My Jesus Never Works in the Same Way Twice

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If you know me, you know that I fully believe that God is a miracle working God. I have no doubt in my mind because I have seen him show up and show out time and time again.

The picture on the left was July 2014. I had attended Student Life beach camp with my youth group, and let me tell ya, Jesus rocked my world that week. During my seventh grade year, I began an intense battle with self-harm. I was so depressed that the only way I knew how to manage it was through hurting myself. This carried on for nearly four years. I didn’t think there would ever be an end. But Jesus. 

I went to the Student Life conference with absolutely zero expectations. I was too far gone; Jesus couldn’t make a difference in my life. I was completely blown away during our first session when Jesus showed me that he could do the impossible. He could soften my heart of stone that was so turned away from him. During worship, we were singing Let It Be Jesus by Christy Nockels. Jesus completely shook me to my core. He told me, and when I say he told me, I mean I heard it from deep within me, “Sarah Beth, I cannot do a single thing in your life if you don’t lay it all down. I want you, but you have to want me. You will always be a prisoner to yourself if you don’t come to me.” 

That week I laid everything down to Jesus. My life took a complete 180 and I’ve never been the same person since. The life that I’ve found with Jesus makes me wonder why I ever thought I could do it without him. I haven’t self-harmed since July 13, 2014. Jesus did a complete miracle in my life that week that I never thought would happen. But it did. He came for me in the Daytona Beach convention center two years ago and I could never praise him enough for that week.

I thought that that week would be my life-changing moment and I’d be good to go. But let me tell you, Satan is real and he is vicious. The Bible isn’t lying when it says that he is like a prowling lion waiting to attack (1 Peter 5:8).

My eating disorder started in seventh grade before my self-harm did. Though my struggle with self harm went away, my eating disorder only grew louder. The enemy is strong, y’all. So strong. He knows our weaknesses and he knows just what to say to pull us down. He was so afraid of my new freedom that I found in Christ that he pulled me to the deepest depths of my eating disorder that I had ever seen.

Satan leading me to my eating disorder was never about my eating disorder at all. It was all about trying to pull me away from Jesus. It was about making me believe that I wasn’t worthy of the cross, that I was doing something wrong. Satan knew that the struggle would leave me feeling like a horrible Christian because I was struggling and was not able to give it all away.

He was right. I was so frustrated with myself. I kept trying to lay down my eating disorder, but I couldn’t. I prayed and prayed and prayed, but I could not shake my eating disorder no matter how much I tried. I thought I wasn’t being a good Christian. Jesus healed me from self-harm in an instantaneous moment, so why was that not happening again? I began to doubt my faith. I thought there was something wrong with me. I was hopeless because healing was not coming the way that I was expecting it to.

My eating disorder became so severe that I had to enter residential treatment a month before my graduation. I felt defeated as if I wasn’t trusting God enough to heal me.

But Jesus, y’all.

The treatment facility that I was in was not a Christian treatment center. But I can tell you for fact that I felt Jesus more present in that yellow house during the two months that I was there than my entire senior year. It wasn’t an instantaneous healing. But there still was healing. It took a lot of therapy and a lot of meals and a lot of tears, but Jesus was working in my heart.

Jesus came for me so mightily in that place. I didn’t think treatment was going to work for me. I was so sick that I didn’t think it was possible to go back. I felt hopeless because my prayers were not offering me the same kind of healing I had experienced before.

But Jesus never works in the same way twice. 

He wasn’t healing me in the same away again because that’s not how he works.

Jesus likes surprises. Jesus likes showing up and showing out in ways that we’d least expect. If we try to put limitations around him, he gets sassy and is like, “nuh-uh, no way.” Jesus has his own plans because his plans are always better.

So of course Jesus wasn’t going to take away my eating disorder in the same way that he took away my self-harm. That’s just not who he is.

Jesus allowed me to go to treatment so that I would trust fully in him. The entire time I was there, I was told to “trust the process.” That may have been my therapist’s words to me, but I fully believe that those were also Jesus’ words into my weary heart. I needed to trust him and what he was doing.

Jesus showed me that my eating disorder was never about me. That my struggle was never because I was a bad Christian. But because Satan is real. Satan is powerful. But Jesus is stronger. 

The process is hard, but the process was specifically ordained and planned by Jesus. The process is meant to point to who Jesus is, not to show how “unfaithful” I am.

My flaws point to Jesus because he is the one who makes me flawless.

So no, I am not completely healed of my eating disorder. It’s a long process. It’s a hard process. But I am in recovery. And I’m loving it. Some days are hard, but I know that that doesn’t speak to who I am as a Christian. My struggles show that the enemy is real, but my recovery shows that Jesus is always victorious.

I’m no longer ashamed of my eating disorder story. I don’t feel like I have to prove myself as a Christian anymore. I don’t feel like I have to try to convince everyone that the work Jesus did in my life two years is still happening. I know now that Jesus never works in the same way twice. He came for me in Daytona Beach, Florida, and he came for me again in Durham, North Carolina. He came in very different ways, but he still came.

My life is forever changed because of the healing that he has brought to me. I haven’t self-harmed in two years and I’ve been in recovery for five months. All because a man with nail scarred hands came for me.

He might always in come in different ways, but I have full faith that my Jesus is always going to come for me. 

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Why I Believe in Recovered

A lot of people think that you can’t fully recover from an eating disorder. That you’ll always be in a state of “recovery” because recovery is a process, not a destination. While I enjoy the sentiments of recovery being a journey, I don’t like the idea of there being no end to my eating disorder.

Where is the hope in saying that you’ll never be recovered?

All through treatment and therapy and just recovery in general we are told to have hope. That things will get better. That the eating disorder’s voice will soften. That meals will become easier. But why can’t we have hope that one day we will not struggle with the eating disorder at all?

It’s a hard process, I know that. But if we truly believe ourselves to be the strong women (and men) that we learn that we are in therapy, why do we not believe that we are strong enough to reach full recovery?

I think part of it relates back to our belief that we aren’t good enough.

That’s a common belief between eating disorders. Really, it’s a common belief between everyone. We all have this sinking feeling in our stomach that maybe, just maybe, we don’t measure up to what we wish we did.

If we believe that we aren’t good enough, we’re going to believe that we don’t have the potential to reach full recovery.

But we do.

We’re strong people. We’re brave people. We’re people who have fought like hell against our own mind. We CAN recover.

It’s a journey to get to the state of full recovery. It’s not just “I went to treatment for x days/weeks/months and now I’m perfectly fine, yay!”

But there is an end to the journey one day.

Maybe we’ll still have disordered thoughts every once in a while. But who doesn’t? I’m not saying that they’re okay, but I’m saying that it’s normal to have bad body image days every once in a while. EVERYONE has insecure days. Our minds will never be perfect so we’ll always have those thoughts sometimes. But they won’t be as often and loud as they are now. 

I’m excited to one day be so far along in recovery that I know longer have thoughts. To be able to eat a piece of cake without a second thought of the calories or fat content. Heck, to be able to eat a second (!!!!!) piece of cake because the first piece was so dang good and having seconds is normal. 

Recovery is great, y’all, but I’m so excited for recoverED.

I know that it’s a long way away. Who knows when I’ll get to that point. But I have hope that one day I will.

I refuse to believe that there is no hope for my mental health.

I refuse to believe that we will all be 90 years old and struggling to eat breakfast will our grandchildren.

I refuse to believe that there is no end to our relationships with Ed.

It’s not always going to be the type of breakup where you “stay friends” and still text each other every once in a while to see how life is.

This is the type of breakup where there was a nasty divorce, but you’re so much happier and you haven’t talked to your ex in years.

That’s what I have hope for.

That one day we’ll be completely free of every voice telling us that we are fat or that we shouldn’t eat.

I have this hope for me. For you. For every eating disorder sufferer.

There is hope of recovered.

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The Yellow Bubble: a class essay

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I originally wrote this story for my “Learning to Tell Your Stories” class at college. Since it is part of my treatment story, I thought that I would share it with y’all.


After a six-hour long car ride, we pulled into the gravel parking lot as the rain started to beat against the car window. I remember in that moment thinking that the dreary weather outside mirrored the emotions that I felt behind my tear-stained face—fear, sadness, hopelessness. My dad heaved my heavy suitcase out of the car as I turned to face what would be my home for the next two months. We walked up to the yellow house, in a weird, awkward silence that only exists when what you are facing is too weighty to handle. We rang the doorbell. After a few moments, a face that I did not recognize but would soon become one that I saw everyday answered the door. “Welcome to Carolina House! You must be Sarah, right?” she asked. I nodded. This was it. I was at Carolina House, a residential treatment center for eating disorders in Durham, North Carolina.

My first week at Carolina House was one of the worst weeks of my life. All of my freedom was stripped from me—I could no longer go to the bathroom alone, stand without being told to sit down, or choose what or how much I ate. I cried before, during, and after almost every meal and snack. I had been extremely restricting my food intake for the last five years, and now I was being expected to eat six times a day. Instead of enjoying all of the end of senior year festivities at home, every night during phone time I called my family, begging them to come get me. I told them I did not have a problem. That I did not need to be there. That I was not “sick enough”. I felt as if my family had betrayed me by dropping me off at literal hell on earth.

Three weeks after being admitted into Carolina House, I woke up on the morning of my high school graduation. Instead of putting on my graduation robe that morning, I changed into my weigh-in gown for morning check-ins, and instead of having my graduation party that night, I had lights out at 10:30. My graduation day went nothing like what I had been dreaming it would be. I spent the majority of the day crying, even though the staff and residents tried to make my day special. We put on temporary tattoos, went bowling, and had a fake graduation ceremony complete with a diploma made during art therapy group.  Even though treatment was saving my life, I felt like everything was ruined and worthless because the one thing I had been living for—my high school graduation—was taken from me.

The worst part of treatment was gaining weight. When I went into Carolina House, I knew that I was extremely underweight, but my eating disorder made me believe that my treatment team would only make me gain 10 pounds at most. My body was in such distress that my dietitian had to continually increase my meal plan because my body was burning all the food so quickly that I was not gaining weight. It was absolute torture. It took over two months for me to reach my maintenance weight. Even though I hated it, I began to appreciate the things that the weight gain did for my body. I could stand without getting dizzy; I could walk without blacking out. My calcium levels began improving, which made my team hopeful that my osteopenia was beginning to reverse. My weight gain took away the possibility of organ failure. Even though I hated it, gaining back my lost weight literally saved my life.

I turned 19 three days before my discharge from Carolina House, but I was not just celebrating another year older. I was celebrating that I received another year of life—a year that would not be dictated by my eating disorder, a year that would be healthy, a year that my life would not be at risk. I was celebrating all that Carolina House and recovery had given me—friends that I still talk to everyday, countless hilarious memories that I will never forget, and a life that I love. That little yellow house in the woods—more lovingly known as “the yellow bubble”—saved my life. Every hard day was worth it because of the life I live now.

While at Carolina House, I ate approximately 336 meals. Since my discharge, I have eaten 576 meals. Not every one of those meals have been easy. I have cried through a lot of them and have even denied some—but only to change my mind 30 minutes later because I have learned that recovery is a choice and even when I do not want recovery, I have to choose it anyways. Recovery is hard and eating is still not my favorite thing to do, but I know that those things are worth more than anything my eating disorder ever offered me.

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