RheasOfHope

one girl's thoughts on life, mental illness, eating disorder recovery, and hope.

When you accept Christ December 16, 2017

“You mean they’re going to touch me,” I incredulously—and somewhat cynically–ask my friend Julie, “You know how I feel about touching.”

 

“You’ll be fine,” she reassures, “They just put their hands on your shoulders, and say a prayer over you or with you. You can always ask them not to touch you.”

 

After experiencing an alarming relapse in eating disordered behaviors that left me feeling even more shameful and unworthy than usual, Julie thought it might be beneficial for us to attend our church’s monthly healing prayer gathering.  I tug open the heavy wooden door to the sanctuary, and gently insist she goes inside first. Though I’ve been in this sanctuary hundreds of times over the past eleven years, I still feel undeserving to enter first. She chooses our pew, takes off her coat, and sits down while I shuffle anxiously behind her. When I take off my coat, I briefly consider setting it and my purse between us—a barrier to protect myself from potential harm. I then remember: Julie is safe, she won’t hurt me, and I don’t need that wall of protection from her. I place my purse and coat to my right, with Julie on my left.

 

I tuck into myself— “crisscross applesauce:” my typical sitting position—meticulously smoothing my dress over my thighs as I wrap my arms across my chest.  I must make myself as small as possible as a measure of protection, and so as not to impede in Julie’s pew space or have others notice my presence. A subconscious manifestation of my anxiety becomes visible as I intensely wring my hands together and twirl my rings around my fingers. The more I will my hands to stop, the worse the wringing became. I turn to my left—towards Julie. My eating disorder reminds me that I’m at least double Julie’s weight and more than half a foot shorter. I shake the thought from my brain; willing it to be more mindful. Tears begin their migration down my cheeks; this journey is familiar to them.

 

Julie’s upturned palms are resting on her sylphlike thighs, her eyes peacefully closed, head tipped slightly back, and her extended legs are gracefully crossed at the ankles.  The juxtaposition of our body language was not lost on me…which only increases the ferocity of the hand wringing as I draw my knees closer to my chest. Noticing my tears, Julie places a tissue packet between us, pats my arm, and gently states that they’re “communal tissues.”

 

Despite the rivulets of tears, I refuse the tissues. “Using them would be a weakness! You mustn’t have needs!” my shame proclaims. I dig through my coat pockets, finding the two unused tissues I had placed in there earlier in the day for my students to use at recess. They’re reduced to shreds minutes later.

 

A woman says opening remarks, a duo sings “Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel,” and the service begins. Julie returns to her serene posture, and I to my wringing and crying. The longer I sit—overhearing mumblings of Julie’s prayers, crying, wringing my hands to the point of pain, feeling unworthy, and avoiding eye contact—the more I feel what I can only describe as the Holy Spirit move in me. Tonight was going to be the night; the night I finally accept Christ.

 

You see, I’ve grown up in the church. My step-grandfather–Lloyd–is a pastor, and my cousins and I grew up, essentially, as PKs (pastor’s kids). I’ve a wealth of Scripture committed to memory, live my life in accordance with Christian values, have lead many lessons on the Bible, problem-solve based on Christian principles, I firmly assert that Jesus is the son of God and He was a living sacrifice for our sins, and truly believe every word of Scripture is God-breathed and God-inspired…for everyone but me.  You see, it’s hard to accept that a perfect God could—or rather, would—love someone as broken and unworthy as me. Never mind the fact that I have scripture to prove otherwise, and that I trust that no one is beyond the love of Christ. It was hard to believe that a God of love could see past the barriers of shame and self-loathing that I built up around me to “protect” me from others. It is because of this unworthiness before God, that I didn’t feel I deserved His salvation…that is, until the night of December 7, 2017.

 

I feel my heart begin to soften. I must do something before shame/anxiety/Satan/eating disorder convinces me not to, before I lose my nerve, and before anything else happens. Glancing to my left, Julie remains serenely in the Word. Everyone around me is quiet. I couldn’t just blurt it out. I look around the sanctuary as if a billboard would appear telling me what to do. I almost lose my courage and conviction—what kind of Christian can’t say aloud that they want to accept Christ? I realize, however, that that is the voice of shame talking.

 

What do writers do when they don’t know what to do? They write! I reach into my cavernous purse, and locate my planner. I flip to the “notes” section and scribble in hasty cursive, “Julie, I want to accept Christ.” I lay the planner on the tissues between us. Julie remains peacefully unaware, and I sit in nervous anticipation. What if she doesn’t see my planner and I miss my opportunity? I take a deep breath and reach out—I don’t want to touch her. I feel my touch will mar her perfection in some way, and I do it anyway.

 

Cautiously, I tap her forearm and nod my head towards my open planner. Julie inhales deeply, and touches my arm. My tears increase, and so does my anxiety and shame. Julie turns to me, and takes me in her arms. I don’t resist. I allow myself to be enveloped in her hug. It feels good to be held. She whispers to me that she’s never walked anyone through accepting Christ, and that she would like to bring someone over to help us. I nod in approval as my tears land on her shoulders. Julie names an individual I know to be in the room, and asks if she can bring her over. Through the tears, I choke out a “no.” This person will only increase my shame and anxiety. Julie, undeterred, asks if she can bring over her husband, Patrick. Patrick is safe. I say yes; unaware that he is on the other side of the sanctuary.

 

Julie excuses herself and disappears, returning what seems like seconds later with Patrick. Standing behind me, Patrick pulls me into a hug; the scruff of his beard on the crown of my head. Again, I don’t resist the touch—which increases the tears yet again. He kneels behind me, calmly rubbing my back, and speaking words of reassurance. I cannot recall everything Patrick said (thanks emotion mind), but I know I accepted Christ. Patrick repeatedly stated that I am worthy, that I am loved, and that I am enough—not because of anything I did, but because of what Christ did for me. I am deserving of all these things simply by my being a daughter of the King (not to be confused with my father, Mr. King). Julie, Patrick, and I pray together. I invite Christ into my heart forever. I am His.

 

Instantly, I feel lighter—like God had lifted my burdens, my sins, my shame, my eating disorder, and everything else that was keeping me from him. I feel–instead of shame–a warmth; a closeness I’ve never felt before. Patrick and Julie excuse themselves to allow me some time for self-reflection. I curl back up into myself and cry. This cry is different, though. This cry is a cry of admiration for all that He has done for me while I lived in self-loathing, shame, depression, anxiety, OCD, self-harm, unworthiness, and eating disorders. This cry is a cry of humility that He waited patiently for me while I self-destructed–knowing one day His daughter would return. This cry is a cry of appreciation for His love of my brokenness. I am a daughter of the King, “I have decided to follow Jesus; no turning back, no turning back.”

 

Amazing Women

It is an honor to know, love, and be loved by these women. Kelli (Left) and Julie (Middle), you inspire me to be a better daughter of the King, “mom,” teacher, woman, and all around better person. These two are the most amazing women—Christ-focused, intelligent, funny, humble, compassionate, wonderful wives, and caring mothers who live their passions and follow where God leads them. They’ve taught me, loved me,trusted me with their kids, cried with me, showed me forgiveness, laughed with me, and helped call me out of the darkness. They’ve each played an integral role in my life over the past 6-ish years (and this week in particular as Julie and her husband Patrick aided my acceptance of Christ). I love these ladies more than words can say, and can’t wait to make more memories with them—preferably in clothes as refined as these

 

 

 

Ephesians 2: 1-10

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

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When you forgive your bullies October 17, 2016

“Forgive and Forget:” we’ve all heard this idiomatic phrase. Perhaps we’ve even uttered it to ourselves when faced with someone who has wronged us, or offered it as a polite consolation to others. But can one truly forgive AND forget? And do we even want to forgive and forget? I was faced with this very question during Daniel’s—my pastor–sermon this weekend.

 

In Isaiah 43:25, it is written, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.” Many people take this as the basis for “Forgive and Forget.” After all, if the Lord of all creation, says He wipes out our sins and forgets they ever happened, who are we to hold a grudge against someone who has wronged us? Only here’s the thing, such a simplistic approach that verse completely disregard’s God’s omnipotence—He knows all that has happened, is happening, and will happen…with that knowledge, how would He be able to just “forget” sin? When it states, “remembers your sins no more,” that doesn’t mean He’s choosing to forgive and forget—He’s choosing to forgive us of our sins as a means to restore our relationship with Him; choosing not to hold our sin against us anymore. He wants to separate us from our sins so that they can no longer ensnare us—keeping us from a relationship with him. Furthermore, He wants us to extend His level of forgiveness to those we encounter. When we think about forgiveness, we must no longer think of forgetting, but of restoration.

 

With that in mind, I revisited a prompt I learned when training for the Body Project at the NEDA conference last month: “Please write a letter to someone in your life who pressured you to conform to the appearance ideal. Please tell them how this affected you and indicate how you would respond now, in light of what you have learned.” I knew immediately who I needed to forgive and restore; my bullies. I hold an inordinate amount of resentment towards these individuals—many of whom I haven’t seen in at least ten years, and none of whom deserve to have control over me anymore. This summer, many people asked me if I would be attending my ten-year high school reunion. My answer was always the same, “No one at Lakota liked me when I was there. Why would they like me ten years later?” Clearly I’m a master at forgive and restore. I had neither forgiven nor restored. In fact, any time my school’s name is mentioned, a feeling of intense sadness and indignation invades my heart. Quite frankly, I’m ashamed that that is my reaction. In an effort to forgive and restore, I’ve written an open letter of forgiveness to my former bullies.

 

Dear Bullies,

I forgive you. That’s right; I forgive you. Right now you’re probably wondering why I am forgiving you all for being horrible people, for giving me ingenious nicknames like “cow” and “whale,” for making a party game out of calling my house, for making me eat lunch alone for all those years, and for the myriad other malfeasances you committed—not just against me—but to so many others. You may be pondering why “Rumpke Recycling” or “Dairy Queen” is forgiving you and is grateful for the abuse you inflicted. While many of you are likely still questioning who I even am; as you’ve likely forgotten—or chose to ignore—your past transgressions. Your past behavior—as malicious as it was, and may, very well, still be—actually made me stronger. Though your treatment of me plunged me into a seemingly inescapable pit of depression, anxiety, self-harm, eating disorders…it allowed me to seek and develop the very tools I needed to escape.

 

After being subjected to your harangue and torment, I grew to believe that I deserved to be treated in an unfavorably and destructive manner. I learned to hurt myself before others could seize the opportunity. I believed—albeit falsely—that hurting myself before others inevitably would, would make the pain more tolerable. However, the only result of that attempt at self-preservation was self-destruction in the form of twenty years of eating disordered hell, self-harm, and isolation. In gong through that hell, however, I learned of the inherent worth given to me by God and used your torment as the very foundation upon which I built my life and career.

 

In seeking refuge from the effects of your degradation, I grain invaluable knowledge and tools. If it weren’t for your wrongdoings, I may never have learned how strong, determined, and loved I could be. I’ve discovered that I’m imperfect and that what makes me worthy of love—because everyone is imperfect and we’re all deserving of love. I have come to disregard the negative, hurtful comments of others, while not continuing my negative attitude towards myself either. Asking for help, I’ve learned, is a necessary aspect of a healthy life—not a sign of weakness. Gone are the days of hurting myself before you could hurt me. Instead, I’ve constructed a support network of individuals who genuinely care for me and reinforce my commitment to recovery.

 

As a result of my efforts in recovery, I’ve acquired a job I adore and which also makes great use of my life experiences, education, and empathy. Everyday I have the privilege of engaging with teenage patients in treatment for eating disorders and share what I’ve learned from your many injustices. Likewise, these incredible souls teach me. Together we are overcoming and learning to love our authentic, raw, vulnerable selves.

 

So while you may have attempted to subjugate my life and though I may have missed twenty years of my life to an eating disorder, I stand here today as living proof. Proof that self-care is essential—regardless the opinions of others. Proof that one can rise from their past—from your tragedy, I have triumphed. Although it was painful at the time and was painful to remember, your bullying set me up to be the person I am today. And today, today I am improving. Know that you are forgiven.

 

  Gratefully,

Rhea

jenni-and-rachel

When you gain recovery, you get to meet people who have impacted your life from afar, and who helped you through their books, speeches, and living their own recovery. I was so incredibly humbled to meet Jenni Schaefer a few weeks ago! My goal is to shine as bright a light as she has. 

 

Colossians 3:12-15

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

 

When you take an unintended break from writing October 3, 2016

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Hello, long time so see…or write…or post…or anything. I have always had this little blog in the back of my mind, and kept finding reason after reason (read: excuses) not to write. Perhaps my biggest distraction from writing is this little bundle of awesome.

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Leah Jane was born at 3:21 PM on September 11, 2015.                                 This is the photo I took of her celebrating her first birthday.

 

My little sister gave this world the smartest, funniest, cutest, and biggest troublemaking baby last September, and I’ve spent all my time in awe of this astounding little human. I want Leah Jane to know she can be herself. As part of my homework for the Body Project training (post forthcoming), wrote her a letter that I would like to share here–because it is my blog and I can do what I want:

 

Dear Leah,

Let me start off by saying this: YOU ARE WORTHY. People will attempt to convince you that you will not be worthy until you are a certain weight, until you wear designer clothing, until you can apply the perfect cat eye eyeliner, until you date the quarterback, until you get a 4.0…until, until, until. Worthiness does not have a prerequisite; though the world will do everything in its power in an endeavor to convince you otherwise. You must know, Leah, that the world is wrong.Worthiness is innate–not something you have to jostle and surrender yourself to obtain.

When the world seeks to mold you to fit their idea of worthiness–their narrow and impossible view of perfection–you sacrifice all the amazing  attributes that make you unique and loved. We do not gain worthiness by conforming to the ways of others–we lose it. Each time we strive to achieve the trivial and fleeting definition of worthiness, we give up a piece of what makes us extraordinary. Walt Disney once wrote, “The more you are like yourself–the less you are like anyone else–which makes you unique. The problem with most people is that they spend their lives trying to emulate others and so we have lots of copies but few originals.” My wish for you is to be unapologetically Leah. You will gain worthiness each time you stand up for who you really are, each time you’re your authentic self in the face of adversity, and each time you hold true to your values.

You may wonder, dear heart, what qualifies me to write this. After all, what would your aunt know about the worthiness inherent in being yourself? I have also face the pressures to conform to society’s narrow definition of worthy and beauty, and subsequently sacrificed many aspects of my life to achieve it. I want more for you, Leah. I want you to believe your worth, and to live your life in such a way that your genuine self radiates to all you meet. Know that I am here for you always, and will support you continually.

I love you to the ends of the earth and everywhere in between,

Auntie Rhea

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Another photo I took of my sweet girl for her birthday photoshoot

 

Romans 12:1-21

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

 

When you find your talents November 22, 2013

“What are your talents, Miss Rachel?” my co-teacher questioned.

“Please?” I asked looking up from the tiny pink converse I had been tying.

“Your talents? What are your talents?” she reiterated.

 

I had been listening to my students share their talents as my co-teacher went around the circle during story time. When you ask two, three and four year olds about their talents the responses you get are priceless: I am good at playing outside, I am good at putting on my shoes, I am good at playing with my toys, I am good at going pee-pee on the potty…etc. Their responses seemed so automatic, so genuine. None of my ten students had to think very long when asked about his or her specific talents. I, however, took an inordinate amount of time.  What in the world is my talent? Ed chimed in, telling me I had no talent; so I should probably just listen to her and be good at an eating disorder. I decided that was NOT a talent. Finally, I decided my talent was reading. Reading aloud to my students is one area in which I do believe I have talent, and it is something I thoroughly enjoy doing.

 

My students and I had been studying the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), and the concept seemed a little over their developmental abilities: after all, students at this age are not cognitively capable of making inferences or using abstract thinking. However, we decided that this parable was worth a try. For those unfamiliar with the parable, here is a brief summation. A very wealthy master decided to give three of his servants his gold (known as talents) while he went on a long trip. To the first he gave five talents, to the second he gave two, and to the third he gave one. The first servant put his talents to good use and doubled them, as did the second servant. The third servant, however, buried his in a hole and went about his life never giving a second thought to the talent he was given. When the master returned, each servant presented his talents. The master was pleased at the first two servants for doubling the talents given to them, but was outraged at the third servant and made him give the talent he did have to the first servant.

 

So what is the moral of this parable, you may ask? Through this parable, Jesus wanted to show his disciples that it is not the amount of talent that they were given that matters, it is how they use that talent to further the kingdom of God. Both the first and the second servants doubled their talents, and it pleased the master. The third servant hid his talent. and the master was less than thrilled. In the same way as the first and second servants, we must use the talents given to us by God. Instead of focusing on having fewer talents than others—as the third servant did–we need to recognize how much good we can do with the talents we do have. Instead of burying our talents out of shame that they are not as magnificent as those around us, we need to proudly use them to the best of our ability.

 

I have found myself, all too often, hiding my talents in the hole of my eating disorder, perfectionism, anxiety, self-harm, depression, low self-esteem and whatever else I have used…rather than acknowledging that I actually have talents that can not only benefit my life and recovery, but the lives of others. By acknowledging the talents I do have, I am able to see past the veil of Ed and work towards a more recovery-oriented mindset. Concentrating on our lack of talent and flaws only gives Ed a greater foothold in our lives. Conversely, by putting the spotlight on what we do well, Ed’s power diminishes and the glory of God shines through us.

 

What are your talents? What have you been doing to hide them? How can you use your talents to further your recovery, improve your quality of life and take back your life from Ed?

The stick my co-teacher made for each student (and me) to remind us of our talents

The stick my co-teacher made for each student (and me) to remind us of our talents. My cats decided to investigate it while I was taking a photo of it; they are odd.

Matthew 25:21

His [the servant’s] master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

 

When you think about gratitude November 6, 2013

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In the second grade, our teacher, Mrs. Platt, asked us to write a few sentences about gratitude. She then collected our responses, typed them on one of our school’s green-screened Macs, and made the resulting copies into Thanksgiving books for each student in the class. Given the fact that we were six and seven years old, we did not know a lot about what it meant to be grateful. In fact, had my teacher omitted our names, we would each have thought that we had written every entry. Many of us expressed gratitude for family, friends, food and a home. A remarkably large number of us included God in our entries; something that I am surprised, but pleased, we were allowed to do in our public school.

This exercise was the extent of our understanding of gratitude. It was never explained to us what being grateful actually entails. We merely thought about what we have in our life, and wrote down that we were grateful for it. Case in point, I wrote I was thankful for my cat, my parents, my toys, my cousins and my clothes. Wow, one point for originality.

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My contribution to the book

While I am still thankful for my cat (although now I have a different one than in my original writing), my mom and dad…and now my sister (I was an only child until I was nine), my cousins, my clothes, and my toys (adults have toys too, they just look like Nikon DSLR cameras and iPhones), I have come to realize that being grateful is about more than just people and things. In my precocious second-grader ways, I wrote two things that I did not really believe then, but do now, “I am thankful for being alive today” and “I am thankful for God for blessing me.” Nineteen years later, I realize how truly grateful I am to be alive and to be a recipient of God’s blessings.

After going through at least fifteen years of depression, anxiety, and an eating disorder…a broken nose and arm, a car accident, self-harm, being a first generation college student, a super annoying nail biting habit, serving in Americorps VISTA…I am alive. I have had the opportunity to experience all of those things because I am alive. While not every aspect of my life had been easy, neither has everything been difficult. And yet, through it all, I am alive. There is a purpose in my life greater than myself that has kept me alive despite everything I have been through. Because I am alive, I know that God is not done with me yet. There are still lessons to be learned, lessons to teach, mistakes to make, and who knows what else. The important thing is that I do not have to know. I must merely wake up each day grateful for the opportunity to learn God’s lessons, teach lessons, and make mistakes. Who would have ever thought I, the perfectionist, would be grateful for the ability to make mistakes?

If Mrs. Platt were still around, I would write this to be included in our book:

I am grateful for the ability to make mistakes; for in making mistakes I learn lessons, grow stronger as a person, and gain insight into who I am as an imperfect human. I am grateful that God has blessed me, or chosen not to bless me in certain situations, with everything that He sees fit; His will is not my own. I am grateful for my recovery and the support from others I have received along the way; there is something truly remarkable that dwells in the heart of those who serve others. I am grateful for the kindness of strangers, the frost on the autumn leaves, the way my cat, Rowan, is always ready for a game of fetch, and a quiet walk through the fields of my friend’s farm.  I am grateful to be alive and for the ability to experience everything it has to offer.

 

Colossians 3:15-17

 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.  Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms,hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

 

When you learn about recovery from VBS June 13, 2013

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            Between driving the hour-long (one-way) trek back and forth to class in Wilmington during the day, immediately followed by a return trip to Cincinnati to lead my Vacation Bible School class, one could safely assume I have a lot on my plate. Only, here’s the thing, my plate is only full metaphorically. All too often I find myself using my busy schedule as an excuse to slide back into my eating disorder. I either over-extend myself so as to be busy during meal times, conveniently “forgetting” to pack food when I know I will need it, or not going home during the breaks in my schedule that I do have in order to eat. Ed loves it when I have a busy schedule; she uses every opportunity to prey on my weaknesses and weasel her way back into my life.

            Unfortunately for Ed, I am on to her tricks. I may have fallen for them for a week or two, but I have now jumped back on the recovery train…thanks, in part, to the darling (yet precocious) 3 and 4-year-olds in my VBS classroom. While handing one of my boys his juice box for dinner, he turned his brown eyes up to me and said, “Miss Rachel, how many calories are in my juice box?” I was dumbfounded. I, of course, knew how many calories were in the juice box because Ed told me to look (but, of course, not to partake), but why would a three-year-old boy need to know? I told him how many calories were in the juice as he tilted the box looking for his answer. Keep in mind, however, that, even if he did find the nutrition facts, he is THREE and cannot yet read them. My student’s question was a wake up call of sorts. I realized what Ed was doing and that I had allowed her to do it. I immediately, although with a great amount of hesitance, reached out for the support I knew I needed. I also found comfort in the message of my VBS, Facing Fear Trusting God. There are five main “Dares” accompanying this message that I feel can also be applied to recovery (for those of like mindsets): dare to change, dare to speak up, dare to believe, dare to stand strong and dare to trust.

 

Dare to Change

Ed will convince you to the grave that she is right if you let her. As part of your recovery, you have to dare to change Ed’s destructive thoughts and replace them with your own, healthy, recovery-focused thoughts. You have to dare to challenge Ed’s messages, replace them with recovery oriented thoughts, and do the next right thing for your recovery

 

Dare to Speak Up

This dare could take many forms in your recovery. You could speak up to Ed; challenge her thoughts, disagree with what she tells you, speak up for your recovery. You could speak up to those around you who may be hampering your recovery. You could speak up for your recovery; tell others what you need to make your next right choice, seek out additional help when necessary, whatever it takes to further your recovery. 

 

Dare to Believe

Dare to believe that you are beautiful. Dare to believe that you are worthy. Dare to believe that recovery is possible. Dare to believe that you are strong. Dare to believe that you are more than your eating disorder. Dare to believe that you can live a life free of Ed. Because they are all true.

 

Dare to Stand Strong

You can do this. Ed will try to stop you. Believe in your own strength and will to recover. The stronger the stance you take against Ed, the weaker her influence in your life will become.

 

Dare to Trust

Dare to trust in your own beliefs, your intelligence, your ability to overcome, your ability to regain a life outside of what Ed wants. Dare to trust that you have the power to ask for and accept help. Dare to trust that life is so much more beautiful on the other side of this. But, most of all, dare to trust in yourself.  

 

2 Timothy 1:7 (the verse of this year’s VBS)

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline

 

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I came in to work four hours early to help my friend and her mother make rice krispy treats for the 500 plus students who attend VBS.

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I even picked up my bridesmaid dress this week! You can read about my experience with that here: https://rheasofhope.wordpress.com/2013/05/12/when-you-hem-your-bridesmaid-dress/

 

 

When you must be strong and courageous February 10, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rheasofhope @ 10:43 pm
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My pulse quickens. I know this because I can feel it radiate in my hands as my pale fingers grip tighter around the black leather of the steering wheel. My breathing becomes more rapid and shallow. My attempts to regulate it with breath practices learned in yoga class do nothing to slow it. I want to scream, but I know it will not help the situation. I want to escape, but I am trapped. I am in a car wash.

Yes, I realize this is a very intense—if not ridiculous—reaction to being in a car wash, but hear me out please. Although I have been driving the same car, Little Red, for ten years, I have never once washed her. Coming from a background of limited means, I could never justify spending money on a car wash (or spending the money on water to wash it at home). I simply relied on rainstorms to wash Little Red. Last week, however, Little Red had become Little Casper due to the excessive amounts of road salt used by the Ohio Department of Transportation. I decided to splurge on an $8 car wash because I am kind of a neat freak, and Little Red’s appearance was driving me bonkers.

I pulled up to the car conveyor belt timidly, as I was sure I was not going to properly align my tires and therefore drive wildly into the abyss of the car wash. Panic began to settle in as my car, in neutral, and under the control of the car conveyor belt, started the journey into the dark recesses of the car wash.  Suddenly, soap coated my windows with opaque green foam; obscuring everything outside the car. I was petrified that I would hit either the car in front or behind me due to not being able to properly see. As my car crept ever so slowly through the soap, the water shower and the drying room; I began to understand why I was having such a severe reaction to a mundane errand. It is simply this, I was not in control. Nothing that occurred during that car wash was, in any way, under my direct control. That is what terrified me. This simple car wash forced me to confront my fear of a lack of control.

I have always been one to be “in charge”—the leader. I thrive on being in control, and that has trickled down to my ED. For so long, I have been trying to control my life through my ED; severely restricting food intake, abusing laxatives, and purging. I thought that if I could just control that aspect of my life, everything else would fall into place exactly as I had imagined. Wrong. What I ended up happening was a disease that, in an attempt to gain control, has stripped me of all control. While I still thought of myself as the one in power, it was ED who decided when/if I ate, where I went, with whom I associated myself, how frequently I purged, how long I would have to exercise in penance for eating, when I went to bed, and when I awoke the next morning…among so much more. In looking for control, I lost all semblance of it.

What I learned in the car wash was that it is ok to not be in control all of the time. Although I panicked, and was sure something bad was going to happen to me while I was not in control, everything turned out fine. I had to trust that the car conveyor belt would do its job and keep me safe. And, the wonderful thing is that it did. I experienced what it was like to not be in control and *shock* nothing terrible happened (despite what ED would lead me to believe). For so long I have been trapped by ED; trapped in the darkness of the car wash of life. I have learned I need to trust in God and His ability to help me through this disease, because there is an end to this disease. I will continue fighting ED’s control. I will stand up to ED and her demands. I will battle for recovery and see it through. I am learning to trust my strength.

Joshua 1:9

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.

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Look how kinda clean she is now. It is amazing how well a 13 year old car can clean up to look decent.