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.

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