By Michael Ireland
Jane Austin (Cissie) Graham Lynch, Rev. Billy Graham’s granddaughter, and the daughter of Jane and Franklin Graham, says she was in “bondage” to her serious eating disorder which once, “held her captive,” and she has now written her own ‘RANSOM Note.’
Cissie has launched a website www.ransom.tv devoted to this problem and how God helped her overcome it.
On the site, Cissie shares her own story and provides a place for others with eating disorders and other problems to share their struggles.
Said Cissie: “It used to hold me captive. It was the first thing I thought of in the morning and the last thing I thought of before falling asleep. I was a prisoner in my own skin. I hated myself. I hated the person I saw looking back at me in the mirror. It became my secret.”
Cissie says she remembers the first time she noticed her weight.
“It was the week before going into my junior year of high school. We had just started volleyball practice, and one of my friends came back from summer break after a noticeable amount of weight loss. She looked gorgeous.
“But it just wasn’t her weight loss I noticed. It was the positive and negative attention she received — positive from people who thought she looked great and negative from the girls who were jealous and people who shared real concerns.
“And that is when my eating disorder and addiction began.”
Cissie says that three years of misery followed.
“It first started with just a small diet, then diet pills, and then laxatives. Every night I went to bed angry that I allowed myself to eat too much during the course of the day. And since I didn’t think I could control my eating habits, I turned to laxatives.”
Cissie recalls that she had pills hidden in her car, in her locker, in her purse, in her closet, in her backpack, “and anywhere else I thought necessary. Many days I took up to eight pills.”
Cissie continues: “Many nights I cried myself asleep. I was angry because of what I ate, and cried because of the bondage it had over me. I wanted to be set free. I prayed countless nights, ‘Lord please allow me to see myself through your eyes and not my own.’ Over and over again I prayed.”
She says that for some of us, over-managing weight is about control, for some looks, for some depression, and for some attention. “But all of those reasons are selfish.”
Cissie prayed for three years for the Lord to heal her. “I guess I expected an over-night miracle, but those rarely exist in these situations,” she said, adding: “I honestly can’t tell you a particular day when I was completely set free. Healing was definitely a process.”
Cissie took a semester off to work in in an orphanage in Thailand, and during her time there she realized she was no longer thinking of herself first thing in the morning or last thing at night.
“I was there to serve others, but most importantly I was serving the Lord. My days were filled with His word and His promises,” she said.
“Being flooded with God’s Word was the only tool that could pull me out of my pit. When I decided to serve Him wholeheartedly before serving myself, He gave me the desires of my heart. (“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart,” Psalm 37:4).
On the website, Cissie tells other eating disorder sufferers: “Our personal stories are our identity. They make us who we are. They become our DNA.
“We have all been ransomed from something. We all have a story to tell, and we shouldn’t be ashamed to tell it.”
Cissie states: “The Son of God hung on a cross with all my shame upon Him for the whole world to see. Therefore, I am not going be ashamed to share my story.”
She continues: “This is the first time I have written my story, and it feels good, because I HAVE BEEN RANSOMED by the blood of Jesus.”
“We all have a story to tell; something that makes each of us uniquely who we are. We all have a Creator who loves us, and we are all made in His image. We were made to walk with Him,” she says.
“Sin is what separates us from His love. We all live broken lives. When we allow His Son into our lives, He makes us whole.”
But Cissie says there is hope for those with eating disorders and other chronic problems: “We have been RANSOMed. (“ Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working,” James 5:16).
She encourages fellow sufferers by saying that the RANSOM website exists as a place for you to tell your story. “We find freedom through telling others what we’ve experienced. (“ For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a RANSOM for many,” — Mark 10:45).
“Our stories have the power to change and encourage the lives of others. Once we accept Jesus’ RANSOM for our lives, we find healing through confession,” Cissie said.
She concludes: “At RANSOM, we call our stories our RANSOM Notes. What have you been RANSOMed from? What’s your RANSOM Note?
What’s your story? Here are some questions to get you thinking:
• How has Jesus changed your life?
• When did you question who you really are?
• What struggles do you have?
• What are you doing to serve others?
• Have you ever doubted God?