I have struggled with my identity for most of my life. I felt lost for 16 years, I was incredibly lonely, I hated myself, and I had no idea where God was. When I was 12, I tried to curb this emotional pain and developed an eating disorder. For a long time, I built my identity on awful thoughts and trying to make myself smaller.
I struggled like this without anyone realizing it because I was constantly lying to myself, my family, and my friends. I lived what seemed like a good life outwardly. I did well in school, had friends, and excelled in sports. As high school graduation approached I accepted a scholarship at the University of Oklahoma, where I would row and continue school. Unfortunately, after about two weeks of being down there I hurt my back so badly that I would never be able to row again. I lost part of my identity in this, and I started clinging to my only other identity, my eating disorder.
I was incredibly sick, but God started searching me out and I began going to church, where I tried to find a purpose for myself and feel the love that Jesus promised. But I couldn’t fathom that anyone could love a sinner like me, I couldn’t accept that Jesus died for me, I felt incredibly unworthy, and wouldn’t let myself experience God’s love. As things continued to spiral, I ended up in the ER after a suicide attempt. I stayed there for just over a week, and in that time I started to realize I would never be worthy of God’s love, but I have it anyway, God loves me regardless of my sins, my size, and my suicide attempt. God was always seeking me out, and loving me, but my mental illness would not let me feel that.
As I began my long road to recovery, I started being transformed by God’s love. I found community in my church, I found grace in God, and peace from the tyrant my brain can often be. I realized that my only identity will always be an imperfect daughter of God. Recovery was incredibly difficult, and everyday I was forced to make choices that would bring me closer to or farther from God, almost all of them were choices I didn’t want to have to make. But after a year of recovery I am constantly strengthened by God’s love, by the love of my brothers and sisters in Christ, and by the overwhelming grace that is poured out over all of us everyday.