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To parents and loved ones

For many, your eyes may have just been opened to the complex world of ED. I hope that this helps you understand and have insight not just to the facts but the thoughts and sickness of one struggling. I know that insight into facts and causes doesn’t make a loved one better, but I hope that seeing it through the eyes of a child that has suffered will help.

I have learned from the perspective of a child looking to my parents, during and after my struggle what I needed most from them and my loved ones. Looking back I wish I could take the hurt away from my loved ones. If it affects anyone the most it is parents. As a mother now it hurts deeply to see my child hurt physically. I try so hard to make that hurt go away. When a child struggles with an emotional and spiritual battle the hurt can only be intensified especially because the hurt is not so easy to take away.

I don’t have the fix all or all the answers, but I know that God is the ultimate healer and a miraculous God. The best that you can do as a loved one is turn to God and pray. I know my parent’s knees were calloused sending prayers on my behalf and I thank them for that. I also know that God is sovereign; he has all control and has a perfect plan. This may seem redundant; how many parents have prayed and God seems silent? God isn’t silent; he always works his way in every heart, even in one who is struggling. I can see looking back God’s spirit working gently and invisibly in my heart. He never leaves his child; in fact, during the times of struggle his presence is ever closer. “As I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee” (Josh. 1:5b). He was holding me and he’s holding your loved one.

Prayer to God on calloused knees is ultimately the most important thing a loved one or parent can do for a struggling child. Alongside I ask that you exercise patience, tenderness, and love. There are times when patience will be tested and when it would be easier to yell and become frustrated. So when those times come maybe all you can do is love, and tell them that, remind them of your love and God’s love. The response may not be what you want, but love, especially God’s love, penetrates the heart. Don’t be their judge, be their upholder. This doesn’t mean that you support their behavior or struggle, and it doesn’t mean that you tell them everything they’re doing wrong. Odds are they already know it. Instead, make sure they know that you understand that they are struggling and you are there if they need you. Don’t expect to have lengthy conversations about their struggle. Many times parents are the last people, young people especially, want to talk to. But when those times come when they want to talk, listen; don’t try to fix or have all the answers. Showing understanding and support for them goes a long way. Patience is a hard thing to accomplish especially when the struggle can be so frustrating, and sometimes things get worse before they are better. I don’t want you to think you should just sit back and do nothing, especially when things can get physically bad. But, I want loved ones to think beyond impatience and frustration. With plenty of prayer and by God’s grace it can make the storm seem a little less threatening from both sides.

To those struggling

From a heart, soul and body that have hurt with the struggle with ED, I want to talk to those girls who are struggling. If I could hug all of you and take the hurt away I would. I know the frustration and also the determination in your struggle. You may be at a point that you don’t think there is anything wrong; I was there once too. You may not think you have a problem – that you’re just trying to lose a little weight or that you don’t know how to handle issues in life any other way. I want you to look at your goal: is it healthy, is it what God wants for you, or is it turning into an obsession, or a way to control or numb? If you recognize yourself in what I have told you so far, it’s time to begin dealing with it. This may be difficult. None of us want to say we have a problem, or even more, deal with it; it definitely isn’t easy. But facing your problems is taking the right step in the direction of healing and freedom from the bondage of ED and the devil. I’m not going to tell you to snap out of it and just start eating, to stop binging and purging, or stop hurting yourself, because I know it’s not that simple or easy.

I know what it feels like to spend day in and day out succumbed to ED. It feels like you’re stuck, that your mind has a mind of its own – it’s frustrating. I know that it many times feels like your life wouldn’t be in control or organized without the constant need to control your weight, what you’re eating or not eating and how many calories each meal contains. You feel that life would be chaos if you didn’t exercise for hours daily and burn so many calories at each workout. You feel you would go crazy if you didn’t know how much you weighed and how much weight you lost in a week. The image in the mirror is constantly taunting; you’ll go to extreme cases to lose any ounce of fat you see. You may struggle with guilt. If you don’t get rid of the meal you ate you feel like things will spin out of control. You may feel that if you haven’t skipped a meal you’ll spend the rest of your day trying to lose those calories. The list could go on and on. I have had those same thoughts and feelings, and I struggled also. I also know that it takes over your life, your thoughts, feelings and actions. Without ED you would be lost.

ED may seem like your friend, but he isn’t, he is your worst enemy. He isn’t someone you want to spend your life with, and although life may seem like it will fall apart without him, it won’t. ED is the devil’s best friend and he is working so hard through ED to hurt you. He isn’t going to give you what you are trying to grasp for. I know when I struggled I felt in control but had no peace. The devil is not a peacemaker, but he creates chaos. The thoughts and actions may seem so organized to one with ED, but looking at it from the outside, they don’t make a lot of sense. And that is all part of what the devil wants when he uses ED. He wants you to feel a false sense of control; he wants you to look to him and yourself. He wants to fool you into listening to him and not God. Sound familiar? The devil has done that from the beginning of time when he told Eve to eat the apple and promised her she would be like God. “And the serpent said unto the woman, ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:4, 5). His ugly fingers are always trying to make us fall for his devices and ways. He wants complete control and he wants to define you and tell who you are. He wants you in complete bondage to him and to be brutally honest, the devil doesn’t just want control, he wants your life. He will not stop till he wins.

We each face sin in our lives and the devil’s devices to tempt us and make us fall. When you choose to give your life to an ED you are choosing to take the devil’s hand. God tells us in his Word that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit and we are to honor God with our bodies. I Cor. 6: 19-20 The behaviors of an ED are a violation of one of God’s direct commands. This is hard to hear, and I didn’t want to hear it either, but it isn’t meant to bring condemnation. I tell you this and God tells us this to bring a burning hope to your hurting life. You have a God who promises forgiveness, freedom and victory. Knowing that Christ died for your sins and already gave his chosen the victory shows us that true and complete freedom exists.

The devil enjoys placing a mirror in front of you, and wants you to see your image through his eyes. He wants you to believe that you are ugly and imperfect and that only he will give you what you need. His mirror is full of lies and bondage. Now look into God’s mirror. His mirror is clean, it’s perfect and it’s full of truth. He tells you that you are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psa. 139:14). He tells you how much you are loved (Eph. 2:4, 5). He tells you that he is always with you (Heb. 13:5), that you have a purpose (Jer. 29:11), and it’s absolutely wonderful. He tells you that you have nothing to fear (Psa. 91:4-8). He tells you that you are beautiful! You will be a shining gem in his crown of righteousness; he is polishing and shaping you in this life so that you fit into his place for you in heaven. You may feel dull and tarnished right now, but God is bringing you through this and will bring you out of this and the dirty and ugly spots on that gem will be gone. Throw away the chains of bondage and the mirror the devil has had you stare into, and walk in freedom, holding before you God’s mirror. He loves you with an everlasting love and will give you grace to walk in freedom. You are his, and he will not let you go. Cling to his mercy. “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children” (Psa. 103:17).

It may be difficult to believe that God has given hope to you especially when life is hurting and you don’t feel you deserve or believe in God’s mercy. But it’s time to believe truth. God doesn’t give things in our life according to our own merit. We don’t deserve anything from God, but God still desires to give us good things and loves us, even when it’s hard to feel! No matter what has led you to the point of hopelessness, God has always been there and he loves you.

I know what it is like to flinch at God’s touch, to be unsure and not trust in his plan for me. It took me many months surrounded by God’s Word and amazing people he placed through a place called Mercy Ministries. I finally had to surrender my control and realize that God was and is completely in control. I wasn’t going to find peace and freedom in an ED or anything else. It took me being fed wholly God’s word and having truth spoken daily. The only one who could give me true peace and complete freedom was God. I had built walls; my walls were very high, and I thought that if I built them high enough I wouldn’t be hurt and God couldn’t touch me. I wanted nothing to do with him in my life, but God’s presence and love doesn’t have walls. He was constantly holding me, even when I was kicking and screaming and even when I denied him and took the devil’s hand. He had already given me freedom when Jesus died and gave all his people the victory. I had to look directly at him and the cross and cling to that alone, not to myself or the devil. I had to see that God was healing me; I had to put my past in his hands and give up what control I thought I had. I had to forgive as he forgave me. I had to kneel with my face in the dirt and give my all for him. Only then could I experience freedom.

It may seem easier said than done, and I know that personally. Complete freedom has been given to us by Jesus Christ, but we won’t experience that complete freedom till we reach heaven. The life of a Christian comes with struggles. I had all the confidence in myself that I wouldn’t struggle again. Here is where my fault lies; I need to put confidence in God. I realize that I am not insusceptible to the devil because I went to Mercy Ministries and because I went through some hard things at a young age. I am going to struggle daily and my whole life with sin, and with the wounds of sin. I am learning even now of the exhausting spiritual battle. The devil knows my weaknesses and knows when I am vulnerable. It is a tiring fight, but therein lies the key. We need to continue fighting, never give up and give in. We have the assurance that God is always on our side and is fighting the battle for and with us.

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now I’m found
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace.

The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace.

My chains are gone, I’ve been set free
My God, my Savior has ransomed me
And like a flood His mercy reigns
Unending love, amazing grace.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun forbear to shine
But God who called me here below
Will be forever mine, will be forever mine
You are forever mine.

—Chris Tomlin

God’s Mirror

My Journey through the Vice of an Eating Disorder and How I learned Who I am in Christ

I felt as if the imprint of my butt was ingrained in the navy blue couch at my therapist’s office. I knew every decoration; the smell of the office was all too familiar and I could probably drive there in my sleep. For the last couple of months I had sat on that blue couch receiving therapy twice a week. Although it was a warm Summer day I was still so cold, and I was trying so hard to stop shaking. What had she just said? My brain isn’t working today, and apparently neither is my body. She gives me that look, like she’s about to ask me that dreaded question. “How much have you eaten and drunk today?” A shiver goes up my spine, and I can’t hide my shaking anymore. It’s 1:30 pm. I could lie, I think to myself but I tell her the truth, “nothing.” Up she gets from her chair, around the corner to fill the dreaded glass of water. She places it in my shaking hands, and tells me that in the next half hour I am to drink that glass of water. My stomach lurches, and feelings of frustration well up inside. “Who is she to tell me what to do?” I think to myself. Her next threat makes me lift that glass to my lips. “If you can’t down it, you are going to the ER for an IV.” 1:55 rolls around and there is half a glass of water, I wasn’t going to drink it, and I couldn’t. Next came a phone call, a drive to my doctor’s and I was heading to the ER. What was this, the 5th time being poked with an IV? My heart rate was slow, my coloring was pale, I was told my eyes were sunken, and I was very dehydrated. “What next?” I thought. I can’t eat, I can’t drink, and I don’t want to. The very thought of food frustrates me and scares me. Feelings of guilt, panic and defiance seize me. I was slowly surrendering my life to an eating disorder. The most taunting thought was that the more I surrendered the more engulfed I became in its arms, and the deeper I became the more hopeless I was. This would be my life, and this eating disorder (ED) would be my best friend.

A new best friend, one I didn’t ask for but I chose to befriend anyway. He was always there for me but never in the right way. He stood beside me as any friend would but would whisper ugly things, lies that I many times believed. He watched as I stumbled and fell countless times, he laughed and would push me down again. I wouldn’t amount to anything unless I did what he said. I thought I could find security in his “love” for me and my life would be better if he was my friend. He told me that he would make me feel beautiful, that his way with me was best. I listened, I followed, and he gradually began to control my life. My thoughts and actions revolved around my friend; nothing else mattered but ED. ED is a friend and an enemy alike. How is he a friend, how is he an enemy? Here we enter the complex world of an eating disorder.

From my previous article I shared my struggle with depression and suicide. I would love to leave you there, but there is more of my journey I feel is important to share. I want to share with you a part of my healing journey that like depression is ever so complex, the journey through the vice of an eating disorder. Eating disorders have become so very common among our young people, and I myself struggled with it also. By God’s grace he brought me down that path for a purpose; there is always a purpose to what our sovereign God plans for us, even when it’s hard to understand. Being led down this path has made me realize that sharing my experiences in my struggles can not only help those struggling but help loved ones and friends understand. I want to emphasize that I am not an expert and I don’t have all the right answers. I may not cover all of the insurmountable information on eating disorders but I seek to bring you what I know from my struggle and what I feel is important to help. I pray that through the sharing of myself I bring God all the praise and honor he is due.

ED (a.k.a. eating disorder)

The struggle with an eating disorder or ED is unique to every person. Each person’s struggle started somewhere different. Although each is different there is always a root, a reason and a starting point. This is an important thing to remember when it comes to those struggling and those watching someone who is struggling. I know from experience that although the root may be different the mind and behavior are very much the same.

I like to compare ED to a jumbled up ball of wires with many different colors. There are many strands which represent each individual person. The length of each wire represents the time each individual person struggles—some may only for a short time, and some may struggle for life. Each wire has knots or kinks that represent the times of either trying to get loose or becoming more entangled. The wires are in a jumbled ball; from the outside there is no color order, or organization. This represents the confusion and chaos loved ones see looking in. Now let’s step inside that ball. From inside there is still chaos but each wire knows its place, for there is precarious organization. Each wire has its own color, length, and path, but all together they are so much alike. The ball is in the hands of ED. There are loose wires that so easily wriggle loose only to be wrapped tighter by ED. A worn wire in a last ditch effort tries to reach for help and ED finds a way to control the wire and to stick it again into the dark recess. There are even wires that lose all their color; these are ED’s favorite, and they are gray and lifeless. He has worn those wires away; he’s wrapped them and knotted them, worn their beautiful colors to gray and finally worn them lifeless.

What are the facts of ED?

Before I take you further into the mind of one with an eating disorder I want to share a little with those who don’t know the facts about eating disorders. This is important to know as it is the spiritual and emotional aspect.

An eating disorder is a very serious mental illness that can cause severe and permanent damage or even death to one who suffers. The three most common eating disorders are anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder. You may not realize how common eating disorders actually are or how serious they can be, so to give you an idea, here are a few statistics. Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S. Anorexia is the third most common chronic illness among teenagers. Over ½ of teenage girls and nearly 1/3 of teenage boys use unhealthy weight control behaviors such as skipping meals, fasting, smoking cigarettes, vomiting and taking laxatives. Eating disorders also have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

The two most common eating disorders among young people and especially young women are Anorexia and Bulimia. It is important to know about anorexia and bulimia and the signs and symptoms; this will help you recognize an eating disorder.

Someone who has anorexia usually has a twisted view of their physical appearance. Usually the mindset is that she thinks she is extremely overweight when she is very thin. One who has anorexia usually starves herself and over-exercises. She is deathly scared of gaining weight.

The physical symptoms one with anorexia may have are: continual weight loss, irregular periods, low body temperature (that is why one may complain of always being cold), pale complexion and dry skin, dry brittle hair that may even fall out, growth of facial and fine body hair, easy bruising, exhaustion and fatigue.

The emotional symptoms are: An extreme fear of weight gain, excessive need for control, distorted body image, dramatic mood swings.

The behavioral symptoms are: Wearing loose clothing, deception (hiding food in napkins or clothes), abuse of laxatives, diet pills or diuretics, obsession with calories and fat content of food, excessive exercise, making excuses not to eat (such as “ I already ate” or “I have an upset stomach”). Other behaviors are: isolation or avoiding social events, consuming a lot of low- or non- calorie food (such as diet soda, gum or coffee) avoiding restaurants and eating in front of others, ritualistic behaviors at meals (such as eating food in a particular order, or cutting food into tiny pieces), discomfort with or avoiding being touched, defensiveness when questioned about weight, hyperactivity and depression.

One who has bulimia overeats and then tries to get rid of it by inducing vomiting. One who has bulimia may abuse laxatives and diuretics which are other ways of making the body get rid of food.

The physical symptoms of bulimia are binging and purging, a constant sore throat, broken blood vessels in eyes, dramatic weight fluctuation, digestive problems, swollen neck glands and puffy cheeks, scrape wounds on knuckles (caused by contact between knuckles and teeth when one makes themselves throw up), eroding of tooth enamel and increased cavities.

The emotional symptoms are self criticism and poor body image, poor impulse control (abusing drugs, alcohol, spending and promiscuity.)

The behavioral symptoms are that one who has bulimia expresses guilt after eating, avoids restaurants and eating in front of others, abuses laxatives, diet pills, ipecac, diuretics and/ or enemas, frequently going into the bathroom right after meals, showering after meals, hiding food throughout the house, alternating between eating large amounts of food and self-starvation.

The behaviors of an anorexic and bulimic have consequences. Bad choices always have consequences. Some of the long term results of an eating disorder can be osteoporosis, muscle deterioration, anemia, organ damage, acid reflux, and tears in the esophagus, chronic constipation, abnormal liver function, elevated cholesterol, decreased estrogen, infertility, abnormal blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, brain shrinkage and even death.

The deeper cause of ED

ED’s are easy to explain when there are statistics and when doctors know the behaviors and symptoms. We can see that ED’s are extremely serious and cannot be taken lightly. They are also very complex. Some may look at the behavior and simply say it is caused by vanity. Although vanity has its place it is not that simple; there is something so much deeper to be seen.

Explaining the thoughts and emotions of one with an eating disorder is almost impossible. It is literally like trying to unwrap that jumbled ball in ED’s hand. No one outside that ball can truly figure it out. So that is why we need to step inside and look closer.

The root causes of ED are all different. The reasons are different but each individual did choose friendship with ED. This may be confusing and we would ask, why would someone choose to live this way?

The struggle begins where most of us can’t go, inside the head. For most with an ED there is something in life that has led them to a place of need or want. They lack something that has made them turn to ED. For me it started with the feeling that I didn’t have control in life and the only thing I thought I could control was what I put in my body. For others it may be the lack of attention and this is a way to get it. It also may not be lack at all but may source from low-self esteem, self-criticism and guilt. There may be an extreme fear of weight gain as a result of distorted body image and that can lead to an ED. Whatever the reason may be, the source begins with need and they find that ED gives them what they desperately need or want.

To go deeper into this I want to talk briefly about some of the reasons. The main reasons are: control, guilt, self-criticism, self harm, low self-esteem, poor body image and attention. ED’s can be caused by other things than the ones I listed but I want to reiterate and explain these because they are the most common. I want you to notice as I explain, that although each reason may be different, every person who has an ED many times struggles with some if not all the reasons I listed above.

Control

Control is something each of us struggles to give to God. The Christians life isn’t an easy one, and God didn’t promise that it would be. God did promise that he has everything in his sovereign control and we are to trust in that promise. “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isa. 41:10). As sinful creatures it’s hard to trust and leave control to God. We too often want our own control over things especially when life seems difficult. As a child I dealt with emotional wounds and then struggled with depression. With each obstacle I had to face I became frustrated and I turned my face away from God. It didn’t feel that God was in control; in fact it felt like things were constantly spinning out of control. In sin I didn’t see what God had for me, and I sought a foothold. My foothold wasn’t placed on the rock of Jesus Christ but I looked at myself and I thought my control would be better.

For many who struggle with ED they are dealing with wounds in life. Wounds, whether they be from someone wounding us or the wounds of past sins; if they are not dealt with correctly they will inevitably lead to struggles. Dealing with wounds can be an uphill battle, but when the trust is taken away from God and put in ourselves the battle seems out of control. In desperation to seek control some turn to ED and their own will to fight. They find control in themselves and what they feed or don’t feed their bodies.

The act of controlling what goes in and out of one’s body can be a way of dealing with what seems to be out of control but it also can be a way of taking control. It can be an act of rebellion. Control can be taken away by force, as in instances of abuse, or it can be taken away for one’s safety, by authority. Either way one with ED seeks to take back the control that has been taken, and one way is by again controlling food.

Guilt, Self-Criticism, Self-Harm

Guilt, self-criticism and self-harm are all feelings and tactics the devil tries to use to take our focus away from God. We also know very well that we are sinful creatures and can do no good. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10). We live in a sinful world where our sinful natures and sin abound. With much guilt I hated myself, for things I had done, for the wounds in my life. I felt that because of my sin God hated me and I thought that I didn’t deserve his love. I felt guilt for many things, and constantly thought that everything I did was wrong, I couldn’t do the simplest thing right. I didn’t care about myself. When I looked in the mirror I hated not only the inside but the outside. With all those things in mind I resolved that I didn’t deserve food, happiness or even life. I began intentionally hurting myself. I not only starved myself but I didn’t care what happened to me. I would drive reckless, exercise in hot weather; I even in my darkest times would scratch and cut myself. In my depression and struggles I really longed for death, and in my hatred of myself and my life I played with death.

We each know the struggle with sin, and also the wounds sin has on our lives. Many of us know the guilt we face in response to sins and what it is to carry wounds. Self-criticism and self-harm can be the way we wrongfully respond to sin and wounds—as a response to guilt for something they did in their past for a sin they feel is unforgivable. The feelings that the wound they experienced was somehow their fault, that God was and is punishing them. These can lead to shame and can lead to self-harm and criticism.

It is easy to see where self-criticism and self-harm come alongside and are a result of the guilt. The guilt experienced can feel as if God hates them and they begin to hate themselves. The guilt one feels validates their feelings of self-criticism and can even lead to self-harm. They harm themselves by self- starvation and some may struggle with other forms of self-harm such as cutting. The response to guilt is seen most in those with bulimia; one eats, but feels guilt for eating and tries to get rid of it by throwing up or making their body get rid of it.

Low Self-Esteem, Poor Body Image, Attention

During my struggle with ED, I, along with many others with ED, struggled with low self-esteem and poor body image and the want or need for attention along with. This is probably the most complex part of the ED because it doesn’t make a lot of sense in the eyes of others. As with many, I dealt with low-self esteem and poor body image growing up. I dealt with a lot from the wounds I experienced as a pre-teen and I never felt good about myself. I never felt pretty in school and I gained weight during puberty and struggled with acne. I had that awkward stage pretty much all through junior high and I never felt like I outgrew it on into high school.

When I began dieting and restricting food I began to notice results that I liked. I not only felt and looked skinnier but others noticed too. I received many comments about how skinny I looked and I enjoyed those comments. I began to feel like I was accomplishing what I longed for, to be pretty. As I dropped pound after pound I began to crave the attention and concern others gave me, even when comments were about how sick I was looking. It started a vicious cycle and the attention actually fed into my eating disorder. I wanted to be skinnier and the skinniest. I sought fulfillment in achieving thinness. But with every pound I lost I still wasn’t happy, I still hated the image in the mirror. So again the cycle went on.

Attention, low self-esteem and poor body image are the most common causes of an ED and affect most if not all with ED. If they don’t cause they are an integral part. Low self-esteem and poor body image are many times the start. Many who struggle have grown up with or developed low self-esteem and poor body image. They may have gone through an awkward chubby stage, or just plainly never felt “as pretty”. It’s hard to understand why young girls struggle even with just poor body image and low self-esteem. I don’t know the complete answer to that but I know that we live in a world that has a great influence on the young generation, especially on young girls.

In our day and age we have so many sources of entertainment, and influence. The internet, television, magazines, newspapers, and even our phones can tell us a whole host of things. These things are not in and of themselves bad but they can influence our lives drastically. One of the main influences the media can have on girls and young women has to do with self-image and worth. We can’t even turn the TV on without being taunted by the world’s image of beauty. Their image isn’t of what’s on the inside is what counts but it is about being as beautiful as the movie stars. Internet and magazines do a good job of influencing our young generations of what beauty looks like. The front covers of magazines and storefronts in the mall have scantily clothed models who scream “this is beauty, look like me!” There is nothing wrong with striving for beauty. God wants us to take care of our bodies by exercise and eating healthy, he says so in I Corinthians 6:19, 20: “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” We also need to realize the false advertising in front of us. We don’t always realize that these models are air brushed and altered to look “perfect.” It’s so easy for a young woman to be influenced. It’s hard to not want to look like them; they are what our culture defines as beauty, right?

The influences in our world can affect every person differently. As a young girl I know I looked at the models and movie stars and I thought they were beautiful. And as I struggled with an ED I did look at those women and wrongly compared them to myself. I made a choice and my choice should have been to not believe the lies the media throws at our minds. My point here is that the influence of media and entertainment may not be a cause of an ED but it definitely does not help. Our day and age seems to emphasize being thin and the obesity epidemic of our country is showcased on billboards and television. Although this isn’t all bad it can become to one who has an ED an extremely scary thing. Being “fat” is bad, and instead of living a healthy lifestyle, they see those diet plans and weight loss shows and go to the extreme. They use their behaviors to be the opposite, and become underweight and deathly thin. The image of beauty is to be tall, thin, and flawless. Though the models in a magazine may be an airbrushed image they are the world’s way of displaying what we all should look like. When obesity is an epidemic those models are an idol. They strive by their behaviors to imitate those models, when in reality they are imitating an altered image. Those with eating disorders pay very close attention to their weight and image and strive to be the thinnest, impossibly thin, deathly thin. They think then that they will have achieved perfection and beauty.

Attention within an ED can go many ways. One may develop an ED as a way to get attention or attention can feed an ED. When attention feeds an eating disorder, it many times comes midst a full blown ED. It may start as feeling good from the comments about weight and cycle into craving those comments. Many times the comments of how good someone looks turn into comments about how skinny and sick someone looks. And the person with ED craves that even more. The cycle is vicious, it may seem to start with vanity, but we can see that it is more complex than that. The aspect of attention is hard to understand because many times the attention one with an ED receives really is needed. This means that the ED is noticeable by physical and emotional appearance – they don’t look healthy, and something needs to be done. I don’t want to detract from the importance of this for parents and loved ones. Do not refrain from doing something because you’re afraid it will “feed” the eating disorder. I just want to bring understanding to you about what is going through your child or loved one’s mind.

We have gone through many facts and causes of an eating disorder, and it is definitely a complex mental disease. Standing on the other side of this disease, I compare ED to having an addiction as to alcohol or drugs. In all the causes we can clearly see many things that point us to the same reasons many turn to alcohol or drugs. And having an ED can be just as dangerous as, if not more dangerous, because one needs food and health to live. An ED can be used to control or to numb pain; it is used to hurt oneself; it is used to make oneself feel better; it is even used to gain attention. Many may not see my point of view or want to see my point of view, but it’s truth. There is a reason for these addictions; they are always laced with sin, and many choose to turn to addictive habits because they aren’t handling it God’s way.

We all as Christians struggle with our own battle with sin, though some not to this extent. It’s easy for us to judge those who struggle to the point of sickness with addictions, but we must remember that God is the judge. We have the Christian duty to pray for those who struggle, not to judge. As someone who has held the hand of ED, I know I was judged and I was easy to judge others who looked like they had an ED. I hope that you also now realize that appearances don’t just make up an ED. Just because someone may be skinny it doesn’t make them automatically anorexic. Please be careful with your comments and judging. Again, give it up to God who alone knows that person’s needs and struggles. (to be continued)

A testimony of God’s goodness through my struggle with depression and suicide
A true story
The city lights flash by quickly as I struggle to keep my eyes open. I’m so tired, my body hurts, my mind hurts, and my life hurts. The bright red lights declaring EMERGENCY come into view and the feelings of shame and embarrassment harass me once again. I can’t look at the nurse’s face as she asks me why I am here. I just want to yell and scream at someone or something, no one understands my hurt. As I tell her I overdosed and I get that look, a look of pity, and disgust, the whispers begin amongst themselves: I need to be put on suicide watch. I know I’m crazy; you’re not the first to think so. As I lower my tired, frail body into a wheelchair the stark white halls and smell of antiseptic make me feel alone and all the more hopeless. Just let me go, please, I’m too tired to go on. Anger fills my being as they tell me I didn’t take enough to do serious harm, a few more pills and I would’ve been in worse condition. Teary, pity filled eyes sit near my hospital bed, I can’t look at them, I’ve messed up their lives enough, I’ve hurt them, confused them, I’m so sorry. If my mind would only stop spinning, if I could just eat and not feel guilty, if I could just feel in control and make it all go away, if life wouldn’t be so hopeless and if I could make it stop hurting, I wouldn’t be here. I pray in frustration, “Where are you God? Why is this happening to me? Please make my hurt go away!”
Being diagnosed with depression and an eating disorder is not something a little girl dreams about. I was 18 and had wonderful plans for my life. I had graduated from high school. I had a wonderful boyfriend. I was ready to get married and start a family. And then I was diagnosed with a mental illness, and suddenly my dreams were gone and in their place were nightmares.
The road I was about to travel would be the hardest I have yet to face in my earthly journey. With each step I took I felt blindsided by a myriad of emotions, anger and doubt accompanied by frustration, embarrassment and confusion. This was not what my life was supposed to be like. How did it come to this? Why?
As I stared this trial in the eye I knew this trial seemed to be “unplanned” but it wasn’t. Written somewhere in God’s story for me, he planned this phase in my life. He knew that I would need to carry this cross at this particular time and for a particular reason. (Psalm 139:15-16: “My substance was not hid from thee when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”) I know that “my life in all its perfect plan was ordered ere my days began” (cf. Psalm 139). In his sovereign control, he knew which events would lead each of us to where we are today. God wrote my story and he knew in his infinite wisdom that by allowing this trial in my life, my faith would be “tested” and strengthened. James 1:2, 3: “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.”
God’s way for me was hard, but I have come to pray that his way would give me the opportunity to help and encourage others. (Psalm 119:71: “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; that I might learn thy statutes.”) I have prayed throughout this writing process and I believe that sharing my story is the best way to be a light, a light to mental illness, but more importantly to the wonderful grace of our heavenly Father. This is for anyone who may be struggling. Although our stories may be different and we each have our own crosses to carry, the struggles of this earthly life are all alike and they all are from a loving Father’s hand. (I Cor. 10:13a: “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man.”) This is also for the body of Christ as a whole as we all travel a journey to heaven and strive to bear up one another’s burdens. May my words be an encouragement and an example of the mighty God we serve. He is a sovereign God who alone deserves the praise, glory, and honor for me writing this and I pray that I do this as I share myself with you.
Psalm 18:30a says, “As for God, his way is perfect.” In his perfect plan, he sometimes chooses for his children to experience life in a hard way. The hard way he planned for me was to place wounds in my life as a young person; these wounds hurt me deeply and seemed to turn my life upside down. Wounds, whether emotional or physical, need attention and medicine to help heal. A mother whose little one has fallen and scraped his knee or gets a cut on his finger knows that wound needs care. She washes the wound, applies ointment, and watches for infection. Anyone who has had a wound knows how painful it may be to clean that wound and let it heal but we know the importance and benefit of preventing infection to achieve complete healing. As physical wounds need care so do emotional wounds.
As a young teenager, I didn’t give my wound proper care. I tried to cover it so that on the outside it appeared as if nothing had ever happened. At times it would fester and the scab would break open a bit but because I didn’t know how to handle it, I’d again cover it, ignore it, and push it away as best I could. But it never did go away and eventually it became extremely infected. It became puss-filled and painful. It was so big, deep, and ugly that I could no longer cover it or hide it. God knew my wound needed to heal and as much as it hurt to rip open the scab, he uncovered it and began to heal it.
I hated how hard it was to begin to heal. I had tried to ignore my wound for years, and if I had a choice I would have left it that way. As God began healing me I had a difficult time dealing with the pain that came along side. I couldn’t understand why God placed this trial in my life and why it seemed he was hurting me so deeply. I doubted his love for me, concluding that I had done something to deserve the hurt, that it was my fault and God hated me. With that mindset, life was no longer worth my trying. I became hopeless and sad, and if God hated me, life was no longer worth living.
Depression
Depression is like falling into a very deep dark pit with no visible way out. Not only is this pit deep and dark but it’s cold, lonely, and scary. It can also be disorienting, confusing and frustrating. When I fell into this pit I was all of those things and more. It’s hard to capture the essence of depression because it is a severe hurt that resides deep inside one’s mind and that can be a very hard place to go. Within the confines of depression there is a will at times, a determination, to work so hard to climb out, but only find yourself deeper in that pit. There are times when I was desperate to find answers, to get out. The more I tried the further I fell. I was overcome by hopelessness and sadness that there wasn’t an easy way out and the light at the top seemed too dim to keep trying. There were countless moments of exhaustion when I tried so hard to grasp some source of deliverance, and instead felt defeated.
Depression is a lonely place to be. It can be especially confusing for Christians. We serve a God who loves us and we know he blesses us so tremendously that we find it difficult to understand why someone cannot be happy or content with life. We must understand that depression isn’t a state of discontentment; it is not that easy. Depression is an illness of the mind. It is a result of the fall into sin. Many struggle with depression, often suffering in silence. It is an illness that is often aggravated by the lack of understanding of what it is.
One of the main causes of depression can be life circumstances which are not handled properly. When we do not respond to God and what he is doing through these circumstances they become too much for one to handle. They can be a combination of past and/or present difficulties; it is as if the body and mind overheat and can’t handle the stress. The chemicals in the brain can actually become imbalanced due to emotional and physical episodes that have happened or continue to occur. Sometimes many different stressors over a period of time can deplete the brain of its ability to work properly. The chemicals in the brain can be severely altered leading to depression. When the mind is not working properly it brings feelings of tiredness, sadness, and hopelessness.
During my depression life became painted an ugly shade of gray. There were no colorful flowers to enjoy; all I could see was a field of grass, no longer green and lush, but black as if a wildfire consumed it. I woke daily to this picture, and it tired me not only mentally but physically. I had no desire to go about normal daily activities or to interact with others. I wanted to sleep, not just because I was so tired but because sleep was my only respite. When I was awake the thoughts and the battle of my mind were many times unbearable, never ending. This mental battle made functioning seem impossible. I was more than battle worn: I felt defeated. Hopelessness that life will always be like this brought emotional breakdowns and panic. Many times I wished I could be swallowed up and be done.
Living everyday life wearing the label of depression was a frustrating feat for me. I was relieved that my feelings of sadness could be explained but I was continually frustrated that I was depressed. I tried to no avail to “fix” my situation, to make myself undepressed. I wanted so badly to be a normal teenager. But this was not God’s way with me. He wasn’t just going to relieve me from this right away, no. I would need to work through this, face obstacles, and fall and get back up. Many times it seemed impossible. I admit that in my sin I wanted nothing to do with working through this. It hurt to look at my wounds and I hated how out of control I felt. I grew angry and confused and kicked at the healing process God was leading me through.
The most confusing and frustrating part of the process was my inability to make my mind or body work like I wanted. It took everything I had to just get ready for the day without wanting to crawl back under my covers and die. When I worked, I was barely with it; I couldn’t perform even the easy tasks. I was in therapy or counseling at least once a week and these sessions would tire my emotions and my body. I had no desire to be with friends. I was confused by what my brain could or couldn’t handle and I could no longer see normalcy. I literally lived as if I was watching someone else. And oh how I wished I was someone else. Life had become a deep black hole and I became so engulfed by my depression and so blinded by the pain of life that I became defeated and hopeless. I became suicidal.
Suicide and the Devil
In the midst of depression it is hard to see that life is a blessing or consists of anything good. Life often comes with experiencing the pain of past or present life circumstances. Some turn to drugs or drinking, or self harm to numb the pain. Each seems to be an easy solution to forgetting the pain but in reality it comes back, so extreme and so very real that it lingers like the stench of a dead animal. When one cannot deal with living, she begins to give up and longs to be relieved from the emotional pain. The realness of this pain and hopelessness can turn into a longing to leave this life.
I reached this point just after my 19th birthday. My feet were heavy from dragging the weight of my pain for what seemed like forever and I could see nothing but relief in the arms of death. I drove recklessly, not caring if I got in an accident. I exercised during the hottest time of the day, not caring how it affected my body. I developed an eating disorder, slowly starving myself to death. I would empty a bottle of one of my countless medications into my hand, wondering how many I had to take to kill myself.
And eventually, in a moment of complete hopelessness, I overdosed and tried to end my life once and for all.
If depression is hard to understand, suicide is even more difficult to understand and explain. Edward T. Welch explains the relationship between depression and suicide in his book, Depression: A Stubborn Darkness. “For one who is depressed there is a rocky relationship with death. You want it, but you fear it” (195). In most cases that fear is enough to persuade one to not take their own life. But, fear is not lasting and in some cases a moment of desperation can overrule it” (195). Facing the hopelessness of depression and of life’s circumstances can be overwhelming to the point of not knowing how or not wanting to handle it.
Many times in these moments God seems to be hidden or nonexistent. It’s hard to understand why God would let one endure such pain, and one thinks God has forgotten them. Welch says “There is some truth in suicidal thinking. When life is examined apart from God, thoughts of death make perfect sense” (196). When one contemplates taking her life she can only think one way and see one thing. She is desperate and when depression and pain seem to overtake life and every thought and action seems to circle around that, it’s hard not to feel desperate for a way out. Welch says “suicidal thinking only sees part of the picture—the part that will confirm its interpretation of reality. If you have thought about suicide, its logic is clear and simple, but it is irrational” (196). In suicide there is a lot of over rationalization of things and everything seems worse than it really is.
About 34,000 people die from suicide every year. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among young adults age 15-24 and 60-75% who committed suicide were majorly depressed (http://www.afsp.org). Although these statistics are alarming, it is a wakeup call to us that suicide does happen, and it’s a scary reality that I faced head on.
It’s so easy to judge when we do not know the answers to why or how could this happen. We often wonder what may have caused that push over the edge or easily judge that person’s life. We may never find a clear answer, but we can look at the facts stated and try to understand. There are many who seem to know the answer and it may seem clear cut to those who do not struggle with depression or suicidal tendencies, but please know that this battle is not easy for one who is mentally ill. There are so many different reasons one contemplates or commits suicide, and many times they are specific to that person. But realizing the pain, hopelessness, and desperation that is always behind suicide gives us a glimpse and a slight understanding of one’s thoughts and actions.
In the moment when I attempted suicide, nothing mattered. My body was tired of fighting, and my mind was numb from the ongoing emotional pain. I honestly thought I could no longer handle life and carry the cross God gave me to bear. I was filled with anger and frustration. I was angry at my loved ones for not understanding, I was angry at myself for not having the strength to bear the pain, and I was angry at God. In sin I doubted him, and in my sickness I couldn’t understand his way with me. As angry as I was with God, I also had been taught from infancy what heaven was and I knew the promise of everlasting life. I know for many who face pain in life, the thought of heaven and being in perfection is so inviting. The same is true for emotional pain. I know that many who have suffered with mental illness have sought relief, yearning to be with Jesus. I, too, had this desire. I felt so strongly the hurt of this earthly life, but in my sin I was not trusting God with my life, and in sin I wanted to take it into my own hands.
Although we may struggle to find answers to the questions of suicide and as confusing as it may be, we know that behind it stands the devil, clapping and cheering. The devil’s antics and games can rule our life and thinking especially in times when it’s hard to see the goodness of God. That demon is all too visible in the mind of a suicidal depressed person, and in the moments of extreme pain, he’s hard to shut up. (I Peter 5:8: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”) For me, that was all I could see. My anger toward God was too great, and I hated him so much for what I was going through that I was willing to lay my life down for the devil. I know many of you know how close the devil can get to us or how close we can get to the devil, and it gives me shivers just remembering how I nearly took his hand and forsook God. I felt his breath, and for me that was too close for comfort.
The devil’s hands may be visible in times of great struggle but we have the reassurance that the devil is never in control. By God’s grace, he takes our hands and leads us to himself. With this assurance we know that we have no authority or ability to take control of any part of our lives including our own death. This life is filled with painful wounds and hardships that God allows in order to heal us and to strengthen us. Our lives are full of sin, and the evidence of our enemy the devil is plainly seen as he uses his demons to make us fall in any way he can. Depression is a very real illness that is not the exception to sin. With every trial we face we have temptation, and in those trials the temptation to sin is even greater. The devil tempts us by using depression to find our weakness and to make us fall. He’ll dig his nasty fingers in and work to make us doubt our God and think we can take control of our destiny during these moments. The devil makes us think that we are at our wits end and we have no choice but to give up. The devil is real, our sin is real, and when one contemplates or commits suicide, it grieves God. But, again, he is always in control and his plan is evident.
Knowing that God is in control and has a plan brings comfort to all aspects of life, and when one commits suicide or has a loved one commit suicide, we know that we don’t have to wallow in hopelessness. I feel this is important to emphasize because suicide is sin but God is also a God of hope. We hurt deeply when we experience the devil so closely and intimately through suicide but we know that God has a perfect will. Many who have lost loved ones to suicide don’t know where to find peace, but we know that in everything we serve the God of peace. We don’t condone suicide but look to God who is always in control. He foreknew and he ultimately still is the giver and taker of life. Job confesses this after Satan’s first assault on his faith. Job loses everything and confesses that God is in control of life itself, Job 1:21b: “The Lord gave, and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” God knew the moment, the method, and the thoughts. If he foreknew that child to be his own, he welcomed that child to his heavenly home. We cannot judge one who commits suicide, for we are not perfect in our actions ever, and God alone is the perfect judge. We have assurance of the forgiveness of our sins and as God hates our sin and the devil, he also loves his children and understands our temptations and our hurt. He is a God who forgives and loves unconditionally. We don’t deserve this love or forgiveness but he still gives it to us in his perfect will. Only God knows the heart of his child and he will forgive. (I Samuel 16:7b: “for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”) (Ephesians 1:7: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”) This doesn’t take away our duty to strive to put away our sinful natures and resist the devil, but we can find comfort in our forgiveness and in our loved ones forgiveness.
The Enemy’s Hold
Ephesians 6:12: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
As one who has faced depression and suicide I realize how real and close the devil is. He found my weakness and knew my doubts and frustrations, and in that he found a foothold to tempt me and help me fall. When I took my eyes off from God and doubted his will in my life the devil rejoiced. In my struggle I was constantly looking horizontally, at all my problems, at everything going wrong in my life, when I should have been looking vertically. God knew what he was doing in my life. He planned it perfectly before I was born, I realize now, but in the midst of struggle I was lost in my own world. God was seldom part of that picture. I did a lot of listening to the devil during this time, especially when I attempted suicide. I was very sick, but also my sinful nature made my decision very selfish. I cannot say that I wasn’t in a lot of pain emotionally and that life wasn’t hard, but because my focus was in the wrong direction that pain and my life felt as if it was unbearable. It felt unbearable because I was ignoring God, I even hated him, and I doubted every aspect of his plan for me. I neglected to find his evidence in my life and lived in pure disobedience toward him. My hurts were painful but they became excruciating when I chose to hate God.
Turning my face from God also meant that I failed to see the pillars he placed in front of me, people in my life who were trying to help me by bringing me to Jesus’ feet. In selfishness I thought everything I was going through belonged to me, I was the one who was hurting, I was the one who was wounded, I was the one who had to face weeks of therapy, and I was the one who had to go through this. I had closed my heart and my ears to those around me and was wallowing in my selfishness. God placed so many wonderful pillars to speak truth into my life, but for a time I didn’t want to hear it. I couldn’t hear it. The devil had his hold on me and was constantly speaking lies into my life when my face should have been facing God and those he placed as pillars in my life.
I carry many scars; they are all a little different. I carry the scars of my wounds, the scars of suicide, depression and an eating disorder, and I carry the scars of the devils claws. All of my scars have their stories, as do each of your scars. They are ugly and hard to look at sometimes. The scars I hate are the ones the sin and the devil left. I am not proud of the way I chose, I hate my sin, and I cringe at how I so hated God. Each path the Lord takes us down, we have the ability to turn our face by his grace toward him, take his hand, and let him lead us, or take the hand of another, or go on our own way. I didn’t take God’s hand right away; it took many scrapes and bruises of falling and getting back up. But, by his grace God always has a way of bringing us back to himself and covering the lies of the devil with truth. By his wonderful grace I took the hand that had always been there and was set free from the enemy’s hold.
The Truth Shall Set You Free
Galatians 5:1: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
Truth, God’s truth, is the only way to true freedom. I chose to believe lie after lie that the devil and his demons dangled in front of me and found myself imprisoned to the enemy. This is somewhere I hope to never be again. It’s beyond frightening to feel such bondage. We all are aware of such bondage to sin and the devil at one point or another in our lives and it’s a place we care not to visit. We also can say with joy that we are captives set free, and dance and praise God as the Israelites did after their deliverance out of the slavery of Egypt. Exodus 15:1b, 2 says, “I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” God has and always will have the victory, and his plan is always perfect even when it’s hard to see that victory banner in sight. Paul in Philippians 3: 14 says, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” The freedom and victory, we know, only comes when we see the truth God so vividly lays before us. It’s easy to find truth, but it’s another thing to know and believe truth. This is not an easy feat when the race laid before us is difficult. The journey is full of wounds and hurts, and dark times and valleys, and tears and sorrows. God never promised that life would be easy, but he did promise he would never leave us or forsake us. He promised to love us no matter what and to grant us grace sufficient for each moment. (II Corinthians 12:9: “And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”)
This life is full of moments when God is teaching his children how he is fitting us into our place in heaven. He is also teaching us about himself. It’s not easy thanking God for giving these times in our life; in fact at times I would rather live life cut and dried, but these times are God’s way of defining our character. Ephesians 3:16: “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.” His story for us was perfectly designed and predetermined before we were conceived. He saw each aspect and knew that each moment, especially those hard times would make us more and more ready to be with him. II Corinthians 4:17: “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
As we face each hardship and carry the cross God determined for us, we in our sinful natures so easily question God’s reasons and his way. But we must know that these times are his way of showing to his beloved who he is. God is unfathomable. (Romans 11:33: “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!”) We won’t ever know the full scope of who he is until we sit at his feet in heaven, but he continues to reveal himself to us daily. His evidence in our lives is unmistakable, even in those times that he seems far off. As I look back at where God brought me from, I see times when God was so clear and was refining me and teaching me about who he is. In my rebellion God never took his hand from me; he was showing me his love and providing grace for those times. His touch wasn’t always gentle, sometimes it was hard, but it was always in love, and that is many times the way God brings his children to himself.
The lessons that God has taught me in my life so far are so valuable and have changed me. I could write so much more, but I think I’ve exhausted my time already. If I could share one more thing with you it’s that although life is full of valleys, God is still good. He is worthy of all praise and glory for choosing us to be his own. His way in our lives is always good no matter how bad it may seem. I don’t know what he has in store for me yet on this earth, but he has taught me even in the time of writing this that his goodness is there even if I believe with blind faith. His goodness is in healing wounds and teaching us to trust him even when life hurts. His goodness is in restoring, receiving and being one who forgives. His goodness also may mean that his way isn’t what we expect. He may take to himself a little one we never got to hold and we may not understand it, but we still know that he is good and that he is always faithful. Wherever God has placed us, at whatever stage of life we are in, we humbly thank him and praise him. We trust in the promise that although life is hard, God is still good.
Heidelberg Catechism Question 1: “What is thy only comfort in life and in death? Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ Who, with His precious blood has fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth to live unto Him.”

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Editorial, November 2021: Catechism Season

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