Summer marks the peak of energetic activities in my personal life. With so many hours of sunlight, and the warm breezes beckoning me, I am outside as much as possible. Thank God I am a teacher and can follow these whims!!! I think I would go crazy otherwise! (Disclaimer: I've heard it said that teachers do one year's work in 9-10 months, and I will back that notion with all of my being. Teachers, can I get an amen?!)
My son Julien and I spend our slow morning moments pondering what we would like to do for the day. Screens are forbidden from 10am-6pm or later, so sitting inside would be awfully and horribly BORING. Of course, I ALWAYS include a run (my fave), during which Julien will (sometimes) bike alongside me. But what else? Hiking? Swimming? Gardening? Kayaking? Going for a walk? Playing at the park? BEACH?! All of the above??? To many this might seem neurotic, but I am a proud consumer of life and its experiences. I do not like sitting still, and so I spend my free summer days dreaming up adventures for my son and myself. The majority of these adventures are entirely free, but add much richness to our spirits.
Yesterday, my husband and I went to church, ate lunch, went for a run, and then went kayaking on the big lake in Winona. I tilted my had back and looked up at the big summer sky with gray western clouds. I took a joyful breath, and let my heart rejoice. I have been reflecting on my health these last few days -- but not just my physical health, my mental health, as well. I used to NEVER be able to enjoy more than one activity without obsessing about food: how to be near it, but deny it; how to take a nibble and then discretely throw the rest away; how to tell when others were hungry or full (I had forgotten how eating "worked"); how to burn off any calories I had eaten; how to stop thinking about it... But NOW -- now I am experiencing Freedom. Capital F because it could never be anything less than a proper noun!! Freedom that the Lord handed to me when I sought Him, and no one else.
I have said this before, but I can't stress it enough. God used people in my life to speak to me about my value in His eyes. I would seek His word and His face, and He would calm my nerves and bring me Hope. Oftentimes, this Hope was packaged in a person. And always the perfect kind of person for my specific need at a specific time. Low and behold, I would somehow be able to speak in a person's life simultaneously. You see, the Lord knows everything. He answers prayers in so many different ways, and I was just blessed that many a time, He chose to put people in my life. These people added true, meaningful depth to my life. I hope and pray that I might have done the same for them.
The first thing I want to say before I go on any further is THANK YOU to my parents who met me each morning with undying love and the belief that I would get better. It wasn't always pretty, but if not for their watchful care, my problem might have never been identified. My eating disorder would have become me. God is THE Father, and through a parent's love (if it's exercised correctly, the way God made it), we can know a portion of His love. I have been told by my parents that they often prayed for me, seeking God's counsel on how to care for their broken daughter. Thank you, Dad, Mom, and Craig for bringing me to and paying for my treatments, and for being patient enough to let the Lord do His work, even when I had to learn the hard way.
The first day I had to go to treatment for anorexia, I was arm-crossedly defiant and spitting venom at my mom with words and eyes. "This is stupid." I walked into the office of my dietitian and found a slender woman with big, warm eyes. She said she had to take my weight, and I winced at the thought. We then sat down for our first session on what I would call "food training." As a girl with anorexia, I had forgotten how to properly eat, and so I must be taught about proper nutrition.
Each time I walked into that office, I felt loved and accepted. Everywhere else I went, I felt isolated, mocked, and questioned. But that woman with the warm eyes was my ally. She did not see the sick person in me, she saw the beautiful woman emerging -- the one that was strong and would crush the eating disorder. She knew she must love me unconditionally and teach me about my weapons for battle, which would be facts about all the good things about food, and the value of eating whole, real foods. To say that God used her to change my life is an understatement. God used her to save my life.
I could tell so many stories about people who taught me true beauty and value and worth and fun and who-cares-about-calories and music and art and love and earth and heaven and God and self-care and belly laughter and warm hugs and bird listening and tree posing and secret places and starry nights and young motherhood and see-through water and JUST RELAX and steep hillsides and letting go and hardwood floor dancing and pool splashing and smiling til my face hurts and real life. I was a hungry (pun intended) scholar in the world once I realized the prison which was Eating Disorders. My friends and family taught me all of these things and more. And God directed it all. I know this because when I look back, I see His design. His love is at work in our lives.
To anyone who I've called family or friend in the past 10 years, I thank you for all that you taught me. I needed an awakening. I needed true love. And you may not have even realized that you were providing it, but you were. You were an instrument to my healing, and you continue to be. I have thanked God so many times for sending all of you my way. I encourage each of you to treat others with God's love, to see each person's beauty through their struggles, and to let God's hope shine through you. This is what you did for me.
We've heard the story of the "good Samaritan" many times. But today I looked at it differently when I was thinking about each of you. I was the person who had been beaten up by "robbers." Satan had stolen much from me, and left me bruised and bloody on the roadside of life. Some people passed me by, sneering and mocking (though it wasn't their fault; they didn't understand!). But YOU, dear friends - you stopped and tended to my wounds and cleaned me up and cared for me. This is how God commanded us.
25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[a]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]”
28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him.34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c]and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’
36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”