When I was in treatment for my eating disorder, we had these things every few weeks called “Snack Challenges”. The week that the Snack Challenge would roll around, a piece of paper was posted on the bulletin board for anyone to sign up. Girls would talk about the challenge for days. “Did you sign up?” Depending on the week, the correct answer was either “yes” or “no”. The choice to sign your name on the dotted line could mark you as accepted or shunned.
One particular week has always stood out in my mind.
There was a lot of change going on in the house. A slew of new girls just moved in, and the chemistry of the house shifted. Instead of being looked down upon if you did not want to get better, you were looked down upon for making the choice TO live free. By the time Snack Challenge rolled around, the house was transformed. Every attempt for positive change was met with an even greater attempt to stay stuck in old habits. It was a rocky environment, to say the least.
I don’t remember what the Challenge was (which goes to show that the food really doesn’t matter), but I remember the experience well. I took the challenge and signed up as I had every other challenge before it. Only this one was different; this time most of the house was not partaking.
A few days before the Challenge, I had a complete breakdown. Let me tell ya- it was bad. It wasn’t the fact that I was scared of the food. I had given up control long before that moment. Rather, it was the fact that almost every other girl in the house prided herself in the fact that she DIDN’T sign up for the Challenge. I walked around terrified of what people were saying (or thinking) about me. “They think I’m fat. They think I’m completely out of control. When they look at me, they see something disgusting. I shouldn’t have even considered signing up…” And the lies kept rolling.
I was so consumed with what other people were thinking of me that I let my emotions throw me overboard. Off the deep end I went, with only self-pity and judgment to keep me company. I, literally, was a wreck.
It wasn’t until I finally sat down and talked through my feelings with my therapist that I realized how crazy my thoughts were. As I told her everything that was on my mind, she sat there and looked at me like I had lost all sanity, which I had. I let the opinions of others fester in my mind for so long that I could not even function. My suspicions of what other girls might have been thinking led me to believe the worst about myself.
Needless to say, I took the challenge. I may have regretted it then, but I don’t regret it today. I learned a lot from that experience. I learned that the food doesn’t matter in the end. The piece of cake really doesn’t matter; it’s my reaction to it that does.
Today’s challenge is to eat the cake or ice cream or pizza or cookie. The challenge is to eat the thing that you avoid, no matter who is watching. You can’t control what other people are thinking. You can’t even predict that they are thinking the worst because, usually, they are not even thinking about you. They are so concerned with their own affairs that they could care less whether or not you eat the cake.
So live free today, and don’t let the piece of cake eat away at your mind.
In the end, you won’t even remember it.
Verse: “Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.” (Galatians 6:4-5)