Tag Archive | faith

What Are You Afraid Of?

I used to be afraid at night. Afraid of the dark. Afraid that just beyond the point my eyesight allowed me to see that there was something lurking. Afraid that the darkness itself would somehow surround me and swallow me up…as if darkness were anything more than simply the absence of light.

I used to be afraid of tomorrow. Afraid that who I was would continually dictate who I am, and that who I would be might be someone who I didn’t like very much at all…as though there was no such thing as being made new.

I used to be afraid of opinions. Afraid that though words would not break my bones, they certainly would shatter my dreams…as though I started doing this for the approval of many, rather than the glory of One.

I used to be afraid of failure. Afraid of losing. Afraid of falling. Afraid of being wrong, creating busts, and looking absolutely stupid, because who am I to think that I could ever actually make a difference? As if those setbacks were anything more than the laying down of stepping stones on the path to success.

I used to be afraid.  Used to.

But then I did a little research.  And by that, I mean I re-searched, and I re-searched, and I re-searched, over and over again, and through all of my re-searching, I kept coming up with the same exact question:

What room does fear have?

What room does fear have when I cling to TRUST? What room does fear have when I lean on HOPE? What room does fear have when I search for something more, when I discover and realize what’s good, and when I stand in AWE? When I run with PERSEVERANCE, when I walk by FAITH, and when I rest in COMFORT. What room does fear have when I sing with PRAISE, when I take hold of INSPIRATION, explore the POSSIBILITIES, and step into FREEDOM? What room does fear have when I discover STRENGTH, EMBRACE COURAGE, REMEMBER PEACE, DECLARE TRUTH, CHOOSE JOY, EXPERIENCE LIFE and CONQUER DEATH? What room does fear have when I find perfection in the one place I never thought to look? In weakness, when I’m saved by the most unlikely of heroes. By grace, when I’m invited into a relationship more loving and intimate than I could ever imagine, as a child of God.

I’ll ask you again: what room does fear have when I step out of the darkness, and I bask in the light? When I let the past be the past and the future has no limit. When they can talk all they want, but their opinion doesn’t matter! And when failure is nothing more and nothing less than the road by which I walk my path to success.

I’ll ask you one last time: what room does fear have when in His Word, He tells me three hundred and sixty-five times DO. NOT. BE. AFRAID. As if I needed to hear that every single day. And as if that’s how many times I needed to hear it before I finally believed it.

What room does fear have when I make room for LOVE?

What are you afraid of? 

 

-Jon Jorgenson

 

Here is the video if you want to watch him speak it.

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Faithfully His

As I think back to how I managed the last long, hard stretch of recovery, I know that what did it for me was my faith. It doesn’t matter if you’re in recovery from an eating disorder like I was, or if your addiction is alcohol, drugs, sex, pornography, gambling, or something else. What I learned is that, with my strong-hold, I had to submit myself to a higher power, and realize that I could not do it all myself – I needed to seek strength from God. In doing so, my recovery took a turn, and I had the strength to get through times that felt unbearable. No longer did I need to find my own strength to endure because I had His. Through recovery, I learned that I am Faithfully His.

God has given his Word to learn from and enjoy. To refresh us. To call out the desire for relationship with Him that He’s planted deep within our souls. To speak to our hearts. To show us who He is. To awaken us to our failings, but then to draw us toward the restorative, redemptive blessings.

His Word is not a chore. It’s life. It’s love. It’s the living truth. It’s not just to read. It’s to be absorbed. To bathe in. To breathe in. To live by. To inspire us, to reshape us. To define us. That’s because it’s alive. It’s not a book written with historical data for your information but animated by His Spirit for your edification – to speak intimately and personally to you regarding His purposes for your life.

The Word is there to help us keep our way, and without it we can lose our strength. In a world inundated with ideas to the contrary, it is our constant reminder of who we really are, why we are here, and who we really belong to.

You are His, and His Word helps to keep your sure of that. Just as she stated, here is a lengthy list of affirmation statements created by Priscila Shirer from her book The Resolution for Women, taken directly from the Word of the living God. They’re not direct quotes, but they recast the theme of the referenced verse so you can declare it in first person.

As you audibly speak these biblical statements over your life (or your loved ones) your mind will be renewed, your faith will be strengthened, and your attitude will be transformed. “Faith come from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.”

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This lengthy list doesn’t have to be read or spoken all at once, but it’s there if you need something fast and short to speak aloud to get through difficult moments. (I actually wrote scriptures on note cards, put them on a key ring, and kept them in my purse for easy access).

Without further ado: 

  • I love the Lord my God with my whole heart, soul, and mind (Mark 12:30)
  • I walk by faith not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7)
  • The Lord is on my side; I will not fear what man can do to me (Psalm 118:6)
  • I am competent not in my own abilities but he has made me competent by His spirit that gives me life (2 Corinthians 3: 5-6)
  • I abide in Christ, He abides in me and I bear much fruit. Apart from Him, I can do nothing (John 15:5)
  • I have the mind of Christ; therefore I act in a way that is consistent with His actions (1 Corinthians 2:16)
  • You will never leave me nor for sake me (Hebrews 13:5)
  • I do not look with disdain upon my weaknesses. I see them as opportunities for God to display his powerful strength and grace through me (2 Corinthians 12:10)
  • No weapon formed against me can prosper, and every tongue that rises up against me in judgment will be condemned (Isaiah 54:17)
  • I will be hospitable without complaint (1 Peter 4:9)
  • I will not use my tongue to speak cursing, but rather I will speak life-giving blessings to everyone I meet any and every situation I face (James 3:8-10)
  • The Spirit in dwells me; therefore I am the temple of the living God (2 Corinthians 6:16)
  • I am faithful over a few things, and I will be made ruler over many (Matthew 25:23)
  • I humbly submit to God, and actively resist the work of the devil, knowing he must flee from me (James 4:7)
  • I will not give the enemy opportunity or foothold in my life (Ephesians 4:27)
  • The One who is in me is greater than he who is in the world (1 John 4:4)
  • I choose to obey the Lord and receive the prosperous abundance and blessing He will bestow on me (Deuteronomy 30:8-9)
  • My heart keeps the Commandments of God. They will add length of days and peace to my life (Proverbs 3:2)
  • I walk by the Spirit and do not fulfill the desires of my flesh (Galatians 5:16)
  • I am enabled to exhibit the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23)
  • The Lord guards my going out and my coming in, today and forever (Psalm 121:8)
  • I rejoice in the Lord wheter circumstances are good or bad (Phillipians 4:4)
  • I will not be afraid when I lie down and my sleep shall be sweet (Proverbs 3: 24)
  • I obtain the favor of the Lord (Proverbs 12:2)
  • The Lord is in my midst, and He sings over me with joy (Zephaniah 3:17)
  • I am the apple of my Father’s eye (Deuteronomy 32:10)
  • Goodness and mercy will follow me not only today but all the days of my life (Psalm 23:6)
  • I have been made in the image and likeness of God himself. This is my heritage (Genesis 1:27)
  • I have not been given the spirit of this world, rather, I have the Spirit of God that I might know the mind and will of God for me (1 Corinthians 1:12)
  • I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ (Romans 1:16)
  • My steps have been ordained and ordered by the Lord (Psalm 37:23)
  • I only allow my mind to entertain what is honorable, right, pure, lovely, noble, excellent, and worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8)
  • I long for the pure milk of the Word that I may grow to spiritual maturity (1Peter 2:2)
  • I seek peace and pursue it (Psalm 34:14)
  • I am a necessary and useful part of the body of Christ, and I will use my spiritual gifts to edify others (1 Corinthians 12:7)
  • Faith, hope, and love -especially love- abide in me (1 Corinthians 13:13)
  • I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • I have been given victory in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 15:57)
  • I am meek, and I will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5)
  • I extend mercy to others, and I will in turn receive mercy (Matthew 5:7)
  • I have a pure heart before God, and I expect to see His manifest presence in my life (Matthew 5:8)
  • I discipline myself for the purpose of godliness since it holds promise for the present life as well as the life to come (1 Timothy 4:8)
  • My ambition is to be pleasing to Him and him alone (2 Corinthians 5:9)
  • I do not judge fellow believers so that I will not bring judgment on myself (Romans 2:1)
  • My priority is to seek first the kingdom of God’s righteousness, and I expect all needed, secondary things to be added onto me (Matthew 6:33)
  • I am a true worshiper I worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:23)
  • I do not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3)
  • Rivers of living water flow out of my inner being (John 7:38)
  • I have been chosen by God to bring forth fruit that shall remain (John 15:16)
  • I am a brand-new person my old sin nature has passed away, and everything has become new (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • No matter my past, I am forgiven of my sins because of His grace upon me (Ephesians 1:7)
  • I have been given every spiritual blessing in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3)
  • Because he was wounded, I am healed (Isaiah 53:5)
  • In Christ, I am whole and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:4)
  • Whatever I ask for in prayer according to the fathers will, I believe that I have received it (Mark 11:24)
  • I am part of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. I am one of God’s own people (1 Peter 2:9)
  • I will not be afraid because I know the spirit of fear is not from Him. He has given me the spirit of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)
  • I am not a stranger to God. I am a citizen of God’s kingdom and a member of his household (Ephesians 2:19)
  • I have been sealed by the Holy Spirit who indwells me. He is a pledge from the Father of my coming inheritance (Ephesians 1:13–14)
  • I am a masterpiece created in Christ Jesus in order to walk in the good works He has prepared for me to do (Ephesians 2:10)
  • For freedom I have been made free. I walk daily in this gift of freedom (Galatians 5:1)
  • I am dead to the power of sin (Romans 6:11)
  • I have been raised with Christ, and I sit with him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6)
  • I am the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matthew 5:13–14)
  • I will not fear because the Lord is my light, my salvation, and the strength of my life (Psalm 27:1)
  • The joy of the Lord is my strength (Nehemiah 8:10)
  • I trust completely in the Lord; therefore I will be like a fruit-bearing tree that continually finds nourishment despite dry, parched weather (Jeremiah 17:7–8)
  • No good thing will the Lord withhold from me as I walk uprightly before Him (Psalm 84:11)
  • Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, and I will do the worlds that He did (John 14:12)
  • In Christ I have become a child of God, and I receive the blessings God has for me(John 1:2; Romans 16:17)
  • In Christ, God has chosen me as His own and made me strong. He has placed His mark on me. He has placed His Spirit in my heart as a guarantee for all he has promised (2 Corinthians 1:21– 22)
  • I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)

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Today God invites you to live a life marked by faithfulness. By his Spirit and with the guidance and encouragement of His Word, this is an absolutely attainable goal for you. No matter what your past has held, this resolution can mark a new beginning. Read the resolution prayerfully and hold it in your heart when you are ready. You are Faithfully His.

The Things Ed (and Addiction) Steals From Us

The eating disorder, or any addiction for that matter, is much more than a psychological or physical reliance on behavior or substances; it’s a physical, emotional and spiritual issue that puts blinders on our perspective, corrodes our value systems, and compromises our ability to prioritize normally. It literally takes over our life slowly and begins to damage every part of our being.

Over time, the eating disorder (or addiction) becomes our most important priority. And in order to continue fueling its demanding and ravenous needs, we must sacrifice other important aspects of our lives.

As I looked back on recovery and though about the damage it has done, I’ve realize that, like any other addiction, the eating disorder had affected everything in my life that was meaningful. I’m so thankful that I am recovered and that the eating disorder no longer has the control over any aspect of my life.

Ed (and addiction) is a thief, and these seven things are its most common targets:

  1. Relationships

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Watching someone suffer from an eating disorder or addiction can be both heart wrenching and infuriating. Although no one wants to isolate someone they love, our behaviors and mentality during active addiction often force family and friends to want to walk away. Our refusal for help and the want to engage in unhealthy behaviors makes for the worst combination. Ed quickly steals our most cherished relationships.

  1. Success

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Whether it’s performing well at work, honing our talents or continuing to learn, things that once made us feel successful are replaced by the eating disorder. The eating disorder is very good at stealing our passions and diminishing the quality of our efforts. It makes us feel like we aren’t good at anything and we will never be worthy. This is a lie.

  1. Time

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Possibly the most important commodity in life, our time is forever fleeting. Every minute, day or decade that we sacrifice to the eating disorder becomes stolen time we’ll never get back.

Aside from the life-shortening, physical consequences of our destructive behaviors, being active in our eating disorder also steals the quality, purpose and value of our time. I never realized how much time was lost until I was far in recovery and actually productive with my time and enjoying things. I was so wrapped up and consumed in the rituals of the eating disorder and I didn’t have any real time to actually live!

  1. Gratitude

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Addiction rewires the pleasure centers of our brain. Whether it’s a sunset, a child playing, or a good friend’s contagious laugh, we slowly become unappreciative to the meaningful moments in our lives. Experiencing the world through a veil of the eating disorder makes seeing or feeling things we once loved increasingly more difficult. The eating disorder makes us lose meaning in what is important in life.

  1. Spirituality

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Whether it’s through religion, nature, philosophy, art or anything else, spirituality is an important aspect of our human experience. The eating disorder quickly steals our wonder and peace; it destroys our ability to dream. In the deepest of my eating disorder, trying to dig myself out, I realized that I was drawn so far from my faith that I didn’t know who I was anymore. This may have been the most detrimental loss for a period of time. Everything loses meaning when you lose your faith. Finding my faith and my relationship with God again is what saved my life. There is a reason why Alcoholics Anonymous has a focus on a higher power.

  1. Happiness

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Once we lose our loved ones, our ambition, our gratitude and our spirit, happiness becomes harder and harder to hold onto.The eating disorder promises us happiness, but simply supplements our discontent with short-term escapes. It continues to raise the bar on us as we continue to strive for what is promised. As we work harder for the happiness, it seems to get farther and farther away. As we begin to lose our happiness, it also becomes easier to steal our hope.

  1. Hope

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Once addiction steals everything else, the only remaining thing to steal is our hope. From recommitting to future goals, to mending our broken relationships, the hope of regaining our lives is continually taken as we remain in active in the eating disorder. To regain hope, we must first recognize the culprit that has taken everything away. Not everyone experiences addiction the same, but the disease is predictable in terms of what it steals from us. The eating disorder and addiction is a thief of our time, our minds, our hearts and our relationships. After taking everything else, addiction also tries to steal the hope of our recovery. These are the points in recovery when you want to give up, turn and run or feel like you can’t go on anymore. I saw a pattern in my recovery when I frequently said, “I need to take a break from all of this.” What that really meant was that I was beaten down, tired of fighting, and worn out from the loss of hope for being fully recovered. However, quality treatment programs offer millions of individuals hope when there seems to be none. I was very lucky enough to have a treatment team that recognized those statements and didn’t allow me to “take a break” from appointments. I think when we journey in recovery, this is one of the firs things we get back. Once we begin to regain our hope of recovery, we can also begin to recover the other stolen parts of our lives.

The good thing is, these things can be given back. Although we can never get back the time that was lost in the eating disorder or addiction, we can spend time building new relationships, memories and successes. Once we decided we want a healthy life (and it is possible) we can immediately have hope as we enter treatment to begin the journey toward finding our self. As we find success in recovery we learn to value gratitude and see the little things in life, feel true happiness, regain our sense of spirituality and everything comes back around, full-circle. Although we momentarily lose some things, through recovery we learn valuable lessons and become stronger for it.

Faith In Your Body

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In our society today, body confidence can sometimes be hard to find. Any person would be a liar if they said they had confidence all the time with absolutely no problems. Body confidence is something we can have, but sadly seems like something we have to work for.

Misty Copeland is a pioneer in the field of body confidence and a woman whom I love! Maybe I love her because my body looks like hers. I grew up as a dancer and struggled to make sense of my athletic build in the mirror, whereas Misty has embraced it and has made a movement and danced all the way to become the very first African-American principal dancer with the American Ballet Academy.

For anyone who has no idea what this means… it’s kind of a big freaking deal! J In the past, Misty had often been rejected due to her outer appearance and body proportions. In an interview Misty said, “As an adult, I was told that I didn’t have the right skin color. I was too muscular. I was too curvy. My breasts were too big. I was too short.” In a world where your body is your tool, and often scrutinized, this is hard to hear, but she didn’t stop.

Misty told NPR in September that breaking into ballet as an African-American is immensely difficult due a combination of racism and reluctance to change a traditional art form. “I think it’s just something maybe that I will never escape from those people who are narrow-minded,” Misty told NPR. “But my mission, my voice, my story, my message is not for them. And I think it’s more important to think of the people that I am influencing and helping to see a broader picture of what beauty is.”

I’ll give the quick reasons why Misty making principal ballerina is SO important :

  • Misty came from a very tough background
  • Misty only started dancing when she was 13, far past the age when dancers start (I started at 6)
  • Misty is an African American woman in a world of ballerinas dominated by white women
  • Misty is curvy and has an awesome athletic build
  • Misty has a bust which is highly uncommon for ballerinas

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We all know what the common ballerina looks like and Misty is not that. When you see her dance, she proves that she is just as good, if not better than any other ballerina out there. This video speaks for itself. It goes to show that there is no mold for beauty and the traditional standards are being broken. If we stand in confidence of our bodies, there will be a shift in what is expected. Misty has started that revolution in the ballet community just as many others have in other communities. The more we work at loving ourselves the less power the world has at telling us we shouldn’t. Her unchartered rise to greatness shows that faith in your body can take you places that you never imagined! Imagine what you could do!

Super Soul Sunday: Ballerina Misty Copeland [Original Short] from Zachary D. Perlinski on Vimeo.

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The Frogs In Our Lives

I was in Bible study the other week and we were discussing the plagues God brought down on the Pharaoh until he let Moses and the people of Israel free. We specifically talked about the story of the Pharaoh and the frogs. As we discussed this story I couldn’t help but think about how it relates directly with what we do in life and in recovery.

The Scripture:

9 “You set the time!” Moses replied. “Tell me when you want me to pray for you, your officials, and your people. Then you and your houses will be rid of the frogs. They will remain only in the Nile River.” 10 “Do it tomorrow,” Pharaoh said.  – Exodus 8:9-10

Just try to picture it! There were frogs everywhere. They were in the bed, in the kitchen, in the sitting rooms, in the oven, even mixed in the bread dough. God had said to Pharaoh, through Moses, “If you refuse to let my people go, I will smite all your borders with frogs.” Pharaoh refused to let God’s people go, and now there were frogs everywhere! His pride was too much to believe what this God could do.

Imagine frogs jumping in your bed, clothes, on your lap and even on your body at all times. Everywhere you turn and every door you open is filled with frogs and you can’t get away from them. When you get in bed and pull the covers up, frogs come pouring out! When you open a cupboard door for something to eat, frogs come pouring out! When you try to sit on the toilet, frogs come pouring out!

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Pharaoh could no longer stand it so he called Moses and Moses said to Pharaoh, “I will ask God to take the frogs out of the land, you just tell me when shall God remove the frogs?” And, Pharaoh told Moses, “Wait until tomorrow, give me one more night with the frogs!”

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There were millions of big disgusting smelly frogs all over the land of Egypt and, for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out the Pharaoh’s response. There were frogs everywhere –  in the bed, in the food, in all the houses and even in the Egyptian’s clothing. God was ready to remove them all and Pharaoh said, “Wait until tomorrow, give me one more night with the frogs!” This man was nuts! This day in age he could be admitted into a psych ward for observation for responding like that! At first, I thought it was just pride – he was too proud to admit that this mighty God could remove them all and save him from these menacing frogs. I was wrong. This is the picture of an unbeliever who is not only rebellious and proud, but also procrastinating.

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(So gross!!!! Can you even imagine being surrounded by these nasty things?)

How it relates to life and recovery:

This made me think about who we are as people in life and recovery. We are famous for the word “tomorrow”. We are famous for saying that what we have to do can be started tomorrow, and we forget that it should be started now. We have frogs, you know. I’m talking about the frogs of troubles, doubt, burdens, suffering, sickness, sorrow, disappointments and heartaches. Frogs of difficulty, grief, strife, confusion and stress; they plague us morning, noon and night. They are constant in our life. We get so caught up and used to the “frogs” that are around us that we are okay with spending another night with them. We say, “eeehh… I’ll spend one more night with them, I’ll take the leap tomorrow because I’m so used to them that I don’t have to change right now”. And maybe the change that has to happen is harder than dealing with the frogs that are there. Can you imagine being a pompous Pharaoh having to admit that this God he denied is real and powerful? The thing is, we don’t have to live with the frogs, and we aren’t supposed to live with the frogs! We are supposed to live a happy and healthy life and waiting to start tomorrow prevents us from doing that! The frogs are menacing and the change that comes with the frogs is typically a type of good or positive change! When you go through something tough, rarely do you say “I learned nothing from that! What a waste of my time!” We usually learn a lot which is why we have the old saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

There are times when we are so focused on the situation in front of us that we don’t ask for help from anyone to help us remove the frogs. When we don’t ask for help, we sit with the frogs when we don’t have to. When we keep the frogs in our lives, we also keep unhappiness and everything else that comes with it.

In regards to recovery, the eating disorder frog is not going to go away overnight, but the longer we say we will start tomorrow, the harder it will be to overcome. This is also true with anything in our lives. The longer we let anything fester, the bigger and uglier it can become. If it’s dealt with right away, it has a better change of healing and healing fast. The more we put anything off, the more painful the process becomes.

Do any of these statements sound familiar, or are they close to other statements you’ve made?

“I know I should. I’m planning to do it sometime. Maybe I will do it tomorrow.”

“I’ll get to it.”

“I don’t feel like it right now. It will get done eventually.”

“I’ll start going to church tomorrow.”

“I’ll start recovery tomorrow.”  Or “I’ll get back on my meal plan tomorrow.”    (or any variation of that)

“I’ll start working out to eat healthy tomorrow.”

“I’ll start fixing my relationships with people tomorrow.”

“I’ll clean up tomorrow.”

“I’ll start looking for a new job tomorrow.”

“My legs are sore, I’ll stop running and take some rest days tomorrow.”

“I haven’t seen my family much, I’ll work less starting tomorrow.”

“I’ll call the bank/credit company and work out the problems tomorrow.”

The problem with “tomorrow” is that tomorrow may never come. When we keep putting things off, we only waste time and potentially hurt ourselves and those around us. When we continually live with the frogs around us we sacrifice happiness and living a fulfilled life.

We all have frogs!

I noticed that I had this problem with the frogs for a while. I continually made excuses about why I couldn’t make weekly meal plans and always said I’d get to it next week. I realized that I never really got to it next week. I continually got comfortable in my lack of structure with dinner plans. I finally got to the point where I had to just do it! I had to sit down and force myself to make a weekly dinner plan to take away the cluster and confusion of deciding what to eat each night. This frog would have me frustrated when I couldn’t decide what to eat after a long day and it would leave me irritated. It wasn’t worth the moments of frustration when all I had to do was stop procrastinating.

Procrastination and putting off what has to be done leads to stress and worry (and we all have enough of that in our lives). We give up peace of mind and happiness when we do that. For many years I made excuses and said I wasn’t sick enough to get help and that I would get help if it got worse, but I just never did get help. My “tomorrow” had to be when I was near rock bottom. I could have saved myself a lot of trouble and frustration if I would have just stopped putting it off for tomorrow.

We don’t have to live in these situations, or with these frogs all around us. We can make the choice to fix it today. God wants us to be happy and live a fulfilled life of abundance and it’s very hard to do that when we are stuck in, or focused on, the situation in front of us. Getting too comfortable with where you are, and what you are dealing with, can lead to being okay with the frogs in your life. God wants to get rid of your frogs and to help make you happy! I hope you’re able to strive for more because life without the frogs is so much better! (so is being recovered!)

If you’re putting off calling for help for your eating disorder, food issues, or any other problem, do a quick google search for a therapy office near you and schedule an appointment. Take the first step toward happiness and getting rid of the frogs in your life! You deserve happiness!

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The Storm

In a session long ago, my psychologist once said that something has to be broken before it can be healed. It’s true. We can’t be healed, or whole, until something in us breaks, or we are willing to come apart.

“The beauty of being shattered is how the shards become our character and our marks of distinction. This is how we are refined by our pain. When the storm rips you to pieces, you get to decide how to put yourself back together again. The storm gives us the gift of our defining choices. You will be a different person after the storm, because the storm will heal you from your perfection. People who stay perfect and unblemished never really get to live fully or deeply. You will not be the same after the storms of life; you will be stronger, wiser and more alive than ever before!”

  • Bryant McGill

I have found that as I walk through recovery I get to choose and define the person I become. I get to choose how I live each day. I no longer live under the rules of the eating disorder and the unhappiness that comes with it.  I get to choose what I like and dislike and I frequently step back and see the person I’ve become. I see the wisdom and strength I’ve grown into, and the beauty in my soul that I have saved.

It’s true, you know… I’ve been given the opportunity to save myself. You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. I have been given the opportunity to decide to be willing and able to come to my own defense and save my self and nurture my soul. I’ve been given the opportunity to be healthy and happy, to restore my faith and trust in people and God and more importantly, myself.

There are times when I look at this process and I think about how long it (recovery) takes. It’s easy to get caught up in the negative of it all. It’s easy to see how I’m not finished and I’m not fully “recovered,” and that I still have to monitor my eating and exercise habits… but it’s also just as easy to look back and see that I’m no longer sick. It’s easy to see that I’m no longer in medical danger, on exercise restrictions, on strict meal plans, in intensive programs, controlled by the eating disorder etc. It’s also just as easy to look back and see how far I’ve come as it is to look ahead and see how much there is to go.

“If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully.  However the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present. Gratefully. ” Maya Angelou

I had an amazing breakthrough last week while I was driving. I finally accepted that the eating disorder thoughts may never go away completely…. and that’s okay! For so long I was the person in treatment who said, “I will NEVER have ANY eating disorder thoughts in my life when this is over!” I’m not sure this is always possible being a woman in our society today. Many women have the same thoughts I have, but it’s just not a dangerous situation for them. My fleeting eating disorder thoughts are important to acknowledge as they are red flags for how I’m feeling and what’s going on in my life. They are a signal for stress. The same negative body image thought in my head, for many other women in the world, could be something harmless, but for me it’s a sign that something larger is going on that I need to figure out and address. Accepting this is HUGE (pun intended) and a turning point in recovery allowing me to move forward. These thoughts are NORMAL for women in our society and it would be NORMAL for me to have them if I didn’t have an eating disorder… I just need to know that these thoughts are my “stress signal” much like another person would get muscle tension, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, nausea etc.

Each journey will take however long it’s supposed to take. I always hear people say in church, “you are where you are supposed to be right now.” It’s true. I remember begging doctors to slow down the process when I was treatment, and then I found myself begging them to speed it up when I got out. I’m learning to accept the here and now, and attempting to do it as gracefully as possible (currently…. I’m tripping and falling on my face with that one! I’ve got some work to do on that!).

The “process” and I have a love/hate relationship. I respect it, but we are not on “hugging” terms. I will do what has to be done to continue the process, but I will certainly voice how much I’m not liking/loving/enjoying/appreciating the process. I like what comes out of the process, but I don’t like the process. I’m not sure I’ll really ever “like” or “embrace” the process… but I’ll keep doing it because it works. But I’ll also keep saying that I don’t like it. Because I don’t. 🙂

The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new – Socrates

After your storm is over, keep building the new, no matter how long it takes… in the end, it’s glorious. 🙂

Equanimity

There are many times when life moves too fast. It’s unavoidable. Because it’s unavoidable, you have to find a way to deal with it. One of the best ways to judge how successful a person will be in life is how well they deal with adversity. When adversity comes into our lives, we have to find a way to deal with it in the most healthy and productive way.

Unfortunately, some of us aren’t afforded the opportunity to be taught the necessary skills to deal with adversity or emotions in the best way. Don’t get me wrong… I dealt – just not in a healthy manner!

I grew up in a very chaotic household (to say the least) where there was no sense of stability or coping whatsoever. I wasn’t sure what was up or down, nor was I ever aware of what was going to happen any time a parent walked through the door (both alcoholics). At any moment everything could go from peace to complete chaos and pandemonium without warning. I learned to always be on guard and in defensive mode and to stay protected at all times. I carried this defense mechanism with me throughout life.

Through yeeeeeeeears of therapy I have learned that it doesn’t have to be that way. Yes, that used to be my normal, but that was only because I didn’t know what a true “normal” was. I knew that my “normal” wasn’t really a  “ healthy normal”. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see how to get to a “ healthy normal”.

So, this eating disorder, although very plaguing, has taught me a lot about life and myself. I have been afforded the opportunity to learn about what it really takes to live a healthy and balanced life. One thing that I think I have always tried to look for, but wasn’t sure how to do it, is equanimity.

e·qua·nim·i·ty  /ˌekwəˈnimədē/

noun

1.      mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, especially in a difficult situation.

(Nerd alert! That’s your fun English word of the day!)

Back story: I was very good at doing this in sports, but for some reason the idea of “clam during chaos” didn’t translate into my personal life. In the middle of any high intense game in college I could search for composure and calmness, and discipline myself to search for clarity, BUT I’ve wondered why I couldn’t do it in personal life situations…. and it hit me… emotions and feelings were holding me back…. oh those feelings!!! 🙂 I think we are often blinded by our feelings and it prevents us from being able to see and think clearly.

Emotions and feelings can sometimes be a full-body experience. They can be an interplay between our thoughts and our sensations. One person once described to me this formula:

Thoughts + Body Sensations = Emotions

For instance, a kind of giddy happiness and anxiety might have the same sensations, such as tight muscles and a pounding heart. What determines whether we feel happy or anxious are our thoughts. So, when we start having thoughts and sensations we might have to navigate and do some searching for what the true feeling is behind it all. I have to admit, the hardest ones to navigate through are the negative ones as they often feel like they are the most powerful.

I’m still trying to figure out this whole “figure out your feelings” stuff…. So here is my short (and probably incomplete) list that I think about when I start figuring out my feelings… and start searching for equanimity.

  1. Acknowledge my feelings without judgment
  2. Accept my feelings as real and okay
  3. Sit with my feelings – they will pass
  4. Release my emotions in a healthy way

(This list is in no way complete so I don’t recommend dropping what your therapist has you doing because I’m no therapy guru!)

So, finding equanimity is a lot harder than it sounds!!! It’s not something that you can just start doing and perfect right away. When things are chaotic it’s hard to create a calm feeling. I’m not saying you necessarily go all yogi-meditative-tree-hugging-hippie to find some calming peace…

Yoga-Meditation tree hugger tree-hugging-hippy

But hey… if you want to do that… whatever floats your boat! 🙂

My goal is to try to look at what is going on in stressful times and search for where I can create some type mental calmness in situations/moments (note how I’m stressing moments because we have to start small, right?). By no means will it be perfect the first time I try it, but I bet it does come with practice. Even if it’s just bringing myself back to the present moment, not allowing myself to let the stress keep me in a bad mood, refusing to allow my thoughts race or change my plans. Really, I think the best way to start is to just be aware of feelings as they surface and then search for places to create moments of understanding equanimity. Once we understand and accept the feelings, we can begin to be at peace with them. [Goodness, if my psychologist could hear me now… I’m like a walking poster child for therapy and feelings!]

For me, I have learned that my center for equanimity is God. I recently felt extremely lost and “fell off the boat” and realized it was because I had not been cultivating my relationship with God. So, if you’re able to find what brings you to that mental peace, grab it and never let it go because that is what will sustain you through the meal plans that make you want to quit, the therapy sessions that are tough, and the moments that seem impossible to overcome.