Today I welcome to my Living Room one of the sweetest friends I have ever known. Author Kelli Stuart offers us her wisdom, as we press in and press on in this 40 day Sugar-Fast.
It's Time to Live Free
I was twelve the first time someone made me aware of my body shape. A friend held up a magazine, and on the cover was a waif-ish model, for this was the early '90's, and very thin was very in. This friend of mine was also stick thin, her body shape so different from my more athletic build.
"This is what you need to try to get to," she said. "If you were thinner, we could share clothes."
That was all it took. The tiny seed of insecurity planted in my formative mind, and from that day forward, the image I saw in the mirror was a distorted version of my true self.
It wasn't a fast descent into anorexia and bulimia for me, but more of a slow fade. It started with the comment from my thin friend. This only got the wheels turning, and I began to limit my food portions because maybe she was right. Maybe there was an easy solution to my "problem."
A few months after that first comment, my gymnastics coach yelled at me from across the gym after a particularly rough training day on floor. "What's the matter with you today? You sound like a cow trying to tumble out there. Stop being so heavy on your feet!"
Looking back on it now, I don't think she was calling me fat. The lightest of gymnasts can sound heavy when not tumbling properly. But the seed had already been planted, and so my youthful heart translated her words to mean something different than intended, and the slippery slope on which I stood grew steeper.
I traveled a battled path with eating for a decade. From the ages of 13-23, I fought this fight, knowing in my heart that my relationship with food was an unhealthy one. I sought counsel, saw doctors, asked for prayer, and tried to beat it on my own. I starved myself for days. Binged and purged for weeks on end. Exercised through exhaustion, and tried to hide the depth of my problem as much as I possibly could.
I was ashamed of my inability to control myself around food, and I hated that when I looked in the mirror, I couldn't seem to see what everyone else saw.
I thought it would get better when I got married. Somehow, I thought the committed love of a man would free me of all insecurities because, after all, I didn't need to impress anyone anymore, right?
But it didn't get better and, in fact, my shame grew, because now the harm I did to my body directly affected my husband.
Finally, in early March, 2002, I'd had enough. I was so tired of fighting the battle, and I fell to my knees after another day of failing with food.
"Take it from me, Lord! I don't want this anymore! I just want to be done."
In that moment, I felt a power rush through me that I find hard to adequately explain. It's the only time in my life I've felt His touch in such a tangible way. It felt much like the image given to us of the woman with the issue of blood who reached out and touched Jesus' robe, and was instantly healed.
I felt healed. An inner repair happened in my body that was instantaneous, and I knew I had just been freed from the shackles that had held me down for so long. And so it was that I heard His voice clearly speak to my heart.
You have my healing. You're free. Now live free.
In the thirteen years since that beautiful moment in my Dallas apartment, I have lived in freedom from the bondage of an eating disorder. But this freedom and this healing in which I live comes with a price. Though I am free, I must live responsibly.
I am not participating in this 40 Day Sugar Fast. In fact, I don't ever participate in food fasts, because in my spirit I know that fasting from food sets me right back on that slippery slope. Asking me to deny myself food, even the simple act of denying myself sugar, is like asking a recovering alcoholic to step into a bar alone and pray.
This freedom in which I live rests on my ability to manage my eating, and the best way for me to manage my food intake is to simply not think too much of it.
I eat as balanced a diet as I can muster with four children in the house. Some days I eat well, other days I don't. But the Lord has given me victory over the stronghold of food, and so I live in that freedom each and every day.
I've tried fasting in the years since I was healed, but I've found that the second I decide to deny myself food, the more I begin to think about it, and it isn't long before I feel consumed. It's not healthy, and it threatens my freedom.
But there are other areas in my life in which I can step away. There are a lot of ways to fast, and so as I've watched Wendy take the helm on this 40 Day Sugar Fast, I've decided to take the role of co-pilot. While she fights for victory over sugar intake, and so many of you join her in that march, I am here praying over you all, faithfully asking the Lord to grant you victory in the strongholds that threaten to undo you.
As for me, I've chosen to step away from social media in the morning hours. This is my spiritual fast. I will not engage online until I have engaged with the Lord - until I've prayed for you, and for your victory.
There are still strongholds in my life that need to be broken. I long to live a victorious life as Wendy encouraged us all yesterday. But I will not live in victory by denying myself sugar. The Lord already broke that stronghold for me thirteen years ago, and I rest firmly in that victory.
The Lord has the power to free us all from the shackles that bind us. So in the fighting and the seeking, the fasting and the hours and hours of praying, may we have the courage and faith to reach out our hands and touch His garment, then relish in the flow of His healing power as He whispers His promise:
You have My healing. You're free. Now live free.
If you are desperate to help a daughter, sister or friend, who is wasting away under your watchful eye, Emily Weirenga's moving resource, Chasing Silhouettes: How to Help a Loved One Battling an Eating Disorder may be just the resource you need to love her through this fight.
More about today's guest:
Kelli Stuart is a writer and mom of four who spends most of her days shuttling children from one event to another in her smokin’ hot minivan. Kelli discovered blogging when her youngest was a newborn. She launched her first site, Minivans Are Hot, as a way to write about the often baffling and hilarious business of being a mother, knowing that if she didn’t laugh at life, she just might cry. She is the author of Like a River from its Course and co-author of Life Creative: Inspiration for Today's Renaissance Mom. You can keep up with her over at KelliStuart.com — Kelli currently lives in Tampa, Florida where she tries hard to concentrate on balancing her love of writing with her desire to sit on the beach and read a good book.
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