This (very abbreviated) account is mine, but it is also my daughter’s; it is with her contribution and support I share it here.
Over the last 15 months I’ve learned quite a bit about hunger. I’d been physically hungry before, of course, whether due to being busy, poor planning, or being broke. And I’d experienced being spiritually hungry, too, of course, whether due to being busy, poor planning, or being broken. In each instance I had a lesson to relearn about the importance of constant nourishment. The lesson was specifically for myself; I didn’t seem to need the reminder for others– i.e., my kids– because providing nourishment has always been something I’ve loved to do.
“I didn’t know it then but we aren’t supposed to be like God. Nobody can be. We just strive to live His commandments so we can see Him again.”
Sometimes those we love are spiritually hungry. We can offer that fruit to those loved ones, and it is ultimately their own decision (as it is each of ours) whether or not to partake.
But what of those times when our loved ones are physically hungry? When their choice is not to eat?
The night before her fifteenth birthday, one of my daughters was admitted to the hospital for severe dehydration. She received an I.V. for fluids, and two days later had to get a feeding tube. After almost a week in the hospital and a long weekend at home, she entered intensive inpatient treatment for her eating disorder. Being away from her was excruciating, but it was necessary to save her life.
She describes her experience as beginning with a desire to be better, to be more healthy; in her personal scripture study, and in seminary, she focused on becoming perfect (Matthew 5:48). She recognizes how those desires gradually extended to the extreme, the unattainable. She says now, “I didn’t know it then but we aren’t supposed to be like God. Nobody can be. We just strive to live His commandments so we can see Him again.”
As her mom, I felt completely helpless. I didn’t understand what she was going through, and it wasn’t something I could fix for her. I had to learn how to parent a teenager with anorexia. I had to learn to feed, in new ways, one of my own who was hungry. And I knew I couldn’t do it on my own, so I put what I’d been taught (and taught others) to the test. I leaned upon the Savior. He knew. He could succor. He knew the agony and terror my daughter felt, and He knew my helplessness.
Christmas Day will be fifteen months since my daughter was admitted to the hospital. In that time she’s been in inpatient treatment twice, and is now on her road to recovery. I think it’s going well.
From my daughter:
“God has a plan for me. God never betrayed me. He wants me better, and He continues to help feed me and help me understand how to be like Him without being my version of perfect. To this day, I am struggling with battling thoughts and I am still trying to learn to love my body for what it does, not what it looks like. I am still trying to love this blessing of a body that God continues to feed. I have so much help from many people and I hope I can do the same for them. I try to turn to the Lord to spiritually feed me the truth of what I need to know in order to live a happy, healthy life in His eyes and mine.”
She’s strong, she’s smart, and we’re doing our best to continually allow ourselves to be fed in the ways we most need.