The Devil Made Me Do It
Romans 7:15 “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead I do what I hate.
Galatians 5:16 “ So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the spirit wants. And the spirit gives us desires that are opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions.
Ephesians 6:10-12 “A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. 12 For we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
I am a little angry with God this week (a lot) and I fly into a rage like I haven’t done in months. I feel like a fly; a fly that has flown into a spider web, but the web I find myself stuck in is a web of the lies Satan would have be believe about God and myself. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I am sick and tired of working so hard to not let the eating disorder or the neuralgia get the best of me. I struggle to break out of this lie-lined web that feels stickier than a black widow’s. I am sick and tired of trying to find my way out. I am sick and tired of waiting on God.
I stand in my kitchen with my arms raised toward heaven, but it is not in praise, it is in anger. “God I can’t fucking do this anymore! Do you not care about this child of yours? Why the torment?” I scream and curse at the top of my lungs until my throat aches and my voice is lost in coughing spell. I drag myself to the bathroom and grab a towel and repeatedly thrash it against the newly polished marble breaking a soap dish as collateral damage “Why God why? Why have you abandoned me? Why don’t you take me home? I just can’t live like this anymore!” I repeat over and over until my body is spent’ feeling as limp as the rag that now dangles in my hand. I hold the rag over the cuts on my hands from the careless (on purpose) gathering of the shards of glass littering the bathroom floor.
I text my bible study and ask for prayer to the Good Father that I spent the night spewing my anger like lave from a volcano. I know he is bigger than my anger, but today I need my prayer warriors to bring me boldly before the throne as I am having trouble dragging myself there.
I go through my usual mental gymnastics of calling my therapist because, before I can ask for help, I will have to confess the melt down. This is always a tough decision for me to make, but today it feels more difficult than ever. I worry that I have somehow fortified my right to call as I have decided not to take the DBT class. I guess I am hoping for some hope that I will be okay, that I am okay.
I try to process through the melt down with her in my session. I mention that I am feeling spiritually attacked and vulnerable to Satan’s slings and arrows. If he can find away he will do whatever it takes to put a wedge between my Heavenly Father and me. I was weak; He pounced. She looked at me as if I had said simply “The devil made me do it!” “I am trying to understand “Explain this to me.” She asked as she leaned her chin to rest on her hand, like Rodin’s The Thinker. I grasped for the words, but I don’t quite know what to say. I quote as best I can Ephesians 6:10-12 and leave it there.
I find my own prayer voice and the time to sit in his presence. I hear him say, “Liz, I am not angry with you. Satan too tempted me. He is a formidable force. This is why you are to treasure Our word in your heart. I forgave Peter, I forgiven you too.” I think I feel his grace wash over me as my tears wash over my cheeks. “I am sorry Father.” “I know you are.” And in the course of my prayer he calls me to the scriptures, and to review what led up to falling apart.
He leads me with curiosity to the above scriptures to begin understand the how and why of my melt down. I feel that he wants me to have the words that eluded me in my session. Satan waited until Jesus was tired and hungry in the dessert to tempt him. I am tired and hungry physically and spiritually. He taunts me. I am reminded that Jesus warned Peter personally ahead of time that he would deny Christ, yet he denied him anyways. Satan used fear on Peter and he uses it on me. Will he use me as he used Peter to further his kingdom?
I rewind the tape of the past week in my head. I have had a rough week as I press into recovery, press into God, press into publishing my book, and preparing to speak about my recovery including finding my identity in the who I am in Christ instead of my eating disorder. I feel and see God moving in my life while he sustains me as I fight the eating disorder and I know it is by his power that I am surviving the tormenting pain of the neuralgia.
He is always good; I remind myself when the pain bumps against me like our boat bumps against the dock in a storm. When I begin to ask “Why me?” I repeat the simple children’s song, “Jesus loves me this I know….” I meditate on The Word, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13 (NLT) I am working hard not for my salvation, not for God’s favor, but because faith takes practice, time and energy. This is how I cultivate my relationship with the father, know his character, hence; trust him. This is really how we cultivate any relationship, by investing our time and energy into the relationship.
Energy? Although Jesus strengthens me, and I feel his power as I fight the eating disorder and the neuralgia, I forget that I am human and that this body and mind needs rest. Unlike God, I do not have an endless supply of energy and all this fighting has worn me out. Even Jesus, in his human body rested, broke bread and ate.
I go one day with out really spending quality time with The Lord, and then another, unless of course, you count potty prayers, and drive time meditation as quiet time? I am pressing into doing so much “for God” that I am not spending time with God. Just when I am learning to nourish my body, I forget to nourish my soul and spirit; I mean really nourish it.
“Jesus replied, ‘I am the bread of Life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35 (NLT). I am slowly recognizing what restricting my body of nourishment does to it. I grow tired, irritable, and lack mental focus. It doesn’t dawn on me that, unintentionally, I am restricting my spirit of the bread of life, his life. There is a slow growing hunger of my spirit that allows for a void that needs to be filled, and Satan is waiting in the wings, like junk food to fill it. Asking myself to run this spiritual marathon on rationed spiritual food is like asking my body 5 years ago to run a half marathon on restricted food. And just like my body caved and I barely finished the race, my spirit shrank away no longer able to keep fighting the bait that Satan had set before me.
I was spiritually starving and I took the bait. Like a fish hooked on the line I fought the tug of Satan trying to land me. I ran the line until I had no fight left in me and he reeled me in. I had already swallowed his bait of lies.
I question my recovery as I go out to dinner with friends that know about all my struggles with food, weight and body image. I eat, drink and talk pretending that I don’t have the remnants of an eating disorder taking up space in my head, but I do have the remnants running rampant. I eat as if, but panic. The luscious carrot cake tips my fragile balance of recovery and sick. I try to purge, my body rebels and doesn’t allow me to. “Maybe this is okay?” I think. I am forced to sit with my full belly and return to the table and lose myself in the conversation and laughter between friends wondering how this stay at home mother can hold her ground with my high-powered career friends. They treat me as an equal acknowledging my intelligence and talents. Hell, they even praise me and ask my opinion. I hear a whisper in my ear saying, “Don’t believe them.” “Fuck! And I can’t even purge.” I say under my breath. I take a deep breath and repeat over and over that I am okay, more then enough, and not my eating disorder. This, of course takes me briefly out of the moment, and I am forced to figure out the conversation and re-insert myself.
Isn’t this a metaphor for those of us with eating disorders or any mental illness, as we recover we have to some how figure out how to re-insert ourselves into the life we left behind. It is and will be okay, but can be exhausting awkward and clumsy.
I am feeling exhausted, awkward and clumsy, and now I have to sit with the food sitting uncomfortably in my body. I rise the next day and realize that I am ok, but I am terrified I have lost my ability to purge. So, I workout hard and ever so slightly restrict my already meager rations. I need to come clean with the fact that I am liking the fact that my weight has dropped ever so slightly the past week. The workout is just another way to purge or reconcile my anguish over the keeping in the food my body wouldn’t give up.
Will my body be able to relinquish the food I don’t want it to hold in ever again? I am exhausted from the strenuous workout I have put myself through and the voices of the eating disorder begin to whisper in my ear. “ Are you sure you can fully trust God with this? You may need to have this available to you?” I answer, “You could be right.” This is what Satan suggests as he comes at me disguised as the eating disorder.
My husband leaves the house on an errand. I am alone and wondering if I have lost my life the coping skill of purging. I grab the ice cream out of the freezer and don’t even taste or feel it as I eat a few bites. This isn’t about hunger. This isn’t about pleasure. It is all about getting it down and getting it up because if I can’t vomit ice cream, then it is no longer available to me. I swallow, I wait, and I stand over the sink, and my body gives up the goods. I am both relived and horrified at the same time. Disgust wanders up in me bringing shame along with it. I have found that I still have that which I really don’t need as long as I fully trust The Lord.
I need to take some time to sit with the Lord and replenish my soul, not only with his word, but I need to just sit and feel his presence and grace wash over me. I need His grace and forgiveness for messing around with the eating disorder again. Here is the thing about disgust and shame, it often halts you from going and asking for the very thing you need. I forget, in the moment, that purging is disgusting; I am not disgusting. Forgiveness is easy to ask for, but asking for and receiving grace, somehow feels more difficult for me in this moment. Do I deserve grace for the same transgression over and over again? I close up my bible application, and decide I can pray while I run. I am going on a long one today to clear my mind. I force myself to stay in the moment, and not run angry.
I also know that a long run will help me engage with my family, not the eating disorder, as we hand toss pizzas to make in the new pizza oven (or so I thought). I think I am finally making the connection between hunger, fatigue and my mood. I eat well on Saturday, but apparently not enough to sustain me for the morning run of hills with without water stops. By the late afternoon I am anxious, cranky, and in need of a nap. It doesn’t dawn on me that I am physically hungry any more than it dawns on me that I have grown spiritually hungry, until… it is too late!
Physical and spiritual exhaustion is a recipe for disaster, and the armor of Christ’s truth about me begins fall off and Satan’s job to separate me from the truth and The Father becomes effortless. I purge, disgust and shame are waiting for me. Add to this the flare of the relentless neuralgia and I my faith and trust begin to be replaced with anger and doubt.
I rise in the morning with what I call a shame hangover. My disappointment in myself causes me to want to roll over, pull my covers over my head and skip church. I know there is grace and mercy at the foot of the cross, but today I am wondering if it is really waiting there for me. The old tape of lies begins to play like a haunting melody.
If God loves me so much, then why has he allowed this torturous illness on top of the eating disorder? He is a good father a remind myself. I am so tired and too weak to fight this anymore. He is strong where I am weak. Who are you to speak of recovery? Recovery isn’t perfect, nor linear, I am not perfect, and you know what, I am okay with this. The lies keep coming and coming, too many, too quickly, and as the armor of God begins to slip off, I run out of ammunition as well.
I am reminded of an image God has given me before. He is standing tall on a rock and I am huddled powerless behind him taking cover. Cover! This reminds me that he knows that there are times when I won’t remember to wear all my armor and my quiver will be empty, but he always has me covered with his abundant grace, energy, and unlimited ammunition. And after a day under the covers and taking cover behind Jesus, I am able to feast on his word and once again sing, “He’s a good, good father” (Chris Tomlin)