During the summer following my junior year of college, I attended a handful of Overeaters Anonymous meetings. I was plagued with compulsive overeating, binge eating, whatever you want to call it, starting in high school, having been off and on diets since age 14, and it reached its height in college; hence the infamous rock bottom that lead me to OA. OA is based on the same principles and twelve steps as AA, simply replacing alcohol with food, and it was not until OA that I faced or even recognized the depth of my problem. Anything you associate with an alcoholic applied to me: eating in secret, obsessing over when I could eat again, celebrating with food, being comforted by food. The list goes on. But miraculously, by God’s grace, that Margaret is no longer with us. Something has happened to her in the past several months, and I don’t miss her much at all.

Absolutely none—like, not even the smallest fraction—of this change had anything to do with effort or willpower. And I can say this with absolute certainty, because every time I took matters into my own hands (Weight Watchers, Nutrisystem, Jenny Craig, you name it) to try to alleviate this burden, I did nothing but make the problem worse: the minute I restricted what I could eat, the obsessions became amplified, and the mental energy dedicated to food skyrocketed. I could barely enjoy time with friends, focus on homework, or simply relax because food was always on my mind.

There were brief, sporadic moments of deliverance, but those years were mostly characterized by me angrily asking God why he would make me deal with this. By sobbing, or just as often yelling, on the phone with my mom while she tried to help and encourage me. By mentally berating myself for a cookie I couldn’t resist. By hoping that this sermon or that Bible study would hold the magic potion to relieve me. Despite everything, God remained (seemingly) indifferent about the whole thing, and my view of him became tied to who was winning the battle: me or food. Get a grip on it and lose weight one week: “Alright, go me! I bet God really loves and cares for me now!” Lose control and gain weight the next: “I’m an absolute failure. God isn’t going to help me anymore unless I can prove to him just how sorry I am.” And thus, the vicious, exhausting cycle continued for years with no real end in sight.

But lately, none of this has been true of me. This burden that I became convinced was superglued to my back—regardless of the number of times I gave it over to God and declared my powerlessness over it—was just gone. It happened so gradually that it was like waking up one morning and thinking, “Huh, that’s gone.” I’m still taken aback and pleasantly surprised by it sometimes because this is such an alien way of thinking and going through life. Don’t get me wrong, there are still bad days where that part of me creeps back in and takes over, and that will be the case until I am made whole in heaven. I will continue to wrestle with this and new thorns but with hope of the freedom and assurance that they have already ultimately been defeated and have no real power over me or influence on my standing before God.

This will be forever a mystery to me this side of heaven, but I promise you that it is nothing short of a miracle. A picture of God’s amazing grace to be sure: a broken, undeserving child released from the bondage of food because of absolutely nothing she could do for herself but because of God’s might alone. On the days when I think about how far I’ve come, I am reminded of God’s goodness and love towards his children. He didn’t work in my desired timeframe (ha!), but he never abandoned me, even through all those years of struggle and heartache. Thanks be to God for the cross that made such deliverance possible. As the psalmist proclaims:

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Ps 73:26)