Aubrey’s Story #8: Bulimia and the Treadmill

If anything can motivate me to stop, it is my new baby girl. I thought it simply boiled down to finding the “perfect motivator,” and I assumed I held my motivation in my arms. As I continually sought to find my motivation apart from Christ, I found myself on a treadmill, whose speed, for a while, I could maintain, but eventually the speed would increase and I would find myself once again, flat on my face. When a new motivator introduced itself, I’d gladly shake its hand, head to the treadmill, and give it my best shot once more.

What I thought was humility was actually pride in sheep’s clothing. “Not thinking I was good enough” sounded humble, but it set me on a trajectory of a salvation of my own making. I needed to stop puking so I could come to Jesus. And without Jesus, my only key to stop puking lay in finding a perfect motivation.

Often I hear in the fitness world, “Who are you working out for?!” “Who/what is your motivation?!” The two most frequent answers I’ve come across are for “my health” and for “my family.” While both are good things, they cannot be where our hope ultimately lies. Yes, we want to be healthy and stewards of the bodies we have been given. Yes, we want to be overflowing with thankfulness that our bodies can actually do hard physical things, and that we can love to enjoy exercise. Yes, we want to be able to run and play with our children, and beat them at all physical challenges and sports while we can ;0) But eventually, for one reason or another, our health will fail, either slowly or suddenly, and we won’t be able to outrun our kids. We won’t be able to run at all. At some point, death is going to catch up to us all. Yes, it is fun to set goals for ourselves. Yes, it is wise and good to have healthy patterns in exercise and diet so we can continue to serve, bless, and enjoy others. But my motivation to “just stop it” for my daughter’s sake, while looking sound on the outside, rang hollow on the inside. As I soon found out, no motivation of my own making was powerful enough to pull me out of the pit I had dug for myself, and these realizations acted as drips of water on the dying embers of my faith.

As every day passed, I could testify more intensely to the fact that bulimia was an evil taskmaster. If Jesus is “our ever present help,” then bulimia is “our ever present hinderer.” He had looked so innocent the day I met him, giving me so much hope and joy. But as I had gone further into his service, the reality was becoming clear. All his roads were leading to death. I knew I could not serve two masters. Why could I not stop?! I didn’t want to serve this master anymore. I grew up on Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” I wanted that. And so, as I was finishing up a purge, hearing my daughter crying from her crib, I would cry out, “I believe; help my unbelief!”

Sin had deceived me. I knew it had. I started off thinking this was exactly what I wanted. I get to eat all the food I want, and still have the body I want! It sounded like a dream. But my dreams were quickly turning into nightmares. Initially I had come away from my purges filled with ecstatic happiness that I had found the answers to all my problems. But as the second year of bulimia came and went, my friend, “Bulimia,” had turned against me, and I did not see how I could escape. When I purged, I literally had the feeling that I was in the presence of someone laughing at me, pointing his finger and taunting, ““Just look at you! Ha! With your mouth dripping with puke! I can’t believe you actually believe this stuff!”

The life that I thought promised me happiness had done nothing but steal. It stole from my relationship with my husband, it stole from my ability to hang with friends, it stole from my ability to enjoy tastes, and it would now steal time, energy, and love from my newborn baby girl. They were my sacrifices, and bulimia was my golden calf.

But Jesus will not be replaced by any motivator, no matter how true or pure it may be. For three years more, I would continue my search for something that would be powerful enough to break my bondage. But no husband, no child, no new house, not anything could rescue me. And as I got up, time and time again, from the merciless treadmill, attempting over and over to “try harder this time,” Jesus stood waiting to unplug it. The treadmill race had already been won. It had been run perfectly. But I had to continue my race in vain awhile longer. And Jesus waited.

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