As much as I’d like to say that Scripture was a close companion to me during my early days of recovery, that wouldn’t be the truth. I was very resistant to certain passages, especially the passages below. I was so obsessed with the idea of being skinny—yes, even while I was recovering—that I couldn’t see the value in the Truth.
As my emotional, mental, and spiritual recovery continued, I slowly became less resistant to it. I don’t think that reading a biblical passage is a cure for anorexia. However, I do know that the Truth—specifically from God’s Word—sets us free (John 8:37). If there’s someone in your life who’s recovering from anorexia, perhaps you could share that with her. You may also want to share the following verses with her because even though they may be the hardest Bible verses for a recovering anorexic to hear, they are the truest words she could ever hear.
1. Psalm 139:13-14
For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. (Psalm 139:13-14 NASB 1995)
This is a difficult passage for me to write about because it’s actually the Bible passage that frustrated me the most when I was in the depths of recovery. As silly as it sounds, I was angry that this verse didn’t tell me that I was skinny…it didn’t even directly say that I was beautiful. It simply said that I was carefully, fearfully, and wonderfully crafted by God.
It’s almost impossible to be content with being carefully, fearfully, and wonderfully crafted by God when everything inside of you is screaming, “You need to be skinny!” Here’s the thing, though—even though this passage of Scripture was the last thing that I wanted to hear during my recovery, it’s exactly what I needed to hear. Some bodies are naturally _____ (skinny, tall, muscular, etc.), and other bodies aren’t. But all bodies fall into the category of carefully, fearfully, and wonderfully crafted by God.
2. Proverbs 31:30
Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. (Proverbs 31:30 NASB 1995)
This verse is an incredibly bitter pill for a woman—especially a recovering anorexic woman—to swallow because it calls her out. Beauty is clearly not worth pursuing, yet it’s the one thing she has decided to pursue. Leading up to this verse are 20 previous verses about the beloved Proverbs 31 woman. And the writer of Proverbs 31, King Lemuel, stopped during his long description of the virtuous woman to say that beauty means little—really, nothing—in comparison to fearing God.
Notice that King Lemuel didn’t say, “Wearing a size 0 shall be praised” or “Weighing 100 pounds shall be praised” or “Having flat abs shall be praised.” That’s why this pill is so bitter for a recovering anorexic to swallow. She wants worldly things—like wearing a size 0, weighing 100 pounds, and having flat abs—to have value. Because those are the things that she’s pursuing. She wants her pursuits to mean something. She doesn’t want to admit the truth—that her pursuit of the “perfect” body is vain—empty, meaningless, and shallow. But God’s Word doesn’t lie.
3. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NASB 1995)
People often use this passage in the context of physical health. For example, we’re encouraged to pay attention to our eating and exercise habits. But the anorexic—even the recovering anorexic—is already paying attention to her eating and exercise habits. In fact, she’s monitoring those things very closely. She may claim that she’s just taking care of her body, but in reality, she’s damaging her body.
Honestly, I believe this passage isn’t necessarily about food groups and workout routines. Rather, I believe it’s about glorifying God in your body because that’s exactly what this passage says: therefore glorify God in your body (v. 20). A recovering anorexic may not want to believe that she’s harming her body when she undereats and overexercises. But she can quickly and easily harm her body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit if she is a believer.
Friends, I genuinely want you to find this post encouraging, not depressing or disheartening. I focused on these three Scripture passages because I want you to be able to help the recovering anorexics in your life—by getting a glimpse of what a recovering anorexic’s mind looks like. Early in my recovery, I viewed Scripture very negatively because I was too stubborn to see that it was exactly what I needed. Don’t let the people you care about who are recovering from anorexia trudge through recovery without Scripture. Even if they resist it initially, remember that they need the Truth in order to be set free.
If you haven’t already, I’d love for you to check out my new book Real Recovery: What Eating Disorder Recovery Actually Looks Like! It’s a memoir-style book about my journey through anorexia and my ongoing journey through recovery. You can find out more info here!