May 2nd, 2016
Hello, again! The sun is out and I’m very much enjoying it. Two of my good friends ran their first marathon together on Sunday, and I was able to watch and cheer them on (from my computer) without having a flood of negative/E.D./comparing myself to many of the skinny runners I saw crossing the finish line thoughts. That in itself is a major accomplishment. It did make me wish I was able to run it with them, but I reminded myself that I’m choosing not to do cardio for this brief period of time, one year, out of my (hopefully) many more years of life that are to come. Next year, if I’m on track with recovery and choose to do a marathon while maintaining the things I need to do to be recovered, I have all the power I need and more to do that. Whether my body would hold up to it, injury-wise, is another question, but in regards to the eating disorder…it’s possible! It just isn’t my time RIGHT now.
Pastor Ryan delivered an awesome sermon yesterday. It was so clearly from God and just what I needed to hear after another difficult week. The talk was centered around David, and how he was kind of the “Cinderella” of the Bible. So much of his life was spent waiting. And waiting. And waiting some more. But Jesus used that, and He used David. In fact, He didn’t just “use” him in a minor sense…David became the King! The time in David’s life that felt so prolonged and fruitless resulted in his prosperity, and God’s glory. I could relate to so much of what Pastor Ryan was talking about that it brought me to tears-and I really don’t cry at church very often. SO many times over the past eight years, I’ve felt like I’m stuck. I’ve felt stalled, in a season of waiting. I’m watching my friends and peers go on to accomplish the many things they’ve dreamt of, and I’m doing what seems to be just turning in circles.
On the off chance that you’re reading this blog and you don’t know me personally, or maybe you do know me personally, but not very well, the following sequence of events have unfolded throughout my life, beginning in seventh grade.
Parent’s divorce -> Lost financial security -> Left OES (the private school I’d been attending for middle school), our home, and lost my dad, who moved to California; Shoulder injury -> Had to quit swimming, something I’d been doing the majority of my life and which had been my physical, mental and emotional outlet, and had been the focus of almost all of my goals and future plans -> Found running, which I also loved -> Numerous injuries over a ten month period including two stress fractures -> Not being able to run, and spending an unhealthy amount of time at the gym cross-training -> Development of eating disorder -> Hospitalization for unstable heart rate and unhealthily low weight -> Missing Sophomore year of high school for treatment; Decided to try ski racing Junior year per a recommendation that I do a sport that emphasized strength before I returned to running track the following season -> Torn ACL from ski accident -> unable to participate in track -> finally returned to running the next summer, and relapsed into E.D. -> unable to attend the university in Alabama that I’d been offered a full-ride scholarship to run at -> going to Oregon State for college -> relapsed into E.D. -> being pulled out of school after fall term of Sophomore year -> now.
There have been many positive things that I am so thankful to have been blessed with over the past eight years. I don’t want to diminish that, nor do I mean to sound like an ungrateful or entitled young adult. I know how fortunate I am for so many things. I am so thankful for the roof that’s always been over my head, the car I was given to drive, and the financial provision my family has had (thanks to God and my mother’s incredible determination to keep my brother and my lives as normal as possible) to never go hungry. I’ve been blessed beyond words with my mom and brother who have been in my corner each and every day of my life, and for my relationship with my dad that is continually being strengthened and rebuilt. My intention in sharing this long chain of events that has unfolded over the past eight years of my life is not to induce pity. It’s to show that, since I was twelve years old, I’ve been waiting. Waiting to finally be able to thrive in something that would still be there when I woke up in the morning. Waiting to chase after a dream that wouldn’t subsequently be taken away the following month. And along with the waiting, came comparing. Comparing myself to high school friends who had a dream of playing their sport in college, and are now seeing that dream play out. Comparing myself to my best friends in middle school whose families stayed intact, and were able to stay at our school for the next four years, and graduate with what was our incredibly close class of fifty. Comparing myself to my friends who are now seeing their (and what has been my own) dream of studying abroad turn into a reality. Comparing myself to the other Young Life leaders who were able to fulfill their role without relapsing into an eating disorder. Waiting, comparing, waiting, comparing, waiting, comparing. The endless cycle.
What I came to realize after Pastor Ryan’s sermon yesterday, is that I’ve been waiting for the wrong things. I’ve been waiting for things of this world, which are uncertain. I may never have the opportunity to live out my dream of being an olympic athlete. I may never be able to fulfill the dream I’ve had since I was twelve of repurchasing our beautiful home on 141st Place, or of buying my mom the Cadillac she’s always wanted. I may never (actually, I hopefully won’t ever, because that means I’m doing pretty poorly!) weigh less than 100 lbs again. I may never be able to run a marathon, and I may continue to face major disappointments from the people I love. But I’ve had something all along that is still there when I wake up in the morning, that I can always count on, and that will never, ever take away the ability for me to thrive. I have Jesus.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7
I’m not a new believer, nor am I a new reader of the Bible or attendee of church. I’ve heard this verse before, probably over a hundred times. But each time I’ve heard it, I’ve taken it for directly what it says. Yes, Jesus-I know you don’t look at the outward appearance. I know that my weight isn’t important to you. I know that my skin being tanned, or my hair being freshly styled, or my stomach looking good in a swimsuit won’t matter when I enter heaven.
When I heard the message on this verse yesterday though, I had an epiphany. I don’t think that’s what this verse is really getting at. Jesus isn’t talking about our outward appearance in the way we traditionally think of appearance. He’s not talking about our looks. He’s talking about anything that can be determined from an outer view of us. Our resume, our 5K time, our number of volunteer hours, the college we graduated from…that’s what He’s talking about. Our heart being full for Him-that’s all He’s looking at. The Bible says that David was handsome, so it’s not as if Jesus is immune to recognizing physical attractiveness. Yet, it was David’s heart that made him fit in God’s eyes to be the leader over his people.
It’s hard to accept (and I’m not saying that lightly) that I wasn’t designed for this world. I don’t mean myself, specifically, but as a follower of Jesus. It’s hard to remember that the values this world places emphasis on, are irrelevant. While my desires to go on and accomplish great things are naturally human, and while it’s awesome if I’m able to do them, and bring God the glory as a result, they’re not what I should be striving for. Serving Him is-and it’s going to be pretty hard to serve Him if I’m being destructive to His creation (myself) in the process.
While don’t think this new realization is going to necessarily make it easier for me to accept myself when I’m facing another disappointment, or continuing to feel like I’m “just waiting”, I do think it’s a new tool I can use against the depression, anxiety, and eating disorder I face on a daily basis. Maybe I can begin to look at this “waiting” period as more a time of growth than a time of stalling, and re-read David’s story when I’m feeling especially stuck.