on my face and seemed cheery as I talked with my girlfriends, but leaving I felt hopeless and enslaved. Yes, enslaved. I remember vividly my prayer as I walked up that steep hill that day.

“Lord, I feel so alone. I know I’m trapped in this cycle of not eating enough because I’m completely terrified of gaining weight. I want to fit in. I want to look like the beautiful girls. I want a guy to notice me. I feel as though I’m in a dark prison cell, with no light, and I can’t get out. This has gone on for so long Lord. No one understands. There’s no way I can tell anyone that could really help me either—I’m way too ashamed Lord. Embarrassed. Guilt-ridden. I mean I’m a Resident Assistant. I’m supposed to have it all together. I’m supposed to be leading other girls and helping them through their struggles. God, help.”

My parents knew. Two of my closest girlfriends knew. But I never listened to them. I chose to stay in my cycle of sin, instead of seeking help and freedom. See, here’s the thing. Although it had started off as wanting to be beautiful, I had bought into the lie that beauty=skinny, the root really became that I wanted to be in control. Counting my calories, and choosing only certain food, fed my pride. I could control it. I could manage my weight by choosing not to eat something. When something in my life was out of my control—not having a boyfriend, stressing about a test at school, friend problems, missing home, overwhelmed with daily tasks—there was one place I ran that I could control, eating. Yes, I would run to Jesus and ask Him for help with that area I was struggling through, but I never fully surrendered. I never fully trusted. Instead, I took matters into my own hands and with a tight fist, chose what to eat and what not to eat.
For six long years, this eating disorder controlled me. Yes, I had some days or seasons that were better than others, but nevertheless I was a slave to it.

Finally, the Lord intervened. Yes, the Lord had been there the entire time. His heart hurt every time I idolized eating. Every time I didn’t eat something out of fear. Every time I believed a lie in my head about how skinny is beautiful. Every time I ran to controlling my food, instead of trusting Him. He had been there—with arms open wide, wanting me to come to Him. Sometimes I did, really I did. But then fell again into the vicious cycle.
A few weeks before I moved to Maui for my internship, my best friend and I were walking in the hot Fresno sun and she said to me, “Alyssa, how are you doing with eating?”
She always asked. She loved me so much that she called me out on my sin. She’d follow up with me. I told her how it had gotten really bad; actually I had hit an all time low that summer.
“I’ve been praying that the Lord would bring a mentor into your life when you move to Maui. Someone who will walk you through this to find true healing.”

Her words went deep into my heart and made their home there. Tears pierce my eyes now as I think on how she loved me like Christ. What beauty there is in friendship and accountability.

I began to pray the same thing, and within a month of moving to Maui, the Lord indeed blessed a mentor into my life who radically helped me find freedom from anorexia. She was real. Honest. Authentic. She constantly asked how I was doing. She prayed with me. She brought me to the scriptures to renew my mind. She called me out on the lies I believed. She gave me ideas of good things to eat, to see how many calories I should actually be eating in a day.
Along with her help, the Lord also placed three other girls into my life who I lived, worked, ministered, cooked, drove, and hung out with. We were always together. (Can you say accountability!?) These girls were free. They loved to eat. They enjoyed good food. They showed me how to not fear eating, but rather to give thanks for it. To eat wisely and use mealtime to fellowship and hang out with people. (Where before I ate so many meals alone because I didn’t want anyone to see what I was eating, or not eating.)

My journey with eating was long. But the moment I surrendered, the moment I made it known-brought it to the light-God freed me. He provided people in my life to walk with me- people who cared enough about me that they asked the hard questions. They prayed for me. They ate with me. They carried me when I was too weak to walk on my own. And to these women, I am ever so thankful. But even more, I am so thankful for our Lord Jesus who loved me so much that He pursued me in my mess and came to my rescue. He didn’t let me stay in the filth of my sin. Yes, it was humbling. Yes, it was hard, and yes sometimes I fell right back into it. But slowly, He loosened my grip and freed me from my desire to control. He set me free. Our God is a God who frees us. By His power, we can truly live. I have to be honest with you—I still have to fight. I still have to choose to believe in His truth about my body image, about eating. Some days more than others. But I’m not a slave anymore. I know the truth, and when I am tempted—I know where to run. I have treasured His word in my heart and know how to overcome the lies that Satan and the world and my own flesh throw at me. And when I do fall, or start to realize a lie I am believing, I quickly run to Him, and ask His help, remember the Spirit’s power in me, and can ask others to pray with me. As one who has walked this rugged path, I can assure you:

There is hope.

There is healing.

There is power in the name of Jesus.

There is freedom.

Jesus came to set us free.

 

Are you free beloved?

 

 

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46 comments

  1. Beautiful! So brave of you to share your story!

  2. Sister in Christ- I am so moved by your testimony! I am so over-joyed that the good Lord places the right people into your life at the right time. I admire your bravery as it is something so hard to speak about. I admire you for sharing your story in hopes to inspire others. God is so good! Our pastors wife actually struggled with anorexia- and shared her testimony with me the other night over dinner. As she got emotional I could tell it was a very sensitive subject for her, too. I am looking forward to reading more blogs of your story and your testimony- and please believe- you are an absolutely gorgeous woman! Not just on the outside, but your heart, devotion and love for sharing the gospel is true beauty. <3

  3. Cried while reading this. In a.world where everyone I know is on a diet, and I believe that skinny=beauty, eating is actually the least of my worries. Self harm, crippling depression, addiction to working out… It doesn’t matter that I know how many calories I should be eating, getting to that point makes me sick with myself. This blog is powerful.

    1. Sweet Nicole- you are so utterly loved by our Savior. He can set you free. He gives us all we need in life and godliness- the Holy Spirit, His Word, community, mentors- take hope!

  4. This is so beautiful Alyssa, thank you for sharing. I am one who went through anorexia and bulimia too. I still suffer through it.
    What you’ve shared now, is so raw, deep and just beautiful. I pray to be as strong like you. I’m still trying to overcome mine. But it’s good to know I am definitely not alone and the Lord is there.
    Again, thank you so much Alyssa. It means more than you’ll ever know x

  5. Beautiful, thank you soo much for sharing with us! God is able!

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I, too, have struggled with eating issues, but mostly with self-injury. I know it’s not easy to talk about, but for the first time in my life I want to open up about it. For the first time in my life I am going to God for help and guidance. It’s people like you who give me hope for a brighter future. Thank you so much and God bless. <3

    1. Thanks for sharing Kayleigh. What really helped me was telling a mentor about it, and my closest friends. Is there someone you can invite into your life to walk through healing? Love ya girl!

  7. Thank you for your courage to share this, Alyssa. I know how difficult and scary it can be to share such a painful part of your life. I haven’t struggled with an eating disorder, but boy have I felt the pain of hating what you see in the mirror. I still struggle with thinking that “no guy will be interested in me until my body is perfect.” What a disgusting lie… I also began struggling with fear a few years back. It hit me hard and it’s been a long, difficult, and scary road to breaking the chains of the lies. It’s wonderful to hear that the freedom you found in your situation is also available to me! Lord bless you Alyssa!

  8. Thank you so much for posting on this topic. I have struggled on and off for about 3-4 years now. I idolized healthy-eating/living and found my worth in it.
    The LORD has been showing me over and over again in the Scriptures about the sin of idolatry. I finally realized TODAY that this is what I have been doing the past few years.
    Again, I am so thankful you are starting this series! God’s timing is ALWAYS perfect. Thank you for sharing your heart, it means more than you will ever know.

  9. Hi Alyssa, your words give me hope, and I’m so happy that the Lord is now using you, that he never saw you as a “weak” Alyssa, but as the Alyssa that is now inspiring so many girls. I have to confess I still have hard times when it comes to eating, and even when people say I’m okay and fit, it’s hard to believe when Satan tell me those lies of being fat, ugly or whatever hurting thought. Few days ago I watched Jeff videos and you were there, you both have been a blessing to my life!
    When those lies come to my mind, I just need to remind myself that greater is our God, we are his masterpiece and I don’t say this to exalt ourselves but to believe and trust him. How awesome is he, that he left us a manual to live. Keep fighting! it’s a long way, but I’m sure Jesus will crown you for overcoming this, you are brave to share this! :))

  10. This is a big inspiration and help to me. I have so many insecurities and I feel so alone and this is what I needed today. Thank you so much for sharing, Alyssa. God Bless. ♥

  11. wow thank you so much. i needed that thank you

  12. I struggle with this everyday and I thank you immensely for your post, Alyssa. For me the struggle swings the other way in which I cannot stop myself from continuously eating. This began at least five years ago and I have noticed that I have become a shadow of the greater version of me that I had been working hard to become. I put on a confident face but inside I am ashamed and I hate the way I feel out of control. I take comfort in knowing that Jesus loves me but I find it hard to love myself. I have a long way to go, I know but I thank you for sharing your journey and I carry your love and support with me. Thank you so much, sister.

  13. Thank you so much for sharing your story. It has brought hope to me and I know so many other girls. I have been struggling with this since I was 16. (I am now 20) The enemy got into my head and made me believe the same lies you did–skinny=beautiful. I knew deep down it wasn’t true but I fell for the lies of the enemy. My youth leaders, friends and everyone told me that I was fine and didn’t need to loose weight or anything but i refused to believe anyone. I’ve struggled with this on and off since then. And I’ve recently finally decided to get help and accountability from a very trusted mentor/friend. Thank you so much for sharing your story of hope.

  14. I was very moved by your testimony! I struggle in that area, I’m so obsessed with counting calories and eating right.
    For the past few years I have struggle with my weight I have always being a chubby girl but what this world promotes is being skinny =beautiful, I have believe the lies. I still struggle till now but now that I read your testimony. I’ll start praying for the lord to set me free from that area. Thanks for sharing your testimony 😉

  15. Thank you so much for writing this message. I have never had anyone encourage me, or hold me accountable. So anytime I struggled, it was me on my own, or me doing well on my own. A lot of your message hit home for me, because from the time I was probably 13 or 14, I have always did the eat less be skinny plan, and today I’m 31. Some days I believe the lie that if I was shorter, and didn’t have my figure, then my husband would pay more attention to me, or in the past it was to be acceptable in a relationship. I remember this one time, long before I met my husband, I was in this relationship with this guy who would basically tell me that he liked certain features on me, but others I needed to be smaller. Obviously I didn’t marry him, but sometimes still today I feel the need that if I was super model skinny, then my life would be better. The truth is, I never had trouble getting dates or finding a husband, so really it’s me and the lie I believe, that I’m not good enough. Or that I still need to be pleasing to the world. I believe things that my husband settled, and didn’t get what he wanted, even though he tells me otherwise. It’s been years since I have been in a position of eating very little, and I do eat good all the time, it’s just that lie that if only I was like this or that, then I would be more acceptable. Thank you for this message, and shareing your story. I felt like it was easy to connect with you, just cause your not somebody telling people what to do, but rather you have a testimony, and that’s what makes it more relatable. Keep up the good work!

  16. Thank you for sharing such an intimate story. Although I struggled with something other than an eating disorder, the language you use and feelings you describe were exactly how I felt. It’s encouraging to be reminded that Jesus is so much bigger than the things we think we are in control of, and that even just as a girl and a believer I’m not alone in struggling through such things. Thank you for all your writings, they have really been blessing me. (:

  17. I can definitely relate to this; thank you for posting! I can especially relate to the part where you said you were praying for help but never fully surrendered. I was like that for so many years. I’d pray for deliverance from my disorders and then quickly shut myself off from any help He could provide. I think that’s why I tried everything BUT God to “heal” to begin with (professional treatment, meds, etc) – because I knew that He COULD and WOULD make me well if I’d let Him.

    You know how people always say, “God is knocking, He’s waiting for you to let Him in!” For years I felt like I was opening the door only for Him to be met with a small crack, like a chain lock was prevented the door from FULLY opening. Despite this, He waited. Every day He knocked, even when I sat in the floor of my anorexic prison cell with my back to the door and stared into the darkness before me.

    It wasn’t until this February that I knew that I either had to pray for my life or completely lose it. And, for the first time, I unlocked the chain and invited Him in completely. I said, “God, I’m ready. It’s been twelve years of slow suicide. Please help me with this.” And He has been! I have only been in real recovery for a month and already feel such liberation. It’s like Sylvester Stallone said:

    “The more I go to church and the more I turn myself over to the process of believing in Jesus and listening to His Word and having Him guide my hand, I feel as though the pressure is off me now.”

    Even Rock Balboa knows where REAL strength comes from! 😀

    I have not been “instantly healed”; I am finding that the change comes when one realizes that God EQUIPS! And while I will no doubt battle the temptation of this demon for the rest of my life, I am now better equipped with a more powerful coping mechanism, the Word of God and His grace. He has shown me my worth and it has nothing to do with body shape/size/weight or food, calories, fat, etc.

    So glad to have found a sister in Christ who is willing to be open about her recovery from this suffocating, all-consuming disorder that’s founded on lies. How grand it is to have a God so loving, caring, and powerful to help us combat it! He is the ONE true ally in all our battles 🙂

    (Sorry so long a comment…you are the first person I’ve met who has battled an ED using faith, hence the rambles.)

    God bless <3

  18. So inspired. Thank you so much for sharing. Glory to God! He is faithful and good <3 Always.

  19. Alyssa, thank you for being so brave in sharing your testimony. It takes a lot of courage to open up so much and be so honest and vulnerable. But the Lord is using you! Through your story, God is truly glorified! It is He who is at work within you! Look what He’s done! It’s so amazing. Thanks again for sharing. I had no idea you’d been through this!

  20. My heart worshiped to the song, “The More I Seek You” by Kari Jobe while I read your post. And wow, so humbling…made me tear up! Testimonies like yours are always so encouraging, and I appreciate the reality in your honesty on how you struggle with this (sometimes), yet surrender to God immediately. I once read,”the most exhausting thing in life is being insincere,” and to me, it’s a great reminder to give everything –absolutely everything to God! I can’t wait to one day be as brave as you and share a bit of my life with others. Thank you for the share, Alyssa! God Bless you, always.

  21. So beautiful, thank you for sharing. I know it’s hard.
    I myself was enslaved by a different sin, but your story gave me hope to keep trusting and running to Jesus.
    Thank you so much for sharing.

  22. A beautiful read, we all have individual problems that only Jesus can helps with. I pray for all of us to push further in Jesus for freedom and clarity. How great is His vindicating love

  23. Thank you for sharing. Even though I do not have an eating disorder I have thought about it alot. I had a baby almost a year ago and lets just say, im not a size 4 anymore. I still have a hard time about it and will cry sometimes but you made me realize I dont have to
    Worry. My husband loves me no matter what. Thank you so much ♥

  24. First of all thank you for sharing something so personal to you. It’s very powerful that you open up your heart to the world on this issue because many girls like us suffer and are in need for help. Thankfully the love and death of Christ sets us free from all sin. Theres nothing impossible for God and I know many girls like us are testimonies for this very reason.

    Thanks Alyssa…You’re great woman!

  25. Thank you so much for sharing this! I have never struggled with an eating disorder, but my best friend is anorexic, she denies it, but I can tell. I am sending this to her in hopes it will help her! Thank you so much! God bless you!

  26. I agree with all these ladies. It is very brave of you to share with the world the desires the devil tried to enslave you with. Your testimony will help others struggling in the same areas. God bless you and your husband for standing up in agreement with God against a world that largely denies his existence and the corrosive effects of sin.

  27. Thank you so much for sharing, Alyssa Joy! I too have struggled for YEARS with an eating disorder (binge eating) and am on the road to recovery in Christ. I, like your friend, am about to complete my Masters in Professional Counseling and long to help those like us who struggle for freedom in this area. I know how hard it is to share such a deep and personal thing and am so glad that you are allowing God to use your story to reach others. I pray that you will continue to be used mightily by His hand and that He gives you strength and courage daily!
    Blessings!

  28. Wow, Alyssa this is amazing… I literally lost my whole life over my eating disorder. It has now been a little over six years and I still struggle everyday. Reading your story gives me hope. God bless you, and keep ministering to us teenagers.

  29. Thank you for sharing your testimony. I overcame the tight holds of Anorexia 8yrs ago but have always battled with the thought of “am fat, am not good enough” even after I learnt the Grace message and realized that “it was finished on the cross”. I have run to drugs, alcohol and smoking to “control” my weight. I lost my life in the process and then began to pray that God would give me someone/anyone to notice me then that would be enough for me to know that ” I am good enough”. I dread having meals with others because I do not want them to see what I eat or do not eat but this year, I believe God has more in store for me than the battlefield of “good enough”. This year,for the first time, I shared how I overcame Anorexia(only by Grace )despite months of institutionalization where I could not ease my tight grip on the “control” Anorexia gave me. If you have any tips on how to start enjoying and loving the body gave you, I would appreciate it.

  30. Alyssa,

    I am thankful for where God has brought you out of. I have struggled on and off with an eating disorder for 8 years. It’s lonely and at times feels hopeless. I want to live for God and not anorexia/bulimia. So I’m very eager to continue to read your blog, it gives me hope. Thank you sister in Christ.

  31. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I also struggled with an eating disorder, and am so grateful that i have been healed and set free by the love and grace of Jesus. I am no a Young Life leader, and it’s incredible how many girls God has brought in to my life that have unhealthy relationships with food and exercise. I’m sharing this article with them. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  32. I may not have experienced that disorder but I have surrendered to something similiar.. Thank you for sharing! Everytime I read your blog I relate to it… I am excited for the plans the Lord has for you! God Bless dear sister.

  33. Thank you for this post. You have no idea how much you spoke to me through your words. Thanks for bearing your heart!
    <3 Your Sister in Christ

  34. This is so so refreshing. As someone who is currently struggling with an eating disorder I have been praying for God to send me some hope and a way out of this enslavement. I am very much looking forward the your other posts. Thank you so much 🙂

  35. Thank you for sharing! This helped me a lot ♥

  36. Your honesty……wow, I’m blown away by this real, genuine and realistic approach. Its making me more exited to read your devotions if this is what you are talking about.

  37. Thank you for sharing. When I was in fifth grade, for the second time, I struggled so much with this. To the point where I became anorexic. At age 12. I dropped about over 10 pounds within two weeks.
    8 years later, I still struggle accepting myself. By no means am I anorexic- the Lord set me free of that. But I struggle to believe that I am good enough. What God has to say about me is more than just truth, it’s a change of living. Please pray for me and all who are out there that I will truly but my identity in Christ, and Him alone.

  38. Thank you so much Alyssa for sharing your testimony with us! It is so,so,so greatly appreciated! <3

    Psalm 139

  39. You spoke into to me when you said it was about control. I have struggled for about 8 years with an eating disorder. I am no were near where I used to be thanks to Papa. It really helped when He showed me that when I felt out of control, controlling my food was were I went. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us…it is always nice to know you are not alone in something and to be encouraged by the wisdom and victories of others.

  40. Thank you for sharing this Alyssa. I never had to fight with that, but I had to fight with depressions but God set me free to. Also, your story encouraged me to be more of a real friend, maybe even a counselor to others. It is so true, we all need this kind of friends so desperately. In times where “holding somebody accountable” is completely out and “tolerating everything” and “minding only your own business” is in, we really need wisdom and courage of God to be different. To not give up on people. To go through all this with them. To listen to the Holy Spirit and find out what they need. To pray with them. To help them up with creativity. To tell them the truth of God’s word when they are stuck in a net of lies.
    I pray that God will make us more and more women who are encouragers. -thank you for being one to me.

  41. This brought tears to my eyes. I have never struggled with this before, but I have struggled with other sins that I get tempted with and hearing your story has encouraged me so much <3 thank you!

  42. Alyssa, I just had to leave a comment. Thank you for your honesty! I can relate to everything you said. This is something I still struggle with, too. But thank God that I know the truth. And the truth has set me free! Thank you girl 🙂

  43. Alyssa.!!!! This is beautiful. I have been struggling with losing weight lately. So I understand how you felt. I also struggle with self esteem issues. Nice to have a encouraging woman of God that can relate. Thanks.

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