In the book “Healing a Hungry Heart: A Journey of Freedom from Anorexia,” my friend Tiffany Bartell shares her story of how eating became a way of dealing with her pain. At a very young age she experienced the loss of her mother and the shifting of her family’s life. A need to feel accepted and loved grew until it was her all-consuming desire. Though reared in a Christian home and baptized as a young girl, she grew up with a misconception of the worth God placed on her life. This led to a misunderstanding of her own worth.
Two statements particularly caught my attention. Speaking of her relationship with her sister at the time, Tiffany says “neither of us leaned on the other; we went through our roughest times of life only barely aware that the other was struggling so badly” (page 94). And later she says “I couldn’t confide in anyone about the pain I was going through, or didn’t think I could, because I was too ashamed to say what was going on” (page 104).
I wonder how many people who walk through the doors of our churches are struggling with similar thoughts. How many are in our own homes, members of our families? And why do they feel so afraid and disconnected in the very places ordained by God for bringing and keeping people together?
Tiffany was able to recover from her addiction and find a new life in Jesus. But it wasn’t easy. It took several years. Desperate situations came about. And she was finally rescued by the perseverance of those who loved her. In the process, she learned about herself and about her God. She says “I had not truly believed in God, because I had never truly understood who He was. The kind of love that I was familiar with loved you when you did what the person wanted you to and did not show you love or affection if you did something that displeased them” (page 113).
Our understanding of God is often colored by our own experiences or by the portrait painted by other people. But God desires to reveal Himself to us as He truly is. We see the perfect portrait in Christ. And He bids us “love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).
Angeline B. David, DrPH, MHS, RDN
Health Ministries / ARMin Director
North American Division