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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Control (01/30/06)

TITLE: Heart of Hunger
By Ann Grover
02/04/06


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I need to make a confession.

Please forgive me if I ramble. I havenít been thinking too clearly lately.

Maybe youíve already guessed. Youíre very observant, but youíre also cautious, and you wouldnít want to mention anything, just on the outside chance that you might be mistaken.

No doubt youíve noticed the diminishing of my spirit and my self, in spite of the fact that I am very adept at cloaking the evidence in bulky layers. I also know how to conceal myself in busyness and the demands of hospitality. Iíve learned to anticipate the fade-to-black sensation that shadows my mind if I move too quickly.

Iím able to overcome my panic at mealtimes, and Iíve calculated how to maintain a facade of ingesting, hoping no one will notice that I take a spoonful-sized helping of this, a thin slice of that, pushing food around with my fork, rearranging it into smaller piles, simulating consumption.

Seizing any opportunity to escape from the table, I fuss with making tea or filling the kitchen sink with hot, soapy water. I plunge my trembling hands into the scalding suds, letting the pain gather in my fingers, allowing me to ignore the burning in my heart.

I have chosen my battle. I have chosen my weapon.

I have chosen my voice.

I havenít always been given the option of speaking. Now, with obscene freedom, I proclaim refusal of sustenance.

I reprimand the guttural demands of clawing hunger pangs, and they retreat into quiet submission. Iíve persuaded myself that the gnawing appetite is not real, only a ploy to make my body respond to the temptation to eat and so live another day.

Food is designed to preserve, to keep a body moving and feeling, but I prefer the numbness in my melting bones to the unrelenting anguish of despair and unworthiness. Deny nourishment to the undeserving. Withdraw privileges from the condemned. I am shriveled and unshriven; how can I receive absolution when I have but one ambition?

How long until the hollowness inside escapes the husk that I have become, dissolving like a thin vapour into invisibility?

Sometimes, my resolve breaks and I swallow. The food turns bitter and weighs heavily within, distended by guilt. With determination, I mend the promises Iíve made to myself, but sometimes, the burden needs to be released, purged.

Each loss is a victory.

I feel empowered by my ability to subdue and suppress.

Occasionally, someone comments on my fading away. I must have tremendous will power, they say. I must be blessed with an extra measure of self-control.

How little they know. I donít have any control at all. Iíve lost control.

I can not stop the winding descent any more than I can stop the tide or the wind.

I am afraid that if I relent, I will gorge myself into obese oblivion.

Yet, I am also afraid that starvation will consume me.

I wonder if itís of any consequence, either way.

I am confessing to you, to test the waters, so to speak. Iím watching you for signs of revulsion or judgment, but your eyes tell me that you are not surprised by my confession. Iím challenging you to be honest with your words, your actions, to not dismiss me with a trite rebuke about duty and responsibility.

If you give me permission to eat, I will. For a few bites, I will be at your mercy, and I will feel relieved and breathe much easier. Convince me, persuade me that it matters if I will still be breathing tomorrow, next week.

Tell me again to eat, before the tenuous moment passes, and I become tangled once more in the delusion that I am beyond redemption. Tell me again that you care, before I begin to mock the voices that are telling me itís acceptable to eat. Please hold me while I unwrap the deceitfully comforting arms of self-denial from my heart.

Perhaps, each time you encourage me to take from your hand, I will be filled and satisfied by the assurance that it is permissible to exist. The nourishment of your steadfast and unconditional love will restore my ravenous soul and feed my famished spirit.

Itís time for me to let go.


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This article has been read 922 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Birdie Courtright02/08/06
Very powerful thoughts. This left me not quite sure if its fiction or a reality. I'm left wanting to say "yes, please eat, please continue to exist."
WENDY DECKER02/10/06
What a strong message written here. One that seems to have been experienced first hand, or knows the depths of this condition. You expressed it well. Great writing.
Jan Ackerson 02/11/06
Oh, I wish everyone with an eating disorder would read this one! Bravo!
Linda Watson Owen02/11/06
As a writer you had this reader under complete control. Amazing skill! A difficult subject beautifully articulated!
Debbie Sickler02/12/06
Very convincing inside look. Well done and I hope that if there was a real life inspiration for this piece they have received victory over the situation. Great writing!
Beth Muehlhausen02/13/06
Very well done...wow. The exposure is soooo deep. This could speak volumes in helping someone with an eating disorder put words to feelings. It needs to be shared. Thanks for the touching transparency...and please, please, please!...I want to tell this person to receive my "permission" to eat!
Laurie Glass02/13/06
Wow! I hope you will be able to find a place to submit this one. I know it would touch the hearts of many who struggle with eating disorders. This piece is so real, so honest, so powerful. It brought tears to my eyes. Great job.
Brandi Roberts02/13/06
Wowsa, Ann! That was deep...and very well written! Thank you!