Sunday, August 16, 2015

Warning: Reinvention


When I was a college theatre major, I first encountered the 1927 Fritz Lang film, “Metropolis.” The silent movie comments on class structure and the industrial age. But what also resonated with me is how we turn to a “new and improved” kind of image; in this film, the character, Maria is the inspiration for this reinvented, “new and improved” machine.

Whether it’s “Metropolis” or more recently, “the Terminator” films, there still seems to be the same message out there; reinvent yourself as the better, prettier, thinner, more successful model. That’s the only way to compete in this “dog eat dog” world.

Is it?

This time of year brings up the reinvention theme more strongly. We’re at a new school year again. From my own past experience, especially as a college freshman, I bought into the reinvention promise’s lie. If I didn’t reinvent myself, translation, become thinner, I’d only be a failure and completely worthless. Changing myself, therefore, was my obsession. I adopted that unhealthy tunnel vision as my eating disorders developed and took me to more desperate actions and chaotic weight struggles. I thought being “new and improved” would make my life perfect. It did not. I still had problems and pain. In fact, turning to my “reinvention promise” caused additional painful issues, due to the eating disorders and negative consequences from my wrong choices. My health and connection to God were also damaged, taking years to heal. I didn’t count on that happening.

Did the reinvention promise deliver? No. Why not? What’s wrong with improving ourselves, after all? Nothing, if it doesn’t become our idol or our god. That’s where things go wrong.

I once heard a definition of the word, idolatry: “anything you draw strength from.”


No, losing weight and reinvention aren’t the only potential “idols” out there. We can look to anything, to anyone and wrongly turn them into our promised answer. They were never meant to be that for us, however. Only God is to have that place.

“…for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.”
Isaiah 46:9

It’s distortion. It may appear to be the answer, but our chosen idol can never bring us what God can.

“You are to have no other gods but me.”
Exodus 20:3

As a new school year begins, young people are making major changes in their lives; many are starting life, beyond high school. It’s been noted, especially, that the college setting is a particularly vulnerable environment for eating disorders to flourish. Major life changes, stress, loneliness and an attempt for independence, control and security all play roles in the eating disorder development for many young people.

And, as if these factors weren’t complicated enough, things become even more confused if a young person tries to reinvent themselves physically. He/she, indeed, may believe this is their time for a fresh start. This was where I was. I believed becoming a thinner version of myself would give me the identity and answer of happiness I chased. I believed losing weight made me better. So, I kept losing weight, plummeting to a dangerously low number. Before I knew it, the creature I focused on becoming became a self-destructive monster. The eating disorder behavior quickly dominated who I was. And when it did, I felt lost and hopeless, certainly not reinvented.

If You Have Anorexia Nervosa…

“Don’t diet. Never ever. Instead design a meal plan that gives your body all the nutrition it needs for health and growth. Also get 30 to 60 minutes of exercise or physical activity three to five days a week. More than that is too much.

            Ask someone you trust for an honest, objective opinion of your weight. If they say you are normal weight or thin, believe them.

            When you start to get overwhelmed by “feeling fat,” push beyond the anxiety and ask yourself what you are really afraid of. Then take steps to deal with the threat, if it is real, or dismiss it if it is not real.”

If You Have Bulimia Nervosa or Binge Eating Disorder…

“ Don’t let yourself get too hungry, too angry, too lonely, too tired, or too bored. All these states are powerful binge triggers. Watch for them, and when they first appear, deal with them in a healthy manner instead of letting the tension build until bingeing and purging become the release of choice.

Stay busy and avoid unstructured time. Empty time is too easily filled with binge food.

Make sure that every day you touch base with friends and loved ones. Enjoy being with them. It sounds corny, but hugs really are healing.

 Take control of your life. Make choices thoughtfully and deliberately. Make your living situation safe and comfortable.

 Every day do something fun, something relaxing, something energizing.

 Keep tabs on your feelings. Several times a day ask yourself how you feel. If you get off track, do whatever the situation requires to get back to your comfort zone.”

ANRED: Self Help Tips. Used with permission.

Reinvention can be a slippery slope. Don’t draw strength from being a “better” version of yourself. Right now, flaws and all, we are worthwhile. No matter how together or messy we are, each of us still needs God.

Don’t get it twisted. Whatever we deem to be our answer is only found in God. It’s not beauty, money, success or relationships.

“Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.”
Exodus 20:23

God is our first love, calling to each of us.

“…Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”
Jeremiah 31:3

Will we answer? Part of becoming the person we, as individuals, are created to be is relating to God as He rightfully should be in our lives: first.

“I am the Lord your God…”
Exodus 20:2

Let’s let God do our reinventing then. He knows how to do it.

“…Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”

Isaiah 43:18-19

In the meantime, let’s be ourselves, realizing that no matter how or when we change, God will still be God.

It’s not too late if you see yourself in this hopeless spot of eating disorder behavior and addiction. It’s not too late to change your life for the better. Recovery and healing are possible. Don’t be afraid; don’t fight it. God will help you.

“For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand…Fear not; I will help thee.”

Isaiah 41:13

It starts with saying yes to Him and that starts with prayer. He knows where you’re at, your cry and the content of your prayer. Please take the time- it’s not wasted time- to ask for God’s help. He loves you and will help you!

“Father, I come to You in the name of Jesus, asking for help in my life. Thank You Lord, that You are my answer, no matter what the problem or situation may be. I pray that You will be this to me now.

You know that I’ve tried every diet, every approach, some even that are dangerous and extreme. I’ve tried everything I know in pursuit of my goal to be certain weight and size. Forgive me, Lord for looking to and placing power and glory towards these diets and methods. I confess that I’ve resorted to unhealthy, dangerous extremes that have not glorified and pleased You. Forgive me for not taking better care of the temple You’ve given me. Empower me, by your grace, to change not only my behaviors, but my desires as well.

“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14).

Lord, help me to live my life the way You desire me to live it for You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

(Prayer excerpt taken from Sheryle Cruse’s book, “Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder”)

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse


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