Tag Archives: Recovery

30 Days of Gratitude-Day Thirteen

emerson1

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?

30 Days of Gratitude-Day Ten

emerson1This is Day Ten of my 30 Days of Gratitude challenge. I have committed to writing about 30 things I’m grateful for in an attempt to improve my attitude of gratitude. Overall, I’m a pretty optimistic and grateful person, but God’s word tells us to rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for us in Christ Jesus. That’s convicting. I don’t give thanks in all circumstances. Do you? I think if I did I would be filled with more joy and peace. If it’s His will for us, then it makes sense that we would also experience more power of the Holy Spirit. I don’t know about you, but I’m down for more joy, peace and power.

Today I’m grateful for God’s conviction. 

Sometimes I do wrestle with resentment. I hate it when I feel resentful. It affects my relationship with God and others. It makes me want to withhold my love and find fault. In my seeking the root to my resentment, God has been faithful to show me some things.

There’s an old saying, “Holding onto resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” That’s how it feels to wallow in resentment; like you’re slowly being poisoned to death.

I have learned there are usually three main reasons I feel resentful.

  • Selfishness-I have to admit, once in a while I can be a little selfish. Usually those times correlate with hormonal changes. Just like Frank Sinatra said, I want it my way. I want things done when I want them done. When I’m in that selfish mindset, then I become resentful when people don’t comply with my expectations. 
  • Blame-Rick Warren says to blame is to be-lame. Get it? Blaming only hurts ourselves. Most of the time the other person is going on with their life without a clue. Meanwhile, we are still trapped in the past. Or we make sure they know they are to blame, and imprison the both of us in emotional solitary confinement. Blaming is often a way to protect ourselves from having to take personal responsibility. But until we do so, we will never be free. The other person will always have control over us. The past will always steal the present. Let it go…
  • Unmet Needs-We all have needs; emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual needs. When one or all of those needs aren’t met, we can become resentful and discouraged. I think this is especially an issue when we don’t communicate our needs in the first place. This can happen with close relationships as we almost believe that our loved ones should know what we want and need. We expect them to be mind readers. The key to a resentment from an unmet need is to communicate, communicate, communicate. 

This is a short list, as there are other reasons for resentment, but I think these three are key roots to the problem. Whatever is on your list, I encourage you to seek God’s wisdom and leading to help you understand and overcome the root of resentment. It’s through an intimate relationship with the Lord that we are able to be more than conquerors of the things that hold us back in our lives. Jesus came to give us life and to give it to the full. Let us throw everything that holds us down. Let us put others first in how we love and serve, just like Christ does for us.

Let us rejoice, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances. 

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

What are you grateful for?

“I’M RESPONSIBLE!”

yiq5yk7inI sat in the room on the couch, waiting for her to return with my cup of water. During our last session, she had asked me to journal three things I would like to work on. I obediently prayed and wrote out my thoughts in my journal. During that time with the Lord, he revealed to me some areas of deep bondage. He showed me strongholds that have insidiously wrapped themselves around the very core of my belief systems. Strongholds that had robbed me of joy. Strongholds that robbed me of the joy of parenting. Strongholds that resulted in worry and fear about my children.

Growing up, I was the oldest child in a very dysfunctional family. My father was an alcoholic and my mother did the best she could. To reduce my father to one word really isn’t fair. He was so much more, but sadly that word diminished him.  A better definition might be a lost man on the run from God. Be that as it may, chaos played out in our home. At a young age, I was expected to take care of my baby sister who was four and a half years younger. I have very vivid memories of babysitting my toddling baby sister when I was only six years old. I remember one day standing at the bottom of our road, tears streaming down my face, as I watched my parents drive away. Utter fear and panic clutched at my throat as my father’s warning rang in my ears, “You better not let anything happen to her.” Hours passed and there we were alone.  I better get it right, or it’s my fault.

I have many memories like this. Some include her actually getting hurt and me being blamed, and one includes her actually dying and me blaming myself. Something doesn’t have to be true to be believed.

She started our session in prayer, and to my astonishment, prayed the words of revelation I had written in my journal. She prayed that I would stop carrying the burden of responsibility that I had assumed as a child. That I would stop playing God, and starting trusting the One that IS God. That I would stop trying to make up for what happened to my sister.

She asked me to take a walk through the hallways of my heart. Craving freedom, I agreed to trust her and imagined the inside of my heart. There were many rooms. She told me she wanted me to notice the big room off to the side, and walk into it. Immediately my heart started racing. I didn’t want to go into that room. I knew there was something scary in there. I knew I would be facing my giants. After several prayerful moments, I got the courage to walk in. She told me to notice the wallpaper. All over, in every font and size, was the phrase “I’M RESPONSIBLE!” Those words filled the entire room in dizzying repitition.

I heard her say, “Now I want you to tear down that wallpaper.”

No! I can’t! Who would I be if I weren’t responsible? Wait, what?  Who would I be?

I had built my life on lies! The lies of the enemy.  He had convinced me that I was responsible for the outcome, that if i didn’t get it right, disaster would strike.  I had been fooled!  The lies had cost me. I had paid the price.  Others had paid the price.

She prayed me through and I began to rip down that wallpaper.  I ripped and ripped and prayed and prayed.  We prayed God’s truth in place of those lies.  Strength and power rose up as the lies were smashed by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It was powerful, and it was just the beginning of my desperate journey to really trust God.  To trust Him with everything.  I will not offer my children on the altar of the sin of my soul- the sin of not fully trusting God.

What does your wallpaper say?

I encourage you to let Jesus carry your burdens.  He will give you rest for your soul.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

I’m coming, Jesus.

 

 

The Lost and Found

She tossed and turned all night.  She couldn’t stop dreaming the same dream.  It was like a movie, except it felt real.  She had an emotional connection to the dream that wouldn’t let her go.  There was a long dark hallway that seemed to go on forever.  The only light came from somewhere at the end.  If she squinted her eyes, she could almost make out a door.  The closer she got, the more her heart pounded.  What was behind that door?  All of her instincts were telling her to turn around, to not go any further.  She tried to fight it by steadying herself against the cold wall, but she felt like she was being pulled.

She finally reached the end and stood staring at the massive door.  There was bright light pouring out from the old fashioned keyhole. She could hardly think from the pounding in her ears.  Her mouth was dry as she tried to step backwards.  She felt her hand move toward the doorknob.  She knew horrible things were behind that door.  Things that had been hidden for years.

Something caught her eye.  Way at the top of the door was a faded old wooden sign.  She could barely make out the letters.  As her eyes adjusted to the light, she read the words…“The Lost and Found.”

She had shut that door long ago.  Behind it were all of her hurts, disappointments, fears, and secrets.  Can you relate to this girl?  I can.  I remember when I had a deadbolt on that door.

Most of my friends would say they’ve always known me to be a very confident, happy person.  I was so good at pretending to be those things that I convinced myself!  But late at night, and when no one was looking, I was just like that girl, staring at the door.

I once was lost, but now am found,” as the song says.  My relationship with Jesus has changed me from the inside. He did for me what I was never able to do for myself.  He walked with me down that hallway and threw open the door. What do you think I found there?  Gleaming light; His light.  No more darkness; everything forgiven.  He gave me the hope and courage to face the past and let it go.

I pray that you will turn to the Lord and ask Him to help you open your door.  I pray that you, too, will walk into His light.

It doesn’t matter where you’ve been, there’s hope…

“Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”  John 8:12

 

 

 

 

 

Great Expectations

Heather Murdock's blog    In my last post I wrote about the challenge of balancing faith, family and  career. It’s not easy.  I recently re-entered the workforce full time, and have struggled with keeping my peace in the midst of this juggling act. I have found myself bringing  my work home with me, at least in my mind.  As a woman, it’s easy to multitask, and that can be a benefit, but it can also be a huge pitfall.  I find myself multitasking when I should be present in the moment God has given me.

Before I was a believer, I was a performer.  I performed in my job, in my community, and in my home.  Not only did I perform, but I expected my family to do the same thing. I expected them to live up to my expectations.  In my job I led a team and was responsible for their accomplishments. It was very hard for me to turn  that drive off when I got home.  At the end of a long day, I was mentally exhausted, and would walk in the door and notice all the things that didn’t live up to my expectations.

At the heart of my performance was the consuming, and well hidden, need for love and approval.  When I turned my life over to God a few years ago, that need was fulfilled.  As His love and grace poured into my soul, I was filled with a peace and joy I had never known.  The performer in me gave way to a new wholeness based in my identity in Jesus.  Sure, I still sometimes struggle with this tendency, but that keeps me seeking a deeper relationship with Him.

Here I am back at work, once again leading a team. Once again meeting expectations.  Once again noticing all the unmet expectations…

But wait, this time it’s different. I’m not alone and God always provides a way out.  He is right by my side, showering me with His grace.  The same grace He gives me, He encourages me to give to myself and others.  He is teaching me that expectations lead to disappointment.  Grace is a beautiful thing.

Every night on the way home from work, I pray that He remove the remnants of the day from my thoughts.  I ask Him to fill me with His love, patience, and contentment so that I can be completely present in the moments to come with my family. I ask Him to empower me to find joy, instead of fault.  We are making great progress, but who’s counting?

The performance is over, the curtain has been called, and the audience has gone home.  There He is waiting for me; His arms outstretched to receive me, not because of how I performed, but because of who He is.  Now it’s just me and Him as He leads me one day at a time.

He’s there for you too, waiting to receive you with open arms.  Go, He’s calling you by name…

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,  may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:16-19

The Edge of His Robe

Heather Murdock's blogI’m beginning to see how shame has profoundly shaped my life by insinuating itself into the very core of my being, clouding my perceptions and driving my decisions.

I have written quite a bit about painful childhood experiences; almost like I’m trying to vomit them.

As I write that last sentence, I am struck by my word choice “vomit.” If you read my other posts like Rebirth and A Heart for the Underdog, you will see that I struggled with bulimia for almost twenty years.

I became a Christian three years ago, and just like the woman who touched the edge of Jesus’ robe in Luke 8:43-48, I was immediately healed.  The moment I recognized His love and accepted Him as my Savior, my decaying spirit came to life. I felt it happen.  But it wasn’t until a few months later that I realized I had not had one thought or craving of my eating disorder.

Over the years, I had gone through stages where I was able to resist the urge to indulge in the act of my disorder, but it was never far from my mind.  It was always there calling out to me like a long lost friend; pretending to be my solace. I jealously protected it from exposure.  I desperately wanted help, but revealing its presence in my life would mean it could be taken away.  To me, it was a way out, a way to control, and a way to purge my shame. I came close to telling my husband, and when I finally did, it came out like it was a problem I used to have. He felt sorrow and compassion for what his wife “used to go through.”  I mourned with him, as the secret raged on.  My shame grew, and the chains tightened.

It’s interesting to me how something as shameful as an eating disorder could represent a way to relieve my shame.  How can that be?

God is starting to take me even deeper in my understanding of myself and my past.  I realize the shame came from the sin being lived out in my family; the sin of abuse and addiction. Sin begets sin, and shame begets shame.  As my desire to hide what was happening grew to giant proportions, so did the fear and anxiety of anyone finding out.

As a child, I internalized all of this.  However, as I grew into adolescence, I learned the art of cultivation.  In other words, I designed an external reality to hide the internal one.  I hid behind my facade, which provided a fortress for the shame.

I say my healing was instantaneous, and in so many ways it was.  I do still struggle with some of the remnants of my past, though.  God hasn’t delivered me from everything overnight.  I am grateful He hasn’t.  The struggle is where the relationship with Him is built.  My issues and challenges keep me seeking Him.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

To this day, I am COMPLETELY free of my eating disorder.  I know there are many out there with similar stories of great transformation.  I also know there are many who are still in the darkness of their shame.  I encourage you to reach out to our Lord and ask Him into your heart.  Ask Him to be with you in those darkest places and to lead you into the light.  I don’t know what miracles He will work in your life, but I do know He is faithful and He is good and He loves you more than you can ever imagine.

3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— 
to bestow on them a crown of beauty 
   instead of ashes, 
the oil of joy 
   instead of mourning, 
and a garment of praise 
   instead of a spirit of despair. 
They will be called oaks of righteousness, 
   a planting of the LORD 
   for the display of his splendor. Isaiah 61:3     

To watch the latest Love, Hope and Faith click here.  I was blessed by my interview of Pastor Cameron English, as he shared about his painful experiences of childhood abuse, substance abuse, jail and the loss of a child.  It’s amazing what God has done in his life and how God has used it to give Cameron a ministry for the hurting.