The 3 “P’s” of Shame

It all started with shame. I was ashamed of who I was. No, I wasn’t a terrible person and I never endured much of what other women have that evokes shame. But I wasn’t super smart or super pretty or super athletic or super funny. I was simply plain, run-of-the-mill average. And I was ashamed.

For fourteen years, anorexia allowed me to excel at something. No one wanted to compete with me, but I competed with everyone. In my malnourished mind, I “won” every time I was thinner than another girl, every time I turned down food that another person simply couldn’t resist, every time I went for a long run in the rain while others pulled the sheets over their head and enjoyed the warmth of a cozy bed. I was an excellent anorexic.

Finally, I surrendered. I quit trying to make myself into someone I could be proud of—someone with a strong self will, a perfect figure and uncompromising strength. I finally relinquished the my pursuit of “excellence”. But then, shame reared its ugly head again; this time, he had a double-edged sword.

You’re still average—average weight, average strength, normal temptations. Did you just have seconds? You’re pathetic.

I can’t believe how much of your parents’ money you wasted. It’s shameful the emotional toll your behavior took on your sisters and friends. I can’t believe you call yourself a Christian and you couldn’t even summon the faith to get “healthy” in less than 14 years. You’ll always be pathetic.

Henry Cloud says that shame has three characteristics that distinguish it from God’s gentle correcting voice. He says shame is always personal, permanent and pervasive.

I ran the diagnostics on the voice that kept accusing me. You are pathetic. Pretty personal. In 1 Corinthians 6, even as Paul points out the Corinthians’ shortcomings, he also reminds them whose they are. “Do you not know that your bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit, whom you have from God? You are not your own.” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

Pervasive. It’s shameful the emotional toll your behavior took on your family and friends. I can’t believe you call yourself a Christian. The enemy’s accusation encompassed my whole life, my faith and all of my relationships. However, Colossians 3:3 says, “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” If sin and shame pervaded my life before, they do no longer because I have Christ’s life.

Permanent. You’ll always be pathetic. But the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 “…anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” No sin or mistake is permanent. God holds nothing against me.

Today I walk free of those specific lies, but I know that times will come when I feel ashamed again. But I have learned to recognized the voice of truth and I choose to listen to what my Father says about me: “You have made [me] a little lower than the angels and crowned [me] with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:5

(This was first published at http://www.findingbalance.com)

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Interruption Applied

I’m finally getting somewhere.

Thanks goes to Jen Hatmaker for keeping me up not just one night, but several nights. And thanks, too, for not simply revealing straight away what God’s message was for me in all of this (I guess that’s not fair. How could she know?). Instead she let me sit and percolate the truths in her new book Interrupted. It was a slow process; she saved the best part for last.

It was this quote, near the end of the book, that started stirred me:

“I used to reside exclusively in Christian subculture: I read James Dobson to learn how to parent, studied Dave Ramsey to learn how to budget, sang Third Day for inspiration, went to Women of Faith conferences for encouragement, consulted Christian Coalition voting guides to see how to vote, and read Tim LaHaye for my fiction fix. This was the controlled bubble I lived in with a few hundred of my closest friends…When your running in the middle of a herd of buffalo, everything looks identical. What we see becomes our reality.”

Jen meant this to explain the shallow, sheltered life that many Christians live in, the safe bubble that gives us our “sanctified buffer” such that we hope others see us doing godly things and are impressed by our “awesomeness” to come to Christ without us having to actually associate with the “worldly ones”. Truthfully, I’ve been one of that crowd, part of the herd of buffalo. But that began shifting a few years ago. This time, God is after something different in me.

This morning, a strand of light broke through. God began highlighting similar messages in Scripture and through a few different pastors I’ve been reading and listening to: Steven Furtick, John Piper, John Bloom and Ann Voskamp.

Truth is dawning, albeit slowly, but I’m getting it. It has much to do with maturity–not confusing it with growth, moving beyond the milk of the Word, the testimony of my recovery from anorexia, my easy obedience to Christ and my walk in the Spirit. Moving past the parameters (read: safe bubble), I’ve established, where I know “what works”. 

For all of my life, I’ve sought my “calling”, what I’m supposed to do, and sought to settle in there. My writing has been accepted by publishers and editors–that’s all I have to do now, right–just write about Jesus? Surely, God’s plan was to develop my testimony. I’ve shared it. Now I can sit back as one of the “stories with a happy ending” and continue to follow my calling?

And now we’re full circle back to Interrupted. God’s been interrupting my sleep and peace all week. He’s been overlaying Jen’s testimony on my own life to reveal a personal correction and gentle admonition: Move on. You’re growing, now continue to mature.

Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19

Book Review, Crash the Chatterbox

He was my constant companion for almost 15 years and I didn’t even know his name. That’s how I felt when Steven Furtick officially introduced me to The Chatterbox. At first the title of Furtick’s new book and sermon series didn’t appeal to me. But finally, when it was either that or listen to reruns of old sermons on my iTunes list, I decided to give it a shot.

Instantly I was hooked. I couldn’t wait for each Sunday as Furtick slowly made his way through six sermons about this mysterious, ever-present menace cleverly camouflaged within my own thoughts.

It sounded like Furtick was telling my story, as if he’d been listening to my own percussive, demoralizing, internal dialogue. In a vulnerable manner, with extremely personal anecdotes, Furtick extended empathy and encouragement. If this renowned, eloquent pastor hears The Chatterbox in his own mind, then certainly The Chatterbox isn’t a figment of my imagination.

I’m sorry, I haven’t done a sufficient job of intruding The Chatterbox. Allow me to let Steven Furtick do so: “…this ceaseless war going on inside my heart and head. I’m waging it every millisecond of every minute of every hour of every day—the kind of chatter that can derail [a] day before it even gets started…[it] bombards [you] with thoughts, feelings, and even facts about why you can’t do it. Why you shouldn’t do it. And why you’ll never be able to do it. Why you’re too dysfunctional, too petty, too immature, too melancholy, too impulsive…”.

So you’re familiar with that voice? Me too. And after years of inpatient and outpatient counseling for an eating disorder, I am pretty numb to canned suggestions about how to shut it up.

I know I’m supposed to believe “what God says about me”. But often, those phrases just seem like randomly plucked passages, strung together with hyphens and ellipsis, all manipulated just to make me feel better: I am beautiful. I am special. I am strong… All true, but not very powerful in my experience.

Just as I finished listening to the sermon series, Furtick’s book, Crash the Chatterbox, became available. I had to have it. I was on the cusp of understanding and employing a new, fail-proof strategy to Crash the Chatterbox—permanently.

Furtick’s book is based on four confessions: God says I am, God says He will, God says He has, God says I can.

Furtick devotes three chapters to thoroughly explain each confession. The book concludes with relevant discussion questions and an invitation to visit the related website, http://www.crashthechatterbox.com. The website offers highlights, interviews, study materials and more, making the book useful for small groups and in home study.

There’s no way I can encapsulate in a simple book review what took Steven Furtick over 200 pages to say. But I will attempt to share what made the concept of crashing the chatterbox such an epiphany. Far from an outside-in approach to boosting self-esteem and improving my opinion of and respect for myself, Furtick takes an inside-out approach.

Confession, Furtick points out, actually means to “say with”, in this case, “to say with God”. God’s self-revelatory name, which He told Moses from a flaming bush, is I AM. All of the confessions begin there. It was in that same conversation with Moses that God insisted He was enough to overcome all of Moses’ insufficiencies, and that, yes, God had indeed chosen Moses to play the most pivotal roll in all of Israel’s history.

The point is not who God says I am, but that God says, I AM.

When we understand the incomparable power of the God who has given us Himself through Jesus Christ, The Chatterbox’s voice becomes feeble, weak and distant.

The only draw back to this book is Furtick’s own strength: it is well written, but Furtick is a charismatic, one-of-a-kind orator. I highly recommend listening to the six sermons as well as reading the book. It’s like seeing the outtakes of a great movie. There’s so much more you don’t want to miss.

Final Thoughts on a Final Recovery, and Wednesday’s Promise

(The following post is a summation of the 3 Things to Make Recovery Final series and includes the promise I made last Wednesday to tell you one really special way that God reveals Himself to us.)
Just a couple more thoughts, I think sometimes our “Christian” life and struggle to manufacture faith gets in the way of really having faith. A lot of times during recovery I thought, “If I just believed God enough. Why is it so hard to trust Him?”
The other day I was enamored by one of Steven Furtick’s sermons in the Crash the Chatterbox series. He referenced Moses at the burning bush. Furtick pointed out that in all his arguments with God and reasoning as to why he shouldn’t be the one to deliver Israel, Moses never once doubted God’s ability.
God showed him several miracles and Moses knew what God was capable of doing. Instead, he argued from a place of insecurity, basically saying over and over again, “You don’t really want to use me to do this God. You’re awesome and all, but I’m not smart enough, I’m not a good speaker, I don’t have many friends left in Egypt, no one will believe me…”.
God didn’t set Moses straight by fixing Moses, or suddenly, magically filling him with faith. Instead, God simply told Moses who HE was. He said, I AM.
Every time Moses said, “I am not…”, God’s effectual response was, “I AM…”. This gets really awesome when we get to the New Testament and realize how many times God says that He has give us His name. Because we bear His name, all of our arguments about failures, small faith and insufficiencies are answered in our new name, “I AM.”
(2 Chron. 7:14, Is. 43:7, 2 Peter 1:4, John 17:11-12)
The answer to stronger faith isn’t to grit our teeth and try to force it. It isn’t to work harder or do more. It is simply watching Jesus, seeing I AM.  (A few verses and commentary on this: www.abible.com.)
This is why Paul White’s sermons hit me so hard and sunk in so deeply.
I had tried for SO LONG to conjure up this faith that should have made me a “good Christian girl”, impervious to stupid struggles and battles and fears and anxiety. I was exhausted because I couldn’t come up with faith or make believing in Jesus “work for me”. But that’s the point. When we understand that “faith is substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen” we can start walking in faith without holding out for “proof” that this works.
You’ve heard it said, “To know Jesus is to love Him.” (Maybe that was said about something else, but it has never been more true than about Christ). We cannot make ourselves love Him or believe Him. But the more we KNOW Him the more irresistible He becomes, the better we understand His voice and freer we walk day by day.
Hangeth Thou in There 🙂
#3thingstomakerecoveryfinal

3 Things that Made My Recovery from Anorexia FINAL (1 of 3)

…I need some encouragement, maybe insight on how you made it fully through recovery…to the other side and were able, and now are able to say you are recovered.–She asked me

Funny, I just wrote a book about this, and when presented with the direct question, I had no idea what to say. So, I took the dog for a walk.

What would I do if God didn’t drop things into my head? For sure, I wouldn’t be blogging and I wouldn’t have a book.  Believe me, you wouldn’t care what I had to say.

I sat down to write this sweet friend back and nearly tripped over #3thingstomakerecoveryfinal 

She gave me permission to share them with you:

1 of 3

1. I had to pitch all the women’s magazines. You’re right, it’s still all around you. You’ll still hear in the chiropractor’s office. Many of your friends will still talk about their weight management. But for me, eliminating the pictures made a HUGE difference. I can’t express how much. I deleted the workout sites I followed on YouTube. You and I know how to exercise. Watching those things only causes us to obsess over the “perfect” workout. Yep, trashed the Oxygen and Clean Eating Magazines too. Even the “healthy” ones. I even tossed some cookbooks. Everything that fed into the constant consideration and reconsideration of being the perfect eater or exerciser.

I fully understand the longing to still be one of the radicals. I still wanted people to look at me and think “She’s one of the fittest people I know”. Isn’t that okay?

Admittedly, I still struggle with this a bit. God has been so very, very good and even as I’ve cut my exercise to 1/10 of what it used to be–God and only God–the creator and sustainer of this body, has enabled me to stay at a healthy weight (he didn’t curse me for my rebellion by making me fat). So, the temptation is still there to want others to say, “Wow!”

You know what? I don’t remember the last time someone did. And good grief, you know what?? I don’t care 🙂

I came to better understand those emotions and the drive for perfection as I wrote my book. I had never before realized how much I WANTED everyone to think I was better–even better than they were. It’s an awful admission and kind of ironic since much of our eating disordered behaviors stem from feeling bad about ourselves and denying the things we want. But truthfully, I wanted people to envy and admire me. And when I was successful at running farther or eating less–I felt powerful and superior.

I have learned to overcome that desire. It didn’t come by abasing myself or convincing myself that I was an awful person for feeling that way. Really, it only came about as I have looked more at Jesus and less at me. Let me try to explain that one:

Instead of focusing on fighting my eating disorder. Instead of focusing on changing my thoughts or behaviors, in many ways, I quit looking at myself. You and I know that we can’t change ourselves, the Bible tells us that and we know by experience. But Christ can. So, instead of trying to fix me, I just began to stare more at Him. Read about HIS loveliness, play sermons and Christian music even when I wasn’t listening. And that leads me to another VERY important point.

Much of our church experience and even good pastors focus so much on changing ourselves and how we become more Christ-like and what we need to do to please God. A friend of mine introduced me to @PaulWMinistries. Oh Friend, the refreshing LIFE giving power of his teaching!!

You know what?? I can’t become more Christ-like. I can’t please God. Only Jesus can and Jesus DID. When He said “It is finished” He meant FINISHED!! All the God pleasing, doing good, etc was completed for me in Christ. That took even the guilt out of failing to recover so many times.

I BEG you to listen to some of his sermons. At first, it seemed so hard to swallow, too good to be true.

But isn’t that what Jesus is? Simply too good for our human minds to comprehend?

Here are a couple sermons that rocked my world. I began listening to him in 2010. And God’s word through his sermons timed perfectly to walk me through the last step of recovery.

http://pwmmedia.podbean.com/2012/11/11/who-told-you-that-you-were-naked/
http://pwmmedia.podbean.com/2012/07/19/righteousness-101/

Another killer teacher is @stevenfurtick. He’s doing a series right now on #CrashtheChatterbox. It is EVERYTHING we need to know as we combat, shut down and shut up the lies running rampant in our heads.

http://elevationchurch.org/sermons/crash-the-chatterbox

Point 2 is coming next week…I figure after 791 words, you might need a deep breath and a drink of water. 🙂
See you soon!

 

FREEBIE!

 I’ve been reading a book called Sun Stand Still, by Steven Furtick. We’ve done two other book reviews on this blog, so this one will end with a giveaway as well.

The book’s premise is that many Christians are afraid to pray big prayers like Joshua’s prayer in Joshua 10.  Moses’s successor had a lot to live up to. As he chased the Amorites over hill, God pounded them with large stones from heaven. The Israelites had already won the victory when Joshua spoke God, “Make the sun stand still!”

Do you ever feel like you’re asking too much of God? He has already done so much for you. Do you really have a right to ask for one thing more? Joshua believed he did. “God, even though your enemies are already on the run, crush them for your glory. Do a miracle so big, that in your name this battle will go down in history!”

Do you ever pray under your breath? Are there some big requests that you’re too timid to share? Do you finish all your request with caveats and loop holes just in case God doesn’t answer the right way or fast enough? 

“At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel…” (Josh. 10:12) IN THE PRESENCE OF ISRAEL. If God didn’t stop the sun in its tracks Joshua was going to look pretty foolish. How much confidence do you have in your God? How much confidence do you have in your knowledge of His will and the sound of His voice?

It’s a symptom of the Christian Atheist. I’ve often realized, with remorse, that I trust God with my eternity, but I don’t trust him for my today. For me that can mean I don’t believe he can get me through a family dinner, or a missed workout or a piece of birthday cake. But of course, I believe Jesus redeemed me for heaven. See the discrepancy?

I have a relationship hurdle in my life right now. I’m at odds with someone really close to me. It’s a relationship that I can’t just let go. I’ve prayed, a million ways, a million times and frankly, I don’t see a whole lot of improvement. Sometimes I’m not afraid to pray big, I just feel too worn out to pray. Kind of, “God you know what I’m thinking, but I’ve said it so many times that…” My attitude is a pessimistic, if God hasn’t answered yet, maybe I should just give up. 
I do have to admit though, that I feel closer to Father than ever before. I see more of my sin. I hear from the Holy Spirit more often than ever before. Many times it is reproof. But His voice is so sweet. Even when what He has to say stings, I am so thrilled that God speaks to me! I wonder if without heartaches, would I have cried out to God the way that I am now?
It’s funny, because what began as disbelief and resignation about God’s interference in this situation, has increased my belief in God in other areas of my life and come full circle to increase my belief in His willingness and ability to make this relationship worthy of His glory.
Ps. 119:71-72 says, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.”

So here’s the deal: You need to leave a comment on this post. You have one week. In your comment tell me about your own Sun Stand Still prayer; or you can share your personal struggle with Christian Atheism. On Nov. 2, we will draw a winner from the commentors and they will receive a copy of either Sun Stand Still or Christian Atheist – winner’s choice.