Scars on my wrists.
Blood on my knuckles.
Tears dripping slowly, one by one.
Nails that break.
Bones that constantly ache.
A stomach full of fire.
An empty box of laxatives.
A toilet bowl for a pillow.
I was raised in a Christian home but found myself laying on the bathroom floor asking God to let me die. Everywhere I looked I saw Satan…the plate in front of me on he table, the toilet in the bathroom, the doctors and their frowning faces, the tears and fear my parents tried to hide, the grocery store – every single aisle, even the drug store counter where laxatives and sleeping pills seemed the my only solutions.
“If she doesn’t get help, and soon, she is going to die.”
“You’re killing yourself. Please, tell us why!!”
The silent screams for help – Help me, save me, kill me – I don’t care, just make this all go away!
Three years ago this week, I was hospitalized at a treatment facility in Denver, Colorado – the only treatment facility that would accept me, because the others I had looked into said I was “too sick” or “too much of a liability for their program.” I walked into treatment terrified of all the unknowns, but knowing that I couldn’t keep living the way I had been. I was stripped of literally everything I brought with me – I couldn’t even keep a spiral bound journal or have access to a trash can or tissue box. My mail and letters were opened for me and then given to me without any envelopes. I was watched every time I went to the bathroom – I couldn’t even flush my own toilet. It was by far, the longest, must grueling 3 months of my life in every way imaginable.
And here I sit – three years later. My treatment date is coming up and so is my 23rd birthday – a day I never imagined I would even live to experience. I am not “fixed”, I am not “healed” even after those three long, brutal months. I walked out of treatment and back into a world where I was not babied, protected, or watched after. I have been beaten, broken down, and then broken down again and again. I am human. We are human. 3 months of facing some of your biggest fears can’t prepare you for all the ups and downs that life throws our ways.
However, I would like to think that I am better equipped than I was this time 3 years ago. After all, quite a few things are different now…
I was raised in a Christian family, a Presbyterian church, and we prayed every night before dinner. I went to church each week because my parents woke me up and made me get dressed sometimes with the threat of “or else, young lady!”. It’s just “what we did.” I didn’t begin to delve deeper, to take on my own very intimate and personal relationship with Christ until, like Joseph in the bible, I was in my very own pit.
My family (parents aside) have done some EXTREMELY **use your imagination to fill in a word here** things, as most families have. I was thrown into the pit more times than I can count and I took it upon myself to find my way out on my own. Growing up, I somehow managed to make it on my own – I managed to drag myself up out of that pit time after time after time, just to be tossed back down again and again. Until finally, I couldn’t find my way out.
Going to treatment was my form of surrender. It was my way of saying, “I can’t do this on my own, God. It’s too big. The pit is far too deep this time. Please help me.”
Saying those words and phrases was the very first step in healing. It was the first step in seeking out God with my whole heart – in admitting that I am weak and human. Asking for help has a way of being both terrifying and extremely humbling. And it hurts like hell.
Today in church, our Pastor talked about the 4 lessons that Joseph learned when he was thrown down into the pit by his own family. *see Genesis 37: 12-36
It made me think of all the things I have learned and all the lessons and trials I’ve undergone both before treatment and after treatment, during the past 2.5 years. Here are 4 of Joseph’s lessons:
What you are here for matters more than what you have while you are here.
You are not the point of your own life.
Often, the 1st step forward is also a step down.
Never forget, God loves using the “wrong person”.
Reread those and pause for a minute.
I felt so humbled when reflecting over these 4 things. I realized how much my life, and everyone’s life, pertains to these 4 points somehow. For me, I find great comfort in #1. I will never be rich, I will never have “extra” money to buy the nicest things or have the newest editions of things. That’s okay. I am here and I have a purpose. Bouncing off of that….#2. It’s not about me. My life is a work of art and although I may be the canvas, God is the artist and he’s going to make me into whatever he needs me to be for the glory of His kingdom! #3. Sometimes the only way to heal, is to surrender. Moving forward usually hurts more than staying in the same place – fear of the unknown is crippling. But when we surrender and “Step down” from the drivers seat, we allow God to swoop in and take us places we never could have imagined going. And finally #4. In the bible we see time and time again how God uses someone who seems obscure, unexpected, random even. God has this way of using the most broken, the most hurt, the most unreachable individuals for furthering His work here on earth. What we see as being the “wrong person” could be exactly the person God planned to use for His divine purpose. You might be that “wrong person”. I might be that “wrong person”.
I think that my biggest “take away,” if you will, from the past 3 years is this:
We don’t have to be complete to be used by God. I am still broken. I still struggle. There are days where my anxiety makes it feel impossible to take a bite of the food in front of me. Every now and then, I find myself leaning over the toilet, releasing the feelings I’ve been holding back into places and things they have no right to go. Those things don’t work. I know that they don’t work and yet sometimes Satan convinces me otherwise. I will be the first to say that I am still broken. No one is perfect and I don’t think any of us are ever fully and truly “healed” from our emotional and mental scars. Life is a process and I believe that God can and WILL use us while we are healing. We don’t have to be at our best all the time. We don’t have to be 100% before we can start changing the world. We can step out, speak up, love the people around us, and still be so very broken and hurt. We can change the world but in the process the world is also going to change us – we get to choose if it’s for the glory of God or not. I believe that our “final destination” is not complete healing or restoration – I believe that our final destination isn’t something that can be obtained while we’re here on earth.
We all get hurt. We are all broken. The important to remember is that we are not alone in our brokenness. We are not thrown into our pits and left there to die – God will ALWAYS provide a way out. And no matter how broken you feel or how broken you think you are, even if you think you’re irreparable, God will use you for good in this world. You might feel like the “wrong person” but God loves us far too much to allow us to stay the way we are, broken and wrong…He will take us, transform us, and help us to change the world around us for the glory of His kingdom.
I am living proof. I am proof that we are human. We are imperfect. Healing isn’t linear. Healing isn’t even an end destination – there is no “finish line”, there is no “race.” We are all healing from SOMETHING and we are all capable of turning our “pits” into Glory for God.
God came for us. Jesus died for us. We are not left alone in our pits. God WILL lift us up and use us, even while we are healing. It’s time to stop living our lives in our pits of destruction and despair. It’s time to quit living as if God never came for us – it’s time to take our eyes off ourselves and point them towards the One who has plans for us that even our wildest imaginations could never conjure.
“What happens when people open their hearts?”
“They get better.”
― Haruki Murakami
“Pain is a sudden hurt that can’t be escaped. But then I have also learned that because of pain, I can feel the beauty, tenderness, and freedom of healing. Pain feels like a fast stab wound to the heart. But then healing feels like the wind against your face when you are spreading your wings and flying through the air! We may not have wings growing out of our backs, but healing is the closest thing that will give us that wind against our faces.”
― C. JoyBell C.