Experience Inner Healing
Freedom from Eating Disorders, LLC
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Christian Eating Disorder Recovery Course
Experience Inner Healing
Once you complete this lesson, you’ll have Scriptures you can turn to and principles you can embrace to help you heal on the inside.
I hurt so much inside, and I didn’t think I’d ever feel better. But over time, God did his healing work in me. May he perform the same restorative work in you as you open your heart to him.
Do you hurt inside? Does it feel like the pain will never leave? Maybe you don’t feel the distress anymore, but you feel numb inside. While you may not feel the ache, you can’t fully feel the positive emotions either. The bottom line is that you’ve endured some troublesome, or even excruciating, experiences and you haven’t yet healed from them.
Maybe you’re grieving over losses – a death, divorce, broken friendship, or geographical move. You may even be grieving the loss of activities you once enjoyed, a job, ministry, or the way your life used to be. You might be experiencing betrayal from a spouse, friend, family member, co-worker, or authority figure. You may have been abused in some way—verbally, emotionally, spiritually, physically, or sexually. Perhaps you were neglected or rejected in other ways—even overprotection is a form of rejection. You may feel you haven’t been trusted to do things on your own or make your own decisions. You might hurt yourself through self-condemning thoughts, self-destructive behaviors, or misdirected attempts to cope with troublesome thoughts and emotions. Regardless of the source of your wounds, you know you need to heal. Below you’ll find insights about inner healing as well as tips to aid your personal healing.
Insights about Inner Healing
- Your pain matters. You don’t have to compare what you’ve been through or feel with anyone else. There’s no need to think your heart doesn’t need mending as much as the next person. If you have inner pain, you need healing.
- You don’t need to minimize what you feel. Downplaying your misery won’t heal it. And you don’t have to explain or justify your feelings to anyone else. You feel what you feel. Period.
- Your pain doesn’t define you. There’s so much more to you than the deep struggles you face. You have wonderful traits that make you uniquely you, and you have something to offer others.
- You may hurt yourself sometimes. Perhaps you feel a need to punish yourself. But please try to remember that you are a child of the Most High God. You are made in his image, and he loves you beyond your comprehension. You are not someone who deserves to be self-destructive.
- God loves you and offers you his comfort. “…For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones” (Isa. 49:13b). You can think of him as your safe place.
- If you have a hard time believing God is there for you, think of how you feel when someone you love is hurting—that longing in your heart to help or comfort that person. You might wish you could heal that person. Consider that God loves you more than anyone else can and how much he must want to heal and comfort you.
- Unexpressed emotions serve to fuel an eating disorder. Your distress can either drive you to food or away from it. It will be important for you to find a healing place. Certainly, when you’re in God’s presence, you couldn’t be in safer hands. He may also provide you with someone who is loving and understanding, or he may lead you to release your pain through other means.
- While healing can be instantaneous, it’s often a process that occurs over time. So if it hasn’t happened for you yet, don’t despair. There is always hope. As you work through issues, please know you’re getting closer to the relief you need.
- There is hope for healing even if it doesn’t feel like it’s possible. Even if you doubt it, that doesn’t mean it can’t happen.
- You may not be able to see it now; in dark times, it’s hard to fathom. But you have opportunities awaiting you. Once you’ve healed, you can help others experience the same type of restoration.
- Once you’ve mended, you’ll be better able to feel positive emotions. When you hurt so deeply, it’s difficult to feel anything happy. When you’re numb to the pain, you’re also numb to positive feelings. You may have hurt so long that you don’t even know what you’re missing out on. Perhaps you don’t remember ever feeling truly happy. Even so, please know that there is joy waiting for you.
No matter how long you’ve been hurting, no matter how deeply your heart aches, there is hope for healing. You have a loving God to heal you and to help you be kind to yourself. Consider how you can approach him and what you can do to open your heart to his restorative hands.
Tips to Help You Find Healing
- Be honest with yourself and God. You can pour out your heart to him. He’s there to listen, take you seriously, understand, comfort, and heal you. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:19).
- Call your pain what it is. Whether you feel hurt, betrayed, neglected, degraded, or whatever term you use to describe what you feel, just be honest about it. You don’t have to downplay your feelings. Doing so won’t heal you. Instead, be candid, release your feelings, and share them with the Lord to bring you into a healing place.
- Rest in God’s presence, and bask in his love. Settle into that place and let him heal you. He stands ready to do so. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Ps. 147:3).
- Trust that God genuinely cares for you. Think of Matt. 10:30, which says, “And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” If he knows how many hairs you have on your head, doesn’t it make sense that he’s in tune with what you feel in your heart? If you think for one second that you aren’t important enough to God for him to care about what you’re feeling, reject that lie this instant. There is no scriptural support for such a belief. But there are all kinds of truths that convey how much you mean to him. For more on this, take to heart the truths in the lesson See Yourself through God’s Eyes Inside and Out.
- Believe that God can heal any pain: because he can. Reject the idea that you are beyond help, that the pain is too deep or has been there too long to heal from. Replace those thoughts with the truth—that God is a powerful and healing God. No pain is buried so far that the Lord can’t reach it. No wound is so deep that he can’t heal it. No agony is so vast that God’s compassion can’t alleviate it. No matter how overwhelming the torment, he is there to comfort, heal, and restore you. “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…” (Isa. 43:2).
- Practice self-care. Nurture your relationship with God, rest, listen to music, engage in a hobby, or go out with a friend. It’s healthy to take time for yourself and do something that’s healing for you. Recovery is intense work, and sometimes it’s nice to do some things that take less energy, but still produce positive results.
- Refrain from rebuking yourself for letting someone hurt you. You can’t see the future, so you didn’t know it was going to happen. Even if you suspected it was coming, you can’t go back and change things now. Do your best to learn from the experience, and move forward a little wiser.
- Reject the lie that you deserved to be hurt, mistreated, or abused. If you hold onto that belief, it will only thwart your healing. You aren’t a lowly, undeserving doormat. You’re God’s precious creation. Hold onto that truth.
- Resist seeing yourself differently because of what’s happened to you. In other words, bad words or actions toward you don’t make you a bad person. You have nothing to be ashamed of, and you don’t need to think any less of yourself because of the words or actions of others. Your experiences don’t define you. God gives you your true identity; others do not.
- Set personal boundaries with the person who hurt you. Boundaries are established guidelines about suitable behavior and responsibilities. You may set boundaries regarding use of your things, personal space, thoughts and opinions, emotions, comfort level with sexual touch and activities, and spiritual beliefs. You can stand your ground in these areas by knowing what you feel and believe, and taking responsibility for your own actions, but not the actions of others.
Personal boundaries are appropriate if you feel this is someone who can re-earn your trust, or if it’s someone you can’t cut off a relationship with at this point. Maybe you’re close to this person and see the potential for a stronger, healthier relationship. Perhaps it’s a parent, or an ex-spouse you have children with, that you need to still have in your life. But that doesn’t mean this person has a license to continue hurting you. While boundaries can’t control that person’s actions, they can give you some protection by putting distance between the two of you and conveying the message that it isn’t okay to hurt you.
- Sever the relationship if you deem it possible or necessary. In some cases, the person may not be concerned about earning your trust or rebuilding the relationship. Be careful that you aren’t just making the excuses for the person or hanging onto the relationship for unhealthy reasons. For example, you don’t have to be the one to rescue this person, and you don’t have to be with someone who mistreats you just so you don’t have to be alone. Prayerfully consider how to manage difficult situations, and seek counsel.
- Let go of any guilt you have for protecting yourself. Unless you’re doing something sinful toward someone, you aren’t doing anything wrong and you don’t deserve to feel guilty. You weren’t the one who chose to mistreat someone. The other person did. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t try to protect yourself by setting boundaries or severing unhealthy relationships.
- Pray. “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Ps. 62:8). You can trust God with anything you feel. If you can’t put your sorrow into words, you can still tell him you hurt and sit quietly with him, figuratively showing him your heart.
- Talk to someone you trust. If you have a counselor, pastor, friend, or family member you feel comfortable confiding in, let that person know you need to share some deeply personal things. Add that you need someone who will listen and validate your feelings without judgment, minimizing your pain, or telling you how you should or shouldn’t feel.
- Write in a journal. Your journal won’t judge you, downplay your feelings, or give you unsolicited advice. It’s a safe place to express how you feel. If you have to record the same things over and over, so be it. Some hurts are deep and complicated, and it will take time to release them. For more on this, dig into the Practice Journaling lesson.
- Release your emotions by doing something creative. You might do an art or craft project; write a poem, essay, or song lyrics; sing or play an instrument. Whether it’s through journaling, something creative or some other means, the point is to release those painful emotions. While it may hurt to do so, those feelings will harm you even more if left unaddressed. Go through the Learn to Deal with Emotions lesson for more on this subject.
- Search the Bible for healing, comforting verses, and meditate on them. Let their truths penetrate your pain. Here are a few to start.
“God, I called out to you for help and you healed me” (Ps. 30:2).
“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles” (Ps. 34:17).
“For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk in the land of the living” (Ps. 116:8-9).
“…The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down” (Ps. 145:13b-14).
“Come near to God and he will come near to you” (James 4:8).
- Stop hurting yourself. While it may be easier said than done, it’s also a vital part of your healing. It’s time to stop cutting yourself down and depriving yourself of what you need. You matter.
- Forgive those who have hurt you. While difficult, that doesn’t change the fact that God commands forgiveness. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph. 4:32). Remember that forgiveness is not a feeling, but a choice. When you forgive, you can experience even more of God’s healing. There’s more on this subject in the Practice Forgiveness lesson.
God intends to heal every hurt you may possibly harbor in your heart, and replace that pain with peace. Healing takes time. Share your inner feelings as honestly as you can and be patient, taking the time necessary to release your hurts and allow the Lord to touch you. Let his soothing hands do their healing work.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I hurt. Sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever feel good again. The pain has been with me for so long and it reaches as deeply as it can. I don’t even know what to do with it all, so I come to you. I want to share it all with you. Once I’ve done that, I want to open my heart to your healing touch.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.1
One Voice Speaks
Betrayal, trials flooding in,
such disappointment fills my heart.
Confusion, sadness reigns within,
need others to concern impart.
I feel I’m at the end of self,
express concerns to those around.
I listen for their words, some help,
but only silence can be found.
Ache reaches deeper than before,
and hopelessness pervades my soul.
Emotions cannot be ignored.
I feel it’s all beyond control.
Pain greater than I’ve ever known –
convinced my heart will never mend.
Depressed and feeling all alone –
I ponder how to make it end.
A time when only one voice speaks,
half-heartedly I’m listening.
“It will not always be so bleak.
Good will come out of struggling.
“Please know how much I understand.
My child, let me hold you close.
I’ll bless you with my healing hand;
I’ll give you what you need the most.
“Don’t let this time in life destroy
the treasures that I have for you.
In time, you’ll walk in peace and joy.
Please trust me now for what to do.
“I’ll give you anything you need.
I beg you not to make it end.
Your healing journey I will lead.
I’ll be your confidant, your friend.”
Though hesitant, I know he’s right.
In tears, I enter his embrace.
I know as he and I unite,
he’ll shower me with love and grace.
Though tired, worn and beaten up,
I’ll keep on going – make the choice.
I know he will provide enough.
I’m thankful for his loving voice.1
Write letters to others who have hurt or abused you in some way. This assignment is meant as something to help you let out your emotions, NOT to write letters that you actually send to others. Here are some suggestions about what you might include in your letter(s). You might think of more things to add, but these ideas can help you begin.
- Start by saying what the person did to you.
- Continue with how it made you feel and why you think it was wrong.
- Write about the effects this person’s words or actions have had on you.
- Extend forgiveness to the individual.
- Offer prayer for the person.
- Conclude with what you’re doing to heal from what happened and how you plan to move forward.
You may want to write letters to several people or you may want to write more than one letter to the same person. Write as many as you need to help you break free of the effects of what’s happened to you. The main thing to remember is that this is for your benefit. The purpose is NOT to send these letters, but to express yourself and work through the pain.
The remaining features for this lesson, as listed below, are printable. You may download the PDF file here.
Answer Key for Quiz
1Laurie Glass, Inspiration for Eating Disorder Recovery, 2015.
All Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV®
Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®
Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Find out about other lessons on the Recovery Course page.
Change Your Thoughts
Learn to Deal with Emotions
See Yourself through God’s Eyes Inside and Out
Address Your Relationship with Food
Invite God into Your Recovery
Let Go of Control
Face Your Fears
Experience Inner Healing
Let Go of Perfectionism
Let Go of Guilt
Let Go of Shame
Deal with Relapses