an endeavour .

As I sit down to write this post I reflect upon the last two weeks, they’ve been two incredibly challenging weeks to say the least. My most prevalent emotion lately has been frustration; at myself, at situations I’ve found myself in, at my eating disorder, at my inability to make better choices, at my weakness and at life. I shift my eyes to a page of scribbles, notes I’ve taken over the last fortnight of things that I wanted to write about but very little makes sense to me anymore. You see, the truth is that I have sat down many times to write about what’s been on my heart but the struggle often outweighs the worth. I have so much to share but it’s such an immense battle to make my words work and I often find myself reminded that I my brain is uncomfortably amidst that familiar state of starvation.. I’ve been here before and last time it was months before I was able to eloquently string my thoughts together to create a cohesive reflection of my hearts words. I recall T recently reminding me of the importance of recording my progress, no matter how small and within that I think it’s also important to record the ways in which God has grown me and the things He has been teaching me. One day I will write my books and I’ll look back on this blog and my journals, and as T once said; ‘they will tell my story’.. with this in mind I choose to struggle through the tears and frustration that comes with a starved brain and I will endeavour to finish this post. I feel the need to apologise in advance for the likelihood of this post not being up to standard or making sense, but I’m also not writing to impress anyone; I write only to record and reflect upon God’s goodness and grace within this season.

For a while I’ve been able to gravitate towards a sense of freedom from my safely trapped, to an extent anyway. However I’ve recently felt more deeply trapped than usual and I’ve spent these last two weeks tucked away, safely trapped deep within the strong grasps of Gollum. If I’m honest, I think that a fall was bound to happen.. I’ve been teetering on the edge of admission for consecutive weeks and each week I dance along the fine line of surrendering to either God or Gollum. And though up until today I didn’t think admission was quite a reality yet, I can admit we have come awfully close. Today I realised, probably not to the full extent but certainly more so than I have in the past, that the path towards my safely trapped is nearing me closer toward admission/death. As T said earlier today; “I can’t nearly kill myself one week and then scramble to fix things the next”, she is right. However, without sounding vain, I don’t think I’ve done that terribly to have lasted this long before falling so far and I think I’ve still made a lot of progress. Within myself I know I’ve fought hard; just not quite hard enough but that doesn’t mean I’m not good enough and in reality sometimes my body just needs a little bit of extra help. I’m embarrassed to admit though that it didn’t take much for me to tip right over into the grasps of Gollum, my fragile self. I quickly found myself stuck in a downward spiral of fear, I allowed Gollum to take control because my safely trapped seemed the only sure guarantee for not losing any more loved ones.

There’s a post in my drafts that’s titled “good enough for a hug”. The centralised concept behind it questioned what I needed to do and how I needed to further conform, in order to be good enough for a hug from my mother. That post was drafted over the transition into the new year but I never published it because I was often told that I didn’t need to be ‘good enough’ and in the end I felt that my feelings were invalid. I choose to address this now because lately I have found myself asking that same question; not only in terms of my mother but in terms of other loved ones as well. Without delving deep into the heart wrenching topic of my relationship with my mother, I will simply state that I feel as if I’m losing that desired relationship; though if I were to open my eyes for long enough, I’d see that it was lost longer ago than yesterday. With this dear loss in mind, I am able to somewhat justify my fears around losing anymore loved ones. I have lost many people dear to me over the years, recently more so and I’m not in a position where I can afford to lose more. I am a naturally introverted soul but Gollum has heightened that state of introversy, I now especially find myself withdrawing and minimising my social circles to an extreme extent. The people dearest to me can be counted on one hand and as soon as a relationship as such becomes threatened or feels insecure, my own insecurities, drive me to the worst case scenarios as states of panic and desperation take root.

I experienced this two weeks ago, the day I last saw T. I left our appointment feeling more insecure than I had in a long time, perhaps since our appointments moved to fortnightly and the changes to dynamics were harshly introduced. Over these last two or so months, since recovery became an active pursuit, I’ve gained a lot of insight into relationships; in particularly healthy ones versus unhealthy ones. My relationship with T, dare I say has flourished into a much healthier one than what we’d previously had and there have been glimpses of what a friendship would one day look like. I found myself able to find a sense of security within that relationship and to undoubtedly know that no matter what, she wouldn’t be going anywhere. However maintaining that ability to find security and peace of heart has proved more and more challenging. The diminishing relationship between my mother and I has left an ever-growing sense of insecurity and uncertainty. I’ve found myself more conscious of my vulnerability within relationships and the risks of losing more loved ones. When I left T that day and as the insecurities began to grow, my fragile self was not strong enough to put up a fight; I soon found myself falling quickly down a spiralling hole, unable to grab hold of even the smallest sense of security. The fear of losing her had sunk in and the thought of that, in the thick of my emotions, felt unbearable.

Over the days and weeks to follow, fear began to manifest itself within my thoughts and nightmares. Wherever a seed of doubt or insecurity was planted, fear was there to water it’s growth. As I ruminated upon my vulnerability and the irrational logistics of losing more loved ones, I began to feel more and more unsafe. I, very shamefully, can admit my state of humanity and my downfall came in the form of surrendering to Gollum rather than to God. I have spent these last two weeks ignoring my heart and doing everything my head thought possible to gain back a sense of security and safety. It may come as no surprise for me to say that I didn’t in fact find it that sense of security or safety, in fact I merely found myself worse off than I was to begin with and I am now sitting very stuck with very real consequences. For two weeks I have allowed Gollum to torture me to tears each day, to break me and convince me of only the worst. I stumbled down the all to familiar path of self destruction, dead set on losing weight in order to gain love and living off vitamins and laxatives to ensure success. I battled with my head, every moment of every day and more often than not, I lost. Hurting myself in the forms of sleep deprivation, intake restriction, breaking skin and drawing blood etc. I thought that I would somehow attain that desired sense of security and safety, and that perhaps along the way I’d even gain my mothers approval; if not her hugs, love and relationship.

It wasn’t until I walked out of church on Sunday that I God was able to break through my bricks and reach my heart. The twelve or so days prior to that Sunday morning were torturous and left more damage than anticipated. My emotions and my headspace over these recent weeks have been, as R described, very reminiscent of where they were six months ago; deep, desperate, dark, death and destruction. I think the scariest realisation came when I hit my lowest point throughout this fortnight, the night I drove out to my safe place without any intentions of returning. I won’t speak of my time out there but I will state that in hindsight, God was there and He did safely hold me despite it all. The morning after that particularly difficult night I found myself trying to hold a brave face in front of E, needless to say that for the first time in the year since I began seeing her – I cried from the beginning until the end of our session. The reality of these last two weeks was that nothing any body could say or do, no matter how pure their intentions, could pull me out of the safely trapped I found myself deep within. At least not until last Sunday morning…

You see, God has been strongly challenging my ideations around my sense of security and safety. On Friday, post seeing E, I had made the conscious decision to try and pull myself out of my safely trapped. She had spent our last two sessions reinforcing the blunt fact that no matter what I weigh, no matter what I do, no matter what traumas or things have been done to me, no matter who tries to stand in the way, no matter what my head tells me or how I’m feeling.. T will not walk away and her love and care for me will not change – the same goes for the people dearest to me, the ones I fear losing the most. With this in mind I was faced with a choice between two risks; the risk of believing that the people who love me are telling the truth and in turn choosing to recover, or the risk of losing everyone I love to my eating disorder. I could either trust that people like T, R or E, aren’t lying to me and that I am allowed to recover without losing them as well. Or I could choose to stay safely trapped within Gollum’s grasps and in turn risk losing them by me either eventually dying or them walking away because it’s too painful to helplessly watch me destroy myself. Realising that there was a risk either way, and that admission was an all too real possibility, I decided to try and fight Gollum once again. That Friday was when God first began the process of removing my bricks; again.

I was invited to go to church with C that Saturday night. I hadn’t gone to C’s new church and she’d been asking me for a while. The idea of a new environment induced a bit of anxiety and insecurity but despite that, I reluctantly said yes and I went. The church gathering was small and intimate, very spiritual and not at all what I was used to. I quickly found myself very overwhelmed and feeling increasingly unsafe. There were strangers all around and as unfamiliar men repeatedly invaded my space and asked to pray for me (with good intentions I’m sure), I politely declined and fought back tears; shrinking smaller and smaller away. At a stage I remember digging into my olive green woollen jumper as if the colour itself would bring me that desired sense of security and safety; olive green stands as a tangible reminder of God’s creation at Luke Pen where I feel closest to Him, it reminds me of T and the grounding truth that I am loved and safely held. It was a long three hours before I finally returned home and I remember going to bed telling myself that everything would be okay and I would go to my home church the next morning, that T would be there and that I would be secure and safe. Sunday morning arrived and as I drove to church, my emotions were deep and I was fragile but held hope that things would pan out as expected. I entered the church building with a false hope and was met with a shattering sense of insecurity and unsafeness. I persisted through the strong emotions and made my way to sit down. Carefully choosing a row closer to the front and a seat not too far from the middle, I sat. A man I hadn’t seen before came up to me and looked too much like someone from my past, he spoke to me briefly before leaving and I held my breath the entire time. I sensed panic set in as I began to feel more insecure and unsafe. My hands started to shake as a pair of men came and took the seats beside me, the same seats that T and her family would have sat on. At that point I couldn’t figure out how to take a breath, my brain couldn’t remember how and I was far from okay. I stood and left the building. I don’t know if T ever made it to church but in hindsight, leaving was the best decision I could have made because it allowed for God to take my final bricks.

Security and safety. Those two words occupied my thoughts as I drove from church to my safe place, Luke Pen. I needed to breathe and out of desperation I went to the one place I knew I felt closest to God. For the two weeks I hadn’t had much to do with God because in my heart of hearts, I felt ever so guilty for choosing Gollum over Him. I reached the riverside and as I placed my hands in the water I inhaled the crisp air around me. I sat listening to the birds and God began to challenge my ideations around security and safety. He showed me that I’d been searching in all the wrong places. I allowed Gollum to convince me that if I had no real intake, that if I engaged in his behaviours, that if I destroyed myself then I would somehow attain that desired sense of security and safety in my relationships; no-one I loved would walk away. God questioned why I had been searching for a sense of security and safety amidst other people, or amidst a colour, or behaviours that are ultimately self destructive. I’ve been working so hard to reach this unattainable idea of who I thought I needed to be in order to earn love and relationship, when that’s not the case because the truth is that He loves me as I am and that should be enough. I shouldn’t be working so hard to gain the things God so freely gives.

God has subtly been calling me out into a new journey with Him, one where I will take on the role of being His hands and His feet. I recall last May when T one morning told me that she is Gods hands and His feet, that she could only show me His love. I think that’s such a beautiful concept and she again reminded me of that a few weeks ago. Last Sunday whilst I was riverside instead of at church, I read a devotion in my Ann Voskamp book and surely enough she spoke about being Gods hands and His feet. Imagine being more like Jesus, my name ironically enough means ‘Christ-like’ and in all honesty I’m not doing a very good job at living up to that. All my life I have felt God calling me to use my experiences to help others, to minister into the lives of His children, to show them His love and goodness. Is that what it looks like to be His hands and His feet? For the last 13 or so years I have had my mind set on becoming a teacher and I have been certain that that would be the best way to fulfil God’s calling on my life. However through a longwinded journey, God has challenged that career and after a year of uncertainty I am now stepping into a new journey with Him where I will study psychology. I have been learning that in order to be Gods hands and His feet, I need to be led by Him. I can not close myself off to hearing His voice or stop myself from being open to His plans for me. I have encountered many situations over the years and looking back they so vividly point toward a career in psychology/counselling but I never stopped to consider that because my mind was closed to God’s plan. As I step into this new journey I am consciously giving control over to God, a few years down the track things may change again and T reminded me that that’s okay; at the end of the day as long as God is in control, nothing else matters more.

The concept of breaking is actually quite beautiful and God’s showing me that in order to become more like Jesus and in order to be His hands and His feet, I need to be broken first. I need to be breakable and mouldable, I can’t stay safely trapped in my set ways because then God is unable to shape me into who He has planned for me to be. Ann Voskamp put forth the idea of being broken and given in the small, in moments so small that no-one may applaud. Life isn’t about being noticed by everyone, its about leaving noticeable marks of God’s love everywhere. My heart felt convicted because I often find myself trapped in a cycle of trying to earn love and approval from those around me but that isn’t actually what God’s called me to do. God tells me that I am already loved and that being His hands and His feet means to humble myself and allow my broken self to give small pieces of His love to others. This isn’t a role I am able to fulfil if I’m constantly building unbreakable bricks around my heart and remaining safely trapped within my illness. Eventually my illness will kill me, T once said that death was Gollum’s very aim. How can I expect to step into God’s plan for me if I am no longer here? God has shown me over this last week that when the enemy attacks me, it isn’t my soul that he is after; it’s souls of the generations that will come after me, its the souls of the people God has planned for me to one day encounter and impact. All along I haven’t really cared if I died because I thought it would only really impact me but I was wrong, it would impact so many others as well. I have been broken and I will continue to be broken, but I am also safely held and able to use my brokenness to bring glory to God.

A few weeks ago it was on my heart to acknowledge the little things T has done for me, I wrote her a letter and gave it to her despite my insecurities because it was something that I felt God had placed on my heart. I bring this up only because a few days ago I read another devotion where that exact concept was addressed and it was as if God was reaffirming its importance. Ann Voskamp that “real love is really in the small gestures – the way your hands, your feet, move to speak your heart”. I remember pausing to reflect on the relationships I have with those I love; T, R, Little A & J, TC etc. I think about the way they love me and it’s never the huge elaborate acts of love that stand out to me, it’s the little things; from catching T smiling at me to TC walking me through her garden sharing stories of each plant, from Little J grabbing my cheeks and planting small kisses all over my face to R smiling as she came home to find Little A, J and I running around the yard giggling, from drinking tea on the floor to a warm embrace. God has shown me that His love isn’t in huge and elaborate works, its in the small things that we do with His great love. God’s love is so unconditional and all consuming, He didn’t intend it for just some of His people; He’s intended it for everyone and He calls us all to be His hands and His feet, to be broken and given in sharing His love through the little things we do for others. I read that small acts of intentional love trigger the brains receptor networks for oxytocin which is the soothing hormone of maternal bonding, my starved brain isn’t sure what Voskamp meant when she wrote that but one day when I read back on these entries, perhaps I’ll understand. Until then, I will continue to choose to work towards being God’s hands and His feet.

I had another Sunday arvo coffee date with R recently and it’s so beautiful the way in which God uses her as His hands and feet. She always prays before seeing me and more often than not there will be something that she shares with me, that will be so directly and loudly from God. The most recent revelation being the concept of suffering well. God is teaching me that I can not control my suffering and I can’t snap my fingers and have all this brokenness disappear. I’m learning that I may not be able to control how frequently I break or where I break, but I to some extent can control how I break. R put forth the idea that if I am going to suffer then why not suffer well? Why not allow my suffering to bring glory to God? Why not use my suffering in a way that uplifts God’s name and reflects His goodness? As R shared what was on her heart with me, those two words ‘suffer well’ weighed heavily on my own heart. I wasn’t sure what suffering well looked like but it was clear to me that it was something God wanted me to dabble with. I have since prayed and dwelled on this concept, I have read articles and sought insight into how I can suffer well. At the end of the day I believe that suffering well is something I will continue to learn how to do, I will make mistakes and try again until I am able to suffer well. Within my suffering I will choose to praise God because I know He safely holds me in my brokenness, because I know He will bring forth a harvest of His goodness, I know that He will use me as His hands and His feet and that as the tattoo on my wrist reminds me.. He will hold my right hand and He will never leave me.

Vulnerability is scary. Feeling insecure and unsafe is scary. Risking the loss of loved ones is scary. Choosing to step outside of my safely trapped and into a new season of being safely held is scary. Being God’s hands and His feet is scary. Suffering well is scary. But throughout God’s word He tells us not to fear 365 times. That amounts to once, every day of the year. Not one day goes by where we need to be afraid. Isaiah 41:13 which is written on my right hand says; “For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you; ‘Do not fear, I will help you'”. I have spent hours crying out of fear, most recently last night I sat on the bathroom floor crying because I couldn’t figure out how I would face T this morning. But God once again challenged my fear.. Why do I feel the need to fear so deeply when I am safely held in His perfect love. God tells me that I do not need to be afraid. I can praise Him through every trial and every season, I can stand firm in my faith because I am secure in His love, I can be broken and given because I am safe and deeply loved.

God calls me His Beloved and for as long as I can, I will endeavour; to find my sense of security and safety solely in Him, to be His hands and His feet, to be more like Jesus and to suffer well.

– c x {22.04.2021} .

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