The week we leave behind has been reffered to as one of the hardest weeks I have faced, however that’s not entirely true. You see, I have faced many hard weeks before but what set this week apart is that it’s difficulties have stemmed directly from progress. Allow me to explain it to you the way E explained it to me.. Prior to recent weeks, I used to face hard weeks by utilising unheathy coping mechanisms; Gollum’s behaviours such as over exercising, self harm, sad music and other behaviours that fueled the self destruction. In hindsight, those unhealthy coping mechanisms, unhealthy behaviours, were never a long term fix. I am able to sit here now and looking back on this past week or even the week prior, I can in all honesty say that God is good. Yes, my week was beyond hard but I am grateful because the reason it was significantly harder is as a direct result of progress. You see, what E showed me is that instead of engaging with those unhealthy behaviours as I have in the past, I chose to primarily sit with the hardness and the fact that I had to feel the emotions is what made it so much harder. I want to pause there and clarify something; just because I chose to primarily sit with the hard emotions, it does not mean I did not engage with any of those unhealthy behaviours. I’ll admit that the fact that I was unable to completley stop myself from engaging in any of my default/unhealthy behaviours as coping mechanisms, caused an upheavel of self-hate and frustration.. Why couldn’t I be stronger? Why wasn’t my renewed relationship with God enough to stop me? Why do I keep failing? Why was I not good enough? Etc etc. And as the week continued and other failed aspects of my life arose, I found myself more regularly spiralling down an all too familiar rabbit hole. It wasn’t until Thursday, when T challenged my thinking, that I paused long enough for God to pull me out of that rabbit hole of self-hate and frustration. T raised the point that despite how hard things may have been lately, there has still been immense progress and she challenged me to document that.
Tonight I sat by the riverside and my time there was consciously shared between only God and myself, just Him and I. I packed a picnic basket with my journal and bible study things, I grabbed a blanket, a pillow and a fortisip before setting off to have dinner with God. A bit cheesy right? Probably somewhere between cheddar and mozzerella, but nevertheless tonight was easily one of my most favourite nights. Driving out to the river, I prayed; I prayed that God would go before me and prepare the way, I prayed that He would open my heart to recieve His love and His peace, I prayed that I would be open to hearing what He had to say, I prayed that God would meet me there and that our time together would be blessed. Those prayers were answered, from the most simple change in atmosphere to the deepest change within me, God answered my prayers. I arrived and the cloudy skies had opened and revealed a sunset that mirrored over the waters – God had gone before me and prepared the way. Upon reading my heart was opened, I heard God and was emersed in His love and peace – prayers answered.
I continued reading ‘The Way of Abundance’ by Ann Voskamp and where I read tonight, she wrote that ‘what feels like a great faliure on earth may be revealed as a great success in heaven, this changes everything on the hard days’. She is right, the knowledge and understanding of that does change everything on the hard days. God doesn’t see me as a faliure everytime I see myself as a faliure. In fact I think that often God celebrates my faliures because they deepen my need for Him and they cause me to lean into His strength as I allow myself to be held by Him. I look back on last year and I truely wonder how I thought I could face all those hard, hard weeks without God? I allowed the bricks I built around my heart to fool me into thinking I was alone but I see now that I never was alone, I may have felt alone but I wasn’t – God was always, always there.. holding me in my brokenness.
Life has a habit of dismembering us, breaking us beyond recognition and causing us to feel hopeless. But the key in this is to hold onto hope in God, even after we’ve lost our naïvete – we are born naïve to the brutailty of this world and somewhere along the way we are exposed to that brutailty and our hearts begin to dismember. Ann Voskamp puts forth the idea that when we find oursleves dis-membered by lifes hardships, there are moments that have the ability to re-member us; moments that can put the broken parts and members of our hearts back together. I reflected upon this by the river tonight and God placed on my heart memories of those moments; moments where through others, He undoubtedly held me within my brokenness – these are the moments that help re-member my brokenness and that make God intimately present to me. God showed me that throughout my hardest weeks last year, He was holding me and that in Him my brokenness was gracefully held. The week leading to the 19th of March, the day I had planned to die, R held me in the back of my Jeep – God was there, He held my brokenness. On the 10th of June, the morning of my overdose, T held me on her office floor – God was there, He held my deepest brokenness. I felt overwhelmed by God’s unconditional love tonight as He revealed to me how held I was in those moments where I was most dis-membered. There God re-membered me and even though time has passed, when I now recall moments like those with R and T, they work to re-member me time and time again as they water seeds of hope in God. It’s no secret that the enemy tries to steal our hope as we are dis-membered by lifes hardships but if we choose to, we can turn to God and find ourselves held amidst our brokenness and re-membered by moments that make God intimately present to us.
But what do we do when the weeks are hard and we don’t feel held? It can be hard to hold on when we don’t feel held.. however I think this is where faith comes in; with the decision to hold on regardless of whether or not we feel held. We are able to do this becuase we know that the Prince of Peace is the true perfector of our faith, we can hold on because our God can always be counted on, we can hold onto His promises and let go into His plan for our lives. I’ve found that amidst the hard weeks lately, I have had to hold onto God’s promise that all things will work together for the good of those who love Him and I’ve had to rest in the knowledge that He has a plan and a purpose for my life – this hasn’t been easy but I’ve learned to surrender wholly unto Him. Ann Voskamp ended her excerpt by relating back to a moment where her daughter asked to be held by her and as she held her daughter, her daughter asked if she could hold her in return and in the same way that her daughter held her, so we are able to hold onto God becuase He is holding onto us. God is always holding onto us, we can rest assured that we are held within our brokenness and we can in faith hold onto Him in return.
I choose now to hold onto God, to hold onto His unconditional love and His promises, instead of holding onto my ‘faliures’ and unhealthy coping mechanisms. I too choose to document and celebrate my progress, no matter how small or insignificant. I saw E and S yesterday and as T had also said, so they reminded me that progress is still progress even if it’s not perfect. My week was hard but I didn’t hurt myself, it’s been 18 days since I last hurt myself but that was once within the last 45 days – this shows progress. I was able to step back and acknowledge that I have been especially hard on myself and that it hasn’t been fair to be so mean to myself based on unrealistic expectations – this insight shows progress. As a church we have been fasting for 2 weeks and have used this time to draw nearer to God. I remember a rainy afternoon last year where T told me to listen to worship songs and that God would speak to me through them, when I told her I couldn’t and she said that she knew I didn’t feel worthy of listening to worship songs but that it wasn’t true and that in God’s eyes I was worthy. For a long time after that day I still couldn’t really bring myself to listen to worships songs and in church I felt that I couldn’t take part in worship either. However the Sunday that God took my bricks away changed that, since then I have known beyond a shadow of doubt that I am worthy of listening to worships songs. However I still found myself time and time again defaulting to listening to sad songs that fueled my self destruction and made my hard weeks harder. It’s day 13 of the fast and each day I have made the decsion to listen only to worship songs – as insignificant or silly as it may sound, I chose to fast sad songs because that was the first thing God placed on my heart and leading up to the fast no matter how hard I prayed for other ideas, that was the only idea God gave me. I didn’t realise that something so simple and easily done by others, that is listening to worship songs, could present itself as so challenging for me. It really hasn’t been easy because amidst all the hardships and times I have felt like a faliure this week, it was often hard to feel worthy of listening to worship songs – but I did it anyway and God met me there each time, this shows progress. Yesterday I ran 4km but allowed myself to walk the last 2km – this may once again seem insignificant, but it still shows progress and tonight I didn’t even exercise despite having a not very good food day.
Another point of progress tonight, probably the hugest point of progress, is that I had dinner with God. For the first time in weeks, I sat down and I prayed over my fortisip – not just a superficial prayer of thanks, but a deeply felt prayer that God would bless my intake, that it would not cause me harm and that entrusting God with it would remove fear. And you know what? It worked! I was able to drink the full, non-diluted, non-tipped out, non-manipulated fortisip and it stayed inside my body completely, this too shows progress. I didn’t do anything to counteract tonight’s fortisip (ie. run, throw up or use laxatives), instead I allowed myself to trust that God would let it nourish my body as opposed to harm it. Let’s be honest though, after the awful day I had today, I could have tipped it out and nobody would have known or questioned it.. I was alone and I had full control over whether or not I’d do the right thing. Heck, the temptation was strong but my faith in God was stronger and dinner was a success – not because I was being monitored or forced by someone else, but because for once God was in control; not myself and not Gollum. In saying this, I’m not oblivious to the fact that every other meal time going forward may not be as successful as tonight’s, but I’m not going to allow the inevitable future to take away from tonight’s progress. Each day is new and separate from the last, just because tomorrow may not be perfect it doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to celebrate tonight. Gollum would disagree because the concept of celebrating or being proud of myself for making progress, is still quite foreign but that’s also okay.
There is progress and I am held within my brokenness.
One day at a time.
– c x