Eating disorder overcome
A Christian Science perspective: How poor body image was replaced with health and spiritual self-worth.
For several years I was preoccupied with my body weight, and this resulted in eating disorders. After a long struggle, I found healing by replacing a focus on my physique with an emphasis on my relationship to God. This change of thought brought needed dominion over an obsessive desire to become abnormally thin.
The onset of this problem occurred after high school. Though I was already slim, I dramatically cut my caloric intake in attempt to become even thinner. The obsession with weight loss intensified during my first year of college and beyond.
Soon I began a career in the entertainment industry in which I was constantly in the public eye. There was an unspoken pressure to be thin, and it seemed one’s weight had a direct bearing on one’s employment prospects. My happiness and self-esteem seemed dependent on the number on my bathroom scale.
My unhappiness made me realize that something had to change, but it wasn’t my weight. It was my thinking. So I turned to God in prayer. From what I had read in the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer of Christian Science, I knew that we are created by God, Spirit, and therefore we are actually spiritual and not material. This means our worth isn’t dependent on a physique; we are inherently worthy because we exist as the reflection and expression of God, good. As God’s spiritual reflection we are not subject to cultural pressures, material cravings, or human perfectionism; we are subject to Spirit alone. And as God's children, how could we not be satisfied with God's care?
Holding to this idea, I affirmed my spiritual nature as a daughter of God. Since God gives each of His children dominion, I claimed my ability to express that dominion in normal eating habits. I began to have a greater sense of balance where food was concerned and found that my heartfelt prayers diminished the preoccupation with my weight.
At one point when I started praying less diligently, I experienced a setback – and for some time, I weighed less than 100 pounds, which was unnatural for my tall frame.
But I regained my spiritual footing and remained grounded. I prayed to understand that it was God, divine Mind, and not a preoccupation with the material sense of things, that governed my thinking. Seeing more clearly my relationship to God gave me strength to move beyond the mortal obsession with body image.
Throughout her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” Mrs. Eddy acknowledges the strength we're given in turning to God, the divine Mind, to overcome harmful tendencies. In one passage she writes, “Here Christian Science is the sovereign panacea, giving strength to the weakness of mortal mind, – strength from the immortal and omnipotent Mind, – and lifting humanity above itself into purer desires, even into spiritual power and good-will to man” (p. 407).
I sought to gain a deeper understanding of this divine Mind and its governance of my thoughts and actions. Rather than desiring to look a certain way, I wanted to know how I could help others and be motivated by goodwill. I continually started to ask, “How can I give? How can I do what’s right and what’s moral?” This was a significant shift in my thinking.
A desire to make a positive difference in the world began to replace the self-absorbed body-consciousness that had shackled me for so long. Jesus is recorded as saying, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). This was (and continues to be) a helpful reminder to me that what really matters – and what truly satisfies – are thoughts, words, and actions that reflect our nature as the spiritual likeness of God.
As a result of expressing spiritual and moral qualities such as balance, satisfaction, compassion, and purity, my weight stabilized. Abnormal eating habits fell away without effort when I cared more for others than about my weight. Calorie counting was replaced by a desire to do good, and this translated into making ethical choices when it came to food. Exercise became unselfconscious, as I learned of the spiritual energy and freedom that came from divine Spirit.
That shift in thought took place many years ago, and I’ve been gratefully free of a preoccupation with body weight ever since. As we let go of self-absorbing thoughts and express our unselfish, God-given nature, whatever is unnatural gently falls away.