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BY REV. KACI CLARK-PORTER

March 7, 2019
“State senators request a study of eating disorders in Texas," via Daily Texan.

“I think that 'Come as you are' is like everybody from all different types of backgrounds," she says. "Come as you are and talk about our struggles with food, right? Because eating disorders thrive in isolation." – Gloria Lucas, via NPR.
“I am skin and bones—I have barely escaped with my life.” – Job 19:20

“Blessed are those who hunger.” – Matthew 5:6 

“Do not be afraid.” – 120+ scriptural references
Lent is a journey. Forty days of wandering, fasting, repenting, and permitting what would otherwise remain hidden to rise up. For some Christians, Lent is the tiresome journey from the solemnity of Ash Wednesday to the ecstasy of Easter morning. But for me, Lent is always a journey back in time. 

When I was 16 years old, I gave up sweets for Lent—my first taste of Lenten fasting. It was easier than expected. I hardly noticed, much less mourned, the missing rice krispie treat at lunchtime. And on the days when I did feel deprived—missing out on FroYo with friends or donuts on Sunday morning—I felt exhilarated from my ability to control my appetite and deny myself. 

By the time we were belting out loud refrains of “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” I’d lost just under 10 lbs. It was simple; and I wondered why so many people struggled to lose weight. Didn’t they enjoy that rush of denial? 

By the following Lent I’d lost 40 lbs. and wore a size 0. I no longer felt denial’s spill of endorphins but felt every ounce of the zero. I was anguished, exhausted, hungry, frightened of my own mind, and oh so alone. 

Over the next few years restriction morphed into bulimia and bulimia into binge eating disorder. It’s been over 20 years since that first Lenten fast and I still struggle. 

Lent never fails to haunt me.

Perhaps that’s why I’m so drawn to these words from Sunday’s Prayer of Confession:

Perhaps we’re afraid to have time to think, time to be honest with ourselves. 
Perhaps we’re afraid to face our future knowing our past.
Perhaps we think we have no future knowing our present.


Perhaps we’re all feeling a little “haunted and daunted” as we take our first trembling steps into Lent. I doubt I’m the only one feeling this way; and it’s a comfort not feeling so alone. 

National Eating Disorder Awareness week wrapped up just four days ago and their theme this year was “Come As You Are”, a move toward inclusivity in the eating disorder community as more and more people of color have come forward with their stories. Unlike our society, eating disorders don’t discriminate based on race. So come as you are—even if you’re not a rich, white, female, adolescent.

As I pastor I can’t help but hear a parallel between “Come As You Are” and an invitation to feast at Christ’s table. “No matter who you are, where you’ve been, or what you’ve done, know you are welcome here—at this table and in this community”—those are the words I say each time I invite people to the Lord’s Table. In other words, “Come As You Are.” 

Our Lenten fast culminates in a feast of resurrection, but the daily journey is no less “haunting and daunting.” So come as you are—we need you—for none of us should walk this way alone.

Eating disorders may thrive in isolation but resistance cannot. We need each other: to mobilize, to inspire, to share our rage, to instill courage, and to relentlessly remind one another that our future is worth the daily struggle for justice.
Start by visiting the National Eating Disorder Association's website:
  • Learn about eating disorders.
  • Sign up for their newsletter, participate in a walk or community event.
  • Donate.
  • Ask for help.
  • Share your story.
  • Work to dismantle unhealthy and unattainable concepts of body image.
Living God, may we not be so haunted and daunted by our past that your Spirit cannot fall afresh upon us. Amen. 
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