Her voice is usually soothing. Comforting and cooing me to lean into hunger:
Hunger is safe; it’s familiar–you have all the control. You have no reason to worry because the pang of hunger slims your body, makes you more acceptable.
I want to give in to her because I want to be acceptable and comfortable, yet I find my heart seeking wisdom in the midst of uncertainty and fear that something isn’t right. Praying, I ask to hear my Father’s voice. It’s hard to hear in Him with distractions of triggers all around me.
I nearly cried at dinner the other night; my in-laws peppered with questions about celiac and food, my anxiety growing like a heavy thicket of thorns in my gut. I could hardly get down what little I manged to eat. It wasn’t their fault. They are curious and they love me. They want and need to know how to better serve me when I come over for dinner. Innocent enough, but they don’t know they pull a dangerous trigger.
Her voice comes back, sneering.
See? Food is nothing but a nuisance. Why do you even bother? Can you not control yourself? You said yourself it makes you ill if you aren’t careful, so be careful. Put your fork down and walk away. You aren’t hungry anyway.
It was time to go swimming. Everyone was so excited, putting on their suits and grabbing towels. I put on my suit and analyzed my body–alone in the bathroom. It’s dangerous for me to be alone with her.
Puffy gut. Turn to the side. You are definitely gaining weight. And look at those legs. Celiac has certainly done a number on your skin, huh? Look at all the skin damage on those thighs–which by the way, they seem a bit larger. You should be running more. You aren’t thin enough, Leanne. Less food tomorrow, okay?
The thorny thicket of anxiety squeezed my gut and reached for my heart. I put clothes over my swimsuit, opened my bedroom door and pasted a smile to my face. “Ready to go,” I said. My heart was in a panic and I prayed–Lord, please take my hand and silence this voice. I adore you and seek only You. I love you, Father and you love me. None of this is true. Help me believe.
Looking around the pool, she got nasty.
Look at all the skinny girls. Yep. You are so fat. Out of control, aren’t you? You aren’t even half as small as that girl. Did you even bother brushing your hair? You are ugly and stupid for even coming down here. You should have stayed back. Ha! SPF 50 on those grotesque legs–can’t seem to manage that delightful golden color that everyone else seems to get. Get skinnier and stay that way. You’ll have something going for you then.
Father God, it isn’t true. You see me as a beautiful queen. This horrid voice spews lies. You love me and I am glorious in your eyes. Silence this voice–I confess I desire to be skinny but my greater desire is to honor you–I lay my life before you, Father. Only what you desire matters.
This push and pull between Ana’s voice and my prayers took place all weekend.
Constant and tense and difficult. Eating here and pulling back there. Immersing myself in the wonder of God’s beauty one minute, doing push-ups alone in my bedroom the next minute. A constant battle.
I woke up this morning to Ana’s whispers seeping into my mind. My belly growled in hunger. My body ached from the weekend’s tension.
I grabbed my Bible desperate for His comforting Word. Lord God, let You be the only one I hear this morning. Please, I beg you. I was led to my two favorite passages–the ones I always turn to in my mind, but rarely anymore in my Bible because I know them well:
Psalm 25 4-5:
Show me your ways, Lord,
teach me your paths.
5 Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,
and my hope is in you all day long.
Proverbs 3: 7-8
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the Lord and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
Ana’s voice is evil–the enemy manifested in a way that seeks to destroy me and worse, my connection with God. I shun her today. I am reminded of the wisdom I seek–the wisdom to live wisely in my diseases, which requires that I stay in God’s Loving Word for me. I do not ask for healing of my woes because they keep me pursuing God and yearning for His teaching of his truth and ultimate Love–for me and for the beautiful hearts who also battle anorexia. I pray for humility and a wise heart in this battle. My Father loves me in a way I cannot even express because it is incomprehensible.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Ana is quiet today. Thank you, Father.