06 September 2014

The Meaning of Life

What is this life about? Why was I put here on this earth? What really matters? All these questions relentlessly haunt me as I reflect back on my life and wonder where the time has gone and where my passion for living has dissipated to. I’ve become so tired of fighting this deadly disease when the truth of the matter is I was never created to fight alone, so why do I so adamantly try? Each day I tell myself it will be different; tomorrow I’ll let God have control, but it seems my flesh only creeps back in, clinging desperately to control. Deep down in my heart I want to be free from this misery, yet a part of me still believes I don’t deserve anything morethat pain is the result of my imperfection and unworthiness. Honestly, moments without pain and suffering scare me to death, as my flesh has become so accustomed to torture that life without it seems wholly unnatural. As twisted as it may sound, pain brings comfort to my afflicted flesh, convincing me I am safe and only receiving what I deserve. So, in all sincerity, I’ve been runningunreservedly runningfrom what I know God has called me to do: to surrender. Why is surrender so hard? Maybe it’s because my flesh still doggedly cries out for control, hesitant to give it ALL up, which is exactly what He has called me to do; all my dreams, plans and ambitionseverything. That’s why I’ve been running: because I don’t want to give it all up, yet my trivial mind fails to realize that once I give up all these fleeting and superficial desires, I then make room for even bigger dreams to abide. But what could be better than my own desires, my flesh persistently wonders. I believe God has not called me to have all these answers, although my flesh demands them with wholehearted aggression, because stepping out in blind faith requires trustthe hardest thing for my flesh to do. After being abused and taken advantage of, my flesh barbarically runs away from all situations requiring trust because it is simply too painful to face. But, I can’t spend my whole life running. I believe I have been called to more than this, no matter how rigorously my flesh clings to the comforting sensation of punishment and pain. I was not meant to despise foodthe very thing that sustains lifeor torture myself with the comforting sensation of starvation. My body was not intended to endure this unshakable persecution, no matter how much my flesh argues otherwise. I was not intended to be defined by a number, which is exactly what has happened; my flesh desperately clings to a fading number for its identity, which is never enough; the number is never low enough and only leaves me depressed, hopeless and absolutely miserable. The more I allow myself to restrict, the more food terrorizes and haunts me, becoming my greatest enemy. I’m tired of fighting this battle on my own and running from God’s plansplans I can’t yet see but desperately believe are better than my own, which simply leave me empty and broken. This week has been especially hard as I’ve watched what, according to my own selfish and prideful desires to be seen, was my greatest ambition and fought so hard to make happen suddenly occurring for others; why didn’t they have to give up their dreams but I must give up everything, my flesh cries out in agony? The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps (Proverbs 16:9). God has been teaching me that a life glorifying my fleshly abilities is no life at all but instead the path to misery; I was not created to get through life on my own, which only leads to pride and selfishness, but rather to surrender alleven my greatest dreams and ambitions in order to find something abundantly greater. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). I was not created to bring glory to my flesh, but to God’s miraculous power; I was created to pour out His love and live a life of unselfishness, worship and service, which is the exact opposite of what my flesh so adamantly desires. My flesh longs to be seen and admired, but God has called me to instead be defined by His lovethe one thing that doesn’t change, no matter how persistently I run away from it. I am not defined by my achievements, failures, appearance or anything of this momentary life, but instead by Who I belong to. No matter how much my weight drops, it’s never enough, but to God I’m enough simply as I ambroken and beautiful. I no longer want to spend my life a slave to the opinions and approval of this narcissistic world, which is meaningless and forever unsatisfactory but rather to be fully surrendered to the King of the Universe, which is what I was created for.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (1 Corinthians 6: 19-20).

The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his 
commandments, for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12: 13).

Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made (Isaiah 43:7).

And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death (Philippians 3: 9-10). 

17 August 2014

Weddings and Dreams

“The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven't yet come to the end of themselves. We're still trying to give orders, and interfering with God's work within us" (A W Tozer).
Why does life have to be so hard? I remember the day I got the letter asking me to be a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding; I let out a huge scream of joy after reading those words—that I was to be a bridesmaid for the very first time in my life. I remember planning the special day with my best friend and even starting a secret wedding board to organize all of our ideas, since this is, after all, the happiest day in a woman’s life. I remember sitting in a coffee shop as we discussed the bridesmaid dresses and other wedding details, with the excitement rising. Since the bride was in the middle of her most intense nursing semester and I had taken off due to medical reasons, I helped her the best I could and spent a lot of time on Pinterest, pinning ideas for the special day. I remember meeting the rest of the bridesmaids at Applebee’s for the first time, discussing wedding details and getting to know each other. I volunteered myself to help the maid of honor plan the bridal shower and baccalaureate party, as well as help in any other way possible since I had so much time on my hands due to taking the semester off; as we began to plan, sitting at a corner table in Starbuck’s, watching the rain pour, we instantly became close friends & had the majority of the shower planned within an hour. Pinterest was our saving grace, as we could each see each other’s pins & get neat ideas to throw the bride her dream shower. Many months were spent planning this shower and as each day passed, I grew more excited for the special day. I remember shopping for all the bridal shower decorations and supplies with the maid of honor; I had my organized list of items to purchase, as well as the budget to stick to, and we went up and down every aisle, anxiously searching for each item. For months we gathered decorations and supplies and stored them at the maid of honor’s cute apartment; as the items kept increasing and the budget decreasing, the vision of a beautiful pink, white & grey shower became increasingly more real. I spent many days dreaming about the shower, wondering how I could make it more special for my best friend and everything she’d ever dreamed. After we finally decided on a venue and checked it out, familiarizing ourselves with the layout, all the pieces started to come together. Everything was going smoothly, except for my health; one of my greatest weaknesses is serving so much that I neglect my own needs, and this was certainly no exception. As I spent weeks on end in the hospital, my health only continued to decrease and we finally decided I could no longer fight on my own and decided I’d go to an inpatient facility. Days later I boarded a plane headed across the world—my new home for the next ten weeks, at the least. I was determined, above all things, to reach my goal weight in time for the wedding, which was about 9 weeks away; I told my treatment team my plan & embarked on the hardest journey of my life—weight restoration. I never thought I’d be asking for MORE food, but was desperate to hasten the process and reach my goal; weeks upon weeks of eating thousands of calories and feeling as if my stomach would explode from the entrance of one more calorie let me exhausted but determined to reach my goal. After nine long, miserable weeks, I did reach my goal weight; I told God that if I reached my goal weight the next day, which they thought was impossible, it would be a sign that I should go to the wedding; well, I did indeed reach it the next day and was convinced that God wanted me to go to the wedding, despite the rising concerns around me. I was determined to make the wedding—the day I’d been dreaming of for weeks upon end, and nothing was going to stop me! However, my body didn’t agree with me and the experts advised me to stay longer, since I still hadn’t reached maintenance calories & was dropping weight as they decreased; however, I was still determined to make the wedding, regardless of what the experts said, and told my team I’d be leaving later that week, regardless of what they advised. However, after calling my amazing therapist and listening to the warnings of others, something no longer seemed right and I no longer had a peace about leaving. After many tears, sobbing, anger, and frustration, I decided to give up the wedding—the day I’d been planning and working so hard to reach—in order to restore my health. Some things just don’t seem fair; why would God ask me to give up something so important to me? Maybe it was because the wedding had become my idol and there was no more room for God; I was so determined to make the wedding that nothing else mattered. So, as I gave up my greatest desires, I dethroned my idol and made room for God to abide. Now, as I see pictures of the day I fought so hard to attend, my heart is filled with sadness and grief; sadness I couldn’t be there, at my best friend’s side, as she married the man of her dreams. I know God sometimes calls us to do hard things, but never did I expect it to be this hard. I’m hoping beauty will come out of this pain, because now it hurts more than words. 

12 July 2014


“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand (Isaiah 41:10)”.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged (Deuteronomy 31:8).”
“I am forever engaged in a silent battle in my head over whether or not to lift the fork to my mouth, and when I talk myself into doing so, I taste only shame. I have an eating disorder (Jena Morrow)”.
Anorexia nervosa is the most deadly of all psychiatric illnesses, with the mortality rate 12 times higher than that associated with all causes of death for females 15-24 years old. Why would one purposely starve herself to death yet still strive to be thinner? One main reason this illness is so dangerous is due to the unending competition to be the thinnest—never satisfied until death is on the horizon, which for me was still not enough. Even though I was severely malnourished and my body crying out for nourishment, weight gain was my greatest fear because through my distorted eyes, I was not sick and didn't need help. To ED (short for eating disorder), I was never enough; he was like that of an abusive spouse yet I always seemed to come running back into his comforting yet life-stealing arms since I wholeheartedly believed I deserved nothing more. I must punish myself for imperfection, I believed, and soon the joy of living dissipated into the mists of the air, never again to be found. Unrealistic expectations consumed me, taking their place at the forefront of my battered and abused mind, convincing me to once again be inadequate. Eating became the greatest punishment and sign of weakness, as the convulsing hunger pains became my only source of comfort and stability in a world fighting to steal my identity. Watching the numbers on the scale continue to drop gave me an adrenaline rush and soon the number was never enough, since satisfaction is not a word in an eating disorder’s dictionary. In the mind of an anorexic, eating is the ultimate sign of weakness, so deception and manipulation became my best friends to avoid its manifestation, since nothing else mattered but starvation and the protruding existence of razor sharp bones; no matter how frightfully they pierced through my paper thin skin, it was never enough. Time and time again I lay in a hospital bed, connected to a myriad of tubes and wires camouflaging my neglected and abused body as it simply fought to exist. The hospital had become my home.

For years too many, this has been my life, or should I say mere existence, since it was not living at all. Anorexia nervosa had become my idol and nothing else mattered in my mind consumed by shame and self-hatred. The sensation of razor sharp bones piercing through my skin and hunger pains radiating throughout my entire body brought comfort to my disturbed mind, convinced I must punish myself for imperfection of any kind and indeed deserved nothing more than adamant and unrelenting pain. After years of abuse, I was convinced I’d never be enough, so life became a competition to prove my worth—that I was someone worth loving and fighting for. However, no matter how hard I tried, I always fell short of my ever-increasingly unrealistic expectations—once again experiencing the pain of rejection.

In order to de-throne my idol and walk in freedom, I have to face what has become my greatest enemy and foremost fear: food. Each time, as I lift the fork to my mouth, adamant and unrelenting shame takes over as I’ve given in to the unthinkable—weakness. I must retrain my mind to view food as my medicine rather than greatest threat and do what I’ve come to see as greatest punishment: eat. As the thought of even a single calorie brings absolute despair to my fear-consumed eyes, I must “do it afraid”, because there is no other way through.  My body can no longer take this abuse, as I must learn to care for myself and accept imperfection. Essentially, I must become like a child and start over, asking God to transform my brokenness into beauty.

Since I could not start over in my own insufficient strength, I decided to accept help and headed across the world to North Dakota, where I’ve been for the past three weeks. Convinced I was not sick or in need of help, I refused to eat and just barely made it through the airport without blacking out; I was determined to prove myself, whatever that meant, once again embracing competition to be the best, however that looked. I must weigh the least amount possible—but it was never enough. No matter how low the double digit number dropped, it was never enough. As I entered the doors of treatment, convinced I was not sick, fear overtook my body at the thought of giving up control—my worst nightmare. As all sense of dignity was stripped from my being, I finally gave up and surrendered—putting my vanishing life into the hands of my Creator. For the first few days I was limited to my bed and forced to remain as still as possible in order to prohibit my abused body from suffering any more harm or losing weight. Food was delivered to my room and I was forced to do what I dreaded most: eat. In order to avoid the potentially life-threatening effects of re-feeding syndrome, which occurs in the most severe cases of starvation, I was forced to remain as still as possible—limited to my bed due to the inadequate amount of food slowly introduced into my victimized body. Every couple of days my calories would be increased but activity must remain the same—nonexistent, which was far beyond frustrating to my thrill-seeking mind. After many days of bed-rest and absolute boredom, I begged to be permitted to attend programming and socialize with the rest of the group, whom I hadn’t yet met. Slowly, I was allowed to leave my room and attend groups, but not at a fast enough pace for my adventure-seeking self. This has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, as daily if not moment by moment I must abandon my will, forsaking the things of this world and fleshly desires so I can one day walk in freedom. God has become my Refuge and under His wings I find shelter from the flaming arrows rigorously fired at my soul. Without His strength, I would remain utterly helpless and without hope. Each day is a chance to show God’s unrestrained strength, as He truly is the only cure for this absurd disease. The skills they teach us here may be temporarily beneficial but fail to solve the problem or answer the unthinkable questions. God is the only solution.

Please continue to cover me with your prayers, as I face my demons head on and de-throne all idols. This journey at times seems hopeless and unrelenting, but the support I’ve received is undeniably encouraging! Thank you for continuing to stand behind me as I fight for freedom and discover my true identity! 

10 May 2014

The Cry of My Heart


Sometimes I just hate Your plan, for how could You allow such unthinkable pain to overtake me once again? I am too weary to stand, God. I want to believe You are using this inconceivable pain to transform me and bring me closer to Your perfection, but right now these mountains just seem too insurmountable for words. God, I write this with a waterfall of tears raging from within me, for this pain is too much for me to bear on my own. Lord, You are the only one who knows the intentions of my heart and hears the desperation in my adamant cry. These past two and a half weeks have been far beyond brutal, as everything—my entire flesh—is being stripped of me and replaced with Your perfection. God, this stripping hurts more than words and most times I want nothing more than to shrink back in fear and fall captive once again to the comforting pains of anorexia but I can’t fight You; the harder I fight against you, the louder ED’s voice rages and the closer to death I become. As food, what has become my greatest fear and indisputable enemy is literally forced down my throat in what one may see as gluttonous amounts, I want nothing more than to run away—to dig a hole and hide from this inconceivable pain. As the weight, according to my anorexic mind, swiftly rolls on in unhealthy amounts while I helplessly lie here in bed, I want nothing more than to find refuge in Your strong and muscular arms and to feel the holes in your palms—the holes formed so I can find refuge and comfort in You. Maybe this pain isn't so bad—compared to the implausible pain Jesus so willingly suffered for my sake. When it feels as if my neglected stomach will explode from the entrance of one more calorie, I must remember the pain Jesus walked through simply so I could be FREE of all pain and suffering.

“They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.”  Revelation 22: 4-5
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”  Romans 8:18
God, sometimes it just doesn't feel fair. I asked for my hospital stay to be extended because I didn't trust myself and desired freedom above all else, but this has been taken advantage of and I wonder where the depths of my small voice have disappeared to—why can no doctor hear them? Am I invisible to them and simply a patient of which to test and prod—a patient without a voice and succumbed to self-destruction? When will they hear my voice and I be able to play a part in the decision-making process rather than destined to the standard textbook treatments of which prevent the unique psychological aspects of my being from consideration? God, help me to see Your face in this unquenchable pain so I may gain inconceivable strength to walk through this fire relentlessly raging against my tender and paper thin flesh. Strengthen me, for I am too weak to stand. As each thought of food brings me to my end, give me the strength to overcome these temptations to restrict and once again fall captive to the comforting sensations of starvation and a desolate stomach. Keep my mind off of the oppressive discomfort my body displays as it fights to survive, not yet convinced it’s safe to trust me after all of the pain I've so willingly put it through. Lord, be my Strength, for I have none left.

“For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”  Hebrews 2:18
Just as You endured temptation,  give me victory and help me to walk in the path of your commands and live in the strength of Your will; lead me in Your everlasting ways for I don’t want to live outside of Your ways.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13
As this feeding tube rigorously gags me and I desire nothing more than to rip it out from within the depths of my once abandoned stomach, give me the strength to overcome this temptation. Help me to believe the words of 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it”.  Help me not to fight these hands that are holding me and swallowed the grave in order to give me life. Lord, may the words of 1 Peter 5: 9-10 become true for even me.

“Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

04 May 2014

Self Denial

“There is no magic cure, no making it all go away forever. There are only small steps upward; an easier day, an unexpected laugh, a mirror that doesn't matter anymore (Unknown)”.
“Weight (too much or too little) is a by-product. Weight is what happens when you use food to flatten your life. Even with aching joints, it's not about food. Even with arthritis, diabetes, high blood pressure. It's about your desire to flatten your life. It's about the fact that you've given up without saying so. It's about your belief that it's not possible to live any other way -- and you're using food to act that out without ever having to admit it (Geneen Roth).”
“I’ve never had anorexia, but I know it well. I see it on the street, in the gaunt and sunken face, the boney chest, the spindly arms of an emaciated woman. I’ve come to recognize the flat look of despair, the hopelessness that follows, inevitably, from years of starvation. I think: That could have been [me]. It wasn’t. It’s not (Harriet Brown).”
Why have You called me to such a daunting task—a task so far beyond my own capability and even comprehension. Relentless pain has become an ever-present part of my microbiota as You’re teaching me to fully trust and relinquish control because without doing so this inconceivable battle will be the death of me. Why have You chosen my fragile soul to endure such unthinkable pain, I wonder as I prepare to surrender all dignity and be tube fed—my worst nightmare. As the thought of even a single calorie paralyzes me with adamant fear and weight gain becomes inevitable, I am forced to simply sit back and watch as literally thousands of calories are forced down my throat and emotional support is nowhere to be found but instead replaced with unending time to sit & dwell on continual and debilitating anxieties since all activity is restricted and these same four walls have become my home for the past two weeks.
“What if I'm so broken I can never do something as basic as feed myself? Do you realize how twisted that is? It amazes me sometimes that humans still exist. We're just animals, after all. And how can an animal get so removed from nature that it loses the instinct to keep itself alive (Amy Reed)?”
 This is why I must run to God, my ever-present Refuge because without His strength I could not go on, as this battle so far exceeds my own incompetent ability. As I’m forced to order each meal despite the ruthless temptations to restrict and give in to the comforting pains of starvation, I must cling to my Savior, knowing He is my only hope and the One Who holds the keys to unlock this heart of stone. ED’s voice rages as my body continues to regain its strength, sometimes raging so ferociously I wonder if I can even withstand it; this is why I asked to remain in the hospital longer—because I knew if I were to go home I would be my biggest threat, giving in to the comfort of starvation and protruding bones since my flesh is incomprehensibly weak. “We turn skeletons into goddesses and look to them as if they might teach us how not to need (Marya Hornbacher).” Even though the hospital is the last place on earth I want to spend my weeks, restricted by the countless wires camouflaging my fading body and under the complete control of the countless doctors, I know I must deny myself, taking up my cross to follow Christ since this is not the life I want to live—in fact, it’s no life at all. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life captive to the debilitating fear of food and admiration of the nonexistence of starvation but instead have measureless hopes and dreams which are rapidly fading away as I approach death’s horizon.
“I breathe in slowly. Food is life. I exhale, take another breath. Food is life. And that's the problem. When you're alive, people can hurt you. It's easier to crawl into a bone cage or a snowdrift of confusion. It's easier to lock everybody out. But it's a lie (Laurie Halse Anderson).”

Each second of every day I must fight against my flesh—fight to survive—since my very own presence has become my worst enemy and biggest threat. I must learn to take each thought captive and make it obedient to Christ, as well as crucify my flesh so I may gain life. As the battle rages on, I am clinging to the hope that it won’t always be this hard but these present troubles are simply “light and momentary”, “producing a glory that vastly outweighs them all and will last forever (2 Corinthians 4:17)”. “Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it (Matthew 10:39)”. Yes, I must lose my life, giving up control, in order to find it. 

27 April 2014

Perfectly Surrendered

“The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven't yet come to the end of themselves. We're still trying to give orders, and interfering with God's work within us” (A.W. Tozer).
“You cannot fulfil God's purposes for your life while focusing on your own plans” (Rick Warren).
“Now we cannot...discover our failure to keep God's law except by trying our very hardest (and then failing). Unless we really try, whatever we say there will always be at the back of our minds the idea that if we try harder next time we shall succeed in being completely good. Thus, in one sense, the road back to God is a road of moral effort, of trying harder and harder. But in another sense it is not trying that is ever going to bring us home. All this trying leads up to the vital moment at which you turn to God and say, "You must do this. I can't” (C.S.Lewis).
I believe it is true that we find God when we are on our knees, in complete surrender and with nothing to offer but absolute brokenness. Through my weaknesses, God has shown Himself strong as each step I take isn’t possible without Him strengthening my feeble legs. Some days I want nothing more than to run away from this relentless and unthinkable pain but then I’m reminded that I must go through the pain to get to the other side, which I’m trusting is more beautiful than this so-called life of adamant torture. As many of you may already know, I recently went inpatient for Anorexia treatment and was there for about a month or so before being rushed to the ER for a medical emergency and referred to a specialized surgeon who was alarmed by the severity of my case and gave no option but invasive major surgery. I was then immediately discharged from the inpatient facility, forced to leave and find a treatment team, including a surgeon, on my own within twenty-four hours. No, this was not ideal nor was it my preference, but it was reality. So, while my family was on vacation in Florida, I had to find a way to get to my home four hours away by car, increased in length due to a major snow storm. God’s plans are definitely not my own, I’ve come to find out time after time, as He’s teaching me to simply surrender, which may possibly be the hardest lesson of all.

Mark 14:38 says, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” I can testify to the truth of this verse, as I want more than anything to be free of this disease called Anorexia Nervosa but my flesh is exceedingly weak and vulnerable; in fact, dependence on the flesh leads to nothing but death, both spiritual and physical. I’ve tried time and time again to do what I know is right but every time end up falling hopelessly short because it is all out of the flesh, which as Jesus says, is exceedingly weak. My flesh was not made to lead but to surrender and remain in submission to and in awe of the Creator. After completely relapsing and moving backwards from the progress made at the inpatient facility, I’ve been trying for nearly three months to restore my health in order to have surgery but setbacks seem to be more prominent than leaps forward, since my pride hasn’t been shattered nor my will aligned with God’s until Thursday—when I finally gave it ALL up and said “yes” to my greatest fear: a feeding tube. This whole time I’ve been in denial, saying, in my own distorted mind, “It’s not that bad” or “I’m not Anorexic since I’m not thin enough or the best”; therefore I would never need a nasogastric tube in order to remain nourished and thriving but could simply do it on my own stubborn will—even if it required drinking the tube feeding, which is where my stubbornness lead me while recovering at Remuda Ranch. However, I’ve come to realize that “apart from God I can do nothing” (John 15:5) and “it is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all” (John 6:63). Each time I look ahead to the future and the monumental amount of weight gain required simply to get into the triple digits, I want to shrink back in fear—absolutely overwhelmed and hopeless, as well as completely drained of strength. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). And when I focus on the past and all of the mistakes I’ve made as well as pain and trauma endured, I remain stuck. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland” (Isaiah 43:19). So, in essence, all that’s left is the present, which is exactly where God wants me—totally dependent on Him. I’ve learned, in the words of Leigh Ann Brisbin, to “F.R.O.G. it”, or Fully Rely on God, which is a lifelong process. With each calorie, my hands adamantly shake and my knees tremble, which is why I must “F.R.O.G.” it, for there is no other way to get through this everyday battle. The very thought of food sends stabbing shivers down my manipulated spine, each time making me want to run away and hide, finding shelter in starvation. This is why I agreed to having a tube threaded down my nose, through my esophagus and into my stomach—because on my own I cannot consume enough calories to keep from losing more weight. ED’s voice rages each time the fork advances toward my mouth; if it were up to him, I would be dead by now. This past week, at my weekly doctor’s appointment, a mass was noted in the right upper quadrant of my abdomen; I was then hospitalized and tests performed to determine  the cause of this mass, which turned out to be my spinal hardware literally protruding to the other side and palpable to the touch. I’ve become so malnourished that my rods and screws can now be touched and felt with every slight movement, yet it’s still not enough. Laurie Halse Anderson says it perfectly when she says, “The only number that would ever be enough is 0. Zero pounds, zero life, size zero, double-zero, zero point”. Despite how deafeningly ED’s voice rages, I fight with each breath to consume every calorie, for food is the enemy yet also the only cure. I must walk through what I fear most in order to experience freedom and life. “In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety” (Abraham Maslow).

 In Kessa, Steven Levenkron says, “She began to be reassured by these pains, tangible symbols of her success in becoming thinner than anyone else. Her only identity was being "the skinniest." She had to feel it.” Anorexia has become my identity, although I know it is both demeaning and unrealistic—yet I still cling to the number, which keeps getting smaller and smaller. There is no satisfaction in anorexia; it is a life of misery and bondage inflicted by those seeking relief from exceptional pain. However, I’ve failed to realize that this pain can only be removed by the God of the Universe in Whose hands freedom resides—and re-feeding very well may be the most uncomfortable, counter-intuitive process of unthinkable bloating, stretching the stomach beyond comprehension, nausea and absolute misery but this unglamorous process is positively imperative in order to gain a life of health and passion. Even though recovery often feels a hundred times worse than the comfort and numbness of starvation and razor sharp bones, it is the only way. “Recovery is a very unglamorous daily process of being willing to fall down again, to break again, to cry again, to get up and try again until success manifests as ever greater sustained healing” (Unknown). So, according to Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus”. With each step towards recovery, Christ is replacing Anorexia’s residence as my identity: a Beloved Daughter of Christ through whom freedom is found. Freedom comes through laying down my will at the foot of the cross and remaining perfectly surrendered to God’s leading, even when the road seems too treacherous to bear. So, as this tube persistently scrapes my throat and leaves me nauseous and implausibly uncomfortable, I must press on because I was made for more: I choose to break free, believing God has something greater in store for me—yes, me—His precious daughter.

29 March 2014

Gut-Wrenching Honesty

Lord, I am so exhausted from trying once again to fight this battle on my own; I so quickly and unknowingly try to control everything, for my battered flesh has forgotten how to trust. The wounds of my past continue to haunt me and absolutely bring me to my knees. My weak and abused flesh wants nothing more than to give up, for it is unthinkably weak yet strong-willed. Lord, help me to wait upon You so strength can rise. I feel so incredibly weak and want nothing more than to give up—to run away from the battle that awaits me, for it seems never-ending; may I not become overwhelmed with the future or even the past, but keep my eyes fixed on You and the present moment. Lord, defend me—the weak—and comfort me as I cry out in desperation and adamant agony. Lift me up with wings like eagles so I can soar above the storm. Help me to wait upon You; don’t let me move until You move.  Be my strong deliverer. Defend me. Comfort me. Be my hope and my strong deliverer—the Everlasting God. Keep my eyes fixed on You.

God, thank you that I could receive a letter of encouragement from my friend today; this is such a sign that You have my best interests in mind, but I’m still terrified to do what’s right! God, take away this debilitating fear, for I can’t afford to let it get the best of me. Keep my eyes fixed on You and You alone. Lord, my spirit is willing but my flesh is weak Fill me with Your peace and help me to rise above this. God, I just want to scream—why is this so hard; my flesh wants to run away, for this pain is more than I can bear and far more excruciating than simply remaining static and comfortable—forever enslaved by the chains of my sinful nature and thorn in my flesh. I pray that You’d be the anchor for my soul and help me to say “it is well”. Help me to put on the full armor of God so I can take my stand against the devil’s wicked schemes and remain standing as he attacks me with aggression and the overwhelming intention to annihilate my soul and overall entire being. Help me to stand firm with the belt of truth tightly buckled around my waist, keeping me centered on Your truth; may it become the core of my being. Help me to put on the breastplate of righteousness so I may be righteous and pure; may this armor shield my heart and keep it pure and without blemish—as it was created. Keep my feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace—the peace to do what’s right and readiness to follow You no matter what the cost. Help me to take up the shield of faith to extinguish all the fiery arrows relentlessly shot at my vulnerable flesh. May this shield keep these arrows from touching me—before they can penetrate or even scrape my weak flesh, for I am more vulnerable and weak than I may ever know. Help me to put on the helmet of salvation to keep my mind centered on and filled with the truth of salvation and all I receive once this becomes reality; help me to believe and receive all You so willingly long to offer. May my mind stay focused on these truths—the truths of redemption and forgiveness—rather than these earthly and fleshly desires fighting to steal my peace, strength, attention, focus and satisfaction. Remind me of the reality these intriguing desires bring: the reality that I’m never good enough, never satisfied, and never complete with the lies of Anorexia. Be my hiding place. Help me to take the sword of the Spirit—the Word You’ve written—to destroy the enemy and protect my weak soul; may he not leave victorious or know the satisfaction of winning but instead thoroughly feel the sting of defeat throughout his entire sly and deceitful being. Remind me I have everything I need to walk in victory and convince me it’s worth it—that I am worth it. Remind me who I am in Your eyes, for I’ve hopelessly lost sight and remain completely blind to Your truths—to freedom. My mind has become so used to this pain and remaining sick, miserable, numb, but most of all dead; help me to give up this false identity—this idol—and to let go of being the “sickest” which remains wholly unattainable as the enemy is never satisfied until my heart physically ceases to beat. Help me to embrace my new identity as Your daughter—a beloved Princess of the King.
Help me to believe You’re my only hope and that if You’re not with me, I won’t go. Help me to not fear finding refuge in Your strong and powerful arms but rather to allow my dying soul to be embraced in love—to allow myself to feel and be healed; may I not fear the piercing sensation of touch but rather identify it as a source of comfort rather than pain. Help me to run to You rather than the lies and numbing of this world. Help me to move through the pain, no matter how much it hurts and remind me it’s only temporary. May I forge new and healthy—but most of all Godly—pathways in the many folds of my battered mind. Fill me with truth and overcome me; strip me of my deceitful self and fleshly desires and fill me back up with truth so that it is only You who remains in my being. Help me to boldly step out and walk in faith, knowing the satisfaction and contentment of making right decisions as I wait on You. May I not take one step until You go before me. Crucify my flesh! Lead me all the way and help me not to doubt Your tender mercy. Give me grace for every trial. Lead me and keep my feet from falling. Be my strong deliverer! 

26 March 2014

Armor of the Lord

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying.”
Ephesians 6:10-18

            I give this day to You, for I am tired of trying to control everything and ending up depressed, hopeless, frustrated and utterly exhausted. I was not made to control but to surrender yet I grasp these chains with unyielding strength, even though they’re suffocating me. Help me to believe I deserve more than this—that I don’t deserve the gruesome and blood-curdling pain I inflict upon myself to numb the relentless and debilitating feelings of shame and guilt I’ve grown accustomed to for something completely out of my control. Help me to see truth: that it was not my fault, nor do You blame me for the heartless injustice uttered toward Your vulnerable, innocent and pure little girl—Your prized possession. Show me that although no one else heard her piercing and desperate cries for protection and deliverance—that You heard and wept for the unthinkable injustice she’d silently endured. Remind this wounded and bleeding little girl that pain is not of You but of the hater of her soul and although it may sting with burning and skin-peeling aggression, You and You alone can bring beauty from the injustice and gently bandage her gushing wounds, bringing forth healing and redemption. Although walking through the pain is far more uncomfortable and seems wholly impossible, remind her that it’s only temporary and absolutely necessary in order to move forward. And when this girl wants nothing more than to run back into the welcoming and comfort-filled arms of pain, for it’s all she’s ever known, remind her that she deserves so much more—that she was not created for pain and to simply go through the motions but rather to embrace life with passion, spontaneity, joy, and unrestrained courage. Help her to put on the full armor of God so she can declare her stand against the schemes of her heartless aggressor. Help her to stand firm with the belt of truth tightly buckled around her waist so she can see past and resist the devil’s lies; with the breastplate of righteousness in place to guard her wounded and bleeding heart—the overspring of life—so it can once again burst forth with life and unquenchable passion; with her feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace—forever at rest with the peace of God and therefore revitalized and ready to fight and take her stand for the spot You’ve saved for her precious soul created solely in Your perfect image; to embrace her place in this world as a light in the darkness and instrument of God; to take up the shield of unwavering faith so she can extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one before they breed destruction, so they can in no way harm her; to take the helmet of salvation protecting her mind—the battleground—from the lies of hopelessness, depression and shame only to embrace the truth of salvation, which is freedom, life, unquenchable passion, joy and every other good thing You’ve promised to those who believe; to accept everything You long to offer her—everything of value; to take the sword of the Spirit—the Word—to fight against the hater of her soul and perfector of deceit. Help her to pray without ceasing, forever in Your presence of safety and grace, and to always be alert and aware of the enemy’s schemes as he waits like a lion, momentarily ready to pounce on his unexpecting victim with relentless and unyielding aggression.  Give her everything she needs to walk in victory and embrace the life You’ve created for her. 

04 February 2014

The Refining Power of Humility

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6
        What is humility? According to Merriam-Webster.com, it is “the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people”. In essence, humility is the exact opposite of pride, which according to Merriam-Webster.com, is “a deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired”. To me, the difference between humility and pride can be seen in the ability to accept oneself fully as God’s perfect creation, not having to prove oneself through outward actions or appearance: someone who is ok to just “be”. It is the ability to care more about what God thinks about you and how you represent Him rather than superficial things such as outward appearance and personal achievements. Humility is mainly concerned with “what would God think” whereas pride focuses on “what would people think”. In my opinion, humility is one of the hardest lessons to learn since it implies such brutal self-denial and the afflictive stripping of pride: the core of a fallen and hopelessly sinful human-being; this requires completely ridding oneself of what is comfortable, familiar and innate in order to pursue something so unnatural and seemingly absurd. One must be crazy, in my opinion, to ask God to teach them humility, but it is essential to Christianity and in essence, aren’t all Christians a little “crazy” in the world’s eyes? According to Proverbs 11:2, “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom”.

        Today just may have earned its status as the most humbling and/or embarrassing day, of which there have been many, of my life. God’s plans are not my own—that is for sure—but yet when I simply let go of my pride & selfish desires, His plans become oh so beautiful and absolutely perfect! As some of you may know, I’ve recently been struggling with a severe case of rectal prolapse, which is extremely rare for someone of my age; although the professionals have told me it’s most likely not due to my history of anorexia, I still wonder if it didn’t play a part; although I may never know if this sudden emergency came about due to the lack of food and peristalsis in my colon which in turn led to muscle weakness or possibly due to laxative abuse weakening my pelvic floor, I am convinced it at least played a part. Despite how it came about, however, I was informed by several doctors, surgeons, and specialists that it was severe enough to require surgery; in fact, that surgery was the only option since it’d become so advanced. I won’t go into the details just yet about how I found out about this condition, since it is such a long story, but I will, however, tell you about my crazy day—when I once again tiptoed on death’s unexpected horizon.

        In order to ensure there were no other problems going on inside of me, the surgeon recommended I have a colonoscopy done to allow for detailed internal visualization. For those of you who don’t know, a colonoscopy entails inserting a small camera through the anus and into the colon to look for any abnormalities such as polyps (abnormal masses/growths); in order for clear visualization to be possible, however, the colon must be completely rid of all wastes (did you know that the colon is as long as we are tall and that for every foot of colon we can store around 5-10 pounds of waste; so, with me being a little over five feet tall, this means I had to get rid of 25-50 lbs of feces—had my colon been completely full) which is accomplished through a strict (and brutal, I must add) preparation regime the day prior to the procedure. This prep involved taking 7 laxatives, a full bottle of magnesium citrate and fleet enema as well as maintaining a clear liquid diet until midnight, with no food or drink the day of the procedure. Since my body is still malnourished, this preparation literally sent it over the edge, as my body couldn’t handle the  excessive vomiting and diarrhea resulting from the large amount of laxatives and dehydration.

        This morning, as I awoke to an overwhelmingly nauseous stomach and uncontrollable bowels, I finished the prep and quickly got ready for what would become the adventure of a lifetime. With my stubborn spirit and prideful attitude, I refused to be wheeled to my destination in a wheelchair but rather insisted on walking the entire way, despite the fact I could barely move without being overtaken with an overwhelming sense of nausea and lightheadedness (of which I of course kept to myself) since I’d had nothing to eat for over 24 hours and had lost excessive amounts of fluid and electrolytes due to vomiting and diarrhea. As I was exiting the elevator, my mom noticed me suddenly stop and grab hold of the elevator’s edge and say, “I’m going to pass out”, so she quickly ran to catch me before I hit the ground, as my legs crumbled beneath me. For the next five minutes or so I completely lost consciousness, as a doctor frantically tried to keep me awake while a nurse ran for a wheelchair; they then (although I don’t recall ever being in a wheelchair or even entering the ER) set me in the wheelchair, with my mom holding my head to keep it from falling, and literally ran me through several hallways into the Emergency Room. During the frantic rush, my mom, while holding onto my limp head, distraughtly asked if I was still breathing since she says I resembled a deceased person in a casket, and told the doctors and nurse that I was anorexic; they immediately stopped--dropping everything--to take my pulse in order to ensure I was in fact still alive, ensuring my heart hadn't ceased to beat. As soon as we reached an empty room, I was transferred to a bed, my clothing stripped and an EKG performed to ensure my heart was beating normally; I finally regained consciousness as the EKG was being performed and looked around to see where on earth I’d ended up, since I last recalled being on an elevator. As I was gaining consciousness, with light fading from dark to light and sounds disappearing/reappearing, I began to convulsively “dry heave” and they immediately held a barf bag up to my mouth, even though there was nothing left to come out. The EKG came back normal and then an IV was immediately inserted into my arm to allow for rapid hydration into my severely dehydrated and shriveled cells; several tubes of blood were then taken to monitor my electrolytes and then immediately sent to the lab for STAT evaluation. Once the room calmed down a little and I was able to begin to relax, I noticed an intense pressure in my abdomen and immediately recognized it as the onset of uncontrollable diarrhea, but fought to hold it in while the doctor asked me questions; as soon as he left, I sheepishly asked the nurse for a bed pan, which I must say was one of the most humbling experiences of my life; with working in the Intensive Care Unit as a nurse tech, I’ve assisted countless patients to use the bed pan and can now fully understand the utter embarrassment and shame accompanying its presence. I believe it’s true that no one can understand or empathize with someone in the way that one can had they also been through it; personal experience is such a gift (although it may not seem like it) not just to the individual but to countless others who’ve also struggled with the same thing.

        After a full bag of IV fluid had been administered into my veins at a rapid pace and Zofran (an anti-nausea med) had pretty well diminished my nausea/vomiting, I was wheeled to endoscopy where my colonoscopy was to be performed, since we’d contacted the surgeon to explain what’d happened and then decided to go ahead with the procedure so I wouldn’t have to go through the prep again. After a multitude of papers were signed, I was wheeled into the procedure room; here they allowed me to watch the entire procedure and ask questions rather than being anesthetized and put to sleep, which would be dangerous due to my low weight. I was able to visualize my colon, which was as clean as a whistle due to all the prep work, and after what seemed like five minutes, the surgeon informed me we were done and that everything looked great. Shortly after finishing the procedure, I was allowed to be discharged. I was absolutely blown away by the quality of care I’d received and truly felt understood and worthwhile, which has been a rare occurrence with my past medical history. I had fun conversing with the nurses and asking them questions, reminding me of why I am still wholeheartedly pursuing a career in nursing; I’m so grateful for every experience I’ve been given, no matter how painful, because I know they will ultimately mold me into the best nurse I can be: full of compassion and most of all, understanding, since experience is the greatest teacher. Humility is not a fun lesson to learn, but in the end the benefits far outweigh the negatives!