Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Never Thirst



Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
       John 4:13-15

I was about four or five years old the first time I looked at myself and thought the word "fat" as a proper adjective.  At that time, it didn't bother me enough to affect my life.  But the seed was planted, a seed that grew with me, growing into an uncontrollable weed that was continually watered by the world's images and messages about beauty.  

By the time I reached 7th grade, my distorted body image had deep roots.  Afraid to move up from a size 1 jean size during the summer before my 8th grade year, I resorted to eating mostly Jell-O during the daytime - it was advertised as "fat free" - which to me meant it wouldn't make me fat (my education about empty calories would come during recovery - for now, I was a victim to society's view of "health").  Everything I did revolved around perfection, and if I couldn't keep my weight down, it meant I was lacking in other areas, as well.  Nope, straight A's at school didn't matter.  Neither did the fact that I had a Savior and Lord who loved me.  I wasn't deserving of any praise or love, even from Jesus, if I faltered in even one area.  

Pictures of me in a bathing suit from my 13th birthday party made me cry and feel sick to my stomach.  I was a size 1, but an unfamiliar voice, who I now know is satan, told me that I was a "fat" size 1.  My stomach was horrible to look at, and I eventually ripped up that photo out of shame.

Despite my efforts, during 8th grade, I moved up to a size 3.  I cried while walking through the mall, realizing I was breaking a vow I'd made to a friend that we would both remain size 1 and share clothes.  I had failed, and not even the loving words of my mom could save me from the depths of that particular despair.  I was ugly, fat, worthless.  I didn't want anyone to look at me.  I didn't want to look at myself.  Suddenly, every soft spot on my body was now very obvious in the mirror.  I soon started grabbing and pulling on the "fat" on my stomach as a habit, almost any time I had to go to the bathroom.  I would imagine tearing off the fat and putting it in a shoebox (thanks to the lovely image I had read in a teen magazine - that about five or ten pounds of fat could fit in a shoe box).  I would wish so bad that it was that easy.

I spent the summer before ninth grade trying to maintain a healthy image and lifestyle.  I would eat, but I would write it all down - count every calorie, even in gum, and make sure to exercise much of it away on my stepmother's treadmill.  I was going to Mexico that summer, and I NEEDED to look good in a bathing suit.  I made sure to take every measure I knew, but was still overwhelmingly dissatisfied by how I looked in pictures.  I had remained a size 3 ... but it didn't matter.  I was a "gross" size 3.  Note: anyone with sanity knows that all of this is absurd.  I will soon tell you more about the enemy's ways, how satan will try to steal your attention in any way possible, in order to attempt to diminish God's eternal kingdom of beauty and glory.

By ninth grade, I was told by a teammate that throwing up provided a way to eat and then not feel guilty about it later.  Binging and purging was introduced to my life.  I started trying it.  I would come home from sports practices VERY hungry.  I would eat, and then sneak away to my room in the basement.  I would turn on the shower, and stick my fingers down my throat to puke before hopping in.  At first it was difficult to make myself throw up.  But by the end of ninth grade, I was a professional at it.  No one knew.  I didn't lose weight, but I didn't gain any.  Again, my successes as a student, in my jobs, as an athlete all depended on my success in all my endeavors.  That is, if I had faltered in any aspect of my life, including my body, I considered myself to be a failure in all areas.  If one spinning plate fell, they would all fall.  I was a vulnerable, almost-broken mess of girl.  And satan knew it because he had done it.

Tenth grade was the year that satan got his claws deep into me.  The weed had grown so big that it was overtaking my true spirit.  By now, the world had watered me with MILLIONS of messages and images.  Despite what I knew about my loving God, my shame was so enormous, and the voices in my head were so loud, that I couldn't hear His voice anymore.  By January of my tenth grade year, I was in full starvation.  I had finally developed the "will" to not eat.  This meant I didn't have to purge, but it also meant faking my way through meals.  My mom noticed right away and tried in desperation to keep me from the lifestyle she saw springing up before her.  But it was too late - the enemy had my ears and my mind.  Every jean size lost was another victory.  Every shirt that was suddenly too big was deep satisfaction.  I kept good grades in school, I was a valuable employee, I went to youth group at church, I was very involved with sports, and my body was somewhat satisfactory...

I had a fog over me for many years, even beyond high school.  It was full of pain and shame, sorrow and feelings of inadequacy.  I didn't feel good about myself in any way.  I felt lost.  Sometimes I felt suicidal.  I didn't want people looking at me.  I wanted to hide.  But I felt like if I just kept trying... I might be satisfied.  Maybe if I looked like those models, I would be desirable on the outside, and then what's inside might matter...

But you know what the enemy does?  He takes it all from you.  He keeps telling you you're NOT GOOD ENOUGH.  You aren't LOVABLE.  You aren't ATTRACTIVE.  You don't look like those MODELS IN MAGAZINES.  You are a DISGRACE.  You don't DESERVE anything.  Does this sound familiar?  You feel that you might as well keep trying ... keep trying ... keep trying ... and soon you're drowning, and that weed that started as a seed is strangling you, keeping you from reaching the surface of the lies.  And you have NO CHOICE but to believe those lies...unless...UNLESS...unless there's True Love.

It obviously didn't take me long in life to figure out that when I look to the world to satisfy me, I will never be satisfied.  In fact, not only will I be dissatisfied, but I will be utterly disgusted with myself.  When we look for approval from the outside, there will almost always be at least one person (or one force) opposing us.  You see, because the battle is of the spiritual kind, we will always have a void of emptiness within the deepest part of who we are ... unless ... True Love rescues us with Truth.

You who are reading this... yes, YOU ... did you know that True Love exists?  His name is Jesus.  He is Truth, and He is Life.  He provides THE WAY for us to escape the lies of satan.  He untangles us from the suffocation and sets us on shore and shows us true beauty.  And He can do this because He shed his blood so that you will NEVER have to live in the shame and lies of the enemy.  He died for you while you were still an enemy of His; before you knew Him, He sacrificed Himself for you.  You were bought at a price -- and that price was so high that it bought your FREEDOM from the lies of satan and of the world.  Therefore, He has the right to take you from your own devastation.  If you will let Him...

He says, "YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.  YOU ARE WORTHWHILE.  YOU ARE A MASTERPIECE.  YOU ARE LOVELY IN MY SIGHT.  YOU ARE VALUABLE.  YOU ARE TALENTED.  YOU. ARE. BEAUTIFUL.  BEAUTIFUL...B E A U T I F U L!"  

I know this because He told me.  He told me over and over again.  I finally looked for Him, begged Him to help me.  He dusted me off, dressed my spiritual wounds, spoke truth.  Countless times.  Relentlessly.  The Lord is near to those who call on His name.  I would NOT BE HERE without Him.  If I had not surrendered my life to Him, I wouldn't hear my son's voice in the other room, and he wouldn't have a mommy.  I wouldn't feel the breeze on my face as I run.  I wouldn't be married to the man God prepared for me, a man that tells me every day, "You are beautiful."  I wouldn't be able to touch and impact a classroom full of 7th grade kids, all searching for truth and belonging.  And because of the Lord, I can work for His wonderful purposes until I am called into His Kingdom.

I have only just begun my testimony (above) about my battle with eating disorders and distorted body image.  I will certainly post again about those experiences, and how God called back to Himself what is His (me!).


I am writing this and starting this blog because there isn't enough of an outlet for women and girls to share their pains and victories over distorted body image.  The media is trying to STEAL God's truth about beauty.  In fact, it's so out of control, that usually the only means to attain worldly "beauty" is to be completely unhealthy, ruining the temple of the Spirit, which is your body.  

Please, add to this blog your stories and thoughts, your joys and pains, sorrows and victories.  I will support you and love you, just as the Lord does already.  Other people will be encouraged to know that there IS a VOICE out there.  We should all feel comfortable to talk about this - even to vent!  You can leave comments OR ...
If you feel so moved to share more, please e-mail me your testimony, frustrations, stories, victories, thoughts, ANYTHING at vinson.cherie@gmail.com  I will post them on this blog (let me know if you'd like to remain anonymous on the blog).

Eventually, if enough interest, I want to make this an open community blog.  

Don't let anything take away from you the fact that you are a gorgeous creation.  When you drink from the water that is the spring of life, you will never thirst.  Your spirit will be quenched, and your mind and body will be satisfied, as well.  

Like the Samaritan woman at the well, I say, "Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Lord, let me never thirst.  I trust in You.