When did your eating disorder start?
Right before I became a Christian, three weeks before leaving for college. One day I ate too much and forced myself to throw up to relieve that too-full feeling. When I realized doing this would allow me to eat whatever I wanted without having to burn off the calories, I started bingeing and purging regularly. I was a perfectionist who put pressure on myself to do everything rightincluding looking good. Unfortunately, becoming a Christian only intensified that, as I thought I had to be perfect in order to please God. At that point, I had zeal for God, but I didn't yet understand his grace and mercy.
How did you become a Christian?
When I was growing up, I loved sports and desperately wanted to become a basketball coach. When I blew out my knee in high school, I no longer had a driving goal to give my life meaning, and I became increasingly angry. I fell into the party life and started smoking and drinking.
By the summer before college, I recognized the emptiness of this lifestyle. When my friend Cleta invited me to a revival meeting, I reluctantly went. Unbeknownst to me, Cleta had been praying I'd become a Christ-follower for three years. I'd been raised in a church-going home and even served as the president of my youth group, but it was more like a social club to me. I hadn't given my heart to JesusI was too busy living life my way.
At this revival meeting, however, I heard people share about their personal, day-to-day relationship with Jesus. I was especially moved by the young people who shared how Jesus filled the void in their lives, giving them purpose and directionthe very things I lacked. Several days later I called Cleta, and with her help, I prayed to become a Christian. A couple weeks later, I left for college.
Did you end your rebellious lifestyle?
I stopped smoking and drinking right away; I'd grown tired of those things anyway. But the bulimia was more difficult to shake. I was away from my family, living in an apartment with a friend, so it was easy to hide.
Back then, I didn't know there was such a thing as an eating disorder. I'd never even heard that term. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but there was no one to turn to. If I'd known someone else with an eating disorder, I would have talked to her.
For Further StudyDownloadable resources to go deeper
- Carolyn Custis James: What It Means to Be a Woman in MinistryeBook Format Available! Author and speaker Carolyn Custis James offers leadership insights for women.