Last week, I had one of those moments that always stirs a whirlwind of emotions in me. A young girl sat forking a salad while everyone around her enjoyed pizza and chicken wings. As her best friend drank soda, she opted for water. Some might say, “Good for her! She’s making healthy choices,” but I sensed there was more to it than a sudden health kick. I knew this girl just well enough to know she loved pizza and soda. Besides that, it was a party and who passes over pizza for salad at a party?
I comforted myself with the knowledge that at least she wasn’t picking at the salad, or that she didn’t claim to be full half-way through it.
The next night at a basketball game, she was the only kid who didn’t run to the snack bar for candy, and it made me sad.
Today, a conversation with another concerned adult confirmed my guess that she might be treading on the dangerous ground of an eating disorder. And she’s only in middle school.
Why did I immediately jump to this conclusion when I heard her say, “No thank you” to pizza? Because when you’ve been there, you know the signs—you know that tone, that look, that sideways glance at what looks and smells so much tastier than what you’ve limited yourself to. This is one of those areas where it takes one to know one.
My prayer today is that God will open up a door for me to tell her why I know she doesn’t want to go there.
That once you get into a habit of obsessing about your weight and going to extremes to lose it, it’s very hard to stop. “Five more pounds” never seems to be enough.
That the average girl is not created to be stick-skinny.
That she will feel like garbage all the time.
That depriving yourself eventually feels like a form of self-inflicted torture.
That our bodies need food to function well.
That no matter how much weight you lose, it doesn’t make you feel any better about yourself, because when you’re doing something like this, how you feel isn’t really about your weight.
That these patterns can stay with you long into adulthood.
That girls die from eating disorders.
That women are much prettier when they are healthy.
At the same time, I know she could respond to all these warnings with, “I’m not doing that. I’m just trying to lose a few pounds.” She might just get better at hiding it. That’s what I would’ve said and done. But I still want to speak up. At least I can say I tried.
As frustrated, grieved, and helpless as I feel over this, I am also thankful. While I am in no way proud of those years of abusing the body that God created, and the lies and driving loved ones crazy that went along with it, I thank Him for bringing me to a place where I never want to see another young woman live like that. I thank Him for giving me compassion that only someone who has struggled in the same way can have.
What has God rescued you from? How has He used it to offer hope, or a gentle word of caution, to others?