“If we trust grace, we don’t need to hide from one another.”
I was scared to admit the truth, that something was wrong, that I needed help and that I still do.
I’ve struggled with disordered eating for most of my life. From bingeing to exercise bulimia, to categorizing foods as good and bad, to withholding and living in fear of food and to believing that bread, particularly white bread, is very very bad.
If you know anything about me, you know that I just love food and that I take great joy in cooking, so the incredibly sad thing about this struggle is that it steals from that deep love and joy.
I dealt with the bingeing post college, as I sought counseling and found freedom. I thought I was fine. So a few months prior to my wedding, when my best friend confronts me because I’m really thin and have lost a lot of weight, I’m defensive. I’m slippery. I’m in denial. I can’t believe this struggle is displaying itself once again in my life, only this time in a different form.
As I approached marriage, I began to withhold. I’d never not eat but would just limit what I ate, consuming mostly child sized portions.
One reason I withhold is because I want control. I knew that after saying I do, things in my life were going to change, radically change. I’d be married, which was something I’d never been before, and I’d be moving, relocating my whole life. It was all so vulnerable.
I also knew that I was about to be seen by my husband for the first time. I didn’t want to be rejected or not loved because of my body and what it looks like. The lies that I can be tempted to believe are that I need to be thin or perfect (without cellulite that is) in order to be loved. It’s a familial lie I do believe, one that may haunt the women in my family.
Three months after our big day and the move, I accepted a part-time junior high teaching position. It’s been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I felt so out of control that the limiting and withholding continued. I began to not eat a meal here or there, I continued to lose weight and I wasn’t being honest with myself, God or others. My husband, bless him, would gently confront me. He’d tell me that he missed the woman he’d dated (and by that he meant the me that had more meat on her bones and her behind!).
After a whole year of participating with this struggle, and allowing it to really have a hold, I knew I had to be honest. I was way too thin. I was tired. I was being robbed and I wanted my freedom back. It was with pen and journal in hand, that I was able to honestly speak the truth of my struggle and my heart. I needed help, and I was finally at a place where I was more able to admit that and more sincerely mean it.
This struggle is something I’ve felt shame about but have also taken pride in. Shame has made me want to keep this struggle and my sin a secret. It’s embarrassing to admit that I’m not really free, that I can be desperate for control, that I can be afraid I won’t be loved, that I do withhold and that this isn’t something I can just change or fix on my own. Being thin gets you lots of attention, especially from women. So many women have commented on my body, envying what they see and wanting to know my method. I’m not going to lie, it can feel real good, until I remember that it comes at a high cost. Slowly I’m beginning to be honest with these women, telling them the truth about my body and my struggle and sincerely asking them not to praise me for my sin.
The Lord has been so gracious to me. He reminds me that He loves me, just as I am. He loves me regardless of my sin and struggle. He’s helping me to have discernment and be able to choose the good. I’m now able to recognize when I’m being tempted by thoughts like, “you shouldn’t eat lunch today or you can’t eat that roll with dinner because you already had toast today at breakfast,” to acknowledge them as really dumb thoughts and to not submit to them.
This struggle continues to be part of my journey, though things are shifting and have gotten way better. I still long for my roots to sink even deeper down into the truth of God’s marvelous love that’s revealed to us in Christ Jesus. I love myself and want to love myself more and more. I hope to keep on nourishing my body, caring for it and calling it good, real good.
Now you know why the day I made french baguette, a very white loaf of bread, was such a big day for me, so significant. And the good news is, I’ve made it three times since!
This recipe is super simple and makes a delicious baguette. I’m proud of myself for trying it out, even doing so mid-struggle and not waiting until a point of arrival, and for enjoying it wholeheartedly!
Recipe adapted from Not Without Salt
2 3/4 c flour
1/2 T kosher salt
1 1/8 t active dry yeast
1 c warm water (100-110 degrees)
Dissolve the yeast in warm water.
Place flour and salt in stand mixer bowl. Pour in yeasty water. Using paddle attachment, mix on lowest speed for 40 seconds. Dough should form a shaggy ball. Let rest for 3 minutes. Replace paddle attachment with bread hook. Mix on medium speed for 2 1/2 minutes. Remove dough from bowl, should be tacky but not sticky.
Place ball of dough on a lightly floured cutting board. Knead with your hands for 40 seconds. Place ball of dough in a lightly oiled glass bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit overnight in fridge (for up to 4 days).
When you’re ready to bake, remove dough from fridge. Divide dough in half. Take one half and place it on a lightly floured cutting board. Gently shape the dough into a long tube, so that it fits on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spray with a light amount of cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours and 15 min. (I usually warm my oven just a touch, turn it off, and then place the cookie sheet with dough in the warm oven to rise).
Pre-heat the oven to 450 (removing cookie sheet with dough before doing so). Place a rimmed baking sheet on bottom rack and fill with a thin layer of water. Place the cookie sheet with the dough on the rack directly above it. Bake for 15 minutes, the rotate the pan and bake for another 10-15 minutes until a crest a golden brown color.