maybe i'll just start talking about it here, because i feel pent up, and like i don't give Him enough glory. because honestly, most days i just want to talk about how unbelievable He is, and how He changed my life. and how i never thought i'd be able to talk like that about the Lord. ever.
i grew up in a wonderful home. my parents loved and sacrificed, not just for us but for our community. we saw (as kids) first hand what it looked like to pour everything out for other people. and we also saw what can happen when serving seems to blow up in your face. we made it through, like a lot of pastors families, hanging on by a thread. and all of it left me wondering who the Lord really is.
i remember trying so hard to love the Lord well, and never feeling like i succeeded. guilt for not measuring up started really early in my heart. like 4 years old, kind of early. so i grew, and began cataloging church experiences that i didn't understand. somewhere along the way, i stopped seeing the Lord and church separately. and to me, it became this bullying mutant in our family. a presence that we were just trying to survive.
growing up is hard for everyone, and it was no different for me. high school came along, and i struggled. my sophomore year brought with it a particularly messy church dispute, ending with our family leaving. i remember having to visit new churches after that, and not being physically able to leave the car. the thought of starting the whole process over paralyzed me.
we had all been hurt, and as a 15 year old girl, i felt like i had a gunshot wound that no one noticed. i had been striving my whole life to love the Lord right and well, and it wasn't working, clearly. so i walked around wounded, and i didn't ask for help.
at that point, i really withdrew and became hard. just mean and hard. school got worse with time, and i started eating for comfort, and by my senior year i couldn't even shop in the same stores as my friends. all of these things pushed me further into a black hole. just more excuses to stay angry.
this is where my story takes a turn into 'after-school-special' world.
my senior year, on a whim, i figured i should remedy my weight situation. decided to start weighing myself and to just generally try to eat better. by graduation, i had shed a lot of weight, and gained a ton of friends. things felt good and different, and i clung to these changes for dear life.
i headed off to college with fears looming over me about gaining the weight back. i think i felt like i had fixed my life, and still viewed the Lord as an extracurricular activity instead of a Savior. mainly because i don't think i really saw my need for one. my view of the Lord had more to do with willpower, than it did about surrender.
long story short, my desperation to keep the weight off led directly to an eating disorder. a five year long struggle that steamrolled my life. a secret that i worked full-time to protect, nurture, and hide. all of the anger that i had never talked through or shared was funneling straight back at me. and i hated myself.
i spent actual years of my life lying to people i loved about everything. by the fifth year, i was not functioning. i'd moved back in with my parents, and was in school (barely), and never left the house except to go to class.
my family knew, and they'd approach me about it once in a while, when things got especially bad. but i would just spew hatred back at them, and they'd back off. through all these years, i remembered the Lord but did not see how He could even fit into the mess. i figured i would find Him once i got it together again.
one night, in my parent's house, i read the book of romans start to finish. i remember starting to understand that things weren't going to be fixed by my willpower. my parents went out of town soon after that, and i had a particularly bad weekend. when they returned, i told them that i was ready to stop trying to remedy the situation on my own.
less than a week later, i was on a plane to a treatment facility in arizona. that is still one of the scariest things i have ever done. but the alternative, continuing on in the state i was in, felt the scariest.
my brother, jared, was in college at the time. he had been really active in confronting me, and was a big reason that i decided to go. he surprised me and drove up to say goodbye before i left, and that visit still breaks my heart to remember.
the memories of arriving in arizona are still vivid. i felt like an impostor. i kept thinking that compared to everyone else there, i really had it together (ha). i could write a book on each day i spent there, truly. but, what happened in a matter of words, is that i fought the Lord. i gave myself permission to disregard Him. it felt like there was a concrete slab between us.
more than once, my roommates (in treatment) would complain that i was waking them up at night because i was talking in my sleep, i asked them what i was saying, and they told me every night i would pray and just say Jesus' name.
and that just annoyed me.
i don't have a specific moment that i remember, but somewhere in all that fighting and disregarding, i met the Lord. like really met Him, and got an idea of His real character. and i just remember feeling completely gutted. and He saved me, and pulled me out of a black hole, so deep and selfish and ugly.
three years later, i'm still surprised by it. i am so surprised that after all the ideas i had about who He was, i was so wrong. He is so much better. infinitely better.
and He is healing me, every day.