An excerpt from Sandra’s book, Smile at the Future – Defy Your Eating Disorder and Discover Your True Design

Have you ever felt like God’s will and your will are at odds with each other?

Anyone who walks with God can doubt whether they’re on the same page as God. When you have an eating disorder, it goes deeper than a doubt as to if you’re on the same page with God. It’s a fact that the concern for food, weight, and appearance is different from God’s concern to make every person whole on the inside through reconciliation to Himself through His Son.

When there’s a resistance in us toward what God’s focus is, there is an invitation to lean in and be curious about what dictates our desires.

It could be that our will has become dictated and pushed down in the name of what our abusive boyfriend wants, what our parents want or even in the name of what we think God and our church wants.

We can listen to so many voices that claim what the right thing to do is, that we suddenly forget to listen to the still small voice within.

When we neglect listening to God and the desires that He has put within us, we can end up in two ditches described in the parable of the two sons. Let’s look at their different answers to the father about working in the vineyard. The father is a representation of God and the vineyard is a representation of the Kingdom of God:

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’

“‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”

“The first,” they answered.

Matthew 21:28-31 NIV

On the surface, the answer of the son who says yes to his dad seems more appropriate, right? Later in the parable, we find out he ends up not doing what’s asked of him. What he’s actually full of on the inside ends up manifesting. The will to follow through on his yes ran out because it was not a wholehearted yes from the beginning. He might have said yes because of fear of conflict, people pleasing or a sense of obligation. What’s revealed nonetheless is his inner no.

As Ignatius puts it: Everything the soul does not want is temporary.

In other words, it doesn’t work to fake it. Eventually, your real opinion will come out in your attitude.

Both of the sons are divided in their responses. Their underlying responses end up leading them.

The parable ends by concluding that our Heavenly Father would rather have a no from us than a yes if that’s where we’re at. If we cannot honestly and wholeheartedly tell him yes, that’s okay. He would rather take us on a process than force, demand, expect or assume a yes from us.

Does this take the pressure off in your relationship with Jesus? I know it did for me. He wants me to be His daughter, not His slave. His companion, not His ally.

Imagine a relationship with someone in which your will is strangled and it’s only one of you who gets your will and your way. That wouldn’t be a flourishing relationship, right? But sometimes we think that is what God wants concerning an eating disorder—that He wants to strangle our will and make it a slave to His.

Rather, the parable shows us that God wants wholeheartedness. He is not afraid of our will being in process to gain an undivided heart towards Him (see Ezekiel 11:19 NIV).

He wants me to be His daughter, not His slave

An undivided heart is the goal. Jesus asks simple questions in the process: “Where do you live? Where are you? What do you want?” (see Mark 10:51; John 1:38). He is interested in what you want! He wants to locate you before He lifts you higher.

I believe that honest reflection is a great place to start. “Why do I will and want this? Why do I not want this?” If we discover through listening to our will that all we want is for the sake of being comfortable, we have to be willing to press through the resistance. We need to go from seeking comfort to being challenged: “[…]but to those who insist on getting their own way and take the path of least resistance, Fire!” (Romans 2:5-8 MSG).

In terms of an eating disorder, our preferred way would be instant deliverance from it. That’s the path of least resistance. However, God’s way is oftentimes to take us through. So many things get weeded out in the process so not only our healing and freedom is secured, but our character is strengthened also.

I’m thankful for Kingdom convictions, which beckon me to live life differently. Courageously. To not shy away from the hard and to press through resistance to get to wholeheartedness. As we labor to find out and develop what our convictions are, life becomes a bit easier to navigate when each decision has a foundation.

As I mature, we (the Lord and I) hear each other out. “Lord, what do you want my next step to be?”

As we stay in His Word, His Word will penetrate us, and our yes to Him can grow into a likewise big yes back to God and His will. Rather than pursuing our will, we surrender to His. Instead of trying to fill our lives with all that we want, we empty our lives to make a difference in the lives of others.

In conclusion, be in contact with your will. Listen to what you will in life. Be okay with your yes or your no being in a process. Be assured that God’s love will not fail you. His love holds the final victory in Jesus.

Put this into practice

If you’re not in contact with your will, I want to help you unlock it:

Firstly, think about an area in your life where you sense a tension where you’re unsure if it’s your desire and/or God’s will. As you think about that area of tension, listen to your body’s signals. Your emotions are connected to your body! That means that your body will tell you the truth about what’s happening in your emotions. Does your body feel tired, tense or energetic when thinking about that scenario you’re turning over in your mind? I encourage you to write out your answers to the following questions:

  • How do I look at God?
  • How does God look at me?
  • What awakes deep joy within me?
  • What awakes my resistance?
  • Why don’t I want it? (the area you’re thinking about)

About Sandra

Sandra Hultén has a Master’s degree in Christian Social Work with burnout prevention among social workers as her area of expertise. Her social work experience has primarily been outworked through ministering to sex-trafficked women, and by pioneering the social justice department, CityCare, within Hillsong Church Denmark – a ministry reaching the homeless, elderly, and refugee families. She holds a Certificate 3 in Discipleship from YWAM Australia and followed it up with their School of Biblical Studies online for several years. She also served as a counsellor at the Danish Association against Eating Disorders and Self-harm. Currently, she works at a Christian retreat centre for veterans suffering from combat stress.

Sandra’s joy in life is being married to her husband Lasse and raising her two small children, Ella and Louie. They’re based on the North Coast of Denmark and are a part of Hillsong Church Denmark and Malmö. They are passionate about building a firm foundation for their family and living out their God-given purpose.

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