Written by Kristy Hurrell

What does it look like to be real?

We’re human. And I believe part of the human experience is hiding things—shoving things down and covering them up. Sadly, this doesn’t bring us together or help us belong.

But after spending seven months in hospital as a result of an eating disorder, I’m very ready to stop pretending everything is okay. I’m ready to stop shoving things down, covering them up, and hiding the real me. This is me being broken and tattered and sharing a battle I’ve felt far too weak to fight on my own. This is me being real.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about Jesus and His time spent on earth, wishing that was my reality right now: Jesus visibly walking beside me. He never turned away from the hurt or the ugly or the broken. Rather, He was drawn to the outcast. Jesus ran towards the yucky stuff—the real stuff. He longed for the hurting to come to Him so that He could reveal His Father’s compassion to them. That’s the part of pain and suffering our culture and worldly views have lost in translation and subsequently redefined:

When we show everyone our pain we are asking for attention.

That defined my eating disorder to a T: don’t let anyone know I’m so weak I can barely stand up; wear baggy clothes to hide my shrinking body; spend time in the middle of the night working out so they don’t know how much I actually exercise; only eat when I’m around people to curb suspicion (even though I was literally starving); overload on water before seeing the doctor to manipulate my weight. These were just some of the masks I wore to hide how much pain I was in, to avoid being seen as weak, attention-seeking, or a failure.

Even though there were people telling me I needed help, that I was hurting myself and that this was going to lead to death, I didn’t really understand. Until I got real with God—or rather God got real with me.

He got my attention in a way I’ve never experienced.

I remember sitting in a session at the hospital, deciding whether to continue with treatment or not. God reminded me His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9) and though I’m human and flawed, He still loves and cherishes me and calls me His own. And He promised me He would use my brokenness to glorify the One who has given me so much. God gave me permission to be weak, literally telling me to give up and to let Him be the strong one from now on.

Now, I work in children’s ministry at my church and have the privilege of speaking into the lives of kids each week. I not only get to teach them about Jesus, but show love and speak truth over them—the truth that God desires us to hold onto His mighty power in all of our human brokenness and weakness.

I still struggle. I haven’t experienced complete healing, but I’m much more aware of and receptive to God’s power in my life. Maybe your thing isn’t my thing, but we all have a “thing” we’re battling. And when tears come from feeling tired and overwhelmed, and all that’s left is a scratchy voice, I want all of us to use it to call on the name of the One who is holding all of this—all of me and all of you, in His powerful hands. He’s working to mold and perfect us, despite what it looks like right now.

Remember that when we’re weak, when things feel heavy and impossible, when we’re burdened and hurting, He calls us “loved” and He’s holding us, protecting us, and even using us to advance His kingdom. It’s hard. Life is full of hard things. Right now, all we have is the ability to believe what God says is true, that He is strong when we are weak.

And that’s enough!