It wasn’t the first time I purged, but this time was different. I was in Paris, away from home on Easter for the first time. I wanted to go to church and scouted the one with services in English. My Swedish roommate agreed to go with me. So, we got up, got dressed, and headed out. When we arrived, the choir was already singing the Hallelujah chorus, which signified the end of worship. The time changed that Sunday, and I had NO idea. We had missed church entirely!
Totally bummed, we left back down the stairs from the main entrance. On the way down, one of my heels broke completely off. ARG! I was on the verge of tears, and I asked a sweet man to help break off my other heel, so at least I wouldn’t have to teeter all the way home.
So, with uncomfortable heel-less shoes on my feet, my roommate and I decided to drown our sorrows. But not in booze. In food. We were models, and had been living on caffeine and nicotine.
So, away we went to Pizza Hut, where I think we ate an entire pie. I remember eating candy and bread and as much as we could cram down our throats and into our little bellies.
But then we got home, and reality set in. We had to go back to work the next day. Our agents would tell us that we need to work out, and our peers would introduce us to laxative tea. So, we decided to throw up everything we ate. We took turns in the bathroom.
And so not what Easter is supposed to be about. God did not intend for the celebration of the Risen Lord to be an exercise in binging. And God definitely did not intend her beautiful children to pray to the porcelain god after feasting on the fruit of the land.
The whole day had been a bust. I was homesick and church-sick. My shoes broke, my feet hurt, and now my soul stung because I knew that making myself throw up, on this day especially, was not right.
I really wasn’t very good at the whole bulimia thing. Laxatives were much more my style, but still gross. And still wrong. Even though I am so far removed from this lifestyle, it is difficult to write. I am embarrassed to admit the harmful things I did to my body. God already knew everything, but my parents didn’t. And I don’t like to hurt them.
Blessedly, that life is long behind me. I have the freedom to feast on high holy days, knowing that I will eat healthy most other days. My paycheck isn’t dependent on the size of my waist. And I value my body as a spiritual being, blessed by God to do the work of God, not to be damaged by my own hands or others. But it took me a long time to get here. And I didn’t get here alone. I listened to the still small voice in my head and had the love of my family to support me, even if they hadn’t a clue what struggles I dealt with.
I pray that by sharing my own Easter story someone else will rise out of the ashes of coffee and cigarettes, broken shoes and binging, “perfection” and purging. May the risen Lord, who embodied Love, call us to love our own scarred and broken bodies with spiritual and physical nourishment.
Former international fashion model Rev. Sarah Renfro seeks to boost the body image of young women by educating them on the myths of media and focusing on divine within. She also preaches and teaches about marriage and divorce, motherhood, ministry, and mental illness.