Invite God into Your Recovery
Freedom from Eating Disorders, LLC
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Christian Eating Disorder Recovery Course
Invite God into Your Recovery
This lesson will equip you with principles to help you trust God to lead your recovery so you can experience his power and move toward freedom from your eating disorder.
I struggled with my resolve to recover and gave in to the eating disorder most of the time: that is, until I finally asked the Lord to lead my recovery. That made all the difference. May this lesson help you invite him to walk with you in your own recovery and lead you into a life of freedom.
Just think of what it would be like to have someone walk with you in every step of your recovery – someone who knows you intimately, understands you completely, loves you unconditionally, and won’t leave your side no matter what. Imagine someone who comprehends the complicated issues that underlie an eating disorder and knows what you need to recover. You have that person. He’s with you every second, and he longs to help and heal you.
Whether you’re ready to relinquish the control of your recovery to the Lord or you’re reluctant at this point, be honest about it with yourself. You have to begin somewhere. From this starting point, explore how you perceive God.
View of God
When thinking about inviting God into your recovery, first evaluate your view of God. How do you see him? For example, do you see him more as a God of love or a God of judgment; a God of grace or a God of anger; a God of mercy or a God of justice?
He is a God of all these things and more, but it’s best to determine whether you see him as more one way than another. If you’re going to invite God to play a greater role in your recovery, it’s important to have a balanced view of him. For example, if you see him as someone who will zap you the minute you slip up, you may be more afraid, possibly stimulating the eating disorder. If you see him as a God who lets everything go, you may struggle with taking your recovery more seriously. With a balanced view, you can see the seriousness of food-related behaviors and recovery while also being free to learn from your mistakes rather than wishing you could hide them from God.
Examine how you formed your view of God.
- Do you see God like you see your earthly father? Maybe you didn’t know your earthly father. Even that could make you see God as someone who is distant, abandoned you, or is unconcerned with your welfare. If your father was abusive, you may see God as a tyrant. If he neglected you, you might think God doesn’t want to be bothered by just anyone. If he criticized you, you may think God is quick to berate people. If he compared you with your siblings or others, you might feel God only notices those who measure up to others. If he had high expectations of you, you may feel God is only interested in those who meet an expected standard. If he seemed to withhold his love unless you excelled in school or sports, you might have a hard time believing that God loves without condition. Perhaps your dad was a pushover, so it’s hard for you to believe that God is really in control. There are numerous possibilities, but these are some examples to help you explore for yourself.
- You may have formed your view of God through events and circumstances in your life. It’s a natural thing to do, but it can easily skew how you see him. For example, if you lost a parent when you were still a child, you may have concluded that God takes away the people you love. It may seem he isn’t a merciful God because he didn’t spare your parent. However, understanding why God does what he does is different from seeing him for who he is. It’s important to see the difference between the two. As a human, you can’t understand all the reasons behind what he does, but you can grow in your understanding about who he is.
- As you heard others describe God, you may have taken their conclusions and made them your own. But remember: just because someone else has come to a certain realization about God doesn’t mean it’s true. Scripture tells the truth of who God is. Believe the Bible even if it’s contrary to what you think and feel about God. Concentrate on the truth and let go of your own perceptions.
Ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment as you evaluate and adjust your view of God to align it with the person Scripture says he is.
Then, to move forward in surrendering your recovery to the Lord, start with prayer.
When you consider the role of prayer in your recovery, keep the following things in mind:
- You can talk to the Lord as if he’s right beside you. You can trust him with everything in your heart – every challenge you face and every emotion you feel. As your Father, he wants you to share your needs, fears, doubts, and struggles with him. Hold nothing back. The more you tell him, the more you open yourself up to his power in your recovery.
- If you aren’t sure what to say, don’t let that prevent you from praying. You don’t need to say everything “correctly” for God to hear you. He knows your heart and understands your needs before you can put them into words. You may also want to consider praying Scripture passages back to God. Perhaps some of David’s cries in the book of Psalms accurately reflect how you feel.1
- Know that you can 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). In groans that words can’t express, the Holy Spirit will approach the Father on your behalf.
- Listen to God. He speaks in many ways: through the Holy Spirit, the Bible, others, music, your conscience, thoughts in your mind, and a sense in your spirit. Take time to quiet your mind and focus on him. Wait quietly. If this is new to you, realize that it might take time to find that place where you’re open to his voice. If you wonder if what you heard is really of him, compare it to Scripture. If it isn’t in line with God’s Word, then you know it wasn’t from him. Keep in mind that he may not speak to you specifically, but in a general sense. For example, he may not tell you what decision to make, but he may reassure you that he’s always there for you.
- The Lord is available at all times. You won’t find him preoccupied or too busy to hear you. In fact, since he’s all-knowing, he hears you even before you speak. Isaiah is a messenger of comfort and assurance as he shares these words: “Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear” (Isa. 65:24). The Lord is always ready to hear and answer your prayers.
- In his divine wisdom, God has ordained that his children should come to him and ask for what he already longs to give them. Jesus’ very words are an invitation for your prayers: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matt. 7:7-8). Clearly, you can bring your needs and concerns to him. It’s as if he’s eagerly waiting behind the door, bearing gifts in anticipation of your knock.1
- God loves you deeply and longs to carry your burdens for you. Peter had anxious moments of his own and yet learned to trust the All-knowing One. “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:7). Remember that God is interested in every detail of your life. He’s ready to hear everything: day-to-day events, raw emotions, heavy burdens. Whether you feel angry, depressed, or afraid, whether you need help to eat more or eat less, you can talk to him about any of your concerns. As your Father, he wants you to come to him with all your needs.1
- You don’t need to feel you deserve God’s help in order to ask for it. Just ask. As his child, don’t let anything hold you back. “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Heb. 4:16).
- As a human, your resolve can change in an instant. That’s why it’s important to rely on God: the Never Changing One. His resolve for your healing and freedom will never change. As you pray and keep your heart open to him, he’ll strengthen you.1
- Pray in the midst of temptation, yes. But, that’s often hard to do once you’re faced with the temptation, so also watch for things that may trigger or tempt you. In prayer, you can prepare in advance for upcoming temptations as advised in Mark 14:38. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Take it to heart, and pray for strength to resist behaviors before you face tempting situations.
- You can’t pray too often nor ask for God’s help too many times. In fact, in 1 Thess. 5:17 it says, “Pray continually.” Besides, the struggle is continual so it only makes sense to pray continually.
Prayer is vital for recovery. Eating disorders are too complicated to conquer alone. Let God in. Open your heart to his care and leading. He’s ready to lovingly guide you, genuinely heal you, and honestly speak to you through His Word.
There are innumerable principles in God’s Word that you can drink in and apply to your recovery. There are several in this lesson alone. But it’s one thing to intend to apply God’s Word and it’s another to actually do it. You may want to memorize verses and meditate on them so you can more easily recall them when you need them the most. Below are some tips to help you with memorization and meditation:
- Write out the verses.
- Read them several times each day.
- Sing them to a tune.
Even if you memorize a number of pertinent Scriptures, you may still find it helpful to keep them accessible. Perhaps you can put them in your phone, write them on note cards, attach them around a mirror or on the refrigerator, or keep them in your purse or wallet. The main thing is to have Bible verses close at hand so you’re more likely to go to them when you need them.
In order to focus on Scriptures and allow the meaning to fill your mind and filter through to your heart, meditate on them. You can try the following suggestions to help you meditate:
- Pray and ask the Lord to speak to you through His Word.
- Personalize the verse by putting it in first person, using words like I, me, and my. For example: Watch and pray so that I will not fall into temptation. MY spirit is willing, but MY body is weak. Mark 14:38
- Focus on each word of the verse one at a time. This can give you a better understanding of the verse. See an example of Phil. 4:6a below:
DO not be anxious about anything…
Do NOT be anxious about anything…
Do not BE anxious about anything…
Do not be ANXIOUS about anything…
Do not be anxious ABOUT anything…
Do not be anxious about ANYTHING…
- Be creative. If you’re interested or talented in art, perhaps you can draw some kind of an illustration of the verse. If you enjoy writing, maybe you can write a creative piece about the verse.
These are just some suggestions. Perhaps you can think of more creative ideas to help you recall verses and apply them to your recovery.2
Open yourself to the Lord through prayer and his Word. Pour out your heart to him, listen for his voice, get to know him better, and immerse yourself in his truths. Embrace that foundation and allow it to grow your faith in him to help you move forward.
Trust God to Lead Your Recovery
Have you allowed God to lead your recovery? What do you think he’ll do if you ask him? When you consider that possibility, what thoughts immediately come to mind and what feelings surface? Pay attention to those initial reactions and address them. If anything holds you back, know that it only hurts you. Discuss these thoughts and feelings with your counselor, pastor, or someone else you trust. You can even speak candidly with the Lord about them.
As you consider whether you’re willing to surrender your recovery to the Lord, keep the following in mind:
- If you’re afraid to recover, know that you are not alone. This is a very common fear. The eating disorder may feel like a part of you. But please know that you are not the eating disorder and the eating disorder is not you. It has nothing to do with your identity. Without the eating disorder, you will still be you. Not only that, you’ll be a healthier, more peace-filled you.
- It may seem that the eating disorder will leave a big hole behind once it’s gone, but it won’t. That space will be occupied by things far greater than the eating disorder could ever offer. Think of the time and energy it takes from you every day. Imagine the many other good things you can do with that time and energy: nurture your relationships, engage in activities you enjoy, and minister to others. God has better things waiting for you.
- It’s time to let go of the eating disorder. It doesn’t deserve control over you for one more minute. Begin relying on the Lord in a way you never have before. Start today.
- God promises his Holy Spirit will indwell those who believe in Christ. In fact, Jesus’ very words in the Gospel of John say, “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth” (John 14:15-17a). Who better than a divine counselor to lead your journey?
- As your counselor, the Holy Spirit will speak in your heart. As an outpouring of his love, he equips you to obey and live a holy life. Be open and sensitive to his voice. When faced with temptation, he’ll warn you; when giving in to temptation, he’ll convict you; when saying no to temptation, he’ll assure you. As your counselor, he always has your best interest at heart.
- Remember that even though Jesus is God, he is also man. Therefore, he understands what it’s like to be tempted and knows how you feel. Hebrews 2:18 says, “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” In other words, since he has been there himself, in one form or another, he knows how to help you. He understands what you face, and you can take comfort in that. In Heb. 4:15, it says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” He understands your vulnerabilities because he knows you and because he has also felt temptation. What better person to help you than one who felt as you do and yet didn’t give in to temptation?
- Remember: you don’t HAVE to give in, you don’t HAVE to engage in behaviors, and you don’t HAVE to mistreat your body. It may feel that way; you may feel powerless to say no. But 1 Cor. 10:13 says the understanding Lord is there to help you resist temptation. “But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” You CAN call on him, and you CAN receive power to say no. For more on resisting behaviors, dig into the lesson Address Your Relationship with Food.
- It’s common to feel weak in eating disorder recovery, but that need not be discouraging. It’s in human weakness that you can experience divine strength. In fact, according to Paul, weakness is something to embrace. Why? Your weakness can be an invitation for God’s power. In 2 Cor. 12:9-10 Paul says, “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.” So rid your mind of criticism or shame over weakness. Reserve that space for God’s power. You can be confident and approach the Lord in your weakness, as illustrated in Isa. 40:29. “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” In your weary moments, you can confidently go to him for power. His strength is yours to claim.
- Maybe you’ve relied on others in the past only to have them let you down in some way or even abandon you. As a result, you may feel afraid that God will do the same. Face that fear by focusing on his promises and remembering his character. He is a God who keeps his promises, never leaves his children, and never changes. There is no one more trustworthy.
- Don’t try to go it alone. Eating disorder recovery is too daunting and complicated for that. Recognize your need for divine help. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
- In the ups and downs of the recovery process, lean on God. Let him provide the guidance and be the steady companion you need. “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).
You can use the prayer below, or say one of your own, to invite the Lord to lead your recovery. Even if you can’t quite go that far yet, ask him to lead even one part of your recovery. Perhaps you can ask him to help you change your thoughts, process your emotions, or resist eating disorder behaviors. Then, once you’ve received his help in that area, you can ask him to lead you in another and then another.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I know I’ve been reluctant to let you lead my recovery. I’ve let certain thoughts and feelings hold me back. And I haven’t been ready to face a life without the eating disorder. But now I’m ready to ask for your help. I realize that, by your grace, you are there to love me, heal me, and strengthen me. I know you have a better life in mind for me, and I trust you to lead me to it.
In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.3
In His Strength
Grave disappointment, pain and loss,
depression, fear within my soul,
as doubts begin to reign across
events outside of my control.
The anesthesia calls my name.
The ED beckons. I obey.
Distraction numbs my inner pain.
It’s what I use to face the day.
I reason this won’t last for long –
a temporary crutch for soul.
I can’t quite see that this is wrong.
I’m simply reaching for control.
Behaviors are a high for me,
I see this sickness as my friend,
although, in truth, the enemy.
Will such destruction ever end?
I’m victim to deception’s voice.
Delusion does not satisfy.
To stay or leave, must make the choice.
Inspired, find the will to try.
Illusion of it all exposed,
antagonist has mocked my soul.
To rival I am now opposed,
but foe is in complete control.
Despair arises, time to face
confusion, chaos deep inside.
Denial now with truth replace.
From what is real, no longer hide.
Determination rises up.
Prepare myself for crucial fight.
Of counterfeit I’ve had enough.
I forge ahead with all my might.
Need courage now to conquer this
and stamina within my soul.
I pray and find my strength in his.
I let my Lord be in control.
I’m hopeful with him in command,
convinced his love will calm my fears.
I rest inside his healing hand
as pain reveals itself in tears.
Companion never leaves my side.
He’s with me when I face defeat
and won’t give up although I slide.
He’s constant, faithful, my retreat.
He forms his healing work in me.
Contentment occupies my soul.
I trust I will someday be free –
no longer need to seek control.
His strength my weaknesses replace,
enables me to forward go.
In humbleness, receive his grace.
His favor overwhelms me so.
Leave harmful practices behind.
Feel healthy, free and whole again.
Through journey I have been refined.
Proceed with peace and joy within.
I revel in this blessed time,
and gratitude pervades my soul.
To safeguard this new life of mine,
I’ll let my Lord retain control.3
Bible Study Tips
You may want to do a word study to help you in your recovery. If you feel you don’t deserve God’s help, you might want to do a study on God’s grace. If you feel guilty and ashamed, you could study God’s forgiveness. If you’re afraid to let go of the eating disorder, you might want to study God’s love – the best antidote for fear is God’s love (I John 4:8). You may have some deep hurts and want to study God’s comfort. Below are some tips to help you do a study. You don’t have to follow all of the suggestions, but these ideas can help you start.
- Ask the Lord to lead you in all aspects of your study and spend time listening for his voice.
- Take notes of your study, observations, and insights.
- Try to work on the study, or even just review pieces of it, on a daily basis if possible.
- Look up various definitions of the word.
- Look up Scriptures on the topic.
- Look at the context of those verses and look up study notes in your Bible or in a commentary.
- Examine studies on the topic.
- Search for poems, quotes, or songs on the topic.
- Write a poem, story, essay, or lyrics, draw a picture, or do something else creative to describe or express the topic in your own personal way.
- Make a personal connection between the Lord and yourself through the specific verses.
- Meditate on the Scriptures and use them to replace lies and negative thoughts.
- Write the pieces of the study that speak to you the most on note cards, put them into your phone, or whatever is practical for you so you can readily access these truths and meaningful thoughts when you need them.
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