Beliefnet
Doing Life Together

tape-403586_1920In today’s world one of the guiding lights of modern life is that “you can’t be too thin or too rich…” Whether or not you agree with the cultural values expressed in this phrase, it is undeniable that a vulnerable sub-population of America lives literally by these words. We pass on the greedy and money-obsessed herein to concentrate on the other group of focus: those whose lives are controlled by how and what and when and why they eat.

Millions of Americans live on a permanent cycle of dieting—now a multi-billion dollar industry.[1] America is increasingly obsessed with physical culture, with looking good, good health, being thin, being fit, being and functioning at all times at peak levels. This growing obsessiveness drives millions to shape their daily lives around time-consuming regimens of dieting, exercise, muscle toning, cosmetics, plastic surgery, sports competition, and sweat-producing activity of every kind imaginable.

At the same time, tens of millions of Americans are so fat that obesity is tagged a national health problem, affecting one-third of the children, youth, adults, and elderly of the nation—nearly 100 million people![2] We are a nation that has embraced self-indulgence over self-discipline, and now eat for taste and pleasure rather than for sustenance and health. A multi-billion culture of fast food, fried food, and junk food has created millions of ‘couch potatoes’ who neither exercise nor control their eating habits in any meaningful way.

While a case may be made that these many millions are beset with eating disorders of myriad types and styles, embedded within this large mass of humanity is our target group of concern—those with truly life-threatening eating disorders. The anorexic, the bulimic, and the severely obese person suffer uniquely, with psychological, spiritual, familial, and medical problems all converging in a potentially deadly mix of issues that requires a concerted wisdom to help untangle and resolve.

Central to the work of healing from an eating disorder is developing a strong identity based in Christ. While family, peers and culture influence whom we become, it is through an understanding and experience of the one true Christ that a person is empowered to be who God intended her to be.

A Christ-based identity is not easily shaken and is a point of reference when facing turmoil from the stresses of life. A person must understand that God cares more about her character and conformity to Him than her outward appearance and accomplishments. Perfection is unachievable and works do not warrant God’s grace.

As respected apologist Os Guinness notes, “A life-lived listening to the decisive call of God is a life lived before one audience that trumps all others—the Audience of One.” 20 Scripture references such as Ephesians 1:4, Psalm 139:2 & 14, Hebrews 13:5 lay the foundation for discovery of true identity and pleasing only the “Audience of One.”[3]

Thinking is often distorted leading to a negative view of the self and others. A renewing of the mind is also essential to healing. Distorted thoughts should be challenged in therapy and the person asked to generate more rational thoughts based on biblical knowledge and an enlightened view of self.

For example, the thought, “I am no good because I am not thin enough” can be challenged by asking someone to defend that position biblically and uncover her fears of inadequacy. “Thin enough” is an attempt to achieve “goodness.” It is a failed solution. We can never be “good enough” for God’s grace. His Holy Spirit can help us accept our “good enough” status as God’s creation and beloved.

The power of the Holy Spirit can heal and transform in ways unknown to our limited understanding. While we use all the training and knowledge extracted from research and clinical practice, we recognize the supernatural realm as greater than our comprehension. Both therapists and clients should depend on the work of the Holy Spirit to give wisdom and intervene to change lives.

There is hope for even the most desperate case because of Christ. Because of the abiding presence of God, the hope and future promised in Him, promised freedom from bondage and enslavement, and the radical message that, in Christ, past is not prologue to future, we can be transformed and set free.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have past away; behold all things have become new.” 2Cor. 5:17. 21

 

 

[1] Statistics: How Many People have Eating and Exercise Disorders? Available from http://www.anred.com

[2] Statistics, http://www.anred.com

[3] Os Guinness, The Call, (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1998).

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus