By Karen Kay Smith
God's Brave Women - Karen's Story
Twenty-four hours remained, and instead of enjoying my family and life to the fullest, I was hysterical and terrified.
I know I’m supposed to write about being brave, not afraid. However, on my journey, I have come to understand brave does not mean without fear. Brave is terrified, yet, doing it anyway.
Terrified one night that I was dying, I allowed my friend to take me to the emergency room. As my heart was struggling to beat correctly, the ER doctor looked at me with concern in her eyes. “Mrs. Smith, your heart is shutting down from lack of nutrition. I am going to give you fluids in an effort to settle your heart back into a rhythm, but I can’t fix the ultimate problem; only you can do that.”
A defining moment in my life. A diagnosis. Anorexia.
"Mrs. Smith, your heart is shutting down from lack of nutrition. I am going to give you fluids in an effort to settle your heart back into a rhythm, but I can’t fix the ultimate problem; only you can do that.” A defining moment in my life. A diagnosis. Anorexia."
Several months later, the pounds continued to drop. No matter how hard I tried, I could not eat enough. With much encouragement from medical staff and great apprehension in my heart, I agreed to go to eating disorder treatment.
My heart didn’t beat correctly, and the room went dark every time I started moving. I wore a toboggan and layers of clothes because I was in a continual state of cold. My hands were purple, and I could not think clearly. I was convinced that anything over 500 calories in a day was a terrible idea. I also believed that running would keep me healthy. Lack of proper nutrition and exercise regimen was killing me.
I was at the end of myself. I couldn’t do the most basic tasks—feed myself, much less care for my family.
Twenty-four hours before I left my family for eating disorder treatment, and I was falling apart. I sat in tears with my pastor, informing him that I had changed my mind; I wasn’t going. I called the treatment center and told them I had a sore throat and congestion, and I didn’t need to come.
It was not a sweet twenty-four hours. My insides were sick with anxiety. My eyes were swollen from non-stop tears. I was scared to death! What on earth had I agreed to do?
I was terrified, yet doing it anyway.
"I was terrified, yet doing it anyway."
I left my three kids and disabled husband to enter eating disorder treatment two hours away. Upon departure, I had no clue when we would see each other again. I went through admission, signed my life away, and kissed my husband goodbye. I watched our sweet friend assure me that I was brave and that I could do this before he took my husband and left.
Alone. In a strange place. Overwhelmed with fear and anxiety.
It was here that I began a journey with Jesus like no other. When we are at the end of ourselves, God begins His great work in us.
"Alone. In a strange place. Overwhelmed with fear and anxiety. It was here that I began a journey with Jesus like no other. When we are at the end of ourselves, God begins His great work in us."
There were many tears during meals. Counseling sessions were exhausting. Digging deep into my heart and mind did not come easy. However, I trudged forward in this strange season.
God began to whisper His truths in my heart again. For so long, my eating disorder had drowned out every word He said. I longed to hear Him again. In my alone and afraid place, I received the help I needed to hear God whisper again.
I learned so much during this season. I began to understand food was not something to fear. There are no good foods and bad foods. I also realized that our bodies needed calories to do the most basic functions, such as your heart to beat correctly, your brain to think rationally, and your organs to do the job that God assigned them to do.
I began to understand how my emotions fueled my eating. I needed to rewire the way my brain thought. I needed significant comfort for the pain that existed in my heart. I needed to be cared for and loved instead of caring and loving for others. Also, I needed help in learning how to take care of myself in the middle of taking care of others.
As a new year comes, weight loss is a hot topic. It makes the top three goals for many people. However, instead of thinking about weight loss, I have learned that I need to think about how I can keep God’s sanctuary healthy. He dwells inside me, and my focus should be on healthy living—physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
"Instead of thinking about weight loss, I have learned that I need to think about how I can keep God’s sanctuary healthy. He dwells inside me, and my focus should be on healthy living — physically, emotionally, and spiritually."
I would love to tell you I do this perfectly all the time. I do not. I still struggle with the desire to control and restrict my food. Some days, I change clothes ten times and look in the mirror fifty. I am confident that one day there will be complete freedom from eating disorder thoughts and behaviors. Until then, I choose to fight because that is the brave thing to do.
Terrified, but doing it anyway. What is it in your l