By Morielle Stroethoff
“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:14.
These are the words God longs to hear every one of us cry out with joy, including me. But, even though I haven’t technically had an eating disorder for over two years, these words still do not belong to me.
My university’s free therapist thought my recovery miraculous. “How did you do it?” she asked.
“I didn’t,” I answered. “He did. He placed the well-being of thirty fragile university freshmen into my hands and suddenly, it was no longer about me. I had to help those freshmen in the best way I could, and I couldn’t from the depths of bulimia. Once it was no longer about me, He set me free!”
More than two years later, I’m still free from the obsessions, the binging, the purging. But I’m not living a wholly embodied life. Right now, I’m sitting on my hard mattress with my back propped up against the wall in my little apartment in China. My legs are warm under the thick comforter, the muscles sore from a very fast hike yesterday. And my stomach is full of a peanut butter and honey sandwich.
But I can feel a shallow beat of guilt pushing out from my breastbone and along my ribs. It sounds like it’s saying fat. fat. fat. fat. fat. fat.
I looked in the supermarket this week to try to find a scale. It’s been six months since I left America in a very healthy state of mind and body. But the stress of living abroad, the lack of my familiar health foods, my crazy work schedule, the heaviness of Chinese food, and (most importantly) the growing prominence of my double chin in the mirror have led me to realize with deepening dread that I’ve been putting on weight.
God brought me to China to share His gospel and His love with the people of this city. I worry about being fat because I worry that people will dislike me for my fatness. Looking at these two sentences on the page, I cannot believe those two driving forces exist in this one body. And yet, they do.
The Bible doesn’t tell me exactly what to do. But, God promises, it tells me exactly enough. And so I follow the Psalmist and pray this prayer: “[Lord], you know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.” (Psalm 139:15) And, I tag on to the end, “You know every fat cell in my body. You know where it came from, and you know what it is good for. Not only that, you sculpted it with more care and thought than any model uses to sculpt her abs.”
I don’t think I will buy that scale. For now, I will pray that prayer while I do yoga in the morning. I will visualize God sculpting every pouch of fat on my body with a smile. And, though I do not know how to mean it yet, I will say, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made!”