“My soul, praise the Lord, and do not forget all His benefits. He forgives all your sin; He heals all your diseases. He redeems your life from the Pit; He crowns you with faithful love and compassion. He satisfies you with goodness; your youth is renewed like the eagle.” Psalm 103:2-5
Daddy God, the greatest physician, made me whole and delivered me from the bondage of disordered eating. A year ago, I was without hope of healing. A year ago, I was begging my parents to tape the fridge and pantry shut, terrified of being alone with my thoughts lest they overrun me and lead me to indulgence that would quickly become self-inflicted punishment and regret. A year ago, I woke up every day thinking I would be a slave to food for the rest of my life. I had tried everything – books, therapy, medication, group therapy, nutrition therapy, white-knuckled will-power. I begged God to take away the gluttony and body image obsession that consumed my life and the saints joined in prayer for months, years.
God chose not to grab my hand and lift me out of the mire, but invited me to wade through the pain with Him. I was Naaman in 2 Kings 5 – asked to jump in the nasty Jordan River seven times for healing.
And I am healed. Completely. It is a miracle. They told me eating disorders took an average of eleven years for full recovery. Mine was in a matter of months. It wasn’t a gentle upward trajectory of freedom – it was a messy, jumbled mess of moments of victory followed by failure. And it was the most incredible gift God has allowed me to experience.
In every medical school interview, my eating disorder has come up. In every medical school interview, I get the opportunity to glorify God and speak of the myriad sweet things He showed me and developed in me. In several medical school interviews, interviewers have been impressed by the changes wrought in me by God through the experience of bulimia. Every medical school committee has read my personal statement and knows the gift of disaster that hit me in college, and the gift of recovery that came by the grace of God.
He has given me invaluable insight into the stigmatized and painful depths of mental disorders. He has taken my heart of stone and given me a heart of flesh that empathizes with the hurting, the broken and the hopeless. He has given me a level of vulnerability to share with those I lead, and those I follow, that I could never have obtained without such an experience. He has taught me to seek His face and savor His word, because when I was at my lowest, it was all I had.
And at the end of October, after several discussions with hesitant parents, I got to get my first and probably only tattoo. Late on a Wednesday night, three of my dearest friends came with me to a tattoo parlor on Sixth Street where we held hands in the waiting area and begged God for safety and success during the tattooing process so foreign to all of us. Three more friends came by and the six of them crowded into a little booth, taking turns holding my hand while Nick wrote “tune my heart to sing Thy grace” in the most beautiful script on my foot.
God commands us to remember what He has done – He tells us to build Ebeneezers and keep in mind His holiness, His mercy and His grace. I chose this phrase because of a blog I wrote about a year ago, when the Holy Spirit placed this line from “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” in my heart and kept it there. It is a constant reminder that God, in His mercy, chose not to heal me from an eating disorder, but to guide me through the crazy beautiful adventure of drawing close to Him and realizing so many of my shortcomings.
In the beginning of Matthew 9, Jesus forgives a paralyzed man’s sins and then commands him to walk. He shows the world that physical pain not the root of our problems, but the symptom of sin. My eating disorder wasn’t a sickness to be healed by Prozac or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, but an outward manifestation of a broken heart.
God tuned my heart to sing His grace. A dear friend wrote me the other day and said grace was my anthem, and I realized she was right – God has literally molded me to proclaim His grace in a process completely attributable to His power in me. My name “Callie” means “beautiful” and is short for “Callandra,” which is a bird with a beautiful voice. And God gave me a voice to sing His grace. He has even brought incredible healing to the vocal nodes that have plagued my voice since sophomore year of high school. How sweet that before I was even a twinkle in my momma’s eye, God had predestined me to sing His beautiful anthem of grace. I am an instrument in His hands – anything good or successful in me is exclusively a reflection of His goodness and success on the cross.
So have hope. I have been hopeless and hurting. I have been broken, weeping in the fetal position on the floor, screaming at those who love me. God is the great physician, the perfect father, who holds our hand and walks with us through the Jordan River, tuning our hearts to sing His grace and His goodness.