American celebrities—with far too many following right behind them—are wasting away in the life-draining pursuit of extreme thinness. As a teen I pretty much turned off my God-given talents and gifts in search of the Western culture’s definition of ideal. I set my sights on being a super model. When I announced this in my sixth-grade class, a few boys laughed, “Yeah, you’ll be a supermodel…for MAD Magazine.” Translation, You’re ugly. Give it up! I didn’t give it up. I’d do anything to be a beautiful super model or celebrity. And why not? In this culture celebrity and beauty has its rewards.
My spiral began innocently enough with a diet. My senior year in high school I lost fifteen pounds and looked remarkable. I received compliments and praise from my parents and friends . . . and I wanted more.I felt accepted and loved. I belong! Now I’ll be popular!
Before I knew it I was a full-blown bulimic, a disease that took over my life. I wish someone had said to me, “Great, you’re now a size six. There are a million other size sixes out there. What’s different about you? What is about you, Kimberly the person, that shines?” That would have stung a little, but hopefully have pointed me towards working on my inside.
It was beginning to look like a life or death situation. I needed someone to point me to Jesus Christ. “In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears” (Psalm 18:6). God sent that person and he took me to church. [By the way, I married him. He nicknamed me “Miss Hollywood”—and he still married me!]
Jesus walked into my messed up life and a couple months later I was freed and saved—born again. The Bible says, “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9, NIV). Then he shouted, Hey angels, my daughter has been found! Rejoice, angels! (Luke 15:7). God essentially said, “Kimberly, you are forgiven. Every sin is wiped from your record. You will no longer live in shame.” God miraculously released me physically from the bondage of an eating disorder and addiction. God was at work all along in my life—in the pain, in all the blunders, even in the dungeon—he was present, working out his perfect purpose for me.
It is hard to imagine God forgiving us for our sin, let alone helping us clean up our mess and then using the ruins to further his Kingdom—but he does (read Isaiah 51:3). No matter in what condition we arrive at his feet, God never leaves us (Hebrews 13:5).
Freedom is found when we recognize we need God. He snaps the chains of sin, freeing our souls to love him! We become acutely aware that our soul is craving a long-term relationship with God as opposed to the short-term excitements this culture offers. The Bible says, “Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons” (2 Corinthians 5:17, The Message). I began my new life journey.
Now Jesus dwells within me. He cannot coexist with that old me. He wants to give me an internal makeover—to renew my mind and change my heart from myself to him and others. I can’t find wholeness by imitating someone else. He spoke to me clearly through his Word: “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24, NIV).
Over the years, God has shown me the errors of my thinking enabling me to replace toxic thoughts with his truth, the Word of God. I learned to cross-examine my unconscious beliefs. They say your past isn’t the past if you’re still carrying it around and it’s infecting your present.
Cleaning up the outside of the cup while leaving the inside a mess, full of self-indulgence, is not what Jesus recommended (Luke 11:39-41). He said the way to change our behavior permanently on the outside is to change what we believe on the inside. His views were clear: paying too much attention to how we appear and not enough attention to who we are is like trying to make a smelly old outhouse pleasing by painting it with fresh coat of brightly colored paint.
Too many of us feel “something” is missing. Many Christians call it a soul-hole. We make bad choices, feel failure and shame, and sadness enters. Science confirms that much bodily sickness begins in the soul. A sound body demands a healthy soul. Most of us give our bodies’ proper nourishment, but we tend to forget our souls require even greater attention. Selfishness, greed, jealousy and bitterness are among the diseases of the soul that affect our bodies. When we ask Jesus to become our Lord, we become complete in him (Colossians 2:9) and our soul-hole starts to fill up. Through Christ, we have the power to transform ourselves—not through social networking or mirroring a celeb. Jesus is real—they aren’t. Following Jesus is how we find out who we really are.
As a woman who has emerged victorious from a seventeen-year battle with an eating disorder, from a twenty-year war with booze, and over thirty years of idolizing celebrities, I can tell you it was, and continues to be, my commitment to nurturing a relationship with the triune God, connecting with “real” people, and loving others that keeps me from wooing a conceited, self-satisfied celebrity lifestyle.
But, I’ll be honest—I haven’t “arrived.” None of us ever will. I find it’s easy to get caught up with the culture. And my struggle with materialism becomes even more difficult as God blesses me more and more.
We have to work hard to stay humble, be generous, take pleasure in a simpler life, and, particularly, fix our hearts on our Master instead of our money or stuff. Henri Nouwen, a well-known Catholic priest and author, said, “When you admit Jesus into your heart, nothing is predictable but everything becomes possible.”
Every person on earth is designed by God to make a difference. He has gifted each one of us. Our lives must reflect God’s priorities rather than our own. Rather than seek to bless ourselves, we learn to look for ways to bless others. That is what an authentic, extraordinary person does.
This material, although reworked, is an excerpt from my book Torn Between Two Masters by Kimberly Davidson