Welcome to Songs of Salvation! Each Sunday I will feature a Christian author sharing a "Song of Salvation" to uplift and encourage believers and glorify God.
And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. Revelation 12:11 NLT
Authors, find out how to share your Song of Salvation here.
When the Struggle Pulls You Closer To God
By Courtney Walsh
Once upon a time, a small five-year-old girl, sat on her bed, clinging to a giant Raggedy-Ann doll and prayed that Jesus would come into her heart. From that day on, that girl did all she could to follow the rules that would one day lead her to heaven.
She had no idea that “being saved” was about so much more than rules. She didn’t understand that giving her life to Christ meant having a relationship with her Maker. She wasn’t able to grasp that God was for her, wanted the very best for her, and would never leave her or forsake her. In that innocent childhood moment, all she knew was, she wanted to be a good girl, and she wanted to thank Jesus for dying on the cross for her—after all, that was quite a sacrifice, and even at the age of five, she knew she didn’t deserve it.
I think a lot about that girl—whether or not she really knew what she was doing, and I’ve come to the conclusion that she did. I did. Even at that young age, there was something in my spirit that leapt at the thought of Jesus Christ. It was as if my soul was meant for a life of serving God.
But it’s not always easy. When I was in middle school, I was very overweight, and the kids weren’t exactly nice to me. More than once, I’d come home from school crying because I was left out or I’d been made fun of—and I’d retreat into my journals and more than likely, some sort of sweet treat. I used food to dull the pain of a broken preteen heart—and the weight kept coming on.
By the time I reached high school, things began to change. I started to care more about how I looked, but instead of choosing to lose weight in a healthy way, I stopped eating altogether. While I never became grossly thin like people who actually have anorexia (because I thought this meant I didn’t have anorexia), I lost a lot of weight.
By my junior year, I began to take a different path—making myself throw up. It was everything to me to maintain the weight I’d reached (though I didn’t know what that was because I never, ever stepped on a scale.) I threw up blood. I missed periods. I hid it all very well. I doubt anyone who knew me then would’ve suspected this was my chosen method of weight loss. This went on for seven years. During college, I existed on Skittles and sometimes white bread dipped in ranch dressing. It was easy not to want the cafeteria food, though I feel badly now that my parents paid for a meal plan that I never used. The truth was, during that time, God and I weren’t close. I’d grown complacent. I hardly ever prayed, and while I still believed in all the things I’d always believed in, I was lukewarm.
I was struggling because at this point, I’d seen fluctuations in my weight, and every time I ate anything, I gained—this wasn’t acceptable to me—so I’d make myself throw up to try and maintain my weight. I felt trapped. I felt like even though I’d begun to want a way out of the starving/purging cycle, I didn’t have one.
Around this time, I discovered a program at a church that was meant to help you lose weight the biblical way. I’m not a group Bible study type of person and, at the time, I wasn’t even a church person, but I’d grown tired of what I was doing to my body. I didn’t want to be stuck in that cycle anymore. So I went.
It was twenty-year-old me and about eight, overweight middle-aged women, but we all had one thing in common—in one way or another, food was ruling our lives. I learned so much during that time—that I was treating food as a god, that I was letting it control me, that God had designed my body to tell me what it needed to eat—when I was hungry and when I was full. It was eye-opening and important, and God used my food issues to bring me back to him.
That little girl who knew she wanted to follow all the rules suddenly realized God isn’t so much about rules as he is about our heart, and with a lot of work and prayer, I was able to break the unhealthy cycle I’d been stuck in.
Still to this day, food is a battle for me. I often think that God puts certain things in our lives to keep us close to him. Because my issues with food were spiritual in a lot of ways, when I struggle, even now, twenty years later, I turn to him first. This journey, this addiction to controlling my food and my weight—it’s been my biggest struggle, so I constantly seek answers. I constantly work to accept that my worth comes from what Jesus says about me and not from some number on a scale.
Turning to God hasn’t always been easy, especially not when I want to turn to Starbucks or something else that’s not good for me, but it’s always, always, the better choice. And while it’s easy to think God doesn’t care about little struggles like whether or not you eat a Ho-Ho, he actually does. Seeing how personal and detailed he is with us has won my heart over and over again.
What a gift he’s given us to pay attention to the matters of our heart, and to use our challenges to draw us closer to him.