Freedom from Eating Disorders, LLC
All Rights Reserved
No portion of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the author. Each lesson in this course is for personal use only.
This course is not a substitute for professional help. This course is not for the diagnosis or treatment of an eating disorder. The author is not responsible for how any purchaser uses this information. Each purchaser is responsible for getting any needed professional help.
Christian Eating Disorder Recovery Course
By applying the principles in this lesson, you’ll gain strength and encouragement to stay on track in your recovery.
I remember feeling tired of it all, convinced I’d never recover, and afraid to even try. Toward the end of my recovery, I leaned on the Lord in a new way, and what a difference it made. As you meditate on the truths in this lesson, may you gain new strength and resolve for your recovery.
It takes perseverance to recover. There’s no getting around it. When it seems easier to give in to the eating disorder, you need to resist that temptation. When it feels like you can’t take one more step, you have to do it anyway. It’s challenging to fight an ongoing battle rather than fall prey to the control of old, defeating behaviors. It’s HARD, and there’s just no denying that. The good news, though, is that you don’t have to do it alone. If you’ll let God help you, you can persevere. Read on to find encouragement and tips to help you look to him and keep going with your recovery.
Insights about Perseverance
- This journey is a process of ups and downs. Of course, the low points are disappointing, but try to think of it this way: you wouldn’t have ups and downs if you weren’t trying. When you give up and give into the eating disorder, you’re simply controlled by it, and the only direction you’ll likely move will be deeper into it. It’s because you’re trying to recover that you have ups and downs. Try to celebrate that you’re making an effort.
- You’ll take many steps forward on your journey. Some will be baby steps, some will be small, and some will be large. Regardless of the size of the step, each one leads to another and another, bringing you closer to that final step into the realm of freedom. Even baby steps add up to a journey.
- You won’t find freedom by giving up.
- If you feel weary, beat up, or even broken, you can still recover. You may have numerous strikes against you, but that doesn’t mean you can’t heal and move forward. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Cor. 4:8). It isn’t over yet. Where there is life, there is hope.
- Recovery requires time, faith, determination, and perseverance. It’s one of the toughest things you’ll ever do. It’s normal to feel discouraged, or even defeated, sometimes. So try your best not to scold yourself if you find it hard to stay on track. Recovery is complicated, and it’s only natural to struggle. It takes time to develop perseverance, and it takes time to recover. So please try to be patient with yourself.
- If you gave up once, or even several times, it doesn’t mean you can’t fight again, and it doesn’t mean you can’t recover.
- Even though you may feel the eating disorder is too big to conquer, it isn’t too much for God to handle. Regardless of the challenges you face in recovery, he has enough strength for you to face them. “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).
- It took time to develop the eating disorder, and it will take time to break free of it.
There’s no secret formula to staying on track. It’s only natural to lose your resolve from time to
time. That doesn’t mean you can’t recover. It just means you’ll have challenges along the way. Realize there are some things you can do to help you face those challenges.
Tips to Help You Persevere
- Understand that it’s normal to feel weak sometimes, and that’s okay. It’s nothing to rebuke yourself over. Look at it as an opportunity to experience God’s strength. Remember 2 Cor. 12:9-10. “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” God doesn’t want you to live in defeat, so he stands ready to strengthen you. He doesn’t ask you to do this alone.
- Remember that the Holy Spirit lives in you. He’s right there, living inside of you, ready to empower you. Embrace this Scripture: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (Ephesians 3:16). Pray this Scripture and ask others to pray it for you.
- Resist the temptation to go it alone. Perhaps there’s a part of you that still wants to hang onto the eating disorder, or maybe you’re afraid to surrender your recovery to the Lord. Whatever the reason, if you’re honest with yourself, you realize that even if you’re praying about your recovery, deep down you’re trying to move forward in your own strength. But consider Gal. 3:3. “…After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to obtain your goal by human effort?” The lesson Invite God’s Power into Your Recovery has more on this subject.
- Rely on the Holy Spirit’s prayers. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our heart knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with his will” (Rom. 8:26-27). Recovery is overwhelming, but when you can’t put your concerns into words, realize it isn’t too much for the Holy Spirit to understand and convey.
- Recognize that backward steps are a normal part of recovery; you can learn from them and continue forward. Explore what caused them, work through those issues, and make a plan to manage those triggers better in the future. Don’t let backward steps derail you; instead, let them strengthen you. Find more on this subject in the Deal with Relapses lesson.
- Recall times when you’ve faced temptation successfully and how satisfying it was. Document your steps forward so you have a record of your successes. Review your past victories to help you during challenging times.
- Look back to when you started your recovery to help you see your progress. Sometimes changes are subtle and you may not recognize them when they occur, but when you look back, they’re easier to see.
- Take one step at a time. If you need to focus on an hour, or even a minute at a time, so be it. There’s no reason to overwhelm yourself. Break down your recovery goals into smaller, more manageable steps. Find more on this in the homework section below.
- Give yourself time. There are many issues that make up an eating disorder, and it will take time to untangle them all. It’s a complicated process, so try to be patient with yourself. It will take time to thoroughly address underlying issues, but ultimately, that’s the way to experience lasting change. Remind yourself that sticking with it now and persevering through the challenges will bring its rewards.
- Recognize what motivates you to move forward. Recall what led you to begin the recovery process. Think back to other things that have spurred you on in other areas of your life. Find what you can that drives you to healthy choices.
- Identify what inspires you. Maybe it’s prayer, worship, and Bible study. Perhaps it’s poetry or other inspirational writings such as devotionals or recovery stories. Be creative and implement what inspires you in your recovery.
- Explore and address what tempts you to eating disorder behaviors. Doing so will lessen the lure of your triggers and help you stay on track.
- Dream of what your life would be like without the eating disorder. That may be difficult to imagine, and it might even be scary, but think about the ways in which the eating disorder interferes with your life. Then, picture those areas of your life without it holding you back. Trust that God has a better life waiting for you. Think of Heb. 11:1. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Even if you don’t know what’s ahead, believe that in the absence of the eating disorder, the future has to be better, whatever it may hold.
- Consider the person you’re becoming. Think of how you’re going to be a stronger individual in the future if you develop perseverance now. Imagine how you’re going to be able to handle other life challenges once you’ve conquered this one.
- Examine your thoughts about recovery. If you think things such as recovery isn’t possible, life without the eating disorder will be scary, or it’s useless to try because you’ll relapse again, it’s time to call those thoughts what they are: lies. If you continue to believe them, you’ll find it even more challenging to persevere. Don’t let thoughts like that hold you back. They’ll only sabotage your recovery. Drive them out with the truth. There’s more on this topic in the Change Your Thoughts lesson.
- Talk back to the eating disorder. Tell it, “Eating disorder, here is my God! No matter how big you become, he will always be bigger. No matter what you promise me, his promises are greater. No matter how much you seek to destroy me, he’s here to restore me.”
- Focus on Jesus when you’re overwhelmed by the recovery work ahead. When you don’t know what to do, look to Jesus. When recovery seems impossible, fix your eyes on Jesus. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Heb. 12:1-4).
- Direct your thoughts to God’s strength instead of your challenges and vulnerabilities. It isn’t that you should ignore what drives you to the eating disorder, but you don’t need to dwell on it, either. Instead of focusing solely on the help you need, also concentrate on the one who can help you. Nothing is too big or too difficult for him. To help you with this, search for Bible verses that speak of strength. Meditate on them and hold them in your heart. Here are some to start.
“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isa. 40:31).
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10).
“But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me” (Ps. 22:19).
- Rest in God’s presence. Think of verses like Ps. 46:10, that says, “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Focus on James 4:8a. “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” Find other verses that are reassuring. Keep them handy for times when you feel anxious about moving forward in your recovery or when you just need a break from the intense work of recovery. Here are some to start your list.
“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged” (Deut. 31:8).
“Listen to my words, Lord, consider my lament. Hear my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly” (Ps. 5:1-3).
“I will praise the Lord who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will never be shaken” (Ps. 16:7-8).
“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears” (Ps. 18:6).
- Listen to music that is calming to you and directs your focus on the Lord. Let the words sink in to your heart, calm you, and bring you into his presence.
- Ask God for strength and perseverance. Then be open to his work in you. That’s the real key. Sometimes it’s easy to say the words, but harder to let God do his work.
- Acknowledge that you never know how close you are to a breakthrough. It may seem you’ll never recover, but what if there’s a turning point just ahead? You might be closer to freedom than you think.
Perseverance is one of the keys to breaking free of an eating disorder and it can be yours. Don’t let anything stand in the way of your recovery. It’s normal to feel discouraged or overwhelmed, but don’t let those feelings defeat you. As you continue to get back up and fight again, you’ll grow stronger. Pray and let God do his work in you. Let him walk with you and help you persevere until he leads you right into freedom.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I’m thankful you know my heart and understand my daily struggle. I know I don’t have the strength, endurance, or wisdom I need to make this journey on my own. You’re far greater than the doubts and fears in my heart, the steps backward that I sometimes take, and the desperation and hopelessness I sometimes feel. I ask for the strength that only you can give – strength that will help me to persevere when my heart and soul feel empty, when I’m tired, and when I’m tempted to give up. I believe your strength will always be there for me. I only need to ask.
In Jesus’ name I Pray. Amen.1
When you think it’s impossible to take another step, slide your foot forward.
When you can’t fight another day, draw your sword one more time.
When you feel you can’t get any lower, look up.
When you don’t have the strength to keep pushing forward, ask someone to lead you.
When you think you can’t journal anymore, write one more word.
When you question if you can hang on any longer, reset your grip.
When you feel too tired to keep on, battle for one minute longer.
When you can’t fashion your concerns into prayers, ask the Intercessor to pray for you.
When you stumble in the darkness, ask someone to hold up the light for you.
When you conclude it’s too hard to let yourself feel, shed one more tear.
When you doubt you will find your way, believe for one more minute that you will.
When you reach your destination, celebrate that you persevered.2
Break Down Goals
Eating disorder recovery is such an overwhelming process. It’s natural to think of the large goals you want to accomplish and feel defeated. Below are some tips to help you make the process a little less overwhelming.
- Pray about your goals – for discernment in making them and for strength to achieve them.
- Ask for help to set goals if need be. Perhaps it’s overwhelming to you, or maybe you have such a high standard for yourself that you struggle to make realistic goals. Someone else can usually be more objective.
- Have accountability to help you stay on track with your goals. Choose someone you trust who will check in with you and motivate you to continue forward.
- List your larger, long-term goals.
- Evaluate one long-term goal at a time, breaking it down into smaller, more manageable steps. For example, if you want to stop over-exercising or bingeing and purging, instead of saying you’re going to stop today and never do it again, break it down into steps. You might delay or cut back on behaviors one step at a time. Perhaps you can delay for 10 minutes, then work up to 30 minutes, and keep going until you reach a half a day, a day, and so on. After you’ve broken down one goal, you can leave it at that for now or move onto the next one: whichever is comfortable for you.
- Focus on the weekly, daily, or even hourly goals one at a time. Concentrate on the moment you’re in, the meal you’re eating, or the behavior you’re resisting as it comes. Give yourself credit for every step forward.
- Review both long-term and short-term goals as you feel comfortable and celebrate how far you’ve come. Let those successes propel you forward.
- Examine the reasons you haven’t met your short-term goals, if necessary. Then address the thoughts and feelings that arise. Resist berating yourself. Instead, devise a plan to move forward. For example, avoid a trigger if you can or plan ahead with what you can do instead of engaging in a food-related behavior.
- Think of how you want to recognize the goals you achieve. Make the most of every success. Celebrate!
The remaining features for this lesson, as listed below, are printable. You may download the PDF file here.
Answer Key for Quiz
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