I’m not sure I really understood the meaning of hope till I recovered from bulimia in 2016.
Y’all, it was HOPE that helped me fight that battle. Hope that kept me scaling that mountain when everything inside was screaming at me to quit. And hope that led to my ultimate victory over ten-plus years of bulimia and disordered eating. But. Before all of that could even happen, it was hope urged me to take the first step and believe I could recover.
I clung to hope. It was my lifeline.
And now, it’s my story and my message to anyone struggling like I once did.
Want to read my full recovery story? Click here.
Why hope was vital to my eating disorder recovery
Think about this: If you don’t believe something is possible, you’re very unlikely to put any effort toward making it happen. Right?
That’s how I felt for much of my experience with bulimia. Sure, I had occasional moments of motivation to stop bingeing and purging. But they were so short-lived. Once the all-consuming urge to binge hit me yet again, I felt powerless to stop it and helpless to ever truly quit for good.
So, what was the point?
Throughout my eating disorder years, I believed the lies in my head that I’d never escape bulimia. When I pictured my future, I only saw myself bingeing and purging my life away. Not what I wanted to see, but what I thought was the only option. I couldn’t even imagine what a bulimia-free life could look like for me. It felt completely impossible.
I lived with that doom of impossibility for a decade. A whole decade of my life. And, all those years, my bulimia continued because trying to recover seemed futile.
About a year before I recovered, I was a mess. A broken, exhausted, literal mess of a person. Physically. Mentally. Spiritually. My desperation to recover led me to do some research and read a few books. Yes, books. I already gave counseling a try and that didn’t work; my counselor never personally dealt with bulimia so how could she really know? She was kind and I could tell she wanted to help, but I didn’t trust her. Maybe finding a counselor who was a former bulimic would’ve helped. I’ll never know.
But, back to the books. Even though a full recovery from bulimia still felt impossible, I started searching for even the smallest speck of hope.
And I found it.
One of the books I read, The Bulimia Help Method, was that speck. Well, more than a speck. I was a big ol’ chunk of hope. And, technically, I didn’t read it. I listened to the audio version while walking on my lunch breaks. I remember frantically typing notes in my phone whenever I heard something that resonated with me. Gosh, I wound up with a lot of notes!
The authors, Richard and Ali Kerr, wrote the book about Ali’s journey of recovery from a decade-long struggle with bulimia—just like me. That was the first thing that drew me to this book. Ali very literally understood what I was going through. I trusted her. Next, they did a lot of research to better understand the root causes of bulimia. I was intrigued. And lastly, Ali shared openly about all her failed attempts at recovery through various methods that just didn’t work for her. That really got my attention.
Here was someone who wanted to recover for years. Someone who tried so many different ways to cure herself, including seeing a doctor, but nothing worked. And yet, she did eventually recover.
I could not read that book fast enough! Once I finished, I started following Ali’s advice. Within about two months, I stopped bingeing and purging completely. That was April 2016, and since then, I’ve lived a life I thought could NEVER happen. A life free from bulimia!
That, my friends, is how hope works.
What hope means to me
In sharing my story of hope, I want to be clear that the hope I clung to wasn’t just from the book or Ali’s story.
I am certain that God led me to that book. In my desperation, I prayed a LOT. I cried out to God. I went through every emotion with Him. Even before reading the book, I knew God had to be my true source of hope if I were going to recover. And, I believe that He can use just about anything or anyone to help us when we’re in need.
Even though Ali didn’t mention God in her book, I knew He had to be part of MY story.
Could I have relied on God’s strength from the beginning? Yes. Could I have trusted Him without someone else’s example or a book? Yes. But I didn’t. I rejected Him for a good long while; but He didn’t give up on me. He also didn’t force me to obey Him and recover. Instead, He gave me time to live in my struggle, become desperate for recovery, and then ready to listen to Him again.
It was truly a Prodigal Son experience for me. If you’re not familiar with that story in the Bible, read it here in Luke 15.
To paraphrase, God waited patiently for me to come crawling back to Him. Then, in His unconditional love and grace, He gave me the exact story of hope I needed. Exactly when I needed it most.
After reading the book and using Ali’s process, I knew I couldn’t recover in my own strength. I had to trust God with every single day. Trust Him every time I made a choice to abstain from bingeing and purging. Trust Him with all the unknowns and fears I faced.
He was—and still is—my ultimate hope.
A hope that changed my life beyond what I thought possible
Today, when I consider my current life, and then think about that girl who lacked hope for a future like this, I CRY. In fact, I’m tearing up while typing this now.
Former, bulimic me NEVER envisioned a joy-filled future. And yet, I am wrecked in the best way when I think of all the blessings and grace God continues to give. Things I don’t deserve. Beauty I once could not fathom. When I look back on the past six years—on everything that’s occurred in my life since recovering—I have major pinch-me moments. Oh, there is so much I could share! Maybe someday I will, but for now I just want y’all to know that hope helped me to live again. What’s more, it led me to the life God wanted to give me all along!
Jeremiah 29:11-13 (NIV)“And I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
The message of hope
Whether or not you struggle with bulimia, hope is universal. We all need it in our lives.
I tell my story to spread hope to those with eating disorders, but also to ANYONE who needs hope to overcome a challenging situation.
Here are some ways hope can help:
Hope says: You are not alone
For me, hope was a reminder that I wasn’t the only one struggling with bulimia. Others understood what I was going through, even if I didn’t know them personally. Ali Kerr felt the same struggle, and she recovered. My situation wasn’t impossible. I could recover, too!
Hope also says you’re not alone because God is always with you. No matter what stands in our way, He goes to battle for us and with us.
Hope says: You can do this
Whatever challenge you’re facing, overcoming that obstacle is possible. Hope highlights that possibility. It’s an optimistic and encouraging voice that’s rooted in truth. It’s motivation to persevere even when the pursuit feels uncomfortable or unclear.
Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That right there is the ultimate YOU CAN statement.
Hope says: It’s okay to take it one day at a time
In a world of quick fixes, time is key for lasting change. And hope doesn’t critique you for setbacks or slow progress. Instead, hope is what sticks with you, day after day, speaking truth into your mind when the lies invade that tell you you’re not doing it right, or well, or fast enough.
And remember. God is patient. He doesn’t expect us to change immediately, or ever be perfect. Perfection is one thing that truly is impossible to attain.
Hope says: This is worth the effort
I’m sure we’ve all experienced a point when quitting seems easier than fighting. Probably because it would be easier. But quitting means you don’t get the thing you’re fighting for. That’s where hope steps in, to keep your mind focused on the goal. To remind you that the pain is temporary and there is joy and freedom and LIFE on the other side.
The life God designed for us to live is always worth the effort.
Jesus is our hope
Hope is my story and spreading hope is my mission.
It’s not about giving myself any credit for finding or embracing hope and using it to recover. No, no, no. This is all about glorifying God as the rock steady source of my hope. Past, present, and future.
God’s love for us is SO great that He sent His son, Jesus, to be hope for the entire world! THAT is the hope I want to spread.
John 10:10 (NIV)The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I [Jesus] have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
My thief was bulimia, and it almost destroyed me. But Jesus made a better way for all of us. Now, through the hope I have in Christ, I am living “to the full.”
To you reading this right now, I pray that you experience the same!