Five years ago today, on October 11th, 2011, I was admitted to the hospital for anorexia. It was when the journey really began, when it hit me for the first time that if I continued living the way I was, my body would no longer be able to sustain itself. At that point, I had only been engaging in disordered behaviors for three months, and already my heart was beginning to fail. It’s mind-boggling to me that it’s been five years. As much as part of me feels like it was just yesterday — and truly, I can remember every minute detail as if it was — I feel like an eternity has passed between then and now.
Being in the hospital scared me to death. Every night that I was awakened by a nurse, whispering to me while the rest of the world was asleep, that she needed me to drink an Ensure because my heart rate had dropped so low they were scared it was going to stop altogether, scared me. Every blood draw, every DXA scan, every time I was placed into a wheelchair because I needed to go to the bathroom and was too weak to go by myself…I was certain that once I got out of there, there was no turning back; this eating disordered life was NOT for me.
Unfortunately, it turns out that my eating disorder is stronger than my fear of dying. This battle between anorexia and me is not over, five years later. I wish it were, and I hope it to be, but it’s not right now. The ONLY thing that is stronger than the pull the ED has?
It’s easy for me to become discouraged about where I’m at, at this point in my life and in my recovery. I’m trying to be intentional about living in a constant state of awareness of the grace that Jesus has given me, and that because of it, I can continue to move forward, but I certainly don’t feel that all is “on the up and up.” Many days, I feel that this is a mountain that I will never be able to summit. I have had moments and glimpses though, of the overwhelming sense of peace that only God can provide, and man, is it good. Inexplicable, even.
When have those moments of peace been? The kind of peace that is said to surpass all understanding? It wasn’t when the Beavers pulled off a major upset over Cal on Saturday, winning in overtime, to begin the conference season 1-0 and have a better record than Oregon for the first time in 12 years (and I was ON THE FIELD!!!). It wasn’t when Sunset beat Southridge at their Homecoming game on Friday night, and I got to run up and give Brad a big hug afterwards. It wasn’t even last Thursday, when I found out I’d gotten 100% on my first chemistry lab. Don’t get me wrong: I was certainly VERY happy in all of those moments. The Oregon State game was incredible, an amount of excitement that I can’t remember experiencing last. Bradley’s games are always fun (even in the rain!), especially when we win, and even more so when good friends are there with us to cheer him and his teammates on. And yes, we all know how great it feels to receive a good grade on something we worked especially hard on.
Those moments of peace have come in the times when I’m walking with Jesus the most intimately, more intimately than anything else in my life. It’s been in the early moments of the morning, before anyone else in my house is awake and I can spend time reading His word, just Him and me. It’s been in the car on my drives to and from Corvallis, belting out worship music at the top of my lungs (yes, Mom, I am still paying attention to the other cars), praising my King. I remember feeling that way in Colombia, pretty consistently, actually. Is that any surprise, though? The locals I was with praised Jesus for just about everything! They rarely missed acknowledging God’s hand in providing whatever had been given to them that day, whether it was our safety, or a fresh piece of meat, or access to a shower. Their circumstance did not determine the state of their soul — their relationship with Jesus did.
While I felt great celebrating the Beaver’s win, with my family after the Sunset football game, and getting my A, the emotion that I was experiencing overpowered the state of my soul. My emotional response was so strong, that it could compensate for a weak anything else. I felt good because something good was happening, but just as easily, I would’ve felt badly, were things to go wrong… and that is a dangerous state of living. If we’re living in such a way that our hearts can that easily be swayed by the environment and events surrounding us, that puts Satan in full control. With the flip of a switch, the loss of a job, the death of a loved one…we’re crushed. The only way that we can live so not to be shaken, is if we find our peace in God, and in God alone. Does that mean it’s wrong to get excited about a team’s incredible victory, or to be deeply saddened and mourn for a friend in a time of turmoil? Of course not. Those are emotions that Jesus has given us, blessed us with, even! How onesided of a life would it be if all we ever knew was joy? It wouldn’t even be joy, because there would be no opposite emotion to compare it to! We probably wouldn’t even have the yearning that so many of us do, to be united with our Creator in Heaven and experience no suffering, because we’d have all the joy we needed right here!
To be completely honest (and I hate to sound like a debbie-downer here), I don’t think it’s possible for all to be well with our souls, all the time. That sounds pretty wonderful, but it also sounds a whole lot like obeying God’s commands all the time…which, unfortunately, isn’t possible, due to this darn thing called SIN! I do know, though, that the closer I’m walking with Jesus, the more I experience a sense of overall “wellness” in my soul, regardless of circumstance. While I don’t think that can ever reach a level of perfection here on earth, my relationship with Jesus can certainly continue to move closer and closer to it. That’s the crazy thing about Him wanting a relationship with each of us…there’s no limit to it. It can just keep growing and growing and growing, until we’re in Heaven, face to face.
As I reflect today on all that’s happened over the last five years, I’m making myself stop to think about what I want to be able to say on this date in 2017. And in 2018, and in 2019, and in 2020, and so on and so forth. My hope is that my walk with the Lord will be even further along then than it is today, and that more will be well with my soul than I ever thought possible. I know that if that’s happening, I’ll be further along in my climb up the mountain of anorexia than I ever could be if I were doing it alone.