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Christian Understanding of Suffering

“Oh come on. You have to laugh. Admit it. It’s funny.”

“It’s not funny though.”

Sigh. You just can’t convince a former bulimic that experimenting with the extremely addictive eating disorder is something to make light of. She didn’t get my humor. No, let me take that back. She understood too well. I was trying to joke about a serious situation in order to compensate for my feelings of shame. She just wouldn’t give in. She’s a good friend.

In all honesty, I don’t think that purging on and off for eight days really qualifies me as bulimic, and I don’t mean to make light of some people’s very serious illness. But my recent position over the porcelain god of bulimia nervosa has caused me to do a great deal of thinking.

I told my good friend that I was no longer throwing up. Can I just mention how much I abhor talking about bodily functions? Being raised with four younger brothers ruined that for me. Darn.

My friend said very dryly, “Good.”

What she meant was you shouldn’t have started in the first place, you dork. Only in all reality, she would have used some other endearing name that wouldn’t be appropriate to print. Smile.

I had told her the day before when we ran into each other on campus that I hadn’t been doing so well. She’s the type of a friend that would have guessed it anyway, so coming clean in the beginning is just less time consuming. Since I am a full-fledged card carrying member of the bipolar disorder club, she probably ran through the gambit of what could have happened. (There isn’t really a club, not that I know of, and it probably wouldn’t be very successful considering how inconsistent bipolars can be.)

But I had a new problem to throw into the collection. “I experimented with bulimia.” Ha ha, just a little mental illness joke. She wasn’t laughing. “No, I had legitimate reasons at first, then there were other reasons.”

She smirked disapprovingly and told me, “There always are.”

Cue nervous laughter on my part and awkward silence on hers.

She asked me, “Control issues?”

Hmmmm. I hadn’t thought of that. I told her, “Well, mostly I discovered a new form of self-mutilation.”

Let’s pause. There are some words that completely creep people out. I won’t name them because chances are, if they creep you out, they creep me out, and I don’t want to write them. Except for this one. Self-mutilation. There are so many negative connotations associated with this word. And rightly so. It is a horrible thing, with horrible consequences. A quick fix it seems, but a long-term illness symptomatic of desires to fall into old habits and unquenchable guilt.

In order to find freedom from years of wanting to hurt myself due to a physical, emotional and spiritual depression, I have found that I need to go to God with the desires and the shame, to be honest with myself about how I feel, and to be honest with others about this struggle.

Some believe that once you are an alcoholic, you always will be. Clean and sober for the rest of you life, but those few years of dependency branded you. The same goes for those that cut or scratch or burn or hit themselves. I won’t explain to you why we do this, because I’m not sure that matters. What does matter is that there is freedom.

I stopped in my path of bulimia because I realized I didn’t want to. I both liked and hated hurting myself. Sick? Why yes, at times I am. I think that’s why they call it mental illness.

I have found that there are a many ways to hurt myself, giving into the temptation of my illness and the Enemy (oh he loves me for what I do to myself). Shall I give you an example? Alcohol. Tobacco. Marijuana. Mmm. Here’s a good one. Lust. Quickly followed by spending too much, neglecting your family and even caffeine.

You don’t have to draw blood to hurt yourself. I’m not preaching against Starbucks or even a glass of wine. I’m saying that anything that becomes an addiction becomes a form of self-mutilation.

God created us to be beautiful and whole through Him. Our Good Lord drank a cup of wine or two while on earth, but I’d be willing to bet He would draw the line when He “Couldn’t function without it.”

I still hold that it’s a funny idea to be bulimic for a week. I mean really, you can’t be. It’s an oxymoron. But what isn’t so funny is the desire to hurt myself. God does not plan that for me. He wants me to lie still in green pastures and follow Him beside quiet waters. Now that I think about it, that does sound more appealing.