Sunday, August 8, 2010

new JOY

Aug 8, 2010

Almost all of the entries in here illustrate a little bit of the anxiety that gripped my life for at least seven years. Today if you were to ask me, "How are you doing today?" I would no longer say "Good," while knowing in my head that I am really an anxious mess. Instead I would boldly and truthfully tell you, "I'm doing really well!! Just really full of God's joy and peace."

How did this incredible change take place? Well, I think God had to bring me to rock bottom after rock bottom in order to keep me on my knees, begging for help. The struggle that was the most humiliating and horrifying and that made me both angry at and scared of myself, would turn into the biggest blessing in disguise I have ever been given. That struggle was emotional eating.

While I would love to dive right into talking about my struggle with emotional eating, I am going to save that for another post. First I want to briefly explain how I ended up so anxious in the first place.

Ever since I was young I have had a few deep rooted desires. One of them is to be good. To obey God's commands, never sin, and be righteous. To please my parents, follow their rules, and do well in school. While these desires may seem wonderful, they consistently brought me to tears instead of filling me with joy.

Another desire is to please people. To be a good friend, daughter, and grand-daughter. To always be kind and loving. To not hurt anyone by anything I say or do. This desire just left me feeling like a failure. A worried, stressed, horrible failure.

The desire that I've tried to run away from and hide, that has made me most angry at myself for desiring it, and that still tries to haunt me if I'm not careful is the desire to feel beautiful. I HATE that desire. But it constantly pulls at me, probably harder than any other worry.

Another desire I have is to be really good at what I do. Perfectionism. HATE it. Writing this post has caused me a great deal of stress and has even made me emotional eat for the first time in months!! (BUT I am thankful for that wonderful blessing in disguise once again, and I will tell you why soon enough.) Being a perfectionist is horrible. It causes me to get very angry at myself for spending so much time on every little thing and for always hating the results once I finally finish.

In the posts to come I will go into detail about how each of these desires really ate away at my life. My mind became a horrible, confused bundle of worries as all these desires fought against each other to win my time and focus. It took hitting rock bottom day after day, to really force me to let go of each desire. I still have to let go every day and put each of these desires, and my entire life, into God's hands instead of my own.

Giving everything to God again and again is now what fills me with incredible joy and peace. I have confidence that God used every single struggle I went through and am still going through in order to make me determined to be filled with the very opposite of anxiety and anger. To instead be filled with the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. I am constantly praying to God to fill me with fruits of the Spirit, and He really has answered my prayers in amazing ways every day!!

Today was the first day I have struggled with emotional eating again in a very very long time. Even though I have been reminded how horrible that struggle is. How absolutely humiliating it is. How angry at myself it makes me feel!! How I feel like I HAVE to give in or there is no other way to go on. How I feel like I wish I could just push a restart button and restart the day... Even though I am feeling all those feelings immensely, I am THANKFUL this happened today. I have really been filled with compassion and humility once again. This emotional eating struggle has been the biggest blessing in disguise because it has forced me to give EVERYTHING to God. It makes me realize I am a sinner, completely undeserving of God's grace. It makes His grace BEAUTIFUL and His love AMAZING. He forgives me for emotional eating and for all my sins day after day, even though I deserve to go to Hell. He saved me from that. WOW!!!! I can't even begin to fathom the depth of God's love for me. Thinking about this and realizing this is really what begins to fill me with joy. As I give God everything--all my desires and worries, each day, each minute, each breath, as I give these to God I am filled with His joy. The joy that comes from knowing God loves me, God forgives me, God died for me. The joy that comes from desiring Him. Desiring to know Him more, to love Him with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And the joy that comes from knowing that God is the only One who will ever satisfy me. No person, thing, passion, or desire will ever truly satisfy me but God. This is where my incredible joy comes from!! And if struggling with emotional eating reminds me of all these things, then the struggle is truly a blessing!

Another reason I am thankful I struggled with emotional eating again today is because I feel refilled with compassion and humility. This struggle has taught me to relate to everybody. All of our struggles and sins are similar. Whether we are addicted to drugs or alcohol, whether we are struggling with lust or anger, whether we are struggling with eating disorders or body image issues, whatever it is, we are all sinning just the same and we all need God to satisfy us in the ways that these worldly sins and desires can never satisfy us. It used to be hard for me to relate to certain sins and struggles, such as drug or alcohol addiction or lust, but now I can really see how equal all of our struggles are. This fills me with compassion and humility. With the desire to love others and to share God's AMAZING grace, love, and Truth with them.

I also know I must give my deepest fears and worries to God. Especially my worry about being beautiful. Struggling with emotional eating, and having more fat on my body than I ever had in the past, made me really give my body image struggle to God. Someone close to me was telling me I looked fat and pregnant, but I knew my true Father and Best Friend still loved me and thought I was beautiful, even if others didn't. It really helped me think of God as my true Father and Best Friendand to know that I already satisfy Him even if I will never satisfy my earthly friends and family. It will never satisfy me to worry so much about pleasing anyone on this earth, but it satisfies me to think about how much God loves me!!! I gave all my fears about body image to God day after day and tried to focus on the importance of inner beauty. It was incredibly scary to go to dance class and feel like I went from being the skinniest person there to the fattest person there. I had to give all my worries about what people thought about me to God day after day. It gave me joy to really find my courage and strength from Him. I also felt like I my passion for God and joy and confidence was possibly inspiring to the other girls, and that I could be a good example of someone who wasn't stick thin.

During all of this, I often became bitter about outer appearance, often thought of myself as fat and definitely not beautiful, and always kept my focus on what I know matters most: inner beauty. However, as I continued to give this struggle to God day after day, God used many different ways to open my eyes to the fact that He created me. And because of that He really does think I am beautiful on the inside AND outside. This realization surprised me and changed my perspective on outer beauty. I now understand being beautiful from the inside out is good. God really did create ALL of us beautifully, even myself. I have always easily been able to look at every other person on the planet and see how beautiful God created them, but when I look in the mirror I feel ugly. It still happens every day, but once I pray and look back at myself with Christ-like love and Christ-like forgiveness of my flaws, I can finally see a beautiful face staring back.

Although it may be humiliating and horrifying, it may make me very angry at and scared of myself, and although I do hope I never struggle with it again, I will always be very thankful that I struggled with emotional eating. It has truly been an incredible blessing in disguise. Constantly giving everything to God and constantly thinking about how AMAZING His forgiveness and love are fill with more joy, peace, compassion, humility, and love than ever before!!

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