How the Communion Table preaches to those struggling with Eating Disorders

It was a few Sundays ago, and I swayed gently as I sang these words along with my dear congregation.

“The body of our Savior Jesus Christ, torn for you, eat and remember. 
The wounds that heal, the death that brings us life, paid the price to make us one. 
So we share in this bread of life, and we drink of His sacrifice, 
As a sign of our bonds of grace, around the table of the King.” {The Gettys & Townend}

My gaze slid to the Communion Table mere feet away, the white linen tablecloth, the golden trays holding the precious symbols of a slain Savior’s sacrifice for us.

Suddenly my breath caught and tears began hotly filling my eyes. I sat down and grabbed my iPhone and began frantically typing these words down.

What if the Communion Table is preaching to our eating disorders?

The body of our Lord, torn for you. The wounds that heal. The death that brings us life.

It’s all been done. Victory has been won. Our deepest sin and death has been defeated.

Yet we tear ourselves open with scissors and knives. We empty our bellies into buckets.
We starve ourselves into walking wounded. We smile and laugh and refuse to eat.
We maim and wound and die a million times as we look in the mirror and say “not enough”. We refuse bread, we turn down wine, and we lose sight of Jesus.

We lose sight of Jesus. 

The body of Jesus, torn for you: Enough. 

The wounds on his back, his pierced hands and feet, the crown of thorns slashing open his brow….his side gushing blood and water: For You.

His Body, the bread. His Blood, the wine. 

His bloodlines, His heritage, His inheritance, His everything, His family, His crown, His robe, a seat next to Him in an endless array at the marriage feast of the Lamb.

How could we miss this imagery and portraiture so easily when it’s right in front of us every single Sunday? When it’s laid out in stark relief to our fading world?

He is what we could never be: a true sacrifice that would heal us.

We want desperately to be in control. We want desperately to run our own lives. We want completely and utterly and always to be the best. To live up to every magazine hype, or maybe just to your model friends who look better in bikinis or skinny jeans.

We want so so so much to be the individual kings of our world, all the while coming into the House of Worship every Sunday to visit a King who spilled His blood to give you what you could never earn, to die a death you could never die, to be the Sacrifice to a Holy God that would be our healing. Our LIFE. Our literal God breathed LIFE. Our Eternal LIFE.

The blood that cleanses every stain of sin, shed for you, drink and remember. 
He drained death’s cup that all may enter in, to receive the LIFE of God.” 

The same Savior Who hung on the cross has already healed us in a way we can’t even begin to see or understand. He’s made us holy. He’s given us righteousness that won’t fade. He’s given us a beauty that shines with a radiance we can’t see in this world.

And every time we choose what tries to kill us over Jesus, oh, it must break His heart, because the Savior didn’t die so you could bleed out on a bathroom floor.

He died so that you might have life abundantly, and that life abundantly doesn’t give room to eating disorders or self harm. That life abundantly doesn’t share a dang thing with death. 

Your eating disorder will never love you. Your self harm scars will never love you.
Your tiny clothes will never love you. You will never see beauty in the mirror unless you are looking at it and seeing the beautiful Bride Jesus died for staring back at you.

Nothing can or ever will be able to do what only Jesus can do: heal you.

The One Who gives abundant life desires us to LIVE and live abundantly.

If we weren’t supposed to be living today, we wouldn’t be. You and I, we are living for a great purpose, and not a day of it is to be wasted on wondering if we were still meant for this world. We are, because…..God has written the number of all our days, before there were any of them {Psalm 139:16}. You ARE meant for great things in this life, and God has meant you to live them. Here. Now. This day. Tomorrow. You are meant to be alive right now. You are meant to be breathing, resting, hoping, LIVING.

Bread of life, a body broken already for us, for life abundantly not lived in bonds to the diseases that would kill us, that Satan would love love love to kill us with.

“We’ll join in the feast of Heaven, around the table of the King.” 

I wrote a friend tonight through tears while writing this article and said I just couldn’t wait until the New Heavens and New Earth when I’d look down the table at the glorious feast, and see all my friends who have struggled with eating disorders, with radiance on their faces and smiles unchecked, EATING, and knowing it was all good. If you’ve ever known or loved anyone who has struggled with these issues, there are probably tears on your face right now like there are on mine. It is a deeper pain than words can explain.

Oh, friends, in the drinking and the eating and the shaming and the agony and the bleeding and the throwing up and the longing to be perfect and in control…..we’ve let go of the most precious “savior” we could cling to, the only Savior that could heal. Jesus. 

If the very One Who made You sustains Your every breath, isn’t it enough to live for? Isn’t He enough to live for? Isn’t He enough for you? Isn’t He enough for me? This temporary life will go by so so fast, and then we shall see what we’ve been suspecting all along. Our lives, though broken, though shattered, though agonizing, were worth it to live for Jesus.

I looked hard at the Communion Table that Sunday, and saw something deeper that shattered untruths hiding deep in my soul and my soul cried at the beauty it saw there.

We’ve missed something beautiful.

He’s there before us in the shimmering glory of the Communion Table. He’s right there next to you in the fight against your deepest scars. He’s hearing the prayers of those advocating for you. And He’s proclaiming that YOU don’t have to be enough, because He is forever enough for you. It’s there in the bread and wine on the bright white linen tablecloth. “This is my Body, broken for you. This is my Blood, spilled for you. Take, eat, do this in remembrance of Me.” It’s a profoundly life-altering, heart-shifting truth.

That in these tangible things we eat and sip with our community of believers and saints, in these small things we tenderly cradle in our hands, lies a promise that shouts of a victory gained by a beautiful One we long to see and long to belong to. And we do. 

We belong to that King. That Savior. We’re made whole and healed by Him. For anyone who has ever suffered greatly, it’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever heard.

After that Sunday, I will never look at the Communion Table the same way ever again. Imagery and parables, yes. A simple hymn, yes. But the beauty will remain.

So drink the wine, don’t turn away the bread. See His hands offering it to you.

And abide and rejoice in a life abundant because Jesus is enough. 

Being Skinny Is Not a Holy Goal

It’s hard to know how to start this article. It’s hard not to generalize or not pinpoint.

But a few Sundays ago, I swung in my hammock outside as sunset light spilled through the trees,
and in a moment of pure honesty, I said something to my friend on the phone, and my breath caught in my throat.

I told her of a conversation I’d had that morning with one of the dearest ladies from our church.
It was after our church anniversary picnic, and I’d given her a hug and she’d exclaimed over loving my dress. I laughed because almost every Sunday she commented on my appearance or asks about my life, she’s one of those dear people who only encourages, the kind we are so blessed to have in our church family.

She said “You’re so skinny!”, and I laughed and said it was the dress. She laughed and argued back “no it’s not!”, I just hugged her again, said my goodbyes and started walking out.

Halfway to the door, I couldn’t take it.

I half turned and called back “Being skinny is not the goal, being healthy is!”.
I got a happy “Amen!” in return.

She didn’t see the sudden tears in my eyes.

I’m over it.

I’m over the things we tell ourselves. I’m over the lies. I’m over the comparing.
I’m over the photoshopped magazines and the “sucking it all in” Instagram pictures.
I’m over the perfect bikini bodies, and I’m over the endless “dieting” updates.
I’m over the way I compare myself in the harsh changing room lights and mirrors.
I’m over the way a skinny photo gets more likes and comments than a heavier one.
I’m over the way eating a simple cheeseburger can make me feel like I need to run 10 miles, and I’m over the way we have to say “having a treat!” while eating ice cream.

We cheer each other on the minute we start another slimming diet,
we comment on every slimmer picture on social media. We rejoice over lost pounds.
We measure each other up when we take pictures, and we take 5 minutes to pose
just the right way to accentuate and hide ourselves next to each other.

And then we bring it into the church where it doesn’t belong.

Disorders prosper when we as the church don’t fight the Skinny Lie. Or even worse, when we hide it. Eating disorders top the list of things I wish the church talked more about.

I think it isn’t talked about very much because a lot of us actually think it’s true.
That even though it’s not good to be a size zero…it wouldn’t be awful if I was a size 4.
It also wouldn’t be awful if I skipped lunch, or 4 lunches, or 3 breakfasts…and it certainly wouldn’t be awful if I received a bunch of compliments on my appearance the next Sunday!

When you live in a state of needing to control your weight,
you do not live in a state of joy, you live in a state of restriction.

And the world continues to tell us that you’ll live longer and happier and better, but….

Being Skinny won’t make you live longer.

It simply won’t. Being skinny or overly healthy won’t change the day God wrote from the beginning of time that you’d leave this earth, no matter what label of how you died the world puts on it. The day God calls you home, is THE DAY. Being skinny won’t add one second to that day. Do you see what I’m saying here? You can’t prolong your life. At all.

I’m over all the articles (in the entire world) that says if you eat 3 cheerios and
half a handful of acai berries and run 7 miles, you’ll live forever.

You’re laughing because that’s outrageous, right? But you just read that acai berries are a superfood, and now you’re wondering if you should just eat acai berries and that would get rid of the extra muffin flab you feel you really shouldn’t have.

Correct me if I’m wrong. You just thought about fat you want to not have and considered a 3 cheerio/half handful of acai berries/7 mile run because you want to be perfect.

Which leads me to my next point.

Being Perfect will get you killed.

I remember exactly where I was the first time I hugged a dear friend and noticed I could feel every single bone in her back. Her spine was a connection to every rib, every bone; she was literally enveloped in a jacket that hid her figure. She wore a size zero in clothes.

She was so tiny that I held her lightly, afraid of crushing her, afraid of hurting her.

Her eyes reminded me of a bird, fragile, small. I stepped back and she smiled,
but she wasn’t all there. She was a shadow of who I knew she was.

And my heart broke into a million pieces. 

I decided that day that being skinny wasn’t worth it. It wasn’t worth it at all.

My friend is still alive today, but it wasn’t without lots of struggling, hard conversations, re-training her mind/thinking, hours of broken tears, and lots of days she wanted to give up and be skinny again.

Hear me out…..I’m not saying don’t eat healthy, I’m not saying you can’t enjoy running or working out or living a natural lifestyle, hey, I lead one myself …. BUT.

I AM saying if you do it to reach a perfection you will never attain this side of Heaven, 
you will slowly die. It. will. kill. you.

Eating “perfectly” or barely eating, eating only 3 cheerios or eating only non-GMO, organic, gluten free, air free, fat free, dairy free, soy free, meat free, rice free, sugar free, pesticide free, grown in a garden of Eden proportions and watered by the salt free tears of angels, and refusing to eat anything else, you’ve missed the glory of God’s creation and our purpose on this earth.

The purpose to grow on the land and eat the fruit of our labors,
to the glory and to the praise of the One Who made it all good. 

Trading a good life worth living well for a perfect bikini body is not a trade you should make. Putting a goal of skinniness over asking to see yourself as God sees you is deadly.

And much more than that, it’s not a calling God has placed upon you.

God would never call you to something that would harm you. EVER.

and that’s why 

Being Skinny is Not a Holy Goal

Being Skinny does not make us more like Jesus. Being Skinny is not in the Ten Commandments. Being Skinny does not make you a Proverbs 31 woman.

Being Skinny does not make you more desirable to a Holy God (or to a good man for that matter). Being Skinny does not make you a better Christian than the woman next to you on the church pew who wears a size 18. Being Skinny does not make you love Jesus more. Being Skinny doesn’t make you the perfect girl. Being Skinny doesn’t make you the perfect mother.

Being Skinny wasn’t preached from the Sermon on the Mount or told to any of the women “Go and sin no more, oh and also be skinny and fit because that’s what holy women look like.”

So being Skinny …. can’t be put on the same level as pursuing Godliness.
Because quite simply, it doesn’t have a place there and won’t ever have one.

Pride in our bodies doesn’t belong in front of the throne.

It shouldn’t need to be said, but God doesn’t see your body the way you do.

He sees ears that hear, brains that can understand and compute better than all of his creation put together, souls that awaken to the life only He can give, hearts that come alive, fingers that can feel and speak languages to the deaf, vocal cords that sing, mouths that speak joy, noses that smell flowers, lips that part to reveal a laugh, lungs that breathe thousands of times per day, arms and legs that swim through water with gracefulness and steadily climb up mountains and run with agility and speed.

He sees skin that protects bones, and blood that circulates and pumps organs we forget we even have. He sees the best of all His creation in us and says “It is Good.”

And we stand under the harsh lights and say “It’s not good enough.” 

We need to remind ourselves that we see our bodies with a broken worldview,
but God doesn’t. God doesn’t care about all the diets in the world, He cares about YOU.

“For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance,
but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7

When we look at ourselves in pride or in shame, we aren’t looking at ourselves with a Biblical view, and we certainly aren’t bringing our hearts before the throne, or our souls to be revitalized but instead are bringing our bodies with vanity and pride to parade. God is not glorified in a proud or shamed heart that rests in whether you’re skinny or not.

If you’re struggling with an eating disorder or a mindset that tells you you need to be a certain size before you can truly be happy with your life…hear this:

Being skinny is not the goal, being healthy is. 

God’s creation is all good. God’s creation of US is all good.
So what here isn’t good? It’s the way we see it. It’s our broken worldview.

How God’s heart must break over us when we don’t see ourselves as He made us!

God calls us to something higher than what we can see.

There is something mightier at stake here….the goal of trusting Jesus.
Eating disorders offer rules that tell us maybe just maybe you’ll make it to perfection.

But Jesus! Jesus offers FREEDOM. Jesus offers JOY. Jesus offers PEACE. Jesus offers REST.
Jesus offers a perfection we could never attain, not a physical perfection, but a spiritual one. A perfection that could not be torn away, a perfection that could not be lost.

A perfection better than every health benefit we could feel on this earth. We will know it one day when we step into His presence and realize we were once seeking the wrong goal.

Jesus calls us to trust Him with everything, with all that we are, with all our days:

“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not LIFE more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 

Therefore do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’, For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your Heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” – Matthew 6:25-27, 31-33

Our God knows that we struggle with these things, and He knows that we are so prone to worry or to fear or to shame. He knows the hold this broken world has on us. But He sent His Son to break all those chains, including the chains that whisper to you that you’re not good enough as you are.

Jesus sees you as you are: a beautiful, beloved, loving heart inside a God-bearing image of Himself. Don’t let yourself believe you need to change your outward appearance for the King of Kings.

Nothing you could do could ever change His love for you, nor those around you that know your true inner beauty that will never fade: the beauty of a soul who loves Jesus.

Daughters of Great Worth

I vault between wanting to write/talk/preach about this topic and feeling unqualified.
However, I feel like that’s exactly why I need to write this. For me. For you. For why I tell myself I’m unqualified.

This morning I got a message from one of my best friends.
Her message went something like this:
“It’s super easy for me to believe the lie that I can lose God’s love….and to feel worthless.”

I dropped everything I was doing to text her back immediately:

“Babe. You are of great worth.
The King of the whole world looks at you with pride and calls you Beloved. Daughter.
Equal to Jesus. Higher than angels. With an inheritance that cannot be shifted by sins or weak faith. {an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in Heaven for you.”
{1 Peter 1:4}

His love for you will never run dry. His mercy upon you will never be revoked. His plans for you can never be ruined. His glory through you will only shine brighter until you SEE Him face to face.”

… and then I started crying.
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Believing the Worthless Lie

These past 3 months I’ve felt the most worthless in my entire life.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve texted the word “worthless” to my friends in tears.
There have been days I’ve stared in the mirror and told my reflection:
“You are NOT worthless. You have great worth in the Father’s eyes.”

And the truth is, I’ve had to stare down my own gaze that tries to contradict me in that moment.

Ohhh, Satan is so so good at it.

He tells us that Jesus won’t love us anymore. He won’t want us.
If one person walked away, what’s keeping Jesus from doing the same?
He knows more than anyone else. He knows our sins more than anyone else.

Surely I’m the exception of all that the Bible says about mercy and grace.

I can clearly see I’m not enough. Not good enough. Not perfect enough. Not true enough.
Not faithful enough. Not obedient enough. Not beautiful enough. Not enough for that kind of love.

Listen up.

There is a place where your gaze should rest and it is not upon yourself. 

It is the cross. 

You cannot stare down the cross and see worthlessness.
You will only see LOVE COME DOWN. Love slain for you.

When your Jesus took your sins away from you.

Satan would love to take your eyes off the cross
and put them on you and how you’ll never be enough.

PRAISE GOD YOU AREN’T, CHILD.

There is only One who is worthy to hold the title of Savior, and it isn’t you.

It’s Jesus.

He won it in a way you could NEVER attain. Your sins are paid for.
Your crown made by gold you could never acquire.
Your inheritance bought with a sacrifice you could never make.

Only Holy can pardon Holy.
Only Holy can redeem a people. Only Holy can bring the dead to life.

Baby crying in a manger. Angels singing. Throngs rejoicing. Multitudes in awe.
Blood running down wood, nails piercing hands and feet, and thorns pushed upon a brow.

Only Jesus could say: “It is finished.”

“You can trust a God who is not only sovereign but BLEEDS for you.” – Don Carson

No one can take from you what Jesus has given to you: a place with Him at the table.
Not serving with eyes downcast. Not beggars at the door. Not the dogs eating crumbs underneath.

Beside Him. His Beloved Bride. His chosen one. His Daughter. His Pearl of great price.
Beside Jesus at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. His gaze resting lovingly upon you.

You cannot be worthless under the radiance of such a love.

You cannot be left out with His name emblazoned upon your forehead.
You cannot be forgotten outside the gates. You cannot be cast out of His family.
You cannot be erased from where He has etched you on His heart, written you in the Lamb’s book of life.

You cannot be unworthy anymore, because Jesus calls you HIS.
Once cowering in shame underneath our sin cloak….now we run triumphantly to Jesus: His righteousness our own white robe, His death our death, His life our life.

His Worth is Our Worth

Do not seek any other worth, for this alone is PRICELESS
and will NEVER DIM through Eternity.

“Grace is God’s REFUSAL to allow us to define ourselves or to have the last word.”
– Michael Horton

He loves us, oh, He loves us so.

“Dost thou think, O Christian, that thou canst measure the love of Christ?
The riches of His goodness are unsearchable.”
– C.H. Spurgeon
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The Crown You Wear Cannot Fall

Hold your head high, today and every day, the crown you wear isn’t your own.
It does not bow to Satan’s lies. It doesn’t slip off when you sin again and again.
It doesn’t tarnish with sin.

You are wearing a crown bought by the Holy King, and He placed it there upon your head, Beloved Daughter of the High King, Bride of great worth, so you may shine radiantly for His glory.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace, which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth – in Him.

In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. – Ephesians 1:3-12

Preach it to your heart. He loves you so.
Wear the crown of His love with dignity and honor and joy.