Communion is such a beautiful and sacred part of the worship experience. We gather together to partake in the bread and cup as the body of Christ, but what happens when some of us struggle to come to the table?
Mental illness is swept under the rug in the church and we often steer away from anything that makes us cringe, feel uncomfortable, and question what we believe. The reality of it is that people are daily putting on happy faces, covering up scars, and walking into churches like they have their lives together. The church has become a place where those who are struggling, often struggle in silence.
For years, I have battled an on-again/off-again relationship with an eating disorder that has come to steal, kill, and destroy anything good in my life. I have been consumed by what I look like, what goes into my body, and how the rest of the world perceives me.
Communion has always been such a hard thing for me to partake in. I look at this Holy meal as another meal that I have to grin and bear because I can’t let anyone know what is going on.
But I know I’m not alone. All around the world people are battling this vicious disease and are feeling the same way. Three meals a day are hard enough to sit through, let alone another meal where people call it Holy and blessed.
I would often think that something was wrong with me. People were receiving these elements and becoming teary eyed because they were so happy and I would become teary eyed because bread and juice are just another thing to add to the calorie counting chart.
This week at church we had communion together, but this time it was different. As I was walking to receive the elements this week, there was peace and understanding that this meal was not specifically set out to make me miserable, but rather to make me feel fed and nourished, but in a good way.
As Pastor Jackie called me by name and reminded me that the body and blood of Christ has been broken and shed for me, a transformation began to sink in. The words, “The body of Christ broken for you, Brittney” transformed my thinking.
Christ calls me by name and invites me to this table daily. It’s a table that has been prepared with healthy and good food that is designed to nourish and replenish me, not to harm me.
It’s a meal that stands as a reminder of what Christ has done for me and what Christ can do through me.
As I ate of the bread and drank of the cup, my thinking was not on calories, what I look like, or what people will be thinking of me, but rather, it was on the reminder that I am enough, I deserve to be healthy, and food is not the enemy.
The battle was won, but the war is still being fought. It has been a 10-year battle, but yesterday a transformation began to happen. I became teary eyed as I realized that not all food is bad and this Holy meal is prepared to serve as a reminder of who Christ is.
If you’re battling this mental illness, know that you are not alone. If this meal that people see as Holy and sacred is one that you want to skip, just like the others, I invite you to look at it as an invitation to believe in better tomorrows.
As you drink of that cup and eat of that bread, you’re giving yourself nourishment to keep going, to keep fighting, and to keep seeking truth.
You’re not alone, there are lots of us who weekly have to choose if we will partake in the meal that is set before us or step back while others enjoy the feast.