Written by Cassandra Wolfe
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” ROMANS 8:1-2
I was young when the law of sin and death began making itself known in my life.
As a little girl, I loved Jesus and understood my life’s purpose of serving Him. However, I put a lot of weight on the false promise of order and structure.
I was a straight-A student, on every club and extra-curricular team imaginable (besides sports), I loved God, and I focused on being kind. Of course, the latter two are wonderful things intrinsically, but at this time, both focuses were muddled by a towering idol: that of law, order and control.
I was stressed from focusing my time and energy on obtaining perfection in all that I did. However, I believed that my physical appearance would never fit that perfection; I needed a comfort for the stress, another area where I wasn’t “perfect.” When I was twelve years old, I binged on food for the first time. I woke up in the middle of the night and felt compelled to eat an enormous amount of food. I ate multiple loaves of bread and handfuls of pasta, mayonnaise, cookies, chocolates. I ate until my insides ached and I was breathing heavily. I cried myself to sleep.
The next morning, I decided that no one would know about the binge. I ate normally all day, meals and snacks, but something in me had already decided that the binge was going to occur again. These binge episodes happened a few times weekly over the course of the next few years, and I didn’t tell a single person.
A few months into the binges, I decided that I would learn how to diet. I became “perfect” at calorie counting. I knew the calorie, carb, fat, and protein counts in literally every food one could imagine. I began measuring my food, avoiding oil, sugar in coffee and “banning” certain foods. I began to regret the binges, but felt I couldn’t control them. As I began restricting food intake during the day, the binges only got worse.
I was binge-restricting for over a year before I finally told my mom. I asked my mom if we could please see my doctor, and he began to talk to me about the importance of “knowing everything I put in my body.” I felt angry with him, because for the past year, I obsessed over every last thing I put in my body– excluding those things during a binge.
My mom could see that my doctor didn’t understand, and so I began to go to a therapist. I did a lot of cognitive behavioural therapy with her, and it certainly helped my behaviours. Midway through tenth grade, I went one month with zero binges, and I stopped seeing my therapist.
However, with the pause on therapy came the urge to binge again. And this time, the guilt and condemnation I felt afterward was unbearable—or so I thought at the time, at least. This time, I forced myself to throw up the food. I binge-purged only a handful of times over the next few months, before the day of the school semi-formal on April 18.
I woke up really late that day, and ran out the door without breakfast or packing a lunch. After school, I went straight to my friend’s house to get ready, and remember feeling like I really did not want to eat. But I ate two eggs and some strawberries and we went to semi and danced the night away. When I came home I ate a bell pepper.
That night, I realized how proud I felt of myself for eating so little for a whole day. You deserve to feel huger for all your gluttony, something within said. And so, for the next several months, I barely ate anything. My daily regimen became a bite of banana in the morning, half a protein bar or a handful of nuts midday, and a few forkfuls of spinach and, a couple times a week, a bite of chicken breast for “dinner.” I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa on May 31, 2013. That day my doctor told me that if I continued in this illness, I would die. I believed that I would rather die than gain a pound. But when the doctor asked me, “What are you gaining from anorexia?” I opened my mouth to reply, but soundless tears came instead. I knew that the illness was selfish, evil, and not doing anything good—but all I could hear were the screams that said I needed to be the thinnest.
I was put on the waiting list for an outpatient eating disorders treatment centre, but my starvation levels only worsened the months leading up to my admittance, which was in early August. Looking back, I was incredibly blessed to receive help when I did. From May-July, I lost 80 pounds, my period, tons of hair and damaged my soul. I was fainting constantly, and yet working out in the middle of the night. I remember feeling my slow pulse each night in bed, each breath hurting my ribs. I couldn’t even register that I had gone so quickly from overweight to underweight. I was not happy or fully living.
The treatment centre implemented a system that got me eating again. My mom was told to take control of my meals, but I was incredibly stubborn. I screamed and refused food at first, and finally agreed to eat—but only if I could watch her carefully measure out everything I ate. I counted all the calories, and my mom knew that my brain was still only focused on food. I hid food in my shoes, tucked it in my hair and scooped out the inside of bagels from my school lunches, which my sister had to supervise. I focused every ounce of my energy on eating the least amount possible. And the practitioners, of course, saw that I was not gaining weight. They would dole out extra calories each week until I admitted, crying, that I had been hiding food.
This whole process lasted about a year, and then I was discharged. Physically healthier, but with virtually no difference in weight. When control of food was turned back to me, I still obsessed over its measurement, constantly planning my meals. The spirit of law and need for control was still my master, and impacted my every move. In twelfth grade, I experienced some trauma that went hand-in-hand with a relapse. I went back to see my old therapist, the one who had helped me with the binge eating disorder.
I stabilized physically between twelfth grade and first year of university—enough, at least, to attend. I began school at Wilfrid Laurier University, still under the power of a spirit of law and control. But things began to change.
I was enrolled in the Christian Studies program, though a relationship with Jesus had not been the centre of my life for some time. I had never lost the knowledge and conviction that He was my purpose, His glory my delight and His power endless, but I had stopped communicating with Him and chosen not to listen to His voice. By enrolling in this program, I met and was suddenly surrounded by godly people in whom Christ evidently dwelled, and I began to recognize the Holy Spirit speaking to me as I had when I was a young girl. This began my understanding of His conviction over the way I was living in submission to a spirit not of Him—the idol that was the eating disorder; manipulation and control of food.
As well as meeting beautiful friends, I met a man whose heart and spirit I understood and felt more aligned with than I ever had with another person. We began dating midway through my first year. Johnny was aware of the eating disorder and patiently expectant and prayerful of Jesus’ provision and guidance. As I began to grow in the Lord and receive the work He was doing in me, I became more and more convicted. My fear of Him resulted in simply more desire for His glory and revelations. I began to hate the idol of food, but I did not know how to stop controlling and focusing on what I ate. I did not know how to “just eat.” Even though I knew that it was wrong, it seemed and felt impossible to stop.
Going into my second year of university, Johnny began attending a university in a new province. With our relationship now long-distance, my appetite decreased at first, and, with a spirit of control still operating, this gave leeway to more starvation. I relapsed again, losing more weight and reaching a new low-weight. When Johnny came back for Christmas, it was more obvious to him, my family and friends that this disordered way of living needed to go. And I knew too, by the grace of my Lord and Saviour Jesus. I knew I needed help, ultimately His help, to live fully submitted to Him. Johnny and I decided that, for his next semester in Winnipeg, we would communicate only via letters—no texting and no phone calls. I also began to have sessions with some spiritual counsellors.
These months have been both the most difficult and most incredible months of my life. The spiritual counselling was exhausting work, but I was determined to uproot the stubborn illness that I was submitted to so that the Lord might more fully reside in me so that I could serve Him without any bondage.
Throughout the counselling, the Lord began to reveal memories as I prayed, memories of my childhood submission to law and control, of my first unhealthy adoration of cookbooks—all the while convicting me of what needed to go.
I began to have vivid dreams of myself tearing up the rule books I had literally written out in the form of magazines. Food rules that I had abided to a tee for the past five years. Eating without these rules felt so scary, but each day I began to hear more loudly the voice of my Lord saying, “let them go and come to Me.”
Finally, on January 29, 2017, I was making oatmeal in my kitchen, carefully measuring it out, having just turned down a lunch date with a friend, when I was overcome by the need to pray. I fell to my knees in worship, crying, “Lord, Lord, help me! Take this from me, take this from me, Lord I am so sorry.”
My phone had been on silent. When I stood I saw that I had missed two calls and a text from my dear friend and sister in Christ, Josee:
Cassie, you are chained by association to anorexia.
Don’t let a Jezebel spirit keep you from pursuing the Lord.
The time is now. Give it up. Talk to Him, and call me if you need.
I knew with every ounce of me that this was the Holy Spirit. Physically and spiritually recognizing His leadership, I knew what needed to happen. I called Josee, told her about the magazines that I knew needed ripping, and Josee began to pray.
And as she prayed, I tore up the magazines, sobbing, and eventually breathing an immense sigh of relief. I knew in that moment that I had just put the eating disorder at the altar. I verbally, confidently repented of the eating disorder, rebuked it in my Saviour’s name, and asked for His forgiveness and protection.
And I knew that I was made new in Christ Jesus.
I was radically healed from what my doctor told me was one the most stubborn eating disorders he’d ever encountered. I no longer engage in eating disorder behaviours. I am alert and energetic, have focus in conversations, and know my purpose of living to serve and love the Lord and love others. I see the evil of the spirit of the law and continue to ask the Lord to convict me of any remnants of it in my life or in those around me. And He has given me a song of deliverance of His name—the provision of healing He has for all.
Reunited with Johnny and living back with my family, I am pursuing the Lord and enjoying food as a simple, necessary blessing. I am still passionate about cooking, but in no way obsessed. I am free from law and control in Jesus Christ—and while I thought it was only food rules, I now see how Satan was using those dead and meaningless food rules to control and dictate my life. Instead, the spirit of Jesús is one of self-control, selflessness, and serving—abiding by these things brings the joy for which we were created.
I am blessed by amazingly supportive family, friends and boyfriend—all people God has used in the process of redeeming my life for His glory. By God’s grace alone, I am now more equipped to bear others’ burdens myself. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” (Galatians 6:2).
I eat what I am served, I eat when I am hungry or when I feel like it, and I never thought I’d understand how people can do that so simply. These food rules had become such a habit, but Jesus healed me from them in an instant—and also little by little. I will never stop singing His praises for this life that is about so much more than food and what goes into my body.
And today, I am smiling with tears in my eyes, thanking God for how good He is to me, knowing that I can give Him all of me—and I do so with delight.