Letter to a Friend

Recently, a new friend admitted to me that she has struggled with an eating disorder for many years. As we shared pieces of our stories, she asked a question that launched a mini-sermon in me. Don’t worry, I’m preaching to myself really! But as I clicked “send”, I realized just how much of my response encapsulated all that I’m learning about my eating disorder and recovery in the process of prayer and writing.

I want to share my letter with you.

Dear Friend, 

You asked about the “why”. Funny, I have thought about that a lot lately as I penned my book and prayed and relived all those years of my own eating disorder. And yes, I’ve come to a conclusion. 

 
The treatment community spends an exorbitant amount of time trying to unearth our issues, figure out what made this happen. We say that we aren’t “blaming” anyone, but that family dynamics, abuse and a plethora of other things must have all combined to make this happen. Exactly as you said though, “Why not everyone?”
 
My sisters grew up in the same household and under the same parents that I did, in the same communities. Personally, I don’t have a history of abuse to blame my issues on. I have a fairly perfectionistic father (toward himself more than toward anyone else) and at time I believed he loved my sister, Jennifer, more than me. And, Jennifer was incredibly talented and smart so I was jealous of her for years. But really? I don’t have a good reason. 
 
The more that I’ve prayed about it, I think the common treatment modality, “figure out the root and fix the underlying issues”, does us a huge disservice. I have really, really come to believe that my anorexia was nothing more than addiction and idolatry on my part. No, I’m not blaming myself either. I don’t believe there’s a “why” to be found or blame to be placed, at least not in all situations. 
 
It’s really no different than any other sin. It’s the way you and I chose to react to the circumstances and catalysts within a fallen world. Because we believe in Jesus as our Savior, our sin does not banish us from God or cause Him to hate us. So, I’m not saying that as we struggle with an eating disorder God is upset with us. Quite the contrary – and this where I get so excited!! – The pain of living in my sin, the pain of struggling with body image constantly, or starving myself or brutal workouts, the mental anguish of an eating disorder DROVE me to Jesus. It’s His kindness that leads us to repentance. It’s because as I was falling apart, He didn’t turn away, but reached out to me and loved me anyway (while I was still a sinner, Christ died for me).
 
Anorexia was what drove me to my knees before a loving Father. I can honestly say that I would not know Him like I do if I had not struggled. He might have used another issue, but He chose this one for me that I might seek the only one who could save me – not just from anorexia but from sin altogether. Does that make any sense?
 
We are stubborn creatures as humans. We will not naturally admit our need for a savior, so in order to open our eyes, humble our hearts and cause us to seek Him, sometimes God allows us to intimately feel the savagery of a sinful world. It is then that we know how much we need Him.
 
I hope that helps. Kinda got on a soapbox there, but I get so excited! 🙂
 
I’m just figuring all this out.
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Unveiling

Dearest Friends,

Halfway through the year, I have finally discovered exactly what God was getting at when He placed the One Word: Naked, on my heart, as my theme for 2013. Father was preparing me for His next nudge, to write my book.

If you’re a regular around here, you know that I started this process officially at the beginning of this year, though it has been fomenting in my subconscious for years. The thing about a personal book, is that it requires nakedness. Even in the first draft, I’ve already written some things that I’ve never shared previously. I’ve become more vulnerable with my self than I’ve ever been, discovering keys to my recovery from anorexia that were once mysteries.

In fact, peeling away the layers “typical anorexia”, and “treatment options”, and looking at my story under the spotlight of hindsight, I believe I’ve actually come to understand the purpose anorexia served in my life and I can honestly say, I would not wish to have done life differently. That doesn’t mean it was a pleasant experience, or that I would wish it on anyone, or even that it was God’s best for me.

What I have learned is that if I had walked through those years without an eating disorder, my faith would be softer. If I hadn’t made so many poor choices, or hovered so close to death, I never would have come to realize that my natural inclination is sin, the wages of sin is death and that I desperately need a Savior, and that Jesus is more than capable to save me.

This is a long introduction to a new segment of, Predatory Lies, that I begins this month. Starting next week, each Monday, I will publish a portion of a chapter in progress. This will allow me to be as naked with you, my current readers, as those who I hope will read my book once it’s published. Also, I hope that it will incite you to get the book and read it in full later.

Lastly, a naked confession, though I am more than convinced that God has called me to write this story now, I don’t know exactly what His publishing plans are. So, at least in this way, I can begin praying now, that God will use my words, my history, to turn the cultural tide of eating disorders and to point those already in its vice toward the One True Healer.

The Stranger in the Dressing Room

I stood behind her as she twirled in the mirror.

Ghastly. I thought.

“It’s me, don’t you think?” she asked? “I mean, I think I was born to wear this!”

“Are you crazy?” I’ve never been very good at keeping my opinions to myself. “That is the ugliest, most offensive piece of clothing I’ve ever seen! It looks terrible on you and it would look terrible on anyone. In fact, it’s just wrong.”

My sister dropped her eyes for a second. I could tell I’d wounded her, but someone had to tell her the truth. Nearby stood the saleslady, a few other customers and a few others of our friends.

“How can you be so cruel,” one of them asked me. “It’s really not about you now, is it? If it makes your sister happy, can’t you just be happy for her?”

“Certainly not!” Righteous indignation filled me and I began to spew lines I had heard somewhere before. “There is absolute truth, and it is absolutely true that that dress is an abomination!”

“Excuse me.” A soft, powerful voice invaded our verbal war. “I have something for you.”

I spun around intent on putting this stranger in his place. “This is none of your business.”

“But it is my business. Be quiet.” The stranger gently set me aside and walked through the crowd of opinionated onlookers. He stepped directly in front of my sister and began to take off his outer garment.

“My dear,” He spoke as if the rest of us had disappeared. “You are beautiful. Those eyes, I remember the day I chose the color, greener than freshly dewed grass.”

The stranger was in no hurry. He held his coat at his left side and brushed my sister’s hair from her face with tender fingers. I noticed a deep scar in his palm. Who was this man?

“You are so beautiful, but that dress doesn’t do you justice.”

My sister didn’t resist, in fact she didn’t even seem to notice as the stranger slid the dress off her shoulders one at a time. Soon, she stood in plain white cotton undergarments. She looked so small and humbled, but her expression was peaceful, mesmerized actually, by this mysterious man.

“My own garment will look brilliant on you. It has been tailored specifically for you, there is none other like it in all the world.” As He spoke, the stranger slipped around my sister, draping his cloak over her shoulders, letting it fall in graceful folds to her feet. I noticed His own feet. There was a scar, just like His hands.

The woman who stood before me now was the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. But it was hard to get a close look at her, because suddenly she was dancing. She twirled and laughed, as if she’d been given new life, not simply a new dress.

She stopped mid-twirl and fell to her knees.

“How well you knew me!” Tears dripped and shimmered like diamonds on her cheeks. “You knew what would make me lovely. How can I ever thank you?”

The Stranger knelt too, cupping her shiny cheeks in His scared hands. “You must tell everyone about my beauty. Promise me that you will tell them that I love them and I want to make them beautiful, too.”

(Another attempt at a parable. Excerpt from my journal after a conversation with Father.)

Redemption Birthdays

Monday was my birthday.

I was raised right –  you always write snail mail thank you letters. My morning quiet time didn’t start out to be such, but as I sat cross-legged in my monstrous, blue prayer chair, it just kind of bubbled out of my heart.

I promised this year that I would be naked with you. That includes unveiling private prayers and praise. That includes confession met with kindness which leads to repentance. And it includes the birthdays of redemption stories. So, here is my journal entry on Monday.

Jesus,images

Seventeen years ago, I woke in an angular, gray-blue bedroom, in a treatment center because I was starving myself. I wished away the emotional power of the day and the exacerbated loneliness, the sense of abandonment by my parents and sister asleep in a nearby hotel room. Monday.

Since then, there was my 30th year, crying alone over a rumble of boiling noodles while my husband spent his energy on a computer game.

And so many other March 11th’s. Year 23, at Fort Bragg, at work. Loneliness always tempered by your presence.

How is it that you have never failed me? Never even left me to myself and my upturned, shaky hands crying, “I’m done, completely, all done.”

I do truly love you more every single day. Maybe really, it’s a sharper knowing of how much I need you, that I couldn’t live or breathe without you. The priceless beauty and value you have put into my life, Savior.

My heart would drain out on this page. How you contain and spill your love for me through vessels of a tender husband, his daily deeper understanding the needs of my heart. You warm the morning air and tinge the skies, ochre, amber, slate to clear. As if you hold my shoulders and spin me round to drink that pressed of patience; feast on the produce of your passion.

I am overwhelmed by your love, Savior.
Overcome by your awareness of me.
In you, I have seen my own created beauty, the blossom
and flourish of your skilled heart, touch, breath,
That I live!
That lungs still spread in my chest,
And suck in gifts and glories,
I would have turned away.
It is your mercy.
It is your…nay,
It is you.
Only you.
All of you,
That I live in and for.

Peace Presents

I see the boxes ‘neath a verdant tree,

Of size and corners, of soft and flat.

Of tiny bows and licked envelopes.

Near are socks pinned to the mantle

Empty, gaping, hungry for the treats of Christmas Eve.

 

One question remains.

 

Good or bad? Worthy or not?

Will favor extend till Christmas morn?

Or with harsh words or one false step

This bounty quick be shorn?

 

Tiny, faceless, serene nearby

A wooden manger scene. A Prince of Peace.

One given and never recalled.

Given for liars and lonely, good and bad.

Given a bounty for hearts who will believe.

And behold, a gift again,

Peace on earth, goodwill to men.

 

This Peace eternal

Not as the world gives. Not for reciprocating or to the worthy.

Not wrapped or hidden

Never retracted.

Peace given.

Peace left.

In a name, in a babe.

Through a Prince who knew no peace.

Spread to me before assailant and foe.

Peace, a feast.

Amid green meadows, still waters.

 

This verdant tree will wither.

Gifts peeled, received or returned.

Praise the Prince! This giver of Peace!

Not as the world gives

But for the eternal enjoyment of my soul.

Where is the Peace on Earth?

 I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along the unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said,
‘For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.’

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.’

Till ringing, singing on its way
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

~ Wadsworth

I wonder if when Wadsworth penned those words, he expected to someday see peace on earth. Or was he speaking wistfully about some day hung in eternity, about as accessible as the stars? Certainly, no one even today, nearly 150 years later, would dare to say we have achieved peace on earth.

Here in America, we have come as close to peace as anyone. Most of us live safe, predictable lives. But even here we have domestic violence, natural disasters, political arguments, road rage, rivalry, and worse. Even at this season when we blissfully sing of peace, havoc reigns. Just last week: An inexplicable mass shooting at an elementary school – 27 people killed.

Why is this? What can we do? This morning on talk radio, commentators were asking, “What law do we need to prevent this kind of thing from happening?” The answer isn’t in a Christmas carol. It isn’t in Washington. The United Nations can’t bring about world unity. However, Peace will come from authority. 

Think of it, what do you do when you feel anxious? If you’re like me, you set out on a frantic course to determine the problem, find the solution and relax once more in your manufactured peace. The trouble is, in no time, you and I are in turmoil again.

Do you ever say something like, “Oh to be a kid again, no cares in the world.” The reason kids have no cares is that they are happily submitted to the authority of their parents. Their peace comes from knowing that Mom and Dad will feed them, clothe them, tell them what to do and when to do it, answer their questions, calm their fears, kill the boogieman, dry their tears, tuck them in and teach them what they need to know. What would you give to have that kind of peace again?

This is what the LORD says–your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Is. 48:17

World peace, personal peace, eternal peace is found under authority. And therein is the main reason we miss it. The older we get the less we like the idea of taking orders from someone else. The older we get the more confident we become that we can take care of ourselves. But, what if there was someone worthy to exercise authority over us? And what if that someone was implicitly good and trustworthy?

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Is. 9:6

We have been given PEACE, peace incarnate. And yet, this peace is a prince; he has come to rule.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Col. 3:15

Do not think that you can experience His peace unless He has full authority over your heart.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6-7

The peace of Christ is for those who like little children with a benevolent parent, bring their troubles to Him, instead of insisting on their own solution.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Is. 26:3

The Prince of Peace gives peace to those who look to Him for truth and trust His answers.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.
1 Timothy 2:1-2

And this Peace of Christ is for today, it is peace on earth (Luke 2:14). For even the peace that we desire in our homes, between our political parties, between our nations, is only experienced under the authority of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace.

Light and Splintered Tree

I wept as I was overwhelmed

By lists and piles of things.

I longed for simpler

Winsome days of sand and plastic swings.

Now life is running on the sand.

Each step sinking low –

Like trudging through molasses.

Frustration. Agonizing. Slow.

Must. Get. There.

Must finish, arrive.

But I often wonder what

For I am compelled to strive.

Sweat pours mingled with tears of loss.

I refuse His yoke and the weight of the cross.

If I would but stop and lower my knee.

Bend and take up that splintered tree.

If I would walk with Him, strive with Him, pull with Him.

He vowed to lessen the load.

“Easy,” He called it. “Light,” He said.

Why my pride, march on instead?

God Blood on My Hands

Blood on my hands.

I struck the heart of God.

And He gave himself for me.

His blood on my hands.

And life pulses through me.

Life blood seeping into pores.

Heart inflating, lungs gasp.

Blood, God blood.

Infinite, perfect blood on my hands.

I cry, tears of anger, loss, gain, redemption.

I claw at passersby,

Some never see me.

Desperate, pleading – His

blood on my hands.

If I can but brush their hand

As they pass me by.

I, the irrelevant, pleading, bloody beggar.

If they might notice His stain.

The stain of His blood

As they pass me by.

Let His contagious blood

Seep through their pores

And that stain on their hand

Never fade.

Running and Resting

I have never known such rest and peace

As shedding tears and here I weep.

Flay my heart, lay bare my guilt

Let all my pride and hot fear wilt.

Destroy the “me” that kicked the goads,

Stubbornly stumbled down lonely roads.

How I loved my companions: myself, my beauty, the wisdom of my mind,

But anguish overtook me, a loneliness I thought would kill

When I ran hard from you to chase my will.

But I fell.

Landed alone in a wasted hell.

If not for you, if you had not been on my side…

Oh Savior of those who take refuge in you.

In this pleasant place I will rest in you .