I was reading Psalm 51 today and took notice of the following phrases:
- “blot out”
- “wash away”
- “cleanse me”
- “create in me a pure heart”
We long to be made clean and pure, and Jesus does this for us. But we forget, hide, and try to do it ourselves. Oftentimes, in someone struggling with food and body image, it looks like this:
- starting fresh with eating clean on Monday
- extra time on the treadmill to burn away last night’s feast
- purging via vomiting…literally removing the “bad” food from the body
I’ve had clients explain to me how vomiting, although the act is unpleasant, will make them feel pure for just a moment afterwards. But it doesn’t last, and then the cycle of guilt, regret, shame, etc begins again.
We all have different forms of cleansing ourselves. Some are more harmful than others. Some are more culturally acceptable than others. Anyone else stress-clean their homes? Try to clear the clutter and dirt in your physical environment as a way to clear out all that’s bad within us and our circumstances? This is why the Konmari method (you know, “what sparks you joy?”) can feel so freeing for people. I got on that bandwagon a couple years ago, and it did feel so good! But after another move out of state and another baby, I’m back to owning a lot of things that weigh me down and don’t bring me joy!
(Let me just add in here: I don’t want to minimize the seriousness and complexities of purging in those with eating disorders. There’s a neurobiological component involved in purging that releases feel-good chemicals that make it an addiction that’s very difficult to just stop cold-turkey. Very very different from a housecleaning purge, for sure.)
When we clean: Unfortunately, when we as humans clean or blot out, the stuff we don’t want will eventually come back. Plus, we usually focus on the physical stuff (food, body, belongings), which isn’t the real issue. Also, it’s just a lot of pressure!
When Jesus cleans: Thankfully, when Jesus washed away iniquities and cleansed us from sin, it was done once and for all….one and done (Hebrews 10:10). As a result, he sees you as white as snow.
Now, you might not feel as white as snow. You might feel anxious or ashamed, like you want to scream or run or pull your hair out, because life is messy and we do stupid things. BUT in spite of how you may feel in the moment, there’s no pressure for you to purge because it’s already been done–you’ve been made clean.
So the next time you feel the urge to purge, in whatever form that may be, I encourage you to pause. Come to Jesus. Tell him about the “bad stuff” that you want to get rid of and leave that at the foot of the cross.
“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” John 15:3
“It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit.” Titus 3:5 (MSG)