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.