Browsing Category


Body Image, Fear, Identity, Redemption, Self-harm, Your Story

Between the Mirror and Me

January 27, 2016


Chelsea’s Story

“I have an eating disorder.”

It took me so long to be able to say these five simple words, and it’s still hard for me to say.

Three years ago, as a freshman in college, I led a secret life of unhealthy eating patterns. I would essentially starve myself for a week, eating no more than a granola bar or a handful of pretzels a day. Then I’d feel guilty and stupid, so I’d end up binge eating the next week, pigging out on whatever I could find. But then I’d feel gross, the guilt would return, and I’d spend the next week trying to make up for it by cutting back my diet to one small snack a day again.

It started a vicious cycle. But it was all perfectly justifiable in my head. I never went a full day without eating something (no matter how small it was), nor was I forcing anything back up. That’s what defines an eating disorder, right? So what I was doing was obviously no big deal. A big enough deal that I felt the need to hide it, but only because “no one would understand.”

For about six months, I let my insecurities get the best of me. The girl in the mirror wasn’t good enough – her body was flawed, her clothes didn’t fit like they used to, she wasn’t desired, and she wasn’t perfect. I felt like I was falling apart. With my emotions all over the map, I was desperate for something I could control…and I found it.

I wish I could tell you how it ended. But quite honestly, so much of that time in my life is really blurry. I just remember getting to a point where eating only three bites of food made me so full that the thought of taking another bite actually made me feel physically sick. I remember that jolting me back into the binge cycle, and for some reason I didn’t look back. I started eating consistently and stopped skipping meals. I don’t know how. I know it doesn’t make sense.

I should’ve been found out.

I should’ve been pulled kicking and screaming out of my mess.

I should’ve been forced to get help.

But I wasn’t. I walked away the same way I walked in – alone.

And from that very moment forward, I somehow shut out and repressed all memories of what went on. In my mind, those six months never happened that way. I truly believed that and completely forgot my own biggest secret.

It wasn’t until almost a year later that I hit a wall. I felt this darkness inside of me, like a cancer that had been dormant for so long and was finally showing signs. I didn’t know how to explain what I was feeling. All I knew was that I was bitter, angry, sad and confused…I wanted to scream and cry…but I didn’t know why.

I called Heather, hoping for some simple, uplifting words to “cure” me so I could move on. But instead she challenged me to go face-to-face with a friend, be vulnerable with someone in person instead of over the phone, and get to the real root of the problem. That was much deeper than I wanted to go, so I told her she was being ridiculous, and I decided I’d just handle it and get over it by myself.

But Heather could see through my stubbornness to a deeper issue that I didn’t understand, but clearly didn’t want to address. After a lot of pushing, arguing, challenging, and even threatening (tough love is often her greatest tactic with me), she forced me out of hiding. I reluctantly broke down with my friend Mackenzie (making it very clear, however, that I was only doing it because Heather was making me. To say I was difficult is an understatement).

It turned out to be exactly what I needed. She sat with me and patiently sorted through my mess of emotions. I don’t remember much about that conversation or how we got to this point, but somehow all of her digging brought long-suppressed memories to the surface. I just remember a wave of shock washing over me as the truth set in, and for the very first time I spoke the words, “I think I had an eating disorder.”

I dreaded admitting it to Heather. It wasn’t that I expected her to be angry or disappointed in me. But I definitely wasn’t expecting my guilt and shame to be met with more grace and love than I could have possibly imagined. She didn’t sugar-coat anything, of course, and told me the road ahead would be long, hard and painful. But she promised to walk every single step with me, and to this day she has remained by my side through it all. I can’t tell you how many fights I’ve had with her over me wanting to give up when things get hard and her refusing to let me. But her push is what I’ve needed.

Coming to terms with all of this has been hands down the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. And even then I’ve still tried to hold on to some semblance of perfection by saying that I had a “borderline eating disorder” – because it wasn’t typical and I felt like I had never gone “all in,” so I still didn’t want to believe I had a real problem. I just almost had a problem.

Even now I struggle to say the words “eating disorder.” I have yet to even call it what it is – “anorexia.” Typing it out is hard enough, but that word has not yet made it past my lips. I’ve only just recently started to work on that and take another step towards healing.

As much as I want to believe that that time in my life was a phase that is completely over and I will never struggle with it again, it’s not something that just disappears. I’ve had to learn that I still have an eating disorder. Anorexia is a disease that is just as much mental as it is physical. While I may not act on the thoughts and feelings that triggered that problem three years ago, that doesn’t mean those thoughts and feelings don’t still attack me. Frequently. The lies still come. I just choose each and every day how I respond. And that is a choice I will always have to make.

Posting this for the world to see feels like I’m completely shattering the reputation I meticulously built for myself and starting all over. I’m admitting to being a liar. A fake. A fraud.

I’m admitting I’m not perfect.

But by stepping into the light and exposing this truth, I am vowing to try harder.

To choose authenticity when deception is easier to default to.

To fight for healing.

To accept that this is a part of me, but it doesn’t define me.

And to believe that my story is still being written…

…and in that, I find hope.

Faith, Family, Fear, Forgiveness, God, Identity, Redemption, Self-harm, Your Story

I am a messenger

January 8, 2016
By one of our readers:
My story started when I was 9 years old. I got baptized. Not because I got saved, but so I wouldn’t have to do it when I was older. I did it to “get it over with”. Somehow I didn’t understand that you had to make a personal commitment to Jesus and I didn’t understand how to do it. I repeated a prayer after my mom but didn’t understand what I was doing at all. Just that it made me uncomfortable.

I found out in middle school what being a Christian really meant. I thought I was okay. I had thought because I had been baptized me and Jesus were cool. Boy, was I wrong. I struggled with trying to find who I was in Christ. I always had a fear that my (many) prayers to God didn’t count. I had “lost my salvation” by not being good enough for God. I went back and forth, gaining Hid favor and then losing it. I was a selfish, selfish person. I wasn’t a “bad” kid but I was bad in the worst way. Now I realize how disrespectful, angry, and hurtful I had been to other people. I knew I wasn’t good. But I was too self-centered and self-righteous to realize I needed a change.

But I digress.

2011 was the worst year. I entered the year and was bombarded with more bad stuff in a few months than in my entire life. I found myself alone. I fell silent and shut myself off from everyone. I continued to put a happy face on when I was around others. I refused to let them see me cry. I was surrounded by the sickness and death of my family. I struggled with what I believed about myself, other people, and God. I wanted to die.

For 3 years I dealt with these horrible feelings of loneliness, misery, hatred, fear in its deepest form, and the realization of who I truly was. I was a horrible, selfish person. But I couldn’t change. I wouldn’t change. I just wanted to give up and die. That’s what my mind was telling me to do. I couldn’t keep going. No one wanted me to keep going. I wasn’t needed. I was a failure and a screw up who just made people sad so why go on?

In the midst of all that I clung to the pieces of my shattered faith in the form of music. I discovered what I was feeling in the words of Flyleaf, Disciple, RED, Skillet, Evanescence, Tenth Avenue North, and many other bands. God was using those bands to keep me going. My unhealthy fear of God, my family, and those lyrics kept me going. The words of Disciple’s “Invisible” kept playing in my head. “You’re not invisible to Me.”

One year things changed. I joined a Christian theatre group. There I found friends. And not just friends to go to when I wanted to have a good time. These were people who cared. They were living out the faith that I thought I believed. Something began to melt inside of me.

One night I had gotten a “gig” playing drums for the theatre group’s production of “The Wizard of Oz”. Completely last minute. The night of the second performance I was hurt by someone close to me. They basically said what I had been telling myself for 3 years. No one needed me. I sat backstage listening to the kids worship God before the show (a usual ritual for them) feeling all those things I had been dealing with…Then the worship leader said something. She said “You know, we never think about how miserable we are before we accept Christ.” A light went on. “God, I’m miserable now,” I thought. “and I’m sick of it.

Take me or leave me. I’m done.”
He took me.

My castmates saw the change. I felt the change.
I never had a suicidal thought from that day on.

That same year me and my family moved to Charlotte. I was healing. Even though that first year or two in Charlotte hurt and I was lonely and scared. I was healing. God began to speak to me. He put evangelism on my heart. Fear began to creep in and taint my relationship with Him.

April 8, 2015 I went to a Disciple concert. I was finally going to see this band that had influenced me so much when I was lost and suicidal. They played a bit of “Invisible” and then told the story behind it. I wept. The story was the lead singer was out of song ideas for their next album. He prayed for a song that God would use as a message to the generation he would be singing to.

“Wish you were someone else. Every night you fall to pieces. Wishing you could save yourself. I can see you, I can hear you…YOU’RE NOT INVISIBLE. YOU’RE NOT INVISIBLE TO ME.”
God had sent that song to me.
To keep me alive.
Why? Because He loves me. That’s the reason.
How could I hold back anything from Him? How could I let fear creep in and steal my joy? I could tell you so many more stories of God’s hand in my life but that would take more than 1000 words. I believe God wants me to be a messenger through the music industry. When I was saved He took my selfishness and melted my heart of stone. He placed the salvation of His beloved creation on my heart. He wants to use me to reach them.

I was once dead. Now I’m alive. I am a messenger for Him. He wants me to use my story to help other people. I am a messenger.

My playlist: “Invisible” by Disciple

“The Reason” by Lacey Sturm

“Not Alone” by RED

“Beloved” by Tenth Avenue North

“SOS (hope won’t let go)” by About a Mile

“Breaking Down” by Disciple
“Walk on Water” by Britt Nicole
“Isle of Flightless Birds” by twenty one pilots
“Messenger” by Lecrae
 This is Rachel Capps story. She is 19 years old from Charlotte, NC.
Body Image, Faith, Fear, Identity, Self-harm, Suffering

Hungry for Change

May 24, 2013

This is written by my beautiful friend Jenna who has been there.  Her heart has torn like yours and her heart now hopes for yours.  Read it with an open heart.

“Will I ever stop cutting?” The question almost feels ominous. There’s a haunting sense of hopelessness and despair in these words and I imagine that many of you have often wondered this about yourself. There are various reasons that bring a person to the point of engaging in self-harm, but an underlying issue that I want to address in this space is self-contempt. I write to you from the perspective of being a therapist that counsels girls on a daily basis who struggle with self-harm AND from the perspective of once being a young girl who battled with this addiction for years. My hope for you, if this is a war that you fight against and maybe even give into, is that you will begin to identify what brought you to such deep levels of self-hate, and eventually as you move toward healing I pray that hope would be restored to your heart as you learn to be kind toward yourself kind toward your body.

Before I address this main undercurrent of self-harm, I want to briefly discuss the fear of change. Change, at times, is feared more than death; to unravel the layers of history and allow your heart to ache to grieve can be so overwhelming that staying stuck in the addiction is preferable to change. One of my favorite authors, Annie Rogers, explains it this way, “What we fear most has already happened.” The stories that brought you to a place of feeling like there was no other way to survive than to cut have already happened. And until you allow yourself to return to the past and grieve what you lost with kindness toward yourself, your heart will continue to remain hard and unmoved toward change. In John 5:2-9, Jesus asked a man, who had suffered from a lingering disorder for thirty-eight years, if he wished to be healed. When Jesus told him to get up and walk, the man, in faith, did just that he got up and he walked. And that is my question to you, “Do you want to be healed?” And if so, are you willing to do the difficult labor of going to the shattered places in your story to allow Christ to heal your woundedness so that your future no longer has to bear the marks of history written on your body? Another way of saying this is, “Are you in a place where you are willing to continuously ask God what is keeping you from being hungry for change AND the anticipated hope that it can happen?” What is it that you are still getting from hurting yourself? What is it that you bleed for? Do you doubt that God can change you?  


Somehow along the way we learned it wasn’t safe to express our emotions… we learned to hate the very fact that we even had emotions. We learned to find ways to deaden the parts of ourselves that were vulnerable, that were susceptible to getting hurt, the parts of ourselves that felt weak and helpless. There’s something about self-harm that fooled us into believing we’re tough, that we can handle anything that anyone does to us because we can always hurt ourselves more than they ever could. In our shame for having felt hurt or powerless, we found a way to protect ourselves through the false illusion of power and control. The shield of self-harm deflects the emotional pain (or emotional numbness) onto our bodies in the form of physical pain creating a haven of denial where we hide behind our cuts and scars in fear of facing reality.  Essentially, self-contempt keeps us from having to truly face the real issue our sin of turning our back away from God and trying, in our own efforts, to manage life apart from Him. If we secretly continue to destroy our skin, in places where we hope no one will ever find, then perhaps we’re still hoping that no one will notice we haven’t actually given up this sin after all. When we self-harm, we are giving into the deception that no one is good enough for us to trust, not even the One who created us. Satan has cleverly swayed us to believe that if we hate ourselves enough then somehow we will be able to pay the price for our own sin and the sin of others.  Our self-contempt is the imitation of true conviction over sin.  When I asked the question earlier, “What is it that you bleed for,” I had to at one point ask myself this as well. I used to bleed for a lot of reasons (the reason we initially began to self-harm ends up changing throughout the years as it becomes a blanket that we use to soothe ourselves from having to feel anything at all), but one of the main things I bled for later on in life was love. I made love my ultimate thing and when I felt rejected or unwanted, when I felt the loss of relationship, I felt shame for ever having wanted to be loved in the first place. In effort to never have to face my grief of love lost, I turned against myself to avoid feeling the burn of heartache. When I cut, I would condemn myself for having desire I would tell myself that I was a fool for opening my heart and hoping that someone could love me. But wanting to be loved was not the sin, desire is good and created within us by God.  My need for control over my sorrow was the sin, placing all my hope in another person was my sin, yet bleeding felt like the price I had to pay for my shame.  If I had invited God into that process of love lost, I would have humbly turned toward Him to grieve, to confess my fear of abandonment, to ask about the part I played in the failure of the relationship (not in a self-deprecating manner, but from the position of courageously facing my own part) ─ I would have faced the lovelessness in my own heart.   

Self-harm has enabled us to deaden our hearts toward desire and despise passion. To commit such an act of violence against the self speaks volumes to the levels of anger we hold deep within… and just beneath anger is hurt. But, like I said, we learned that it wasn’t safe to expose our feelings, so we turned ourselves against ourselves in order to survive the burns we still carry in our hearts. So, will you be willing to risk again? Will you refuse to be dead? It’s not enough to just say that we’ll never cut again, but we have to do our part of asking God those difficult questions that lead us into sorrow.  Dan Allender writes, in his book, The Wounded Heart, “Sorrow begins to melt our hatred toward ourselves and toward others.”

The act of self-harm is a way to escape sorrow. We would rather numb ourselves than be alive to the pain we bear OR for some of you that have already deadened your hearts, you cut to feel alive. We stay stuck in our addictions to cutting, to burning, to punching, to cursing ourselves because to feel the sorrow is an invitation to let God rule on the throne of our hearts. If that’s the alternative, most of us would rather go on medicating our pain with a knife. To trust God even in those moments of tension means opening up our palms and allowing The Spirit to deeply touch our lives.  I pray that you would turn your face toward God and ask him to show you the moments where you vowed to never let another person hurt you again… where you sided with the accuser and agreed that you would never allow your heart to hope for something good. Ask Him to show you the moments that marked you… what was it that you once lost that can’t be recovered? When we repent of these places in our lives, God works within us and creates space inside our hearts to receive His forgiveness, and as we soften in the presence of this love it enables us to forgive ourselves as well as others.

Repentance leads to love and most of us fear what loving others and loving ourselves might mean. It could mean we might get hurt again, be assured, you will! It’s unavoidable we live in a world where evil exists. But that doesn’t mean the hope for healing is lost. Healing is a process that takes time. It took me years to stop cutting because I didn’t understand how to process my emotions without my body screaming at me for relief. And to be honest, there have been moments where old wounds will resurface and God wants to do a deeper healing in my life and those are the moments where I have to know how to care well for my heart and for my body. When God wants to bring me to places that will ask me to feel sorrow, I have to choose to let my heart be alive and courageously open my hands to the One who created me even if it would be easier to deaden my pain. In those moments, how will you be kind to yourself? Are you willing to recognize the moment before the moment that you decide you’re going to cut? And once you recognize that you might be moving in that direction, are you willing to reach out to a friend, to a counselor, to God and ask for help? Are you willing to seek the things that awaken your heart? For me, sometimes being kind looks like taking a hot yoga class, creating something artistic with pictures or language, surrounding myself with others that inspire me, writing a letter to someone to express my gratitude for who they are… sometimes being kind to myself is simply making a hot cup of tea with honey.  It would be foolish of me to think that I would NEVER cut again. I have to continuously be open to honestly face what I’m feeling even if that means confessing to others that I want to hurt myself, and also asking God to reveal to me what it is that I’m trying to escape from. Will you refuse to deaden your heart? Will you refuse to hate passion? Will you refuse to devalue trusting in others? Will you recognize that joy and life come from acknowledging your brokenness, your desperation, and your true heart’s desire for relationship with God? Will you allow your heart to hope again and trust that God can bring restoration to your life? I challenge you to journal today and to be honest with yourself and with God about where you feel you are in this process of being ready to change and hope for healing? And if you are ready to move forward I encourage you to reach out and tell someone you can trust you were created to heal, to grow, and to love in the context of safe community. My best friend wrote a song for me one night as I was struggling with the desire to cut… I’ll leave you with her words…

It’s gunna be okay tonight

It’s gunna be all alright

Just wrap your arms around yourself and hold on tight

Casue Love is holding you tonight

With each hand upon your scars Loves holding tight

And you’re not gunna lose

You’ve already won

You’re not gunna pay

You’ve already stayed too long.

Body Image, Forgiveness, God, Redemption, Self-harm

Kristin, Jamie, and Victoria…..Stories of Hope.

May 7, 2013

My beautiful friends, as we approach this month of addressing the topic of self-harm, my heart is heavy. As much as I can understand the depth of pain that those of you who battle this feel, I wish there was a way I could relate. A way that I could (through the web) hold your hand, weep alongside you, and personally tell you that I know for certain everything will get better. But the thing is, this is somewhere neither Kelly nor I have ever ventured. We hope that through a few of these posts and personal testimonies of women who have walked where you have, that you may find hope, and above all, the love and grace that Christ gives us so freely. So please take a minute or two and watch these three brave ladies share their journey through cutting, and how they found a way out.