I was eighteen, full of life and in the U.S as a Camp Counsellor. Over the months I gained a little weight thanks to southern-style cooking, which was amazing mind you, but I’d always been self-conscious about my size.  I was never the thinnest girl in school but I’d never been overweight either.  And now, I was definitely pushing it.

One night after dinner, I went to the bathroom that was underused, locked the door behind me and bent over the toilet to make myself vomit. I paused. Was I really going to do this? I didn’t have a lot of time to keep contemplating and I’d already made the decision, so I doubled down and went for it. I slid two fingers into my throat, which made me gag...but nothing happened.

Really, Hannah? I thought. How hard can this be?

I tried again, this time a bit more daring and forceful. A hideous sound erupted and echoed from my depths, and it bounced off the tiles and startled me. I retrieved my fingers. Thick saliva dangled from them to my mouth and I grabbed for the paper. I couldn’t let anyone, especially a camper, hear what I was doing so I accepted my failed attempt. I washed my face and patted it dry.  I’d try again tomorrow morning. And this time I would be successful.

The next day, breakfast sat heavy in my stomach as I pushed the wooden door of the bathroom open. I’d plucked up more courage and was being tougher with myself. I felt the denim of my overalls strain as I leaned over the cold, white porcelain. Fingers poked the back of my throat again and I felt the softness of my palate. I gagged, again, but nothing...again. Now I was irritated and cranky with myself. Why in the world could I not vomit? What was I doing wrong? I opened the door of the stall and caught my reflection in the mirror. My blue eyes were watery and my cheeks were flushed.  Silently, I shook my head in shame and washed my hands. Another failed attempt.

In reflection God’s protection firmly held my life in those moments. Had I been successful I might have spiralled further and further out of control. When would I have stopped coming back for more? These were the only times in my life I tried bulimia, and now years on, it sets alarm bells ringing loud. I had become willing to believe that my weight equated to beauty.

What rubbish!        

My self-esteem was shaken, having based it on the numbers that flashed on a scale. Comparison, which led me to believe I wasn’t as worthy because I didn’t look like the other “perfect” counsellors.

i began to play the silent and deadly game of IDOLISING the perfect image. i was trapped in aa habitual pattern of COMPARISON, and it was killing me.

I was in a constant battle to keep my self-esteem healthy and even afloat. I was fighting the depraved, soul-denying culture to believe that who we are and what we look like is actually beautiful, but that thought can last mere moments. And should I compare myself to others and the distorted airbrushed pictures on front covers of magazines or illuminated billboards, well, I’m sold a lie, a cleaned-up perfection no one is able to live up to. I just know the enemy who slithered his way into the garden hisses with delight at those suffering with self-worth. He knew my weakest points, my most vulnerable areas and he’ll press those trigger points to confuse me about who I really am in Christ.

if i live life constantly paying attention to who i am not, then i am missing the opportunity to see the person i am designed to be.

I miss my uniqueness’s that distinguish me from another. Focusing on my shortfalls, steals my attention and holds me hostage to the feeling of inadequacy. To believe my life would be happier and more satisfied if I looked a certain way? That’s not truth.

the heart carries the key to happiness and contentment in life, and it is only at peace when it is secure in christ, knowing we have been created by him, for him. 

Hannah and her husband have three children, one son who is Intellectually Disabled and have been in ministry since 2001 and love it. “I never felt I quite fitted the ‘traditional’ mould as a Pastors wife, Hannah said, “As I didn’t grow up in the church-I can giggle at my mistakes now and use them with humor to add to my stories. The years of being in ministry have taught me a lot about myself, but I understand at the core- its Christ who brings personal transformation and freedom.”

Hannah has a passion for teaching and has spoken at conferences or events within Australia, Canada and the U.S.

See more from Hannah at www.hannahbryant.com

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