Four years ago today I was sitting in class next to my friend, Kiara. We were probably talking about how stressed we were with the end of our first year as freshman quickly coming to a close. Despite our conversation, I was undoubtedly tallying up calories in my head, thinking about how I would get out of joining my friends for lunch, when I would visit the gym, and how I would manage pushing vegetables around on my plate at dinner without anyone calling me out on it. I was probably thinking about the inevitable argument my boyfriend and I would have over the party I was invited to that coming weekend – the one I would not attend because he would threaten to break up with me if I did. Besides, alcohol has too many calories in it anyways. It probably crossed my mind how uncomfortably warm I was in my long sleeved shirt because it was likely around 70 degrees outside – but I couldn’t let my friends or teachers see the cuts on my arms.
I’m sure we had a lovely conversation – but I don’t remember any of it because I was too busy becoming my own worst enemy.
Three years ago today I was boarding a plane in Denver, Colorado on a flight to Virginia. When I finally got to the VA airport, my parents and my sweet puppy were waiting for me. I fell into their embrace with tears and with joy – it was finally over. The nightmare, the sickness, the disease, the pain…I thought it was all over.
It was FAR from over.
Four years ago today, I was in an unhealthy relationship – with a boy, with my family, but worst of all, with myself.
Three years ago today, I was done with the boy, working on dealing with my family, and working on healing myself.
But in 2014, when I arrived home after 3 months of intensive treatment for an eating disorder, that’s not when the work was done – that’s when the real work started.
I thought that stepping ON to the plane going from VA to Colorado would be the toughest part – taking that initial step to surrender was TERRIFYING, no doubt. But it ends up, that stepping OFF of that plan that flew from Colorado to Virginia was even more terrifying.
Over the past 3 years there have been so many ups and downs – I know it’s cliché, but it’s the honest truth. Dealing with and facing life head on is no small task! After three months of intensive treatment I found that I was armed with lots of coping skills, but being thrown back into the environment where it all fell apart (and to make things worse – the environment that was still crushed and broken when I returned to it in a healthier state of mind and body than when I had left it 3 months prior) was the most difficult part.
There are days that I begin beating myself up because I am 23 and a sophomore in college. I get on the “should” train (I SHOULD be here, I SHOULD be doing that, I SHOULD, I SHOULD, I SHOULD…) and it’s very difficult to get off.
I have to pause. I have to force myself to stop and reflect. Four years ago I was literally falling apart. Three years ago I was leaving treatment and reentering the world – unable to be in school because of my health. Two years ago I was waiting to figure out IF and WHERE I would end up in school after traveling the country and doing auditions. Last year I was finishing up my first year here in Michigan. Right now, I’m sitting in the kitchen of my very own apartment – my sweet pup is asleep on the couch and I am sipping on coffee with my computer, my bible, and my prayer journal in front of me.
I may not be where I thought I would be, where I envisioned myself being when I began college back in 2012, or where society tells me that I SHOULD be, but one thing is for sure – I am right where GOD needs me to be.
But not crushed.
James 1 verses 2-4 say, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Even in the years following treatment, the shame of doing things “out of order” or “out of the ordinary” was crippling to me. I felt like I needed to hide, like I should be so much more, so much better, and so much farther along than I was – than I currently am. But one of the most important things I’ve learned in life is that our paths of pain are often times our most precious paths of preparation. God will position us for His purposes in ways we can’t possibly comprehend and the pain that results from that can be purposeful if we cling to His word, His Truth, and remain faithful throughout the storm.
Living by faith doesn’t promise that we’ll live a problem-free life. It doesn’t automatically mean we receive a promise of prosperity or promotion. But living by faith DOES guarantee that we receive victory – victory over fear, doubt, shame, regret, guilt, purposeful living, hopelessness, and so much more that Satan tries to disarm us with.
There are days like today where I find myself practically in tears when I glance at my schedule, at my to-do list, at the never ending assignments teachers are flinging at us with the end of the semester just less than 2 weeks away. There is so much to do and so little time. But I have to pause. I have to reflect on how far I’ve come – just the fact that I am sitting here typing this, is proof that God is good.
Our purpose while we’re here on this earth isn’t actually about US – it’s about bringing HIM glory and honor. I never thought it would look quite like it has in my life – but I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. Instead of wallowing in fear, regret, shame, or allowing myself to get overwhelmed – I’d rather spend my time marveling at His grace, His glory, His forgiveness, the way He has worked miracles in my life. I know He will continue to guide, protect, love, and forgive me and so I know, at the end of the day – after a couple deep breaths, I have nothing to fear. After reflecting on these past four years, I cannot even fathom what He may have in store for the next four.
Onwards and upwards my friends! I hope you are all having a very blessed Holy Week!
Satan falls in the presence of Christ.
Satan is silent in the proclamation of Christ.
Satan in powerless against the protection of Christ.
Satan’s aim is to steal our peace, but Jesus stands up to Satan on our behalf.
1 Corinthians 15:57
“Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ.”
“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
― E.E. Cummings