One of the small victories I love to see our clients celebrate is the discovery of something they enjoy. A favorite museum, a new band, a great coffee shop—they may seem like small things, but for someone in recovery from disordered eating, they can be huge.
That’s because an eating disorder tends to take over your sense of identity. It so occupies your thoughts, so demands your energies, that eventually there’s little space left in you for you. So every time our clients can discover and claim something as a source of enjoyment and delight, it represents a small but significant victory in pushing back against their eating disorder, of developing and asserting a sense of who they are that’s not determined by their illness.
While those who don’t struggle with disordered eating may not have much trouble naming their favorite color or identifying what kinds of books they like to read, the question of identity is one that, at some level, we all struggle to answer. Who am I? What makes me unique? Where does my value come from?
The Christian tradition teaches us that the answers to those questions are both the same and different for each of us. Our fundamental identity comes from the fact that we are each created by God and bear God’s image—that is the basic identity that we all share, and because of it, all of us have value and worth that cannot be taken away. At the same time, our God is infinitely creative, and so we each bear his image in a unique way. Our individual passions and preferences, the things that spark our interest and give us joy, are more than just quirks of our personalities; they are reflections of our Creator and evidence of his personal love for each of us.
As Rock Recovery’s clients journey along the path to recovery, my hope and prayer for them is that their growing sense of their own identity would be rooted in the truth that they are the image-bearers and beloved children of God. It is my hope and prayer for each of you as well.
Erin Bair joined the Rock Recovery team as its first chaplain in the fall of 2015. She is a priest in the Anglican Church in North America and has previously served in parish ministry and hospital chaplaincy. Having known many people affected by disordered eating, Erin is grateful to get to support Rock Recovery’s clients, helping them to know the freedom that God’s love and grace offers them. Erin grew up in Georgia and attended college and divinity school in Boston. Nine years into living in the DC area, she’s convinced she’s found the best of both worlds. In addition to working with Rock Recovery, Erin is a speaker and retreat leader and is training to be a spiritual director. In her free time, she loves to read, cook, hike, and spend as much time as possible in Arizona with her nieces and nephew.