Tag Archives: Pride

30 Days of Gratitude-Day Thirteen

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Our Pastor has inspired me to use this season to improve my attitude of gratitude. I have committed to writing about thirty things I’m grateful for. Even the hard stuff. Gratitude is not about our circumstances. It is a choice. 

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Today I’m grateful for my body.

Now that may sound really brazen. I’m on the thin side, so some may think that is easy for me to say. Some may even think it sounds boastful. But I assure you it’s not. You see, I struggled for almost twenty years with an eating disorder called Bulimia.

Webster Dictionary defines Bulimia as

“an emotional disorder involving distortion of body image and an obsessive desire to lose weight, in which bouts of extreme overeating are followed by depression and self-induced vomiting, purging, or fasting.”

Let’s look at the word distortion. The definition is

“a change, twist, or exaggeration that makes something appear different from the way it really is.” 

I’ve always been relatively thin. It runs in my family. But because of childhood trauma my identity was defined by the emotional needs of others. That’s cause for a lot of dysfunction. In my case, I believed that if I was perfect enough, I could control the behavior of others. I believed that if people valued me as perfect, then I would finally experience the love I so desperately sought. 

I could never be thin enough.

At nineteen, I entered a fitness model contest. I was in amazing shape. I worked hard, denied my cravings and built the body I had dreamed of. But when I looked in the mirror I saw the same body I had always seen. One that was imperfect and disappointing. One that didn’t measure up. 

A year later I moved to New Jersey to pursue a modeling career in New York. I lost another ten pounds and got down to 111 pounds at 5’8″. I was so emaciated that my face just sunk in. When I returned home, my own family didn’t recognize me when they picked me up from the airport. Everybody commented that I looked like I had been sick. I deflected their comments, but inside I was pleased. I thought I had finally arrived. But when I looked in the mirror, I still didn’t measure up. 

That’s distortion.  That’s the lie we buy into. That we have to be perfect. That we are damaged goods. And as a therapist once told me, we spend the rest of our lives trying to disprove the lie that we are bad. 

I found something even more interesting about the meaning of the word distortion on the Wikipedia site.

“a distortion is the alteration of the original shape (or other characteristic) of something, such as an object, image, sound or waveform.”

That is profoundly true! What is our original shape?

The image of God!

We are made in the image of God! That is our original shape! But because of sin and brokenness and hurt and darkness, our original shape is altered and distorted. Since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden, man’s natural instinct has been to pursue his identity apart from God. That’s why we are broken! But there is GOOD NEWS! There is redemption in Jesus Christ!

As believers, we must understand our identity in Christ!

As people recovering recovery from eating disorders, I think we must pursue 3 key disciplines. 

  1.  Forgiveness of self and others. People with eating disorders keep standards that no one can meet.  It’s a way to stay in a perpetual state of disappointment that allows one to punish themselves and others. A person with an eating disorder will be served well by focusing on forgiveness, which leads to acceptance
  2. Communication. I was unable to communicate my feelings as a child because of fear and shame. For me Bulimia started as an experiment, and quickly led to an obsession. It became a way to not only purge my food, but symbolically to purge my painful feelings. Please talk with someone you trust. Reach out.
  3. Renewing our mind. Romans 12:2 says “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.”  When we focus on the Truth instead of our feelings, we are renewed. When we fix our eyes on Jesus, instead of the world, we are renewed. We must learn who we really are. Who God made us to be. Who God says we are. Most importantly, we must learn who God himself is. That is a process. 

Eating disorders are mental disorders and they are complicated. If you have one, I pray you will get professional help. I’m not a trained professional, and only share my personal experience and beliefs. I have 7 years of recovery from my disorder without one single relapse. All Glory to God! I have been delivered and set free and I believe that is possible for every one of us. 

I’m praying that you will have the strength to look into the eyes of Jesus and see the absolute love and adoration He has for you. You are enough. He has a plan for your life. It is a good plan, because He is a good God.

What are you grateful for today?

A Heart for the Underdog

I would not be who I am today if it weren’t for my past. I write and speak quite a bit about my past, leaving my heart on the floor as I do.  I have found that holding back stunts my growth.

As a child, I was ashamed of where I came from.  My parents were hippies and we lived accordingly.  I don’t have too many memories of living in an actual house, but I do recall living in a 20 x 20 shed, a camper, a converted school bus and a teepee.  Bear in mind, this lifestyle was a choice.  I feel compelled to point out they never asked my preference!

I mean who could resist no running water, no telephone, and no indoor plumbing. That last one makes me laugh.  I mean I’m a girl who really likes my indoor plumbing!

Of course I have some wonderful memories of my childhood, but I have many more that are etched with the knife of addiction, domestic violence, family secrets, guilt and shame.

Elementary school was no picnic either.  Imagine a gawky, plain, and terribly shy young girl with thick glasses and a hand me down wardrobe.  A perfect target for the bully.  I just wanted someone to like me, to accept me, to love me.

If only I were pretty, I thought…

The summer before high school, I blossomed.  I shed the awkward skin of my adolescence, and got noticed.   The attention I was so desperate for came in unexpected waves.  I clung to my appearance, believing all the while that my looks were my only ticket to happiness and joy.

I learned the art of pretending. I pretended to be happy.  I pretended to be normal.  I pretended to be me.

This took me far; all the way to Hollywood.  All the way to an eating disorder.  All the way to sin.

I used to live behind the mask of perfection.  My bondage to my past was choking me.  I felt like I was rotting from the inside.

About three years ago, I found my freedom in Jesus Christ.  He radically threw my chains off and set me free!

Where there once was dark, I see light flooding in.  My memories are turning into friends, instead of foes. I use the lamp of the Lord to guide my path, and am encouraged by one of my favorite scriptures.

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”  Psalm 119:105 

I’ve always had a heart for the underdog,  I think I can relate to them.

God doesn’t waste a hurt, and I am beginning to see how He is using my past to reach out to others who are lost.  He has given me a heart to serve those that most people cast aside.  It could be the homeless woman, the wayward teen, the woman lost in addiction, the hungry child, or the man who thinks he is too far gone for God.

Isn’t this what all Christians are called to do?  Aren’t we all supposed to feed his sheep?  It’s easy to think to yourself, “Oh, look what a good Christian I am.  I am helping the needy.”  I think that’s dangerously close to pride.  The first time I felt the nudge of that emotion, God reminded me that we are all broken before Him, and only through Him are we made whole.

Who am I to judge another’s brokenness?

From one broken person to another, let’s do this together.  Let’s feed His sheep!

Watch the newest episode of Love, Hope and Faith to hear an incredible story from homeless to hopeFULL!  Click here!

Heather Murdock's blog

Messy Middles

I am absolutely thrilled to introduce my first guest blogger, Sherry L Meneley. She is an amazing and accomplished writer with her own blog, which you can link to at the bottom of her post.  She is also a new friend and a sister in Christ. We met at a writer’s workshop, and I knew immediately there was a connection.  She has inspired me with her honesty and transparency.

I started blogging as a way to share my walk with God.  I have found that we all have so much in common, if only we would be open to one another.  When we hear of another’s struggles, it’s almost like looking into a mirror.

I am delighted to begin the process of holding up the mirror through my blog. Once a month I will invite someone to share their story.  I am honored that Sherry is my first guest.

Title: Messy Middles

Author: Sherry L Meneley

You and me. We’re not so different.

The story starts: she was born. It ends: she died.

This is my story. It’s also yours.

In these ways, we are all exactly the same.  And yet you are nothing like me. Because you didn’t have my “messy middle”.

Within our messy middles are the things of fairy tales, drama, suspense, comedy, and tragedy. It’s those messy middles that make the story unique and interesting. Messy middles don’t make anyone comfortable. They’re not supposed to. Not everyone will understand the whys and hows and how comes. Again, they’re not always supposed to.

Amazing rich stories, ending with a good bitter-sweet cry—leave me knowing—understanding—that all those messy middles were needed.

My story started like a fairy tale. In hindsight I can see how blessed I was to be born in America. Into a family that loved me and went to church. My life should have gone off without a hitch. But my messy middle started to really show itself in junior high; and kicked into full gear as soon as I left home to conquer the world. There was no way to know what a hot mess I would become based my fairy tale beginnings.

Picture a long bridge spanning a vast canyon. On one side is God. The other side holds what the world has to offer. From God’s side of the bridge, the other side appeared to have greener grass. It looked better and felt more powerful. And like a small child who doesn’t know better, I stepped out on that bridge. One hand holding God’s while I stretched my body as far as I could. I was reaching my hand out to the other side. I just wanted to see—and touch. Eventually I released my grip and God let me go.

This happens to all of us. Some sooner than others. Our lives start the messy middle.

For me, I started to dabble into the New Age movement. Even now, I know the very day it happened. The innocent details, the music I heard, the smells, and sights. It started so harmlessly: a store in San Francisco, a store owner who deeply intrigued me, and “ambient” music I’d never heard before.

It truly could have been a benign experience. It was just a short run out into the middle of the bridge and back. I tested my bravery and strength, each time running further to the other side. The more I played, the easier it was. I became fearless.

I’ve done terrible stupid things. I turned my back to God’s side of the bridge and began to enjoy what the other side had to offer. Funny, now that I think of it, as I turned my back to God’s side, the other side came out onto the bridge to greet me. I was quickly ushered into a life that catered to my hearts desires. I was in relationships I had no business being in. Drinking myself into oblivion. Behaving in ways and getting into scenes that were dark and edgy and sadistic. I liked this place. I was in complete control with feelings of immense power.

I existed in that extreme place for many years. Looking back, I honestly believe I lived a life of one foot on the bridge and one foot on that “other side” opposite God. Eventually, things started to fall apart. What felt like power and control became a ball and chain. Here I thought I was the master of all things, and suddenly I was becoming a badly treated slave. I couldn’t keep up my level of cruelty to others and myself—but I also didn’t know how to get out.

I guessed the answer required facing God’s side of the bridge—turning my back on the world’s side. I had to begin crossing back over. But I was prideful. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go there. I resented God’s corporate church for how it treated me and my family (a very important plot in my story—but glossing over it for the sake of time). As bad as I felt in my current situation, I feared God’s side might feel equally awful.

One day, driving home from work, I broke down and begged this stranger I called God, “God, if You get me out of this mess—if You fix this, I’ll go into a church—I’ll try again.”

At the time I called it luck. I got out of the “extremes” and back into some middle-ish part of the bridge. I started studying every religion on this earth. Trying to find just the right thing for me. It would take me nearly ten years before I considered that God—this stranger—might have actually answered the prayer I begged on a commute home.

And then I recalled my unfulfilled promise.

A big part of my messy middle is the comedy of returning to church. The crazy tirades of getting to church and back home. Hiding it from my husband, family, and friends.

Looking back I can see how God led me to a church just right for me—at just the right time—on just the right day. That first day, a music video by Linkin Park was played. I knew this song well. It was called What I’ve Done.  The lyrics played, “So let mercy come and wash away—what I’ve done. I’ll start again, and whatever pain may come. Today this ends. I’m forgiving what I’ve done.” And the pastor proceeded to speak on forgiving yourself.

Some days it’s hard to imagine that God cares about me. That He’s involved in my little details as opposed to the big world He has to deal with. But all I have to do is look at the day I re-entered church. God took my difficult ugly hideous past; remind me of a prayer I said to Him; and at just the right moment and day, He landed me in a place where I would see a secular video I could relate to. I would hear God say through the music and message, “I don’t care about your past and failures in the messy middle. In fact I can use those moments for My good. Just trust Me. Forgive yourself, because I forgave you. You are loved, messy middles and all.”

Today I’m allowing God to use me how He wills. It’s not always easy, because I still exist in the messy middle, and will until the last chapter of my story concludes. And on that day I’ll finally step over onto God’s glorious side of the bridge for eternity.

But until then, what we do with our messy middles matters. I’ve chosen to let God turn my messy middles into good things. The good, the bad, the ugly – He can use them all. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

ABOUT THE GUEST BLOGGER:

Sherry Meneley calls herself an “Author, Artist, Dreamer, and Believer.” She writes a weekly blog called Soiled Wings, a transparent look at faith – ”messy middles” and all. She teaches Healing Art through her non-profit Create Heart, Inc. and her Life Coaching services can be accessed through Truth SOUL’ution.

The Space Between

I often ask in prayer, “God, please show me how to walk in your will.  I only want what you have planned for me.  Please guide me so that I walk in your will for my life .”   I have read many books where the author suggests ways for us to know when we are connected to God; when we have given Him  control of our lives.  I have talked with many fellow believers about the struggle between our will and His.  We laugh about how many times He has to hit us upside the head with a brick to get us back on track.  I imagine myself as the little stick figure who runs into the brick wall.  Dazed, I  pick myself back up, shake my head, dust off my rear, and say,”Ok, ok God, I get it.”  Let’s try this again.

Recently, I joined a Bible study that deals with recovery from life’s hurts, habits, and hang-ups.  It is a very intensive, long program that, honestly, I could do without ever completing.  Why?  Because it’s HARD!  Jesus and I have been on an extended honeymoon for a couple of years now.  I have been basking in the bliss of His grace and mercy.  In fact, I have been bathing in it, lavishly, with passion and fervor.  I have been healed and transformed and lifted to heights I have never known before!

I have been putting off the small, still voice  calling me to go deeper.  He has been calling me to not just rely on His miracles in my life, but to do the footwork of my healing.  The footwork that will lead me to deeper understanding of myself and who I am in Him

I have only been to two classes, but I have discovered many things that I will  share in my blog.  One major discovery is that  it’s not the difference between my will and His that is the struggle.  The struggle is in the space between.  What is the space between?  Pride and obstinancy.  My will agrees with God.  The bible says seek Him and we shall find Him.  I seek Him with all my heart.  Therefore, He is in me. The bible also says what God calls us to do, He gives us the power to do.  That means He is in me to do His will.  But what is separate from Him is what is in my flesh; the sin of pride and obstinancy.

My prayer is that I will continue to seek Him in ALL things big and small.  I know that God is the source of my will.  My pride and obstinancy can only be tamed by obedience to Him.

I’d like to thank God for this blog post.  As I sat journaling last weekend about His will in my life, the phrase “the space between”  kept leaping from my mind to the pages of my journal.  I asked Him to enlighten me to what He meant.  Today,I read my daily devotional, My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers. I realized I had missed several days so  I went back to June 6.  Lo and behold, the entry was about the misconception surrounding our will and His.  An answer to prayer!  It was in that entry He answered what the phrase meant.  Thank you Jesus!