When it comes to guilt and eating disorders, have you ever found yourself thinking something like this? I’ve confessed this to the Lord so many times and yet I don’t feel any better about things. I’ve mistreated the body He gave me so many times. I guess I deserve to still feel terrible about what I’ve done. And maybe He can’t forgive me after all.
What is at the core of the above statements? Guilt. And that guilt can serve to fuel the eating disorder and keep you stuck in it. But you can take steps to help you let go of that guilt.
Please know that you don’t have to feel guilty for having an eating disorder or for feeling weak, confused or defeated. You need not feel guilty for struggling to work through underlying issues or changing your food-related behaviors. It isn’t a sin to be vulnerable or to have weaknesses. It’s isn’t a sin to have a hard time dealing with things or to feel perplexed and overwhelmed. Although it may be a challenge, do your best to let go of this unnecessary guilt that you don’t deserve to feel.
Remember that we all sin every day. You may sometimes sin in regard to your eating disorder, such as lying and saying that you already ate when you haven’t. But this doesn’t mean that you have to remain in your guilt. Take to heart the promise in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Be sincere in your confession and God will forgive you.
Perhaps you don’t struggle with confessing, but in believing God has forgiven you. But think about it. Do you think after forgiving you that He wants you to continue feeling bad about what you’ve done? Does He want to see you hurting when He’s already cleansed your heart? Carrying unnecessary guilt takes time and energy away from focusing on Him and following His lead. Instead, take that time and energy and ask Him to help you not to do the same thing again. This is an opportunity for you to learn and grow.
Examine what draws you into behaviors that make you feel guilty. Outline some practical changes you can make in order to distance yourself from certain temptations. Perhaps you can do some specific Bible studies to help strengthen you where you are most susceptible. Discuss your vulnerable areas with your counselor, support group or accountability partner. Others may have some personal experiences they can share that will encourage you. Also, they may help you to keep on track with this issue.
Sometimes, even after we’ve confessed and been forgiven, we continue to fall. I know it gets tiresome to bring the same thing to the Lord repeatedly. I’ve often been disgusted with myself that I continue doing what I don’t want to do and having to confess it time and again. Yet when I think about it, I realize God would rather I continue confessing than to give up. He doesn’t want us to remain stuck in guilt.
Through our confession, He cleanses our hearts and that leaves more room for Him and His truth. Verses 7 and 10 of Ps. 51 say, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” With the sin and resulting guilt out of the way, we have a place in our spirits for new thoughts and desires. We have more room for the truth of His Word and for a new attitude that is more focused on the Lord. We have more room for what it positive and uplifting that will in turn help motivate us to make healthy choices that will honor Him. In the end, we have more of God and He has more of us.
Please remember that you don’t have to remain stuck in that guilt. Again, you don’t need to feel guilty for having an eating disorder. Remember, guilt reminds us that we’ve sinned and moves us to confession. If you haven’t sinned, you don’t deserve to feel guilty. You can instead give that unnecessary guilt to the Lord. Let Him heal you of it.
When you’re feeling guilty about your eating disorder, please don’t let that guilt cloud your view of the truth. God is truth. Focus on His love and His character, not your own sin, mistakes and guilt. Let go of the guilt that wasn’t caused by sin. When you do sin, know that you can turn your guilt around by bringing it to the Lord. Remember that He is eager to hear your confession, grant His forgiveness and cleanse your heart. He longs to bring you closer to Him.
If you struggle with guilt, you may want to get the Let Go of Guilt lesson in the Christian Eating Disorder Recovery Course.
By Laurie Glass