I've fought battles and come out on the other side. These past few years have been rough. It's been a struggle to hang on and not give up and give in. I was in a terrible place, a terrible, horrible, dark place. I was lost. But now, by the grace of God (and grace alone- there's nothing I could have done to fix my state)- I feel like I've made it. I am a survivor. I think I get why all the cancer people do cancer walks every year. They want to look back and celebrate all of the wonderful things that God has done, how God has healed them of their infirmities. They want to scream it out from the rooftops, "HEY! I am a brand-spanking-new person! I was lost, but now I'm found. I was blind, but now I see. Amazing grace, my chains are gone!" I get it. I totally want to scream the message of hope and redemption from the rooftops, too, y'all. :)
Since I first heard the song "Worn" by Tenth Avenue North, I've been praying it as a prayer. I've written it in journals. I've screamed it out to God, begging for him to heal me. In his time...in his time. These are the words I would pray:
Let me see redemption winIt hit me yesterday as I was driving in my car that he has shown me all of this and even more. I had to stop and cry a bit...it was quite an emotional moment. Redemption has won, the struggle is ending, and my heart is mended. The ashes inside of my broken life have risen into a glorious song, and the dead inside has been reborn. I think back to a year ago. Had you told me a year ago that I'd be getting married in 16 days, I would have laughed in your face. I had begun to believe that I was hopeless, that I was beyond help, that I would never live the life I dreamed of.
Let me know the struggle ends
That you can mend a heart
That’s frail and torn
I wanna know a song can rise
From the ashes of a broken life
And all that’s dead inside can be reborn
Cause I’m worn
But, here I am.
I am getting married in a mere 16 days. I am getting to spend forever with the one whom my soul dearly loves, the man I've prayed for since I was a small girl in middle school. My dreams are slowly, but surely coming true. In his time...in his time. I am recovering. I don't know when I'll really consider myself "recovered"- but I feel like I'm practically there. I still have thoughts sometimes, but I don't act on them, and I'm able to process them with others. I still battle anxiety- but, what bride doesn't? I feel like by taking things day by day and step by step, he is leading me. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. The Great I AM provides enough for each and every day.
I wrote a journal entry last summer. It's one of my absolute favorites to look back on, because even though I was struggling so hard, so much...it was like a moment of clarity came through just long enough for me to write this. In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and to encourage those still fighting this awful disease, I wanted to share it with you on the blog today.
July 13, 2014
I am running hard and fast into the cold, hard ground. My face is slamming against the pavement. I am so frustrated. Here I am, sitting at twenty three years old, a college degree under my belt, and I’m unemployed and will most likely be underemployed for my entire life. My light is going dim. I am so depressed right now. My motivation is lacking. I find it hard to conceive complete sentences and coherent thoughts. The days run into each other like a freight train flying fast down the tracks. I am frustrated. This is not how I imagined my life to be. I always imagined I’d be happy. I’d be either employed or married with children. I always imagined my life to be so much different than this. It does not seem fair that mental illness has stolen so much from me.
Some days I get mad. I scream at God as I drive down the road. How could he make me this way? How could there be purpose in all of this pain? Things are not supposed to be like this. I am a good little Christian girl. I did everything right. I didn’t drink, do drugs, have sex, use bad words or hang with people like that. I went to church on Sunday and Wednesday and any time the doors were open. I gave my life to Christ at the tender age of eight and I was baptized at twelve and I know the ten commandments like some people sing the songs on the radio. I can tell you my favorite bible verse and I can bring you down the Roman Road and lead you to Christ. I got a degree in religion with the idea of working at discipling children. I have a passion for the gospel. I can sing all the songs from Veggie Tales. I spend my free time reading theology, always yearning to know more. I work with the babies, the children, I mentor the girls. I do all the *right* things…and yet I end up here again. Lost and dazed and confused about how things got so messed up.
Things weren’t supposed to turn out like this. Doesn’t the verse say “All things work together for GOOD for those who love God”? Where is the good in all of this? Where is the good when I’m crying and screaming at my mother that I just want to kill myself? Where is the good when I’m so depressed I can’t function? Where is the good in the midst of the mania when I spend all the money that I don’t have on useless things? Where is the good in the middle of the meal when all I want to do is starve myself, hide the pain, purge away all the bad feelings? Where’s the good when the psychiatrist is talking about hospitals and psych wards and medications? Where is the good when all I want to do is take a razor blade to my skin? Where is the good? People send you flowers when you have cancer. They tell you should have been better and you should stop sinning when you have a mental illness. I scream at the unfairness of the situation. Where is the good in all of this? Where is God?
He’s there in the quiet. The stillness. He’s there as I whisper to myself “Work brain, work.” He’s there offering strength when I feel weak and grace when I falter. He’s there in the smiles of the girls that I do a bible study with. He’s there in a sweet note from a friend. He’s there as my mother, encouraging me to keep eating, keep fighting the voices. He’s there as my psychiatrist says that it’s going to be okay…and he’s even there in the psych ward. He’s there on the cold hard bed with the scratchy pink blanket. He’s there as an old man tells me how “they’ve gone off and drugged the coffee again”. He’s there in the giggles and the laughter. He’s there in the silence. He’s still there, even in the pain. He’s there in the man in the waiting room. He’s there in the little boy that giggles and smiles from the buggy in the supermarket. He’s there in the good book that I’m reading, the ability to focus for just a moment. He’s there on the lazy days in the hammock. He’s there in a cute shirt, a tiny burst of self confidence, blooming and blossoming. He’s there and he’s there and he’s never really left even though it seemed like it. He’s there and he’s real and maybe he didn’t give up on me after all.
Every single day, he gives me just enough. Just enough manna for the day. Its hard and it’s a struggle, but he gives me just enough strength to push through and fight another day. He gives me enough for today, and he tells me that he will provide for tomorrow tomorrow. I don’t need to store up enough strength, enough muster to fight for another week, another month, another year, another decade…God will provide my manna for me step by step, day by day. I don’t need to struggle and fight to store up ALL THE GOOD THINGS or ALL THE GOOD ACTS or ALL THE GOOD FEELINGS, I just need enough strength to fight for today. I can do hard things for one day. One day isn’t so overwhelming. Just for today. Just enough manna to feed my soul for the day. He will provide for tomorrow and the next days as they come. Life seems a little less overwhelming when you take it day by day. I feel a little less like a failure when I think of all of the great things I accomplished today, rather than focusing on the things that I didn’t do today or that I need to do tomorrow.
- Today I went on a trip with my parents.
- Today, my body digested yummy Cracker Barrel and took a nap.
- Today I journaled.
- Today I fought through urges.
- Today I ate pizza with my parents and drank a slushy with my Daddy.
- Today I snuggled with my doggie.
Enough strength for the day, he will always provide.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, there is help and there is hope. Reach out, dig into the Word, and pray. There is life beyond your eating disorder and it is bright and beautiful out there! Don't give up. Don't stop fighting. Fight with every fiber of your being, and then fight some more. Reach out for professional help- therapists are great and nice people. If you need someone to talk to, find me on Twitter or Instagram (@laurenadam, until the wedding, at least!) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I've made it. And you can, too.