If you know me from just social media you’d probably see a goofy girl with a love of making fun of herself who doesn’t really care what other people think, right? Correct…well, maybe. You see, under all the jokes and the photo shopped pictures with Beans lies a girl who was completely broken on the inside for a long time. This is a story I’ve wanted to share for a while now and after months of prayer, I’ve decided it’s time to put all of my jumbled thoughts onto paper (actually the computer because, you know, 21st century haha) and finally let myself be vulnerable because I have a feeling this is something someone else out there desperately needs to hear.
Growing up, I was always the girl who was a little chubby. I was never “the skinny girl” with the fast metabolism who could eat whatever she wanted and stay rail thin. And for the most part, that had never really seemed to bother me. However, during my senior year of high school the devil began whispering a certain lie into my head that was so evil, so malicious that it didn’t take long to completely and overwhelmingly consume me. After certain experiences that left me feeling broken and nights spent lying in bed staring at pictures of other girls on Instagram, I started hearing and seeing this same thing over and over again: YOU’RE NOT ENOUGH.
I’ll never forget the hunger I felt lying in bed the night after I skipped my first meal. It was almost unbearable but as I laid there, looking at pictures of models and girls in swimsuits, I told myself the hunger was worth it. Because if I could just be skinnier, then that would make me beautiful and that would mean I would finally be enough. This dangerous “realization” was only the beginning of the lies, shame, guilt, and secrets to come within the next year.
First came the lies. I would tell my parents and my friends that I simply “wasn’t hungry” or that I had “already eaten” or that “I didn’t feel good”. I took every opportunity that I could to not eat. When my school skirts started fitting looser and people would note that I was looking thinner, it only fed this malignant desire inside of me and I was hooked. People would make comments to me such as “you need to eat a cheeseburger” or “you look like you’re about to disappear” and at the time, I perceived all of these words as compliments. I LIKED hearing these things; I LIKED suddenly being the skinniest girl in the room; I LIKED my clothes being too big to wear anymore. Looking back on it now, it was almost like I was brainwashed or I was in a trance.
One afternoon, I sat on my dock in a bikini with my best friend and she told me she was worried. She told me people were noticing how thin I had gotten. This was the first time anyone had voiced real concern to me and the worst part was that I enjoyed hearing it because it meant all those skipped meals were “finally paying off”. I had no idea at the time that what I was doing to myself was not only harming my body, but more importantly sinning against the Word of God because I was indeed destroying my temple. I had developed an eating disorder that was only going to get much worse.
The summer went by and I couldn’t have been more thrilled to move to college. While most kids would say they were excited to move away from their parents so they could do whatever they wanted, I was excited because I knew it meant I could eat as little as I wanted. No one would be around to make sure I ate dinner because in a sorority house of over 250 girls, who would notice if I hadn’t eaten? Soon enough, the occasional skipped meal turned into skipping dinner almost every night which in turn led to a diet of 500 calories or less most days. I was literally starving myself. I was tired all of the time and had no energy to do anything but go to class then come back to my dorm and sleep. I somehow managed to eat enough to make it through at least 45 minutes of cardio per day and if a workout was skipped, it was followed by a tremendous amount of fear that I would “become fat again”. I was obsessively compulsive about my weight, checking my stomach 10 times on average throughout the day to make sure it was still flat. Food consumed my every thought. Every single thing I ate was thoroughly planned and any bite of food that was not or that I deemed “unhealthy” led to overwhelming feelings of anxiety. This turned into late night and weekend binges followed by purges. My body was yearning so badly for food that once I finally did eat, I couldn’t stop.
I managed to gain a little weight over the course of the first semester because of these binges (which drove me utterly insane) and when I came home for Christmas break, I did everything I could to rapidly lose the weight again. After taking a bath one night, I stepped out onto the floor mat and immediately sank to the ground because I had barely eaten all day and felt I was going to faint. As I sat there on the ground, weighing a mere 100 pounds, something inside of me clicked and said “Kayne if you do not stop, you are going to DIE.” For the first time, I was truly scared.
Two days after Christmas I went to Timbercreek camp to help serve at their yearly winter retreat, Breakthru. The Lord pulled on my heart strings in a way that wasn’t expected that weekend and I think subconsciously, I began to ask Him to deliver me from this burden I had been carrying around for a year now. I returned to school the next week and I remember desperately praying that the Lord would cover me as I drove past the Mississippi State sign and back on to campus. The next month went by and although I was making a conscious effort to continually spend time with the Lord, I was still continuing my unhealthy eating habits. However, most days when I did my quiet time I found myself going back to Psalms 139 because it was the words my soul was so desperately yearning to hear. Verse 14 says: “I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are your works, and that my soul knows very well.”
On January 23rd, I attended my weekly small group which was led by one of my closest friends and someone I’d like to think of as my personal mentor, Hannah. She said we would be talking about worthiness that night. We talked about the story in the gospels of the woman with the alabaster jar who laid at the feet of Jesus, broken and weeping. She was a sinner who when rejected by everyone else, was shown love and grace by Jesus. Hannah also told us the story of a time she had felt unworthy so she went to a secluded space and asked the Lord to show her every time in her life she had felt unworthy. She asked Him to cover those times and free her of this feeling of unworthiness. I left small group that night with tears in my eyes because I realized that I wasn’t so different from Hannah or the woman with the alabaster jar.
The next day, I got back from class and it was going to be like any other night. I was going to go to the gym then skip dinner. However, as I put on my workout clothes an overwhelming feeling hit me like a ton of bricks. I just couldn’t do this anymore. I remembered the story of the woman with the alabaster jar and Hannah’s own moment of lying at the feet of Jesus. And I knew that’s exactly what I needed to do. My roommate was gone so I went into our bathroom and as I got down on my hands and knees to lay at the feet of Jesus, I cried out loud to Him. Tears streaming down my face, I begged him to finally take this burden from me. I also asked that he would forgive me because I finally realized just how deep I was living in my sinful nature, destroying the body He had created just for me. I asked Him to show me every time I felt I wasn’t enough: every heartbreak and rejection; every time I doubted my self-worth; every harsh word ever said against me; every lie from the enemy. It was in that moment I heard a heavenly voice speak to me: “you are mine, my beloved” and just like that, I was free. I felt an overwhelming rush of complete and utter peace that I had never felt before. It was like every weight that had piled up over the last year was lifted off my shoulders right then and there. The most beautiful part was that while I was yelling at the Lord to save me, I had already been covered by Him before my knees even hit the ground that night. I just had to realize it.
I can see now that Jesus had a plan in place for my deliverance that weekend at Breakthru and had been putting people and things in my path ever since. You see, the funny thing about eating disorders is they aren’t just physical. Most of it is mental. They literally suck the life out of you, making you a shell of the person you’re meant to be. I was dead inside. But God was slowly breathing life into me every day through prayer and his people. As Cory Asbury so beautifully puts it, it was an overwhelming, reckless love. It was a love that so fervently chased me down that I couldn’t run anymore. I immediately called my mom and finally said the word I hadn’t dared to let myself think, let alone say out loud to someone else: Anorexia. It’s not a pretty word and it’s not a pretty disease. I can look back at old pictures of myself now-face sunken in, every bone in my body sticking out-and see just how blind I was to my situation. But thank God He opened my eyes that night on my bathroom floor and whispered to me that I was His, I was free, I was forgiven, and that I didn’t have to live like that another day.
So what have I been doing since then? Baby steps. Holding on, yet letting go. People talk about eating disorders but no one hears about how hard it is to recover from one. It’s not easy to all of the sudden start feeding your body over double the intake its used to. It’s not easy to go into a dressing room and realize you can’t fit into your usual size 0 anymore. But I’ve been learning perseverance through my mom. She’s helping me gain my weight and strength back, encouraging me and pushing me every step of the way. I’ve felt the gentle love and grace of a Heavenly Father through my Dad. He fixes me bowls of ice cream even when I say I “don’t need it” and I know this is his way of silently reminding me that he thinks I’m beautiful, even with a little belly pudge. I’ve been learning joy from watching my brother. He loves life and is passionate about everything he does and it inspires me daily. I’ve felt support like none other from my amazing friends. When I look at them, I am reminded that true beauty lies within the heart. They also remind me that sometimes noodles at midnight is just what the soul needs.
To say I’m completely fine now would be a lie. There are more days when I want to relapse than when I want to keep going. Honestly, I’ll probably deal with an eating disorder on some scale for the rest of my life. But that’s okay because on those days, my one and only strength is Jesus. Through that, I’m learning to walk with him and lean on him 24/7. I know He’s using this to only make my faith stronger and I can see that through my personal growth these past few months. He’s making me a warrior. He’s giving me a testimony that will one day maybe help another one of his children. Because the truth is: if I can’t love myself, how am I going to be able to truly show love to His people? And as for the enemy goes, my friend Mckenzie once told me that there’s nothing more powerful than casting him away out loud. And that’s what I do when he starts to whisper the lies again. Most days, I have to look in the mirror and say out loud: “No Satan, I AM enough because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
If THAT girl just so happens to be reading this—I want you to know that you are loved. You are worthy. You are strong. You are enough. You are NOT alone and most importantly, you are a precious daughter of the King who was created perfectly in His image and with intention. Your beauty lies in that fact alone, not in the number you see on the scale or how many comments you get on your Instagram post (facts I’m still learning too, my friend). Get help. Talk to someone. Pray about it. You don’t have to live in tremendous pain and sadness every day. You don’t have to live in your own brokenness and shame. Because the fact of the matter is, life is too beautiful to spend it being controlled and weighed down by lies of the enemy.