By Rae Lynn DeAngelis
(Founder and President of Living in Truth Ministries
Eating Disorders can be classified into three main categories… anorexia, bulimia, and compulsive over eating. In this article, I am going to share my story of living with bulimia.
Up to twenty-four million people suffer with eating disorders in the United States alone - seventy million worldwide! Ninety percent of those who are afflicted are women; in fact, it is estimated that one out of every five women will struggle with an eating disorder at some point in their lifetime.
Eating disorders are on the rise! Since the 1960s the number of eating disorder cases has doubled. The Internet offers a great influx of information concerning anything you could possibly want to know about eating disorders; therefore, I am not going bore you with even more statistical, clinical or psychological information. Rather, I would like to share with you from my own personal experience.
Eating disorders are extremely difficult to overcome. I should know, my bondage to bulimia lasted twenty-five years! Many times I tried to stop, but to no benefit. I thought I had it all under control, but it literally controlled me. Here is my story.
(The following is a chapter taken from Rae Lynn's book,
An edited excerpt from Nothing But Your Truth Will Help Me, God! by Rae Lynn DeAngelis
God has a plan for each of our lives. Unfortunately, Satan also has a plan for us. Satan's plan includes keeping us held prisoner by his lies and deception. The world would have us believe that we have no control over such things - that we are just helpless victims. I have come to believe this is yet another one of Satan's lies - an attempt on his part to keep us captive even longer.
I am so thankful God has shown me the Truth. I have learned that although we may indeed be prisoners, the prison door is often locked from the inside. God is waiting for us to come to Him so He can show us where the key is hidden and set us free.
"Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell." (James 3:5-6)
Is this Scripture ever true! Words were the very thing Satan used to draw me into his world of lies and deception. At a very young age, Satan began planting lies in my mind - lies that eventually produced a twenty-five year bondage to an eating disorder called bulimia. It saddens me to think Satan would prey upon such innocence, but he is ruthless and evil. The mind of a child is vulnerable and the enemy of our soul knows it. Growing up, Satan took advantage of certain circumstances in my life and began to bend my mind into believing I could only be loved if I were thin.
One of my earliest childhood memories is from when I was three years old. It was the first time I can remember having negative feelings about my body image.
I had two best friends in the neighborhood in which I grew up. We were very close and did everything together - as a matter of fact, we're still good friends to this day. Believe it or not, at this young age I started to think I was fat. I really wasn't overweight at the time, but my friends were both very tiny and petite, and were my immediate point of reference, so this was how I began to perceive myself. As I got a bit older, I really did start to become chubby. Kids can be pretty cruel; their hurtful words and comments really took a toll on my self-esteem. Even people in my family would unknowingly say hurtful things. My grandma would often comment on how fat I was getting. I don't believe she intentionally meant to hurt me. Perhaps she thought I needed some motivation to loose weight. Whatever her reason… I felt awful about myself. My dad once told me, if I lost weight, he would buy me a whole new wardrobe. I now realize my dad was only trying to help; but at the time, I believed I wasn't acceptable to him as I was. I thought he would love me better if I were thin.
I do not blame my dad in any way; he was simply a product of his own upbringing. He came from a family that never had to deal with weight issues, so he had no real understanding of how I felt.
Satan took full advantage of the situation, however, and as a result I believed his lie; I could not be loved as I was. I needed to be thin.
The age of ten was a pretty traumatic time in my life. First of all I started my menstrual cycle, which made me even more self-conscious about my body. The physical changes I was going through caused me to feel isolated because most kids that I knew at the time were not anywhere near puberty yet. Not only did I feel fat, I felt self-conscious as well.
These two things alone were enough to cause my self-esteem to plummet - but there was more. It was at this tender age of ten the most traumatic thing in my life occurred; my grandfather molested me. This was someone who was supposed to protect me, someone I loved and trusted.
If there were one day I could completely clear from my past, this would be it. This unfortunate event ripped something away from my inner-soul that I can never get back. Childhood sexual abuse, to any extent, is devastating and life altering. I was forever changed, and once again Satan was right there with his lies.
I believed it must have been my fault. Besides, everyone loved my grandpa; who would ever believe me? Of course I fell for Satan's lies hook, line and sinker. I was an emotional mess. The sad part is, I didn't get to be a child for very long.
I really felt awful about my body now and I tried to lose weight but wasn't very successful. I'm not exactly sure how old I was, but one day I overheard my parents talking about a friend's niece who had an eating disorder. It was the first time I had heard about such a thing. My parents said the girl would barely eat and when she did eat, she would make herself throw up. I have to tell you this is how warped my thinking was at that time. I thought, wow, you can do that - eat and then get rid of it?
This marked the beginning of an eating disorder called bulimia, which would hold me captive for close to twenty-five years. I can't tell you how many times I tried to stop; yet my resolve never lasted long. I would always start up again.
I thought I had it all under control, but it literally controlled me. No one knew the lie I was living, and I did everything I could to keep it a secret. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but my fear of gaining weight was too great. Satan had planted too many lies in my head. I believed I would not be loved if I gained weight. I also believed I would never be able to eat like a normal person. I eventually decided this was just something that I was going to have to live with for the rest of my life.
Now fast forward to my mid-thirties. I thought my life was on the right track. God had brought me to a place where I had grown a lot as a Christian woman. I was very involved at my church, both in service and in studying His Word. As I grew in my Christian walk, I wanted more from my relationship with God, but for some reason, I just couldn't get there.
Then God revealed to me why. I still had this huge secret I was carrying around. God revealed to me through the counsel of His Word that if I wanted to get to the next level in my relationship with Him, I needed to confront my eating disorder and make some changes in my life.
It's funny how the closer I grow in my relationship with God, the more sin I discover in my life. I guess God reveals our sin when He knows we are strong enough to handle it. Little by little He enlightens us so we can weed sin from our lives. The thought of trying to weed this one out terrified me! It had been a part of my everyday life for so long I honestly couldn't comprehend how to do it.
"Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God." (2 Corinthians 7:1)
Even though I couldn't see how I would ever be free from bulimia, God knew and He had already laid the groundwork for me. I had no idea where to begin, but God's Word reassured me.
"Do not be afraid. Stand firm, and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today." (Exodus 14:13) I am completely awed by God's grace; He was so patient. I am also amazed that He never gave up on me even though I had given up on myself.
It comforts me to know that throughout everything I had experienced, God was right there with me. He knew exactly what went wrong and how I had become so broken. He knew how I had arrived at the place where I was and He had compassion on me.
God was with me when the hurtful things were said; He was with me when the person I trusted stole my innocence; and He was going to be with me to set me free.
I had been in a Bible Study with the same small group women for about two years and I realized if I was going to get better, I needed to tell someone about my problem; it needed to be someone I could trust, and someone who would hold me accountable for my actions. I finally confided in one of my closest friends. She then encouraged me to talk with the six women in my bible study group. Eventually I mustered up the courage to seek their help as well.
God placed these seven women in my life - Gods perfect number I might add - to help me get better. They became pillars of strength and encouragement; they were God's audible voice and loving arms that I so desperately needed.
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)
By no coincidence God had my study group in the midst of Beth Moore bible study called Breaking Free. During week three of the study, I found the key that would unlock my prison door. It was the story in the Gospel of Mark where a man brings his demon-possessed son to Jesus to be healed.
"Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?" "From childhood, he answered. "It has often thrown him into the fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us." "If you can?" Jesus said. "Everything is possible for him who believes." Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:21-24)
Wow! At that moment it hit me; I found the key! I realized that my biggest problem was believing God could heal me. So I began praying every day, God help me overcome my unbelief.
Guess what? He did! And little by little I began trusting Him. Finally I said, all right God, I am going to take you at your Word here and believe that you can heal me. Of course He was always capable - He was just waiting for me to believe it.
Since that day, bulimia has no longer been my burden to carry. I have given it over to God, the only One ever capable of taking it from me. I had been a blonde my entire life and felt that I needed a visual reminder of the fact that I was now a changed person. I needed to see myself differently, so I temporarily colored my hair brown. That may seem silly to some, but it really did help.
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All of this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation." (2 Corinthians 5:17-18)
Looking back, I realize how crucial God's Word was to my recovery. I began to really think through the importance of replacing Satan's lies with God's Truth. Replacing lies with Truth became a passion of mine - I was engaged in a battle with Satan himself. Ephesians chapter six explains to us that when we go into battle with Satan we need to put on the full armor of God.
"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around you waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take up the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." (Ephesians 6:13-17)
An important part of that armor is the Sword of the Spirit, which is Truth through God's Word. All the other parts of armor described in this passage are for our defense and protection. However, the Sword of the Spirit is unique. It provides more than protection; it is the means through which we can offensively attack the lies of Satan. God enables us to wield the Sword with authority and power.
"For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Hebrews 4:12)
Okay, so our weapon of choice is the Sword of the Spirit; but how can we know for sure when Satan really is lying to us?
Personally, I have found that Satan always leaves visible fingerprints when he spreads his lies. Those fingerprints include secrecy, shame, distortion, deception and fear.
As I reflect back on my own experience, I can now see those fingerprints clearly; but I have been shown that for every lie Satan dishes out, God counters it with the Truth through His Word!
I would like to share with you a few of the lies Satan used to deceive me, along with the Truths with which God has equipped me:
SECRECY - Satan's lie: If anyone knew the truth about me, they would be disgusted; they wouldn't want anything to do with me.
God's Truth: "When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?" (Psalm 56:3-4)
SHAME - Satan's lie: How can I face people once they know the real me?
God's Truth: "As Scripture says, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." (Romans 10:11)
DECEPTION - Satan's lie: Who are you kidding? Why would God want to waste his time on you of all people?
God's Truth: "Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him." (Psalm 91:14-15)
DISTORTION - Satan's lie: With a past like yours, you'll never be of any use to God. God's Truth: "Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners-of whom I am the worst. But for that reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life." (1 Timothy 1:15-16)
FEAR - Satan's lie: You'll never be completely free from this; it's going to haunt you for the rest of your life.
God's Truth: "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:6-7) "So do not throw away your confidence; you will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised." (Hebrews 10:35-36)
Christian author Beth Moore says that only God can restore the ancient ruins in our lives, and He works that restoration through His Word2. To that I say, Amen! God continues to replace Satan's lies with His Unchanging Truths! Thanks to Almighty God, I am free; He saved me, and I am forever grateful!
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1)
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