Monday, August 11, 2014

Steadfast Love

Ok, everyone.  Yesterday was a difficult day with body image and eating disorder temptations.  In fact, it was probably the most difficult day in over five years for me.

I had an incredibly challenging morning with anxiety and self-esteem.  Only one who battles such things knows the effort it takes to swing a sword against it all.  I told my husband the anxiety I felt made me want to die.  And not die because it would "end it all," but die because then my spirit could reach heaven.  I would never be forced to endure another thought about my inadequacies.  I would never have to feel STUCK in my body, wanting to get out of it.  I would be united with my Lord and Savior.

Fast forward to the evening.  My husband and I sat at a restaurant overlooking the sleepy Mississippi River.  We got into a slight argument over something.  The rational Cherie would have thought it's not a big deal, we love each other, it's FINE.  But having stood in battle against attacks at my self-esteem all day, I was weary and broken.  I sat in silence with my husband - he, not understanding (he is blessed with level-headedness) - and I was wishing I could weave together fallen logs and float down the Mississippi until I forgot who I was.

Our food came, and I was flooded with thoughts that I hadn't had in so long that I almost didn't recognize their evil.  "You don't deserve that food, Cherie.  Just don't eat it.  You will feel better if you deny this food.  You know that you don't deserve it.  You don't even earn enough money to eat at a restaurant.  You weren't very nice to Ben today.  You are unworthy of this meal.  Plus, you've gained some weight this summer.  Get a handle on yourself.  Don't.  Eat.  It.!"

My eyes blurred with tears as I looked out at the river.  "Take me away, Lord.  Take me. I'm done here.  I can't do this."  But the food stared at me, and I at it.  And I was given a new resolve: I will NOT give satan victory.  I have one Lord, and it is not satan and it is not eating disorders.  My Lord hung on a cross to free me from my shame.  He took it all so that I could stand blameless against the accuser.  I am not unworthy.  I am covered by grace.

And I ate that meal.

The Lord's steadfast love and intimate involvement with the details of my life came in shape of an e-mail today, a blog written by one of my favorites.  Please read this whole thing.  Even if you don't struggle with eating disorders, read it.

May you be richly blessed, knowing that the Creator of the universe sees your struggle and hears your prayers.  He is looking out for you -- look back.  See what He is doing to let you know that He is for you.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Scantily Clad

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"Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble."
~1 Corinthians 8:13

"Jesus said to his disciples, 'Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come.  It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble.  So watch yourselves.'" ~Luke 17:1-3(a)

I feel his eyes on me as I thoughtfully scan the produce aisle, contemplating which fruits my four boys will most likely eat.  I glance up at him because I can feel that my body has become a feast, my face a pure afterthought to him.  His stare lingers just a daring second longer before he continues on his merry way.  I'm not sure if he has a wife or a girlfriend, and because I can imagine the pain involved for the girl involved in that relationship, I hope to Jesus that he is single, sparing pain for any of my Sisters.

Something of my subconscious becomes strikingly aware, and I chastise myself because a Daughter of God should not have the thought I just had: I was flattered and glad that this unknown man just looked at me with desire, weaving me into his fantasies.  A part of me was proud.  And that, my friends, is an ugly thing.

1 Corinthians 8:13 is a verse that I love because I'm a vegetarian.  Just kidding (sort of).  The verse actually refers to how certain things are a sin for some people, and we must not engage in things that tempt ourselves or our Brothers and Sisters in Christ.  For example, I might be able to have a drink or two and stop there.  I'm not drunk and I'm not sinning.  However, if I ask a family member who struggles with drunkenness or alcoholism to meet me at a bar, I am causing him to stumble.

Jesus says woe to anyone that causes a Brother or Sister to stumble.  In fact, he goes so far as to say it would be better to tie a millstone around their neck and throw them into the sea!  Safe to assume that Jesus is serious about this, yes?

Sisters, I'm about to touch on something that is quite controversial, but it is something that I implore you to consider.  Guys, keep reading, because I want your input, too...

Is the way that I am dressing causing others to stumble?  

Yesterday, I watched a video about women who are victims of street assault.  There were heartbreaking horrors told in first person, and I'm sad that so many women are afraid to even walk down the block.  But one woman admitted that she purposely dresses provocatively, but she does not believe this means a man should be able to whistle at her as she walks by on the street.  I paused at that for a moment because I don't believe that anyone is "asking for it" when assaulted or raped, but I also think this woman just admitted that she was asking for attention.

This issue needs some untangling, and I'm going to try to briefly do my best.

In the age of feminism, we believe we should be able to say, do, and wear whatever we please.  I am not going to disagree with the fact that women should be treated fairly in society.  I'm a woman, and I love my freedom in my time and my culture.  My heart cries for women who are oppressed worldwide, and I pray that things like childhood marriage and "legal" rape (and re-rape) of women would end right now.

That's not what we are going through as American women, though.  Most of us are enjoying vast freedom that the women before us fought so hard to attain.  This includes what's acceptable to wear.  We are no longer forced to hide our ankles, arms, legs, or really anything!  Hallelujah, right?

But just like any freedom, I am realizing there is responsibility attached to it, especially because I serve Christ and I seek to glorify God and not myself.

I am a wife and a mother.  I have one son and three stepsons.  Being around boys so often has taught me this: males are extremely visual.  Whether or not this is "nature vs. nurture" or even if it's our fault (it isn't), I don't care.  That's irrelevant.  Arguing about it won't change the fact that boys and men are stimulated visually.  And whether or not we're okay with that, Christian girls and women have a biblical duty and responsibility to help our Brothers by not tempting them.  

Porn addiction is stealing our husbands, boyfriends, and even our sons away from healthy relationships, especially sexually.  Satan knows that our Brothers are tempted visually, and boy! has he figured out how to get them hooked!  On top of that, we have the current women's fashion of high-waisted, butt cheek showing shorts with a crop top.  So, if a guy is away from his computer, he's still able to feast upon young bodies that don't leave much to the imagination.

My heart aches for my boys.  I often pray that God is hand-picking their future spouses right now, preparing these girls' hearts for a Spirit-filled and healthy marriage.  I pray that my boys save their purity for marriage, and that any sexual experience will be first and only with the woman God has for them.  But I would be lying if I say that I don't worry.

I worry because I was once that girl who dressed to get attention from young men.  I didn't even give a second thought to their purity, whether or not they had a girlfriend or wife, or if I was tempting them to sin.  I have since asked for forgiveness for this, and yet I still struggle to remember to think about what I'm wearing when I walk out the door.

How would I feel if it was my husband looking at another woman with desire?  How would you feel if it was your husband, your boyfriend, or even your son?

We are first spirits, and then we are bodies.  Therefore, we are not objects.  We are created for God, and by tempting others, we are tainting our image.  Though I've often heard that men objectify women, I've never heard it said that women objectify themselves.  Do we take no responsibility?  I, for one, will admit that I have made myself an object so that some man might then be attracted to my spirit.  This was wrong.  We should hope for others to be attracted to my spirit first and foremost, for that is who I am.  Not my clothes, not my body; I am my spirit, given by God.

Sisters, I pray that before we leave the house scantily clad, that we would consider another's stumbling block.  This will not be easy.  I have a bikini that I swim in, I wear shorts that are not "school appropriate," and my favorite running shorts are spandex!  I tell you this because I am struggling to find the line of appropriateness, but I think we are dishonoring God if we do not consider this issue and prayerfully seek God's heart in it.

Men, control yourselves.  You are by no means excused from your behavior!  If looking at someone or something causes you to sin, then the Bible says gauge your eyes out!  Ha!  But seriously...look away, and in doing so you will not only honor God, but also the woman whom you love.  Remember: we are not objects.