Photo by Ashely Rainwater Bilbro
In eighth grade, I started having terrible migraines. They lasted for months on end and I didn’t know what was wrong. Medication didn’t help. My parents took me from doctor to doctor—one even thought I had brain tumor, but I did not. Finally, a doctor determined that my migraines were related to hormonal issues. He told me that there was a new drug on the market, that it wasn’t FDA approved, but that he thought I should try it. He said that it caused weight loss but that I could afford to lose weight.
Perhaps I had blossomed a little more than the other girls in my eighth-grade class, and I did come from a big Greek family and we loved to eat, but I was by no means overweight. The words of my doctor about losing weight really bothered me. I thought, “Even my doctor is telling me to lose weight.” But I didn’t speak these things out loud. My doctor also told me to exercise more. After the first 5–10 pounds that I lost, I got some compliments. I realized the medicine was making me lose weight quickly, and things began to spiral out of control. I became obsessed with what I was putting into my body. By end of eighth grade I had gone from 120 pounds to 90 pounds. My parents attributed the weight loss to the medicine. But I was constantly restricting my food and over-exercising. By the time I entered high school, I had lost another 15 pounds, and eventually I got down to 65 pounds. My parents thought I was eating but I was giving food to the dog or hiding it. They didn’t understand why I was losing weight and took me to multiple doctors. Finally, when I was alone with one doctor, he said, “Is there something you want to tell me?”
I broke down and told him, “I can’t get ahold of myself. I don’t know why. I want to be smaller. I want to be beautiful.” This secret had been choking me and I felt great freedom in telling the doctor. He reassured me that he knew how to help. He connected me with another doctor who began meeting with me once a week. At my first appointment, he looked at me and said, “I am really not quite sure why you are alive, but there is a God up there and He has a big plan for you.” The doctor said he had never treated anyone in such a serious condition from an eating disorder. My heart rate was less than 30 beats per minute (normal is 72). My bones were brittle from malnourishment, but none were broken. When he related it to me like that—that my life was in grave danger, and in fact he seemed surprised that I was alive—I knew things needed to change.
I realized that I had a problem. I needed the Lord to give me peace. I needed His love to pour over me and change my life from the inside out. I recommitted my life to the Lord. I was raised in a family of committed, dedicated Christians. But I had been drawn away to earthly things. The number on the scale dictated my worth, not the fact that I am a child of God. We live in a world where we compare ourselves with others and it is very tempting to fall into that trap.
It took a few years and I had a few setbacks, but I am much better now. I am happy and healthy with no irreversible damage. I am now getting my PhD, and it is surreal to think of the change in my life.
But it is still a struggle for me. I can’t do this without the Lord. Every morning I still feel ugly and undeserving. But I start my day in prayer, and that changes me. The Lord is right there saying, “Your worth is in Me.” I know that God has a purpose for my life. I can use my experience for God’s glory to help other people who feel trapped. I am closer to the Lord than I have ever been. This is how God’s grace has worked in my life. I want to embrace His grace instead of questioning it. I want to embrace it and pass His grace and love on to others.
I have a Type A personality and it was hard to surrender, but this is what really saved me. I just let Him take over. I had to turn to the One that created my life and give my life to Him, surrendering to Him every day. Each day I say, “Okay, my day is Yours. Tell me how to go about it.” This can be applied to anyone’s struggles. Whatever it is, God can get you through it.
I have often meditated on the verse from 1 Corinthians and thought, “This is the least I can do for Jesus—honor Him with my life, and that includes my body and how I treat it.”
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”
1 Corinthians 6:19–20
God has never forsaken me. He is always there. I feel like my life was a broken vase. God has glued it back together into a beautiful masterpiece and I never want to go back.
A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.