I always liked to think of myself as unique and special, passionate about people and relationships. Yet in this season, it just seems like a burden without an outpour. Without special education, I am not really certain what I am doing or who I am; maybe that shows me my identity was never truly securely placed in where it should be: in Christ.
This is a new season for me, a scary one of deep dependence and trust in others in many different ways. It is a season of dependence upon friends. Every year at Vandy, the Lord has taught me something new. This past year, it has been a journey with mental health: anxiety and depression, one that continues to carry on. He has taught me a lot and helped me to reach out to others in the midst of that, too, but I never could have imagined this story unfolding as beautifully as it has in such ashes and brokenness of myself. This was the blossoming of vulnerability sprouting up from the dirt; my heart slowly peeking up from the ground where it had lain hidden for too many years.
This semester, it is like the pushing has began further out from the ground, and it hurts. But I have tasted the light of the sun, just as a plant shooting up from the ground. Beginning to grow roots where the Lord has planted me is comforting, yet the growth to continue to push forth out of the ground isn’t easy. This semester has brought me to more challenges: realizing and recovering from an eating disorder (disordered eating? uncertain). I wish I had a name for it, to me it doesn’t seem bad enough to treat or need help for, but maybe that is part of the problem. They say that often it gets worse before it gets better. For too long, I’ve had growingly long lists of foods that I cannot eat, that make me panic at the thought and sight of them; little did I know my idea of clean and healthy eating was only hurting me, a truth that I am just beginning to unravel with lots and loads of help.
Lies are unfounded and I am beginning to question those that I believed for so very long. I am too fat, one voice says. Too whom? And too fat for what? the questions fight back. I am not enough. Says who? Why not? I must restrict, ed responds quickly and harshly. But why? Even now the shame wells up in me in saying these words out loud. Yet, there’s so much more, says that quiet, gentle voice that beckons and invites.
After that first purge, I thought it would just be once, little did I know the slave I would become to it and how it would become my master, if even for just a few short days. But there is so much beauty in the exposition because others want to help us when we are willing to admit our need for it, and everybody needs help.
Brené Brown says, “shame derives its power from being unspeakable.”
That is so very true to me. The more I expose the lies to dear friends, the more they can shout and restate truth to me. The more I open my heart to counseling and help, the more healing that the Lord can do in me. And just thinking about how I can minister to others of what the Lord has worked in my messy self gives me courage to keep fighting.
The most precious thing to me, though, has been having others fight for me, pray for me, and walk with me because I do not have the strength to myself. They show up and remain with me through the ugliness and shambles of my mess, and that speaks volumes to me. It shows me a Jesus who is loving and not harsh as I once thought of Him in the pits of doubts. It shows me a Jesus who is steadfast and faithful, not wavering in love like the voice of ed. It shows me a Jesus who doesn’t walk away from my struggles and pain, but draws near and close, and holds me and embraces me as I cry, just as these dear friends show me.
It seems it will become worse before it gets better. The list of foods I cannot eat and the feelings of guilt over what I eat continue to grow. Ed and the battle of restriction are putting up a tough fight, purging has entered the war as a new weapon opposing my healing, and it looks easier to quit. Thoughts of wondering if I’m worth being helped plague me each and every day; I must show that I am broken enough to receive help contradict and come together with thoughts of not wanting the depth of the lies I believe and my fear of foods to be exposed. So very much fear fills my entire being in this season of not knowing what the plan is, and what the next steps are for me after college, or even into this summer. I wonder and I question if God will provide, or if He will leave me.
I never knew how tough it would be to trust the Lord. I always had my parents to shower praise and affection on me for my grades. Little did I know that someday, I would really need to trust and rely on the Lord for determining my passions and what I ought to do to serve Him, and I must admit that I am scared, really very much so, that He will not provide for me, that He will leave me.
But hope remains somewhere deep inside, I pray. This morning in Church, we were singing the words, “This is my confidence, you’ve never failed me yet.” And it dawned on me, just a glimpse. He has never failed me yet. In times of loneliness and despair, He still has me here, and I don’t want to run away from that. I want to trust you, Oh Lord, when I cannot see what is ahead and can only walk blindly holding your hand.
It’s like this eating disorder. Everything I have come to know and believe about nutrition is being challenged by my nutritionist, but I must trust that she cares for me and knows better than me. It doesn’t make sense and there are so many fears. If I eat this much, I’ll become fat. If I do what she says, it goes against everything I have come to believe to be true about being healthy. Yet I must trust her because I know she loves and cares for me. I must trust her because she is saving me from things I have yet to experience or understand or know.
And the same is true with God. I must trust Him because He loves me, even when it is counter-cultural to everything that those around me tell me to be true. I must trust Him because I know that He loves me. He has never failed me yet, in mental illness, in times of loneliness and doubts, and in my lowest and darkest places yet, He has always taught me something new and continued to to be the light and living water that pushes me up out of the ground. I must trust that in Him, I will bloom.
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” ~ Philippians 1:6