Well it’s been far too long since I’ve written; it’s hard to believe a month has already almost flown by—where does the time go? In just a couple of weeks, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving and then Christmas—how crazy! With Thanksgiving so rapidly approaching and it being such a HUGE tradition in my family, as we celebrate Christmas on Thanksgiving so the entire family can be together for at least one holiday, I find myself reminiscing about the past years and the life anorexia has robbed me of. For the past four or so years, I have been absent from our huge Thanksgiving celebration, spending the holiday in either a hospital bed or treatment facility. Last year my family had to come visit me in the hospital, where machines kept me alive so I could survive to see another year; never did I imagine the struggle would be this long or this intense, but honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way because God is teaching me in profound ways just what freedom in Christ REALLY looks like; I am learning that Surrender truly is the ONLY way to life. I’ve had to literally force myself to surrender—humbly falling to the ground and allowing God to re-frame my faulty thoughts/desires to align them with His Truth so we can become One. On my own, I cannot force myself to eat enough to survive; left to my own fleshly desires, I would literally starve to death. The world may never understand this and quite frankly, they don’t need to, but once malnutrition and anorexia join hands, they become a nearly impenetrable force; in fact, I’ve found that worldly strength cannot even begin to make a dent in its armor. A force so strong requires something far superior—a greater power not of this world. All of the worldly “tools” I’ve been taught to depend on are useless without the Hope of Christ and try to convince me that I will ALWAYS be a slave to anorexia’s chains because they leave out the most vital part—Christ. They are right: apart from Christ there is NO hope but even the smallest grain of faith in Christ is greater than the weapons of the enemy. Matthew 17:20 says, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
I’m discovering that we were not created to get through this life on our own strength and trying to do so leads to absolute hopelessness and relentless depression. We were made for God’s pleasure and glory—to ultimately bring Him glory and praise. There is no joy apart from Him and His words are true, unchanging and forever relevant; it’s hard to believe that no matter how many times I turn to the exact same verse, it has the potential to speak to me in a completely different way but I’m discovering that it is profoundly true. And just as the Truth of the Bible stays the same, so does the fact that on this earth we are all subject to temptations, trials and pain—just as they were in the beginning of time. To think that we can get through life on our own is madness…complete madness. At COPE, there is no hope because there is neglect of the entire being of humanity; there is no spiritual aspect and the mental aspect only grazes the surface of the root issues. By forcing anorexics to consume unnatural amounts of food in a short time period in order to restore massive amounts of weight without acknowledging the true battlefield—the mind—you are setting them up for failure. True freedom requires restoration of ALL aspects: SPIRIT, SOUL AND BODY—not simply body! At COPE they teach us to do simply that—to cope or just get by with the struggle; it is forever present according to their teachings. However, that is the difference between a worldly view and a Spiritual view; “apart from God we can do nothing”.
The past few weeks I’ve been “flying by the seat of my pants”, testing each boundary to its absolute limit so I can just get by through life. Honestly, I forgot the feeling of true joy and tried to convince myself this was normal—that joy was something I’d never again experience. Why? Because “the joy of the Lord is my strength” and I wanted anything but to surrender, giving up my comfort and having to face my pain head on. The world will never know just how much easier it is to stay a slave to anorexia once it’s become your identity and comfort in life; having to face and deal with the pain head on, fully bearing its overpowering sensations is the most painful and excruciating thing I’ve ever experienced. In order to experience joy, I must fully embrace and experience all other emotions—including the negative ones. I must also re-train my brain to view food as life-giving rather than life-threatening and allow myself to enjoy life rather than punishment. All the changes, both physical and mental, are exhausting but I’m tired of choosing the easy way. In His own timing, God has been gradually changing me, softening my heart to receive His truth and unconditional love. I’ve been able to stay out of the hospital by the “skin of my teeth”, every appointment on the very tip of the edge just waiting to fall. I’m tired of living this way, though; the constant fear and anxiety is paralyzing and I realize I am not destined or deserving of this punishment but rather of enjoying life and experiencing freedom. Slowly I’ve been allowing myself to experience these positive sensations rather than subjecting myself to the pain of punishment and negativity. Last Tuesday we had a missionary from China speak at our church and the presence of God filling the room was truly life-changing; I almost didn’t go, which I know was the devil trying to keep me away from the one thing that would give me strength. As he shared his story—of how true and undeniable miracles such as walking on broken legs straight through the armed and guarded doors of prison took place—it hit me that this SAME power is available to me! I’ve had many times since then of resorting back to the desires of my flesh, but the difference is every time I’ve chosen to GET BACK UP rather than remain a helpless victim. Yesterday I volunteered at Akron Children’s Hospital and started my new assignment of chaperoning special guests through the hospital, visiting each patient if they so desire. For Halloween, the University of Akron’s football team brought a wagon loaded with homegrown pumpkins to carve with the children. I took them up to the sixth floor playroom, where several patients, IVs and all, along with their parents sat around the miniature kid-sized tables. We split up, some gowning up to visit isolation rooms and burn unit, while the rest of us entertained the children in the playroom. It was quite a show to see these massive, intimidating football players obey the commands of the small, innocent children as they instructed the athletes how to carve each unique pumpkin. The kids were repulsed by the gooey slimy “guts” of the pumpkin—well all except one; one child was so enthralled with this new “toy” that she kept asking her mom to replace the “guts” so she could scoop it back out—the excitement in her voice by such a simple thing was truly captivating. Anyway, I got gloves for the other children and yes, football players, which solved the problem. During the few hours we were there, more children from different floors trickled down to receive their “shot” at instructing a large football player how to carve their “dream” pumpkin. Some stuck (no pun intended) with the ideal and tidier stickers to decorate their pumpkin, while others drew the most intricate of designs on the pumpkin for the football players to carve; it was amazing to see their massive hands used for such intricate and detailed work! It made my day to see the absolute excitement and joy overtake each suffering child’s face and I was reminded of what life is really about—service. One boy had never carved a pumpkin before, so was beyond ecstatic to have his first completed by a “celebrity” in his small mind; he completed his treasure with the autograph of every “celebrity”, which much to my surprise included even me; it made my heart happy to be seen as a “celebrity” through the eyes of a child, reminding me just how important each action is—no matter how small! Overall, it was an amazing and fulfilling day of spontaneity, which I am discovering is more effective than planning out every single detail. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps (Proverbs 16:9)”.
|The same well-trained hands used to catch a football were used to intricately carve a small child's pumpkin.|
|Notice the pumpkin "guts" present in front of this smiling child.|
|Lots of laughter and light-hearted conversation filled the playroom.|