But according to the bible, the way we really change is by getting real. The problem is much bigger than we’d thought and it’s much bigger than us. But thankfully the solution is bigger still. And it’s completely outside of us, that’s why there’s real hope.
My Real Problem – Sin
My biggest problem is not my eating disorder, my compulsions or my self-harm. My biggest problem is my sin. That’s much harder to deal with than any addiction. And in a funny way, it’s also really good news. If God can take care of our sin – if He loves us enough to die for us, even when we treat Him like absolute rubbish – then there is nothing that can separate us from Him. He will never abandon us. He will never hurt us. There’s nothing about us that He doesn’t already know. No secrets. No surprises. No need to hide or cover up. The gospel is for sinners – and that means everyone. Everyone is messed up. Everyone needs to be rescued.
There are things I should feel ashamed about, things that do deserve punishment. But they’re not the stuff I’ve spent my life beating myself up for. They’re not about being “fat” or “rubbish” or “a waste of space”. And they’re not even the bad stuff that other people might have done to me. My real problem is much worse. By rejecting Jesus, I am cut off from relationship with God, refusing His love and trying to make life work on my own terms and in my own strength.
Where does this leave me? If I stay like this, I will be forever separated from the God I’ve had no time for. And that’s a problem that all the cutting and starving or purging in the world won’t solve.
But the same Jesus who ought to hate me and make me feel ashamed and punish me, doesn’t do what I do to myself. Instead, He says, I know you. And I love you. He says, I’m going to take away your shame. And I’m going to take the punishment, not you.
God’s Real Solution – The Cross
We can’t remake ourselves. And that’s at the heart of so much disordered behaviour – making a new me, a better me, because maybe if I look better or maybe if my body says how rubbish I feel, then what’s inside will change too. But there’s nothing we can do to change or to save ourselves.
On the cross, Jesus was cut off. On the cross, He was abandoned and punished and stripped and shamed and exposed. He took that darkness on Himself and put it to death, where it belongs. Jesus has dealt with that stuff. Perfectly. When it was all done, He cried out, “Finished”. And because He rose from the dead, we are raised with Him from the tyranny of our old selves.
So we can draw a line under the verdicts of other people.
Don’t buy the lie that you are what other people think of you.
You are not who your family say you are. You are not what your mates think.
You’re not your job, or your grades. You’re not your clothes size.
You are not even how you feel.
The Bible tells us who we really are: God’s dearly loved children.
Your old self has been nailed to the Cross. Those accusing thoughts and judgements have no power over you any more. They have fallen on Him.
The Real You
Who am I? The first question is, who is He? You are who Jesus says you are, because He bought you on the Cross. And that means you are priceless – because the ransom He paid for you, is more than the whole world put together.
This means that I can know – and face – who I really am. No more secrets, no more shame and no more masks. There is a real me beyond the performances that exhaust and enslave. As I enjoy His unconditional love I can start to live out of a new centre – a centre “in Christ.” To “get” this love is a work of the Spirit. And it will take a lifetime to grasp it fully. But as we do, the real me can emerge.
Jesus doesn’t just want to change how I behave. He doesn’t want to bully me or get me to smarten up my act. He loves me and he loves you, just as we are. But he also loves us too much to leave us that way.
So – real life and real recovery is possible. Not just from eating disorders, or self-harm, but from self-hatred, from fear and shame and the stuff you keep locked in the basement.
Jesus didn’t come to give us a whole new set of rules to live up to. He doesn’t need us to keep it together for Him. He can handle all of our feelings and he can give us a future that is full of hope. Not only that – He can use the mistakes we’ve made and the years we feel we’ve wasted. Freedom is possible because He lives in us. That’s not going to happen overnight – it’s a long and sometimes painful journey. But we can trust Him to lead us every step of the way, to walk with us, minute by minute, to join us in the mess and to lift us out of it.
There is nothing and no-one that He cannot redeem.