He Has Redeemed My Soul
“When, oh when, do lies begin?
Even then? Yes, even then.
The enemy, he seeks to steal.
Our redeeming Lord bends low to heal.”
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say this… he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things” (Psalm 107:1-2b, 9).
Listening for nearby voices and hearing none, I open the freezer — spoon in hand. Taking out the ice cream, I quietly remove the lid and dip in. The cool, creaminess slides down, easing tensions unseen. One bite. Two. Three… until, in no time, one-fourth of it is gone. I replace the container and close the freezer door, a smile on my face. Once again, I’ve won. A game, which I realize is a sick, distorted ritual, but which has become so familiar… habitual… and yes, even in some way, necessary. With a sense of accomplishment, I walk away — content. The void filled, for now…
For anyone who’s ever struggled with an eating disorder, I imagine this makes sense. This filling of a void. This false sense of satisfaction. But the struggle inside which drives one to binge, purge, or over-exercise, though calmed for a time, is never fully satisfied; though perhaps pacified. And then, the stirring within which leads to the “routine” drives one to strange behaviors. I can remember thinking on many occasions, “What if I was being secretly filmed? Oh, how absolutely ridiculous I must look. How sick!”
The truth is, eating disorders are just that — sick. What God intended for our health and for our pleasure has become, like many things in this sin-sick world, distorted. Disordered. The Garden of Eden, humankind’s first home, possessed everything necessary for health, and the food was undoubtedly pleasurable. But then, that one thing that was off limits… that “forbidden fruit” that was to be avoided — Eve believed the lie (God couldn’t be trusted) and ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Sin entered the world, and this sphere has been spinning stained ever since.
And that’s it, isn’t it? If one believes God isn’t trustworthy, then he or she must trust something (or someone) else. Ultimately, one (whether consciously or not) chooses to trust him or herself. Like Eve, we think we know better. We grow selfish. Self-consumed. Self-conscious. And we go out on our own. What we perhaps believe will bring us satisfaction ultimately leads to a pit of despair. We’re led away from the Lover of our souls by our own depravity. And the enemy chalks one up for himself.
But he feeds us lies. And I believed them. For years, I lived by them. Subtle at first, his one lie became two. And then four…
You’re not worthy.
You’re not worthy because you’re fat.
You’d be acceptable if you were thinner.
If you eat that you’ll get fatter.
Not eating brings a sense of satisfaction.
Overeating brings a sense of satisfaction.
If you overeat one day, not eating for two days will make things right.
If you exercise for an hour after eating, all the calories will be used up, and you’ll stay skinny.
Your mom and dad are suspicious about your eating habits. They’re trying to control you.
You’re in control of your body and what you eat.
You can beat them at this game. You can eat without them knowing it.
You won… for now. They didn’t catch you this time, but you’ll have to keep playing to stay ahead.
Make them think you’re eating but hide your food. Don’t let them control you…
And the cycle of control fueled by lies (which, in turn, led me to lie) continued for years. For many years — beginning in Junior High — this cycle of eating disorder went unbroken, until I was married and in my twenties. I even remember occasions when I’d return home for a visit. Instantly, I’d become the “little girl” again and resort to past habits. Listen for voices, spoon in hand… Yes, even after all that time, those who loved me most on this earth — who wanted only the best for me and who never abandoned me — had unknowingly become “pieces” in my sick, strategic game.
But although my belief in the lies and my allegiance to them led me away from my Heavenly Father, He, too, never left me. Instead, He pursued me with a lavish love that would not let me go. His sweet Spirit wooed me — whispering truth into my ear. His still, small voice somehow (mysteriously) louder than the clamoring chaos of the enemy, as he hissed his poison. Over time, exhausted from the battle and sickened by my behavior, I crumbled. And as I lay in the pit of despair, my Creator’s hand reached down and pulled me up. He redeemed my soul. And though the healing would take time and would require much from me, as well, I gained strength from His Word and was revived to fight the battle. With Him, I knew I could win!
“But now, this is what the LORD says — he who created you, O (Maureen), he who formed you, O (daughter): ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; YOU ARE MINE. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior… Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you… Do not be afraid, for I am with you…’ ” (Isaiah 43:1-3a, 4a, 5a — emphasis added).
With the “sword of the Spirit” (the Bible) clutched tightly and with a small gathering of kindred spirits that loved me and received my love, as well, I fought through the dark grip of my eating disorder — claiming victory even before it felt real — and, over time, found freedom. Today, 30 years later, I continue to walk in the freedom Christ lived and died and rose again to offer me. Though there have been times in my life when the enemy’s words beckoned me to “return” — to dismiss the truth that God is trustworthy and to satisfy my longing with “forbidden fruit” — I have learned to rebuke him. He recoils when one prays in Jesus’ name. Sometimes this “little girl” can simply (though profoundly) utter only one word; yet, even when all I can muster is a whisper, there’s power in that precious name, spoken from true humility and desperation…
Yes, He is food for my soul — true soul food! He is the Living Water, satisfying my thirst. He has redeemed me and has offered me freedom and abundant life. And He offers the same for each one of us. His promise stands firm: He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.
“You Have Redeemed My Soul”
You have redeemed my soul
From the pit of emptiness
You have redeemed my soul
I was a hungry child
A dried up river
I was a burned out forest
And no one could do anything for me
But You put food in my body
And water in my dried bed
And to my blackened branches
You brought the springtime
Green of new life
And nothing is impossible for You