Today’s HerStory is written by Lindsay Jernigan, one of the student leaders on Pepperdine’s campus. Her story is a powerful one, and she is a walking testimony to God’s faithfulness. Though she was once in darkness, she now lights up any room she walks into. She is such a blessing to our ministry and to the lives of everyone she meets!
The first time I remember calling myself fat was at 5 years old. A couple of months prior to that, the neighborhood boys made me play “doctor” with them, a game I realized wasn’t a game until much later in life, and it was shortly after the introduction of the game that I began to become uncomfortable in my own skin. From that moment on, I was constantly berating myself. Nothing was ever right. I was too short, too tall, too fat, flat chested, my hair was too frizzy, my eyes were too far apart or too close together. Every day I found something new to criticize. I never realized that this behavior was abnormal. I saw my mom do it, I saw my sister do it, I saw all my friends do it. It just seemed normal that girls and women were harsh on themselves when it came to appearance. Eventually, things spiraled out of control.
The summer before my junior year of high school, I decided to get “healthy” and begin working out and eating right. I began restricting my diet more and more to the point where I was emaciatingly thin. I felt completely trapped. All I could think about was food, exercise, and counting calories. I didn’t care about anyone around me. It was a suffocating pain that is impossible to understand unless you have experienced it. I was completely addicted to losing weight, and enough was never enough.
My eating disorder and refusal to get helped strained my relationships with everyone around me. My friends were fed up and my parents either broke down in tears or screamed at the top of their lungs. I could see these vital relationships quickly deteriorating and I didn’t care. I couldn’t stop and risk gaining any weight. Eventually the strain on my body physically became to great and I had more than one near fatal health scare. I even tried to take my own life. After my attempted suicide, I agreed to get help and today I am happy, healthy and 100% free of my addiction.
When I was in the midst of eating disorder and depression, my relationship with God waxed and waned. I remember praying to Him specifically that I would give my whole life to Him, but I just needed to control the eating thing. I told Him that He couldn’t have that, because it was my thing. The further into the eating disorder I drove, the further I pulled away from God. I remember feeling like He abandoned me. I yelled and screamed, I even told Him I hated him. As I began my recovery, I realized I was the one who walked out on Him. I see now that He was there the whole time. His grace is sufficient. There is nothing too great for Him. I learned that yes, God had to carry me through some difficult times, but He also helped me discover how much strength I possess. I learned how much resilience I have when I let God work though me.
Throughout my life, I have had to battle with a series of addictions, heartbreaks, and insecurities. I have had my fair share of struggles that I felt at times would completely break me. There were moments I didn’t know if I would make it through to the next day. But I did. It wasn’t ever easy, and I didn’t always want to trust God to take care of it. I’ve definitely felt very real pain, but I have learned that the pain is not what defines me. Scars are not beautiful because they are there. Scars are beautiful because they represent a wound that was able to heal. And healing truly is the beautiful part. I have been able to heal because of God’s amazing grace. He has brought me through every storm.
With each challenge I have been able to overcome, learn, and grow because of the strength I found in God. Today, I can say I am on the other side of my pain. I am still learning more and more every day, but I am now able to fully delight in the Lord. I am able to appreciate what I have gone through, and I will take the lessons I’ve learned and the strength I’ve gained with me for the rest of my life. I know that God will help me through anything I will encounter in life. I am His beloved.