1 in 5 women struggle with an eating disorder or disordered eating.(I)
- An estimated 10 to 15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are male.(II)
- 42% of 1st-3rd grade girls want to be thinner.
- 53% of 13 year old girls are unhappy with their bodies.
Natalie Grant: Her Heart Revealed
The 700 Club
Natalie Grant is a three-time Dove Award winner for Female Vocalist of the Year. From music to motherhood, to her heart-wrenching struggle with bulimia, Natalie freely reveals her heart. She shares how Jesus healed the pain no one else could see.
"This is what is means to be held. To be loved..." Her signature song "Held" is unforgettable. Her new album Relentless lights a fire under listeners to pursue Christ with passion.
Natalie recorded the project with her husband and producer, Bernie Herms. And she did it all while eight months pregnant with twins! Their baby girls are now a year old.
MIA: How is it raising twin girls?
MIA: How do you do it?!
NATALIE: It’s crazy!!! (laughs) You know it’s funny, I prayed for my miracle baby, and God gave me two for one. It’s the coolest and greatest thing that’s happened to me. Not to say it’s not a lot of work, ‘cause it is.
We have changed over 4,000 diapers and filled over 3,500 bottles. So that’s a lot (laughs). But it’s so magical to see the two of them together because they’ve got a best friend for the rest of their life. I just wouldn’t have it any other way.
Something else that's dear to Natalie's heart is her first book...The Real Me: Being the Girl God Sees.
MIA: Who is the real Natalie?
NATALIE: (laughs) I don’t know; I think I’m still figuring that out. I don’t know that there’s ever a point that you just arrive at ‘This is who I am’. At the same time, I think you know the real me is somebody who embraces my flaws. I speak before I think, and I think that’s my biggest flaw. And, you know I have short legs, and I have cellulite in unmentionable places (laughs), and I have a whole lot of freckles. And all those things that God created me to be, and when He looks at me, He doesn’t see that as a flaw, He sees something beautiful.
It's taken Natalie years to believe this truth. In her book she reveals her desperate struggle to be herself.
NATALIE: There’s such a pressure to look a certain way or be a certain way to be accepted and successful. And I fell for that lie in my own life. Even though I grew up with two godly parents who loved me and believed in me and built me up everyday, I still struggled with my self image.
And it was this constant need for approval, that constant need for affirmation and acceptance, that constantly kept me performing and performing. And as a result my relationship with the Lord really suffered because I wasn’t even being real with Him.
Her relationship with a former college boyfriend only deepened her insecurities.
NATALIE: He said, "You’re always asking me what I think is beautiful." And I asked him because he never said I was. He pointed to this girl on a magazine and he said, "she is beyond beautiful, she’s perfect." But I just remember thinking I don’t care how many surgeries I’d have in my life, I’d never look like that. But maybe if I work on the outside a little bit, maybe I could get a little bit more of his acceptance. Maybe he would look at me and validate me. And I remember we went to lunch after that and I thought I just need to get it out. I remember going to the bathroom in that restaurant and locking the door of that tiny stall and kneeling down on that dirty floor (getting emotional). I remember when I shoved my finger down my throat, it was like opening Pandora’s box. It wasn’t just like I was purging the food, it was like this strange feeling of freedom. I can see why it’s such an addictive behavior for girls because most often your life is so out of control, and it’s one thing that you can control, and it felt good.
MIA: How bad did it get? What happened to your physical appearance?
NATALIE: I had dropped down below 100 pounds. I was 96 pounds, and average for me is 125. My teeth began to get really yellow because of the constant purging, and my hair began to fall out. But that’s how demented our culture is. Because even with all those things, and I was beginning to look guant, I remember that my collar bone was sticking out and I thought that was so beautiful. I remember I loved seeing my bones. And obviously so did a lot of other people because I got comments about how good I looked all the time.
MIA: What was the moment that God really moved you to start seeking His help to be free?
NATALIE: Everybody’s story is different. For me, it happened on a day that I was actually kneeling at my toilet. I’ve never heard God speak audibly but the Holy Spirit speaks to us on the inside, and it’s like I felt him saying ‘My grace is enough. My grace is enough.’ And that Scripture began to transfer from my head to my heart. I remember looking at that toilet and going I am kneeling to the wrong God. I’m kneeling to this god of myself because this is what I do to make myself feel better and to feel accepted, and to look a certain way. I’m kneeling to the wrong god, and this will destroy me. I don’t know how to get control of it. And I wish I could tell you that I just popped up from the toilet, stopped making myself throw up, never did it again, and was miraculously transformed. It wasn’t. It was a long process of discovering what it is God sees when he looks at me.
MIA: What do you believe God sees when He looks at you?
NATALIE: He actually created us in His image. And the more I began to just tell myself that ‘When God sees me He sees Himself’ the more I would think, He doesn’t -- God doesn’t think of Himself as ugly (laughs hysterically) I mean..
MIA: He’s the fairest of ten thousand.
NATALIE: Yeah, He’s the fairest of ten thousand. So I think He kind of knows He’s got it going on. And so I don’t think He looks at us and goes ‘Man I sure messed up on that one.’ I think He does not see our flaws and failures. I think He looks at us He sees Himself; He sees beauty.
MIA: How does it feel to finally be free?
NATALIE: When you have that kind of experience with grace it transforms you. I have experienced joy in my relationship with God that I’ve never known. And so it feels amazing to be free of bulimia. Even though I wish I could say that I’m totally free, but I’m a woman and I struggle with insecurities every day of my life. It’s a battle we fight while we’re in this body. Every day it gets easier. And everyday I get to know the Lord more it gets easier.
NATALIE: One of my favorite Scriptures is from 1 Peter 5:10-12. And it says 'the God of all grace after you have suffered a while will strengthen, perfect, establish, and settle you.’
(I) National Institute of Mental Health's (NIMH) guide, Eating Disorders: Facts About Eating Disorders and the Search for Solutions
(II) Carlat, D.J. Camargo. Review of Bulimia in Males. American Journal of Psychiatry, 154, 1997
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