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Praying Woman

Starving for Love

Starving for Love

by Hannah Bollinger

This post originally appeared in the Woven Beautiful blog.

My heart was beating fast when the woman on the exercise machine next to me surprised me with her words.

“You’re pretty thin. Are you healthy?”

I briefly took my eyes off the calorie count on the elliptical screen and glanced her direction. Is that really any of your business, I thought to myself.

But, of course, that’s not what I said.

I mustered up a half smile and replied, “Yes, I’m fine. I just exercise a lot.”

It was true that I exercised a lot. I was an active full-time college student who was physically fit, but I was not completely fine.

While I had made some progress since first seeking help for an eating disorder at the age of 18 and I was holding down my meals unlike before, there were still so many hurts in me that needed healing. I wanted to be okay, to be healthy, to be free…but the journey to getting better takes time.

Exercise—something seemingly good—had become like a form of control for me. I was also restrictive about what I ate, often paying attention to calories and the number on the scale. I didn’t eat enough for my activity level and it was a formula for weight loss, but my body was hurting.

While many factors can contribute to eating disorders, and there isn’t total agreement about what those factors are, there is one thing I know for certain: I was starving for love.

I was starving for unconditional love.

While there were many wonderful people in my life who loved me, what I needed most was the healing love of my Good Father. I needed His Truth to set me free from the chains that were still keeping me imprisoned to a life of striving to be good enough.

With the Lord as my strength, I eventually sought help again.

Now the pages have turned…

I write these words many years after that awkward gym conversation, and I praise God that I am not the same woman today. I am still a work in progress, but I no longer battle with an eating disorder.

It’s been a long and sometimes bumpy journey, but I don’t fear food in the way I once did. Instead, I know it’s nourishment to help me do the work God put me here to do. I no longer exercise compulsively, but I exercise to take care of my body, and one of my very favorite things is running in God’s beautiful creation. Calorie counting and diets are a thing of the past for me, and I’ve learned to enjoy food without the side of guilt.

Jesus is Lord of my life and I testify to the power of His Love. I know that my beauty and worth are found in my identity in Christ, and Christ alone. I know that my body is a temple of the Lord and it’s meant to be nourished, not beaten up. I know that nothing can separate me from His Love, and I know His Truth is greater than any lie from the pit of hell. I know that He has the power to heal the deepest wounds because He has and is continuing to heal mine.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. ~ Isaiah 53:5 {NIV}

Rather than focusing on calories, or the scale or the mirror, I’m learning the beauty of fixing my eyes on Jesus. I’m learning the power of daily feeding my spirit with Truth, and the importance of letting go of things that hurt my mind with the wrong messages. I’m learning to seek refuge in the Lord when the lies come crashing in and the struggles are great. I can always rest in the arms of my King. Just as I am, I can rest in His Love.

I remember those days when I was so hungry for love, but now that I’ve tasted the life-giving love of Jesus, I delight in the One who truly satisfies.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” ~ John 6:35 {ESV}


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