By Emily T. Wierenga
I tried to starve away my curves when I was nine years old.
I had my mother’s pear-shaped body, and I thought if I stopped eating maybe I could become small enough to slip into the lives of the other girls at school, the ones the boys stared at and I would douse myself with Exclamation perfume and spend my allowance on brand-name clothes and cry myself to sleep because I was starving.
And even though it got so bad that I was dying at thirteen and hospitalized at sixty pounds, my hair falling out and my braces showing through the skin of my cheeks, I don’t know that any of us women is much different.
I don’t know that any of us isn’t hungry like this for love.
I wanted my Dad to stop preaching at the pulpit about a God I couldn’t see or taste or touch or feel. I wanted him to come and hold me, play with me, read me stories again like he used to when I was little, the scruff of his beard on my cheek, but life has a way of stealing your loved ones away from you and so I starved myself instead.
And when a friend of mine died when I was eight I hurt so bad it felt like my soul turned inside-out. Because no one had told me you could love so hard only to lose.
So I spent my life trying not to feel because it ached too much when I did.
And then I met Jesus.
I met him after years of thinking I already had. I met him after years of calling myself a feminist and relapsing back into anorexia when I got married, after years of battling infertility and addiction to sleeping pills and drinking too much wine and never eating enough because part of me always wanted to feel hungry.
Because full isn’t safe. Full means you might start to feel comfortable, and then you might get hurt because nothing good lasts forever.
But that’s where I was wrong.
Because God is good and he lasts forever, and I met him one day when I was twenty eight and pregnant. I was standing in worship, closing my eyes, and I saw myself as a little girl in heaven. I was wearing a white dress and running to Jesus who looked a lot like a shepherd in one of those children’s paintings.
And Jesus picked up that little girl and he spun her around and then he held her close and said, “Emily Theresa Wierenga, do you know that I love you? I love your feet, I love your knees, I love your legs, I love your arms, I love your head, I love your hair, I love you.”
And sister? He’s saying this to you too. He sees you, the little girl in you—the one who once believed she could swing so high she could touch God, who now struggles to believe He even exists. And He loves you.
You’re afraid of being hurt. But Jesus offers a kind of food that will never perish. A kind that will never leave you hungry.
He provided the loaves and fishes for 5,000, with twelve baskets leftover. Some would call that a waste; I call it extravagance. He’s the Savior at the well, telling the woman about a kind of feast that will never end—with living water, and living bread. Food that will fill us up forever.
So, I’m eating again.
I’m eating, and I’m no longer scared of getting full.
(this post originally appeared at Renee Swope’s)
My memoir, ATLAS GIRL, released last month, and I am excited to give away a copy today. Just leave a comment below to win.
Click here for the book’s trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZirKrbreo9Q
Click HERE for a free excerpt.
I’m also giving away a FREE e-book to anyone who orders Atlas Girl. Just order HERE, and send a receipt to: [email protected], and you’ll receive A House That God Built: 7 Essentials to Writing Inspirational Memoir — an absolutely FREE e-book co-authored by myself and editor/memoir teacher Mick Silva.
ALL proceeds from Atlas Girl will go towards my non-profit, The Lulu Tree. The Lulu Tree is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel.
Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.