In the very moment my hands clutched around my neck, choking on my own self-induced vomit, despairing of life, He saved me. I rose from the ground, freely forgiven, weeping tears of joy.
The desire to purge was gone. The battle against that desire to purge was completely annihilated. But there was still food in my life. The twisted, distorted, and unnatural relationship that I had cultivated with food over the past five years had not suddenly disappeared. Jesus could have restored that relationship in that moment as well? But my path went a different direction. Not only was the path long, but it is still something that I work on daily. But, I get ahead of myself. Rewinding to that moment that took me from absolute fear and horror to absolute freedom and joy, I was struck with the painful reality that my journey had not ended.
Why can’t you just eat the oatmeal?!
It’s your daughter’s birthday cake, for goodness sake! Why can’t you just have a small piece?!
Why did you have to take such a small portion?!
Why are you still afraid to eat in front of others?!
Why do you still prefer to eat hidden from the world?!
While I wanted to shout my deliverance from the rooftops and proclaim God’s mercy, I allowed these questions to continually gnaw at my soul. They were the joy-stealers, the thieves that were constantly waiting to rob the grace and mercy that pounded forth in that moment of deliverance. Thanksgiving was coming up and the joy-stealers whispered that “true” deliverance would translate into a plate load of food, a plate loaded with food that I had not eaten in years. But my plate didn’t look different. I was embarrassed as I dished up. I was as uncertain of my food choices as I was of the nervous tune that I found myself humming, which always makes its appearance in any uncertain venture of mine. I was mortified to think that my food choices on that Thanksgiving were a loud proclamations of my inability to choose freedom over fear. But as much as I wanted my deliverance to translate to my plate, I longed even more for someone to tell me that my plate was okay, that it did not matter what was on my plate or not on my plate. I did not share this anguish with anyone. This turmoil plagued me with sadness, and I often left the table with a gnawing in both my stomach and soul.
The fact that everything had not changed overnight hovered over me like a thundercloud of sadness, threating to rain on my joy. But the loving-kindness that I had drunk so deeply of in my deliverance called me back to a place of sweet rest for my weary soul, and I once more found myself yearning to understand and experience the gospel and grace in the new path I found myself walking, even if on this new path I still bore unexpected burdens. And the burdens were all the more bitter-tasting knowing I taken them up upon myself willingly in exchange for the promises of bulimia. They were embarrassing burdens. Burdens that showed up for all to see, every time I ate. But regardless of how the burdens came, they were burdens nonetheless.
But there is no burden that Jesus will not carry. The burdens brought me back to Jesus. Back to His perfect, sinless life. Back to a place of remembering that my righteousness did not fluctuate before His throne of grace. But that it stood, as sure as the Son of God is seated at His right hand.
May our ability/inability to hide the unexpected burdens in our lives from others consume us, but rather let us be consumed with the all-surpassing greatness of Christ. Only there will we find freedom from our fears, freedom from others, and freedom from ourselves. Only there, will we find joyous freedom that nothing can take away, not even the unexpected burdens.