Celebrating Christmas with an Eating Disorder? Invite Emmanuel, The Prince of Peace!

As we enter into this last week of Advent, we are preparing our hearts and homes to celebrate the day that Love came down to meet us as newborn baby. I am filled the joy of my savior’s birth. I am filled with faithfulness and gratitude because God fulfilled this promise Luke 2:11 “Today in the City of David a savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord” (NIV) Isaiah 9:6 comes to pass “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Might God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Oh, how grateful I am in this time of unknowns and chaos that the government is upon his shoulders and not mine. When fear threatens to shake my foundation, I can call upon him to be my Prince of Peace.

Oh, Sweet Sisters how I desire to rest with the Prince of Peace as the joy of Christmas can be veiled behind the fear, depression and anxiety that comes with an eating disorder even as we move towards or through recovery. COVID has caused this Christmas to look quite different than years past, but for many of us, the holiday seasons will still revolve around food and celebration. We have trigger foods or scary foods surrounding us and we need to figure out a way to navigate these times and still hold onto our recovery.

The same cookie that causes me exhausting mental gymnastics to allow myself to enjoy just one, is the same cookie that can cause others to wonder if they can stop at just one. And I bet if you are like me, you attempt to make this look easy on the outside while the internal chatted of ED steals your attention away from being present to the moment before you. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could all enjoy a silent night, a night silent from the chapter of ED?

I am reminding myself that yes, ED can take me away from the moment of uncomfortable emotions, but it also melts away the drops of joy like snowflakes before they even touch the ground. Let’s face it, Christmas is far from the Norman Rockwell Christmas we all envision and if we are lucky it is more like the Griswold's’ Christmas Vacation.

Some of us will spend the holiday alone and some with those, who, if truth be told, we would never choose to see again. The joy, gratitude, laughter, sorrow, anxiety, and depression somehow have to hang in an awkward balance like ornaments on our trees. It is in this balance that I hold onto The Prince of Peace, and I can find peace allowing him to bring beauty from the ashes of my life, chaos into order. Balance is imaginable as we trust, “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his good purpose.” Romans 8:28

How do I manage to survive the Christmas season without falling into a season of the eating disorder? How do you manage?

This year I am secretly relieved that we are forced to keep things simple. I do hate that COVID is keeping families separated, church services virtual, pictures with Santa through a pane of class, and matching Christmas masks replacing Christmas pajamas. It all feels like such impersonal ways to celebrate the birth of our savior who came that we may have a personal relationship with him. Or maybe it is God’s way of drawing us deeper into our relationship with him as well as our relationships that truly matter and are life giving. ED is hardly life giving! My Christmas 2020:

  • I have lowered my expectations because circumstance has lowered them for me.

  • A perfectly decorated house can’t compare with being perfectly loved by Christ and loving as he loves me.

  • There will be empty places at the table, due to death or quarantines. I will allow myself to feel this grief.

  • I won’t allow ED to turn off my grief because it will also dampen my joy.

  • I will be open and honest with my loved ones that food and celebration are and will probably always be hard.

  • I will enlist the help of at least one person to support me with ED.

  • I will go into each meal with a plan and consider sharing with my designated support person.

  • I may set a time on my watch to remind me to stay present because this is a gift to myself.

  • I will feel joy and accept it as a gift I am worthy of receiving.

  • And I will remember Emmanuel (God with us) means never having to be alone.

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