Weapons for Good

Have you ever felt like something you’re reading slaps you in the face? Like it is so accurate and immediately applicable to you that you could SWEAR it was written just for you? Or it is a truth that you had never considered before and now your mind is completely blown? This happens to me pretty frequently as I read books, listen to audiobooks, hear a sermon, or just hear somebody speak about their experiences. It happened to me again today reading a baller devotional that every single one of you should buy (“Heir to the Crown” by Alisa Keeton). Here’s how it went down: 

The devotional’s theme today was “Armed.” It went on to explain how as a daughter of the one true King I get to be armed with a shield of faith and a sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. It explained that an armed woman of God does not use her weapons to inflict pain or evoke fear, rather she uses her weapons to set the captives free and free herself from the things that bind her. SLAP. 

I was reminded of how in the thick of my eating disorder I would inflict pain on myself. I would bang my hips against countertops until they were bruised because I believed that it was desirable to have bones sticking out and as long as I could still do that I was ok. One time, during feelings of complete darkness, I punched myself in the stomach over and over again because I was mad and frustrated and felt invisible. 

Then I thought about how many years later I am still not using my weapons the way God intended. I inflict (mental & spiritual) pain on myself and somehow manage to put my bondage back on every now and then instead of walking in the freedom I know is mine. Now it isn’t physical harm to myself, but comparison, lingering glances in mirrors, self-criticism, food justification. It looks like believing lies about myself and others and letting that lead me instead of what God says about me or them. Screen Shot 2020-07-31 at 11.24.52 AM

I was challenged this morning to consider the weapons I’ve been given and to use them for good instead of harm. My shield of faith should be used to defend and protect myself (and others) from surrendering to lies. I should sharpen my sword of the Spirit as often as I can by reading God’s word and listening to what He tells me. Then, and only then, will I be prepared for when the enemy of lies, comparison, jealousy, and idolatry show up. 

So armed friends of mine, how are you using your weapons? Don’t forget that God has given us full armor to wear because He loves us so much (read Ephesians 6 to see what that armor is!). 

And if you’re the musical type, listen to these two songs as I did today to remind myself that I have victory because of Jesus and that my weapons of praise and thanksgiving are stronger than any other. “Surrounded” by Upper Room, and “See a Victory” by Elevation Worship. 

 

Lingering Struggles

I wish I could say that eating disorder recovery was a short time of intense focus on healing, and maybe it is for some people, but for me it has been a lingering struggle. 4.5 years. That’s how long it’s been since my eating disorder truly owned me. I wish I could say that my life is free of lies about my body or that I don’t get preoccupied by thoughts of food. I wish I could say that I always combat lies with truth and don’t let my compulsive thoughts rule my day. But honestly, I give in. Some days are complete garbage and the next is totally fine. It’s weird and hard and I don’t like it. But the other day I came across something I wrote 2 years ago about my eating disorder experience and it reminded me of where I’ve been, what I’ve gone through, and where I can go. So here it is! I hope it brings you hope as it did for me. 

~ The darkness seems to follow me. Where I go, it goes. Where I stay, it stays. I can’t leave, nor do I want to. It’s lonely and awful, but it’s familiar. It’s safe, but so dangerous. I tell myself it’s not a problem. No one else even notices. I shout cries of help that not a single person hears. I’m scared they’ll never hear me. I’m scared they will. I can’t take the guilt. I can’t take the shame. Even if they knew they wouldn’t understand.  Now it’s been so long it almost doesn’t seem real.  I want out of the dark, but I’m nervous the light will be too much to bear. 

They know. They found out.Actually, I told them. I wish they would have found out on their own. Now it’s weird. I want them to care. I want them to acknowledge. I want them to help. But it’s harder than I thought. I get it, though. What do you say to someone like me? They want to be helpful, but that dwindles. They say affirming things, but that fades. I feel like I got a peek into the light. It was so bright at first, but quickly faded to what seems like a tiny seed. 

Then I heard a voice. Screen Shot 2018-11-13 at 9.15.04 PM.pngIt was almost like it was from the seed of light. It was a faint whisper, yet so strong. It said, “I know you. I know that you’ve struggled. I was there in the beginning. I was there in the darkest moments. I see you.” Someone saw me. It probably won’t last long, though. He’ll see me, pity me, then leave me. “I will never leave you.” His voice got deeper, like a low rumble. “You didn’t choose me, but I chose you. I love you. Just as you are. Come out of the darkness. You are free.” This can’t be legit.No one really knows what it’s like. He doesn’t know me. “I love you. I will call you mine. I will claim you. You are blameless and worthy of knowing my love.” I don’t even know what that means. I‘ve never had somebody fight for me the way that He does. And, in His presence, I do feel at peace. I feel acknowledged. I feel comforted. Somehow, He now feels safer than the dark. What seemed so familiar now seems strange. I want to be with Him. I want to follow Him out of the darkness. 

Praise be to His name! He is so great! I am free! Even though I stumble, I will not fall, for He upholds me.When I glance back into the darkness and inch my way back, His voice thunders the softest embrace. “You are already so loved.” “Their words are fleeting, but I will give you everlasting life.” Since I left the darkness He hasn’t failed me. It all sound too good to be true. But He is faithful. And He is good. I no longer yearn for their acknowledgement. He is the name above all names and He notices me. Loves me. Calls me His. He lets me dwell in His love. So I remain in His love. I’ve learned that what He tells me is true. Not because He tricked me or is sly. I believe Him because He has proved Himself. Faithful, trustworthy, safe. Now He challenges me. I go back to places where it used to be so dark. So lonely. He shows me truth. And now I see Him there! I was blinded by my tunnel vision for their attention that I didn’t see Him near me. I hear Him there, too. My shouts for help were accompanied by His voice speaking truth. I just seemed to yell over His still, small voice. 

My cries for help have turned to shouts of praise. He has shed light onto my darkest days. Lies I believed about myself have grown quiet. Truths are proclaimed, even when it’s hard to believe them. I will follow Him. Where He goes, I’ll go. Where He stays, I’ll stay. I could leave, but I don’t want to. The light is full and beautiful and it’s new, every day.  He is my refuge. So I will remain. ~ 

(P.S. Listen to this song! So good.)

Holidays with Eating Disorders

Yesterday was the best Independence Day I think I’ve ever had. It was just SO MUCH FUN. I played board games with my husband, played volleyball for 3 hours, and spent the rest of the day playing yard games with some of my favorite people on the planet. So yeah, it was a pretty phenomenal day.

As for my eating disorder? It was more of a meh day. And not because of any of the aforementioned activities. My eating disorder is so hard on holidays. Not because of any significance or meaning, but because there is so. much. food. everywhere. you. turn. And everyone brings their best and favorite dishes! Obviously, that’s one of my favorite things about holidays because I love food. But then ED kicks in and I remember how hard food situations can be with the buttloads of food scattered around houses and backyards.

I remember looking at all the food and my empty plate in line yesterday and I thought “I want to be the kind of person who doesn’t feel guilty about eating any of this food here.” So I filled my plate. I needed that hot second to remember that that day was extraordinary and all of the joy I felt had nothing to do with what I was eating (except those dang cherries, some of my joy was from those cherries. so. good.)images

Social eating is something that my eating disorder has tainted. I love the people, the chatter, the laughter, the snorting a drink that ends up in your nose somehow, and the relationships that build. But I feel so much pressure on what to order if I’m out, or how much to scoop out, or trying to persuade myself not to care what other people are eating, or stopping my brain from recounting all of the things I ate that day so far, or coming up with excuses to eat what I really want to eat even if it is more or different from everyone else. It’s a workout just trying to wrestle my brain into thinking about what’s actually happening and not what I’m anxious about.

So next holiday, be aware of the comments that you make about the food you’re eating – or not eating. I don’t need people to cater to my needs, but I do think it helps to remember that some people struggle. And you never know who may be struggling around you. You may just be helping someone have the best holiday of their lives by doing so.

 

Believing Lies.

It’s hard to explain what happened between me, eating disorder, and God this morning. In short, I felt SO LOVED. Like, what? God loves the crap out of me.  And I was blown away by that this morning reading about Eve in the garden.

I felt a strong connection to how Eve must have felt when the serpent deceives her, gets her to believe lies about who she is and who God is. She knows the truth and the serpent twists it just enough so Eve questions it. Then she acts. This act was an act of disobedience, sure, but what it really did was separate herself from God. And she knew it. So she hid from God. She talked with Him and explained that she had gotten deceived by the serpent’s lies. Here is the part where I fell apart this morning: After God tells them all the repercussions of their actions, He made garments and CLOTHED Eve. He knew she felt exposed, naked, and ashamed, so He covered her. I bawled my eyes out. Compassionate, kind, and gracious is our God. He continues to pursue and love us even when we are defiant, far from Him, or wandering around searching for Him.                (See Genesis 3)

I then talked with God about how I sometimes believe twisted lies about myself and others, and that I know it hurts me and them. I believe lies about what I need to look like and those lies try to separate me from the truth, which is that God will love me and pursue me no matter what I look like. (This seems obvious, and it is, but when an eating disorder takes over your brain, you start to believe weird things about your value and its placement). Anyways, after all this happened I listened to some music and wrote this. I don’t know what to call it…maybe a poem since it kind of rhymes? Maybe a psalm since it is a song to God? Whatever it is, I hope it encourages you:Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 11.14.00 AM

Pursued

My heart and mind are messy, dirty, complicated

But You trudge through my trenches ‘cause Your love for me cannot be separated

 

When lies cause me to turn away and stumble

Your gentle tug reminds me of Your love, pure and humble

 

Vulnerable and exposed, You see all my flaws

Yet You see me as righteous, because of Jesus’ cause

 

My life is, and always was, Yours

So I’ll cling to You as I run the course

 

Your pursuit of me brings me to tears

So I will worship You for all my years

 

 

Real Compliments

I was at ALDI yesterday, not only because it’s the greatest grocery store ever, but because it makes my frugal heart happy. As I’m walking around with my grocery list (one that I lost halfway through shopping somehow – don’t ask), a woman I’ve never met before approaches me and asks, “Is your hair naturally curly? Because if it is, lay hands on me ‘cuz it is so beautiful and I would love that!” I told her, “Oh, why yes it is, I got it from my mama” in the perfect Will.i.am beat. I didn’t actually say that but I SO WISH I had. I told her that it is natural and that it kind of does what it wants. She proceeded to tell me about how if she sleeps in braids then her hair gets kind of wavy and that she may or may not get a perm. I can’t remember where she ended up with her perm idea by the end, but I thanked her and finished shopping.

When I got home, I reminisced about that sweet interaction and thought how awesome it was for her, a random stranger I’ve never talked with, to compliment me. I started thinking about when and why and how I compliment other people and it was a little disturbing. Any of you do this?

“Wow you look great in that dress, I could never pull that off.”

“Your hair looks great today, mine looks like a squirrel slept in it.”

“Your arms are majestic, I wish mine didn’t look like branches you’d use for roasting marshmallows.”

The compliments I usually give are followed by some bashing to myself. Like, what? Why? I of course mean the compliment and want the recipient to know that, so why do I follow it up with harsh words about myself? Honestly, it feels a little selfish. And backwards. And it takes away some of the pizaz that the compliment should carry. I want my motivation behind giving someone a compliment to be to Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 3.40.20 PMshow them that they are loved, worthy, rockin’ it, and that they are beautiful.

So I’m going to challenge myself, and you if you would like, to give real compliments. The kind that generate from a place of love for someone and not that of jealousy. I also want to practice accepting compliments in ways that show my gratitude and don’t bash myself in the process.

I hope you experience something similar to my ALDI adventure, and when you do, PLEASE, if applicable, sing some ‘I got it from my mama.” She’ll appreciate it.

 

Forgiveness

I think one of the hardest parts of eating disorder (ED) recovery for me was reflecting on the ways I hurt so many people that I love. I know I know, eating disorders are real things that can totally mess up your mental health and I don’t technically have control of that. You’re not wrong.

BUT my selfishness in the pursuit of thinness was the gateway for me to do crap things to the people I love. My ED was not a veil for me to hide behind so that I could do whatever I wanted, no matter who it hurt.  So whether I unknowingly or consciously made those decisions, I want to ask for forgiveness.

This may seem weird, and I feel weird typing it, but publicly declaring my wrong doings and asking for forgiveness has a couple different purposes: 1) I really am sorry and want those people to know that, and 2) I hope it sheds light into how twisted ED brain can be and that it can lead people to do atypical things that usually aren’t meant to hurt anyone else. 

Tanner: I’m sorry for blaming you for my ED. I twisted your comments into lies and I      believed them.

Erika: You are a beautiful human. I compared myself to you so much that I had grown to resent you, and for that I am so sorry.

Nicole: First of all, you’re amazing. Thanks for putting up with me all of college. And       because of that time frame, I did the worst things while we lived together. I stole SO MUCH of your food in the dorms. I lied to you almost every day when I said I was on the phone with someone downstairs (when really I was purging all that food I stole from you). For all of that, I apologize.

Rachel & Megan: I definitely lied to you in the dorms, too. So much lying I could be a rug.

Anna: This is a hard one. My comparison and jealousy of you made me SO snippy, mean, judgy, and bitter towards you. Most of this was in my heart – and I’m so sorry.

Rachel B: You’re a beautiful specimen, did you know that? My jealousy and habitual comparison of you has brought much resentment with a dose of displaced anger in my heart. I am so sorry for that.

To so many others: I’m so sorry for lying. I’m sorry for stealing. I’m sorry for turning my selfishness into unwarranted hurtful actions towards you, known or unknown. 

If you know someone with an eating disorder I hope you now know that that person doesn’t mean to hurt you. If they’re like me, their compulsatory habits lead to destruction of self while bulldozing those around them. It’s like walking with blinders on. They can’t help it and they mean no harm. Talk to them. Tell them what sucks, what hurts, and why. Forgive. Hug. Pray. Then continue to check in. 

If you have an eating disorder please hear me: You are not a bad person. Maybe you did a crap thing to somebody earlier today, but remember how loved, chosen, and forgiven you are by your Creator. And the people around you LOVE you. Talk to them. Tell them what sucks, what hurts, and why. Apologize. Hug. Pray. Then seek help and change. 

 

“His love is proud to be seen with you” – Pieces by Amanda Cook (take a listen!)

 

Petty to Praise

Halfway through my workout yesterday, I realized how petty my thoughts were. This is what I was thinking about:

“Why am I watching other people so much?” “Are other people watching me?” “I should do that exercise since she’s doing it.” “I can’t believe it’s been weeks since I came to the gym.” “Why can’t I look like that?” 

Then, I noticed what other people were doing and that over half of them were listening to music. I started wondering if I should start doing that because that could replace my incredibly ridiculous thoughts about myself and others. Then I remembered that I don’t have a playlist and I never actually listen to the music anyways when I try.

Then it hit me. I could listen to music, but what I should  do is praise. Praise God for this amazing and able body that he created for me. So I started praising Him. (Sidenote: I definitely looked like an idiot because as soon as I started praising I started smiling and then I was that girl that was smiling at nothing stretching on a mat. Weirdo.)

My praise went something like this: God I praise you for creating my body. I praise you for the things that it has done, what it is doing, and what it will do. I praise you for the records it has broken, the feats it has accomplished, and the losses it has bounced back from.

Then I realized that my body has done so many things! So my praises started getting really scatterbrained:  “I praise you God for the ways my body has comforted others. I praise you for all the times my body has given your love to people in tangible ways. I praise you for my body’s ability to teach my husband how to play basketball – except that I did too good of a job and now he is better than me. I praise you for all of the embraces my body has been enveloped in with nieces and nephews, friends and family, roommates and neighbors. God I praise you for the opportunities for my body to compete at high levels. I praise you for my body’s ability to laugh until I cry….pretty regularly. I praise you for making my body conform perfectly to a needed hug from a friend.

God I praise you for making me a temple for your Holy Spirit. I praise you for equipping my body to do your work. I praise you for wanting my body to be a part of your work. I praise you for creating me differently from everyone else. I praise you God for breathing life into me.

And I’m so sorry that I am mean to my body.”

I enjoyed the last half of my workout yesterday because I spent it thinking about all of the amazing things my body can do and by praising my body’s Creator. When the Creator of the whole world and everything in it says that my body is fearfully and wonderfully made, who am I to question that?

PS…check out the song “Reckless Love” by Cory Asbury. You won’t regret it.

I ate a Donut.

On Monday, I ate a donut. I don’t remember the last time I ate one of those things, but as soon as I did it, I was flooded with emotions. Emotions reminding me of why I avoided them. I felt awful. And gross. I felt totally out of control. Irreversible, as if eating a donut would actually cause my life to implode.

I felt guilt, shame, and instantaneous regret. Over a DONUT. In my defense, it was a HUGE donut, but boy did it taste tremendous. I immediately started recounting everything I had eaten so far that day: a bowl of cereal, kale soup, two clementines, and a donut the size of my face. The damage wasn’t too bad. I’ll play some basketball in the gym and maybe even lift weights after work to make up for it.

This was my thought process in the two minutes following the last donut bite. Not only did one donut single-handedly cause me to view the game that I love as a penance, but that stupid donut started to dictate the rest of my day.

I finished my twenty minute shooting contest with myself and I left the gym a little sweaty: a sweet sign of victory usually, only in this case, victory over a donut rather than my own shooting score. I sat through one more meeting at the school before heading home, plotting my workout plan for when I get there.

On the way home though, the radio reminded me that I am more than a conqueror through Christ (Romans 8:37). I was specifically reminded that I overcame bulimia over two years ago and that Jesus wants me to remember that, even on the days that I eat donuts. I remembered the freedom I had felt in submitting my eating disorder to Him and how amazing it is to rest in His grace and love for me.

So I got home, plopped on the couch after a long day, and decided that my body deserved better. So I rested. Then I cooked a beautiful looking stir fry, if I do say so myself, and waited patiently for my husband to get home. We ate, we laughed, then laughed some more, and I felt totally at peace. Then, my husband grabs the ice cream. Now, if you know me at all, you know that I adore ice cream. This wasn’t any ordinary ice cream, rather a bad version of the Drumsticks ice cream cones we had bought a different night.

My husband grabs one and I had what felt like a battling conversation in my head: “You already ate a donut today”, “Eat the damn ice cream”, “This day is crap already”, “Man he looks cute with the ice cream”, “Don’t do it”, “He’s going to love you no matter what.”

I tell him to grab me one, too. We sat down and ate that bad ice cream together and I felt like doing a small victory dance. Who knew you could eat a donut AND ice cream in the same day and feel as loved, cherished, pursued, and wanted as I did that night?

Right before bed I picked up a devotional book I haven’t looked at in awhile and opened it up to that day’s page. The page read: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33). In Him, I get to be an overcomer, more than a conqueror. I get to experience freedom and wrestle with what the world tells me and what Jesus tells me. At the end of this day, I chose what Jesus had to say. I struggled, I was challenged, and His love won. Some days I don’t let Him win, but thank God for His never ending, unconditional grace.