Breaking Bondage

Breaking Bondage

Written on 07/08/2019
Sara Ryan

By Sara Ryan

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

I was 15 years old when I found out he didn’t love me anymore.

I had been young and in love, and thought I was on top of the world. My life, however, came to a screeching halt when the relationship I was in for almost a year suddenly ended.

I had learned that the guy who I had made the center of my universe was interested in someone else. This other girl was, in my mind, way prettier, thinner and more athletic than I was. As soon as I saw their relationship begin to flourish, I was convinced that I wasn’t good enough. I thought to myself, “Maybe if I lose a few pounds, he’ll begin to love me again.”

As a young girl, I was often teased for being “chubby” or overweight, but I never felt self- conscious about my looks until I went through that first break-up. 

It led me to believe I needed to change my outer appearance for someone to love me, and so I began running on the treadmill daily. I often weighed myself before each work-out session and became obsessed whenever I saw the number on the scale decrease. I thought that if I ate less, I could lose weight even faster. I downloaded an app on my phone called “My Fitness Pal” which only allowed me to eat a maximum of 1,000 calories per day. I tracked everything I ate and often felt accomplished for eating less than the required amount of calories my body needed. 

As time progressed, I began to see the number on the scale de-escalate so much that I became addicted to running on the treadmill and eating less. At one point, I was restricting my caloric intake to 300 calories per day and had gone from 125 pounds to 99 pounds in a three-month period.

As my body began to deteriorate, I remember my friends and family becoming more concerned about me. My teacher came up to me and said, “Sara, what happened to you? You don’t look pretty anymore.” I was shocked and disturbed by this comment made by my teacher because, in my mind, I thought I looked better. Around that time, a friend of mine went to her guidance counselor out of her deep concern about me, as she noticed that I was cold all the time and was starting to lose my hair and menstrual cycle.

I remember sitting in the guidance counselor’s office, bawling my eyes out because, for the first time, I admitted that I had a problem. The guidance counselor referred me to an eating disorder clinic where I was clinically diagnosed with anorexia athletica, an eating disorder characterized by excessive and compulsive exercise. 

Prior to being diagnosed with an eating disorder, I had been in denial about having one. I was afraid of losing all sense of control in my life, but it only backfired on me once I learned that I was no longer permitted to exercise in any form. I remember the nurse practitioner saying to me, “Sara if you continue to run on the treadmill for another five minutes, you can have a heart attack because your heart rate is so low.” She told me I was to be cut off from any form of exercise, including walking home from school or going to the mall with friends. I also had to be monitored at all times because it is most likely I would try to exercise in secret, which I did. 

The thought of losing my “freedom” to exercise 24/7 caused me to feel depressed. I would often isolate myself from friends and family and began to write my thoughts in a journal about wanting to be set free from the eating disorder. 

One night, I remember laying in my bathtub and crying out to God even though I had no personal relationship with Him. I had some knowledge about God from my Catholic background, but I never understood the concept of living in a real relationship with Him.

A few days later, I had a strong desire to go to church and told my parents that I wanted to go. Both my parents were thrilled at this idea, and my step-dad was so happy because he had been praying for fifteen years that my mom and I would attend church with him regularly. 

As a family unit, we started going to a church that believes that salvation only comes through faith in Jesus Christ and that the Bible is the truth about faith and life. On Easter Sunday in 2015, after hearing one of pastor Tim’s messages, my mom accepted the invitation and made the commitment to follow Christ. 

As I continued to go to church and read God’s Word, I began to learn more about His character. I also learned about who the enemy is and how his main goal is to lie, steal and destroy us. After battling with an eating disorder for years, I sat down in my pastor’s living room and confessed that I needed help.

I remember him saying, “Sara, I personally cannot relate to the thoughts you are having in regards to food and exercise, but I know Someone who knows every detail about your struggle.” He proceeded to explain that if I was willing to allow Jesus Christ to take up a residence in my heart and ask Him to forgive me of my sins, that He would help to deliver me from this deathly addiction that was stealing my sense of joy and purpose. It was right there in my pastor’s living room where I was made free from sin and brought into God’s marvelous light. 

1 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” This passage of scripture has proven itself to be true in my life because of where I am today. It is only by God’s grace that I am no longer the girl I used to be. The desires I once had as a teenager which included drinking and partying, envying others and being full of pride have slowly dissipated; I’ve been made into a woman who loves to serve and honor my Lord Jesus Christ. 

The Lord has healed me from a life-gripping disorder and has given me the opportunity to share the hope of Jesus with others. God has opened many doors of opportunity for me to share my testimony which includes my personal blog and a newly published book called, “Back to Being Sara: Breaking the Bondage of Eating Disorders.” He has also provided opportunities for me to share my story on 100 Huntley Street and at several different churches. On top of all this, He’s also enabled me to become a nurse which I believe He is able to work through me to provide hope and healing to those who are sick. 

Although I can’t go back and relive all the years I lost due to the eating disorder, there is one thing I know for certain––God is able. He is able to redeem and restore the days, months or even years we lose and turn them into something greater. I had no idea that by accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour, He would somehow use the broken areas of my life for my own good and for His glory. I am praising the Lord as I write this because He is faithful, forgiving and merciful towards me despite all of my failures.