Eating Disorder Wars and the Truth That Sets Us Free
“The problem is, I can’t tell what’s real anymore, and what’s made up,” explains Peeta in the third book of the popular Hunger Games series.
He has been tainted by the enemy, his mind twisted and turned.
Exactly like an eating disorder, I thought as I read the book.
Eating disorders are so dark, twisted, and confusing that those who have one believe that what they think in their head is actually reality.
I am the fattest one in the room.
No one loves me.
I have to be perfect in order to be loved.
I am ugly.
The list goes on and on. And the secrets grow and weave and wrap the person up, choking the life out of them.
What saves Peeta?
Asking those who know and love him this question: “Real or not real?”
He looks to others to help him decipher illusion from reality until he has the strength to do it himself: “The real/not real game goes like this. He mentions something he thinks, and they tell him if it is true or imagined, usually followed by a brief explanation” (Mockingjay, p. 270).
This tactic can be a lifeline for those struggling with eating disorders. But it is also actually a powerful tactic for all of us. I have found myself doing it lately in my own distortions.
One example: “God is punishing me. Real or not real?”
I look to the Bible and read, “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love” (Psalm 145:8).
Here’s another example: “I am alone in my sorrow. Real or not real?”
God brings to mind these words: “I am also the Father who comforts you in all of your troubles” (see 2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
You see, we have the great Truth in the Bible. And if we look to it to find the Truth, we’ll be set free. I believe we also are surrounded by people in our lives who can be that Truth teller for us! We only have to ask.
Won’t you try this too?
Real or not real?
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
A woman I know has a habit of naming her years. Come January 1, she’ll choose a word for the year ahead—something she’d like to be true of the coming months, such as community or adventure or love. If I were to go back and name the past ten years of my life, most of them would share the same few words: Judgment. Guilt. Fear.