Hello! My name is Sam, and this is my story.
I am currently sixteen years old and living in Southern California. I was raised in a Christian household and grew up going to church. I had always automatically assumed I was a Christian because my parents were and I knew that Jesus loved me, and that was a simple fact. But there is a big difference between knowing He loves you, learning how to love Him back, and learning to live in His love.
When I was in third grade I was baptized. Don’t get me wrong, baptism is an amazing step of faith. But it’s a step that requires a level of commitment that I had not reached. I thought that baptism was all it took to be a devoted Christian. I didn’t realize I needed change in my life because I hadn’t allowed Jesus to change my heart. I was still chasing after my own desires. I didn’t have a real understanding of what God wanted for my life.
Flash forward to seventh grade when I faced the biggest trial of my life thus far. I was diagnosed with anxiety because of an eating disorder. I developed a fear of swallowing.
It all started very slow, but before I knew it, I had lost a significant amount of weight and was on a completely liquid diet. My body was weak and my health was in fast decline. I tried and tried to eat solid food but nothing seemed to help.
Eventually, I decided to seek help. I went to a church leader who then referred me to a therapist. I was seeing a therapist two times a week and a psychiatrist for prescribed medication. I was afraid to go to school because I thought people would judge me or that I would break into tears. I missed over a month of school days and I didn’t tell anybody why, even my closest friends.
I had no physical or emotional strength. I didn’t look to God for strength because I thought I was the only one who had the power to change my situation. I was hopeless and my faith was fleeting. God felt distant to me. I’ve never felt so alone and isolated in my life. Lies filled my head.
I’ll never be able to eat again.
Nobody gets it.
I am alone in this struggle.
After a long and brutal fight I slowly began to get better. I was able to eat more solid food and see my therapist less and less as time went on. I was coming back to normal: a state I never believed I would return to. God chose me before I even chose Him back. He was my Healer.
God was still faithful to me even though I was distant from Him.
Looking back on this trial, I always find myself in Hebrews 5:
“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.”
I was a spiritual baby. I could only drink milk, literally. I didn’t know where God was in my life. I needed to learn how to be mature in my faith. I needed to dive into the Word of God. I needed to really listen in church. I needed to believe that Jesus Christ came down, conquered death, and bridged the gap between us and God. I needed to know I was not alone. None of us are alone. Let’s let Psalm 16:8 be our battle cry: “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for He is right beside me.”
The summer before I went into high school, everything began to click. I began serving in church and reconnected to Jesus at a CIY MOVE summer camp. The Lord saved me from my old ways and gave me new life. And He offers this new life to every soul on this earth.
We all have burdens that we carry around and imperfections we try to hide, but God sees it all and brings good out of the pain.
I have to carry around my anxiety and eating disorder every day. And yet, He is so good. I am always the slowest eater at a table, I still see a psychiatrist, and there are still some foods I am afraid to eat. As I celebrate three years of new life I want to encourage all of you that God is near in the midst of your struggles and He never leaves you or abandons you.
I wouldn’t change any part of my story because it made me the woman I am today. But I can’t help but think my journey would have been easier if I learned to choose Him before the waves hit. If only I had realized: He is the calm in the storm. He is the only constant.
Thank you for reading my story! God bless!