I made the realization about 2 weeks ago, in the middle of an exceptionally sweaty yoga class, that I, Kaylee Kroyer, am absolutely beautiful. I looked up at myself in the mirror, and saw a strong, courageous, powerful, confident, intelligent, woman of God and I felt like I was glowing. It could have been the sweat glistening on my face, but I think it was a little more than that.
God has, without a doubt, changed the way that I see myself within the past year, for bigger things than just my personal happiness. I have been called to study dietetics and help teens who are struggling with eating disorders realize the same thing that I have. There’s a difference between just reading about and studying who you are in Christ, memorizing all the verses about how you’re “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and truly accepting that truth for yourself. It’s really easy for us to say that someone else is “made in the image of God” but it can be a little awkward to make that statement about ourselves.
I have certainly battle with thoughts other than the one I just mentioned. I have battled with my share of negative comments and self image issue. I’ve struggled with the temptations associated with eating disorders and body dysmorphia. My senior year of high school was a very interesting time for me, the heart of my problem was that I was seeking for approval and for acceptance and for love, in things that ultimately wouldn’t satisfy my needs. And when those temporary fixes fell short, God showed me the verse in Colossians that reads “Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things” which immediately became, and continues to be, one of my favorite verses to repeat to myself. Being human, however, I quickly reverted to searching for that “something” that would satisfy my flesh, and I found it in weight-loss.
I started losing weight over Christmas break of the same year, after being casted in a musical for that spring. Throughout my journey, I had days where I was ashamed of the way I had treated myself. I used food as a reward, I felt like I had to earn the privilege to eat. And if I didn’t prove to the demon on my shoulder that I wanted it badly enough, I would be punished. Because “only skinny girls can eat”. Shortly after graduation was when I really recognized what I was doing and where I was heading, and I started taking steps to prevent that reality from occurring.
I broke down in a parking lot when I verbally admitted my state for the first time. I felt ashamed when my boyfriend asked me if I had ever made myself purge after eating. But I felt free when I shared my story with a group of young girls on a church retreat. And I smiled as I was able to say, with confidence, that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Last summer I read this devotional book titled “Crash the Chatterbox” and the main premises of the book is that we all struggle with negative thoughts from the enemy (the “chatterbox”) and that we have to address them, head on and full force, and replace them with God’s truth about us. I picked that book up last week to re-read it, and as I flipped the pages and read my notes in the margins and saw the sentences that I boldly highlighted, God made me realize that I am not the girl who I was a year ago. In the past year, I have realized that regardless of my shape or my size, I have the approval of the God of the universe, and that’s where I find my identity. My identity is not defined by a mere number or the opinion of any one person.
“Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but rather be TRANSFORMED by the renewal of your mind”. I have been transformed, that’s really the best way I can describe it. I no longer look at exercise or dieting as a form of punishment. But almost as a reward, because I love my body, I genuinely love my body too much to see it go to waste. I see my body as a masterpiece for the Master’s purpose, and I want to take care of it, because I am priceless, I can’t be replicated.
There’s no quick fix for eating disorders, it has to be attacked like any other addiction or illness. It requires discipline and perseverance and being intentional about your actions. This has been a long process, but God has been working on me, refining me, renewing me, and re-shaping me into the woman who He desires for me to be. And I want to make that very clear, I really didn’t overcome anything on my own, I didn’t really do anything. It was all God, I can’t take the credit for any of my progress or any of my success, because it’s only in Christ that I am a conquerer. And honestly, I got a lot worse before I got any better. Recovery is rarely an uphill climb, but I can say that, even at my “lowest points”, I never felt like I was losing. Even when I was stranded in the middle of the storm, when it looked like my boat was sinking, I could see Jesus waiting for me to call on Him to calm the storm. And now that the storm has passed, He’s looking at me saying “What took you so long?” and “Do you trust me now?”