“Gio, you have an identity problem.”
The words ricocheted through my mind. From the floor, I looked up at my dear friend as she softly spoke while cushioned next to me.
“I know you’re right,” I explained, “and I’m not going to say that you’re not, I just have no idea how to change it. I understand Scripture and its truths, but I’m simultaneously fighting it.”
This beloved friend, full of wisdom, had called out the one thing I refused to acknowledge—my eating disorder was not just an eating disorder. It was a case of misplaced identity.
When I looked at my reflection in the mirror, I had allowed the bitter taste that filled my mouth to seep into my heart. Its deceitful acid was rapidly eating away at my identity in Christ, yet I was living in denial. I was placing my worth in appearance. I would never be satisfied as long as the competitive nature of this illness clamored for dominance over the whole of my being. I no longer felt human. I was a walking calculator with no consciousness except apart from my obsessive thoughts about allotted calories and how to get rid of them.
I went home that night as my friend’s words played over and over again in my mind.
She’s right. I do have an identity problem. How in the world do I fix that?
For several weeks, I brainstormed ideas until I noticed one important thing.
I was avoiding Scripture.
I knew its words directly contradicted the lies consuming my life.
After much contemplation, I recognized my own solutions were getting me nowhere. I turned on my favorite playlist of hymns. A familiar favorite, which had always stood out in the past, this time felt like a piercing arrow. Helen Howarth Lemmel’s “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus” repeats:
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.”
And the things of earth will go strangely dim.
It was those words.
The solution was not looking at myself differently—it was turning fully to Christ, allowing the light of His glory to shine over my life. All other matters would grow strangely dim.
Regardless of what you struggle with, simply repeating the line of a hymn will not heal you. To this day, I am not healed. However, turning to Christ and allowing my misplaced identity to grow dim in the light of Christ has reminded me that my identity can be found in no other but Him.
No thing of this world—no future career, GPA, relationship status, or accomplishment—stands comparable to the glory of Christ. They bring temporary, fleeting happiness. Our identity is not found within these inauthentic sources of fulfillment. We must turn fully away from ourselves and entirely to Christ, throwing ourselves upon the “Rock of Ages.” (Charles Spurgeon)
Avoiding what the Word of God says about my worth does not change its truth (Galatians 3:26). A changing body and a low scale reading will not bring me true joy. I must repeatedly assert that I serve a God from whose presence and truths I cannot flee. He is the only one in whom genuine joy can and will be found, rather than an ever-dissatisfying appearance (Psalm 139:7, Psalm 16:11). Although I have the support I need, I still fight daily to get to the point where I can begin the recovery process. However, as I wield the sword of Scripture (and a notable hymn), my heart aches less amidst the struggle.
Dear reader, whether you wrestle in a similar way or not, I urge you to recognize this truth. I do not offer a prescription for healing from an eating disorder, as I am in no way qualified to do so. I am unable to offer you a personalized solution for the struggles you may be facing. I simply offer you the truth of Christ’s presence throughout all things. In Him, all things will indeed grow strangely dim.
Thank you for sharing your story! “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things[k] have come. ” 2 Corinthians 5:17