Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Processing through the trip

I am just going to say that the next few weeks or months may be the busiest this blog has been in quite a long time. For some reason I just could not express what was going on inside of me via email. I did update, but is was pretty much just dry recounting of the activities of the days. Now that I am home, I see that there is a lot to process and talk about. I just couldn't get myself in the place to do that until I got home. Sitting here now at my desk, on my computer, with my music in my ears and the time to write I can see there is a lot to say. I am not going to be chronological about what I write or even try to totally make sense of it all. There may be a lot sometimes and very little other times. I plan to write about what bubbles to the surface as it churns up. There was so much going on the the secret place of my heart while I was in Ethiopia; I will try to share what I find along the way. Hopefully it will be a blessing to a few who may choose to read. I know it will be a blessing to me to let the words come out of my soul.

So here is what is bubbling this morning. The last couple days in Ethiopia I came across a book called Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire For God, not Food by Lysa Turkherst. It was on my mom's nook and I had already read the two books I put on the Nook for my trip. I began to read it and God began to really unearth some stuff in me. I have known that I have food issues for a long time, but I have not really been able to get the the true root of the problem. Nor have I ever been able to feel like I have been given the weapons and tools I needed to be able to find victory, by His grace, in the food battle.

I really need to back up a few steps and say that I think that the timing for beginning to read this book could not have been more perfect. I had just finished read the book Forever by Paul David Tripp ( I cannot even go into that book; it will have to be another post). I also read The Scent of Water by Naomi Zacharias (another one that maybe will bubble to the surface as I write about this trip). I had also finished reading The Invisible Hand by RC Sproul right before the trip. These three books all seemed to prepare me for the message God had for me about food through Lysa.

The trip did not end being exactly what we had all planned. One of the main organizations I had gone to serve with in Ethiopia was still hung up in the licensing stage when I arrived. None of us dreamed that things would still be hung up when we planned this trip 4 months ago. Because I had read the Invisible Hand before I left and had spent a lot of time meditating on the providence of God and how He is in, among and behind everything that goes on in our lives, I was not really concerned or disrupted by anything that was going on. I knew that God had arranged every detail of this trip from the suitcases that did not arrive with me, the disrupted water in the house, and the slow license process. I was able to really, for the most part, rest in His hand and take what He had in mind for the trip. I had a lot of time to read and pray and rest. The first couple days were very relaxed and slow. Since I tend to run 90 to nothing all the time, I felt pretty sure that God wanted me to have some slow days. My mind even goes while I sleep. I think that is why I am such a light sleeper, because I am constantly taking in and interpreting the details around me even while I sleep. The rest and time to read and slow down was really good for me. I knew that since God was totally in control of the my life and the universe that some time was exactly what He thought I needed. I really thought that I was going to Ethiopia to serve people and love on children. I have come to realize that I went to Ethiopia to be changed. This trip was more about what God wanted to do in me than what He wanted me to do for Him. I had no idea that God was taking me around to world to do a quiet, gentle, steady reworking of my heart. Each day He would wake me up, place me on His potters wheel and gently form me, remove junk in preparation to return me to my family, community and church a vessel prepared to love in a way completely different than I had ever been able to love. He asked me to go and I said yes, I just had no idea that He was sending me across the globe to do some really deep healing in me. He took me away from my responsibilities, my distractions, the things that keep me wound so tight so that He could unwind the tightness in me.

I am a morning person to the tee. It can be obnoxious how early my body decides to wake up with no alarm just naturally roll over and have no more sleep in my eyes. This gave me many hours to be still, pray, read, and journal while I waited for the normal people to wake up. I really do not mind that at all; it is, in fact, my very favorite time of the day. If I wake up later, I usually feel pretty disappointed about missing out on my quiet dark morning. I don't think I really had any idea while I was in Ethiopia the depth of what God was doing in the secret places inside of me.

I still don't know if I can totally define the changes inside of me. I felt God speaking, untangling, and removing stuff. I had bought a pretty thick journal to take on trip so I would have something kind of special to keep track of the trip. I pretty much filled up like 3/4 of it in two weeks; that is crazy. As I journaled and prayed I felt a recurring desire and prayer come out of me that I would go back distinctly changed by my trip and that I would carry back the beauty and gentleness I felt God stirring in me.

So this morning I was so struck by some distinct differences I see more clearly now that I am back in my normal environment. First, as I did Pilate's this morning, I realized for the first time in my life I did not feel hatred for my body. I struggled with body image and a very distinct hatred for the shape my body takes. I never remember a time in my life when I felt content about my weight or shape. I have felt fat my whole life. Even at times in my life when I have been a good weight and been in shape, I was never happy. I have always felt completely disgusted in my body. There was a chapter in the Made to Crave book that talked about beauty and finding beauty in beauty God gave us. It really began to sink in and remove some really strong lies I have believed for as long as I remember. It started to remove some unrealistic expectations in me. I realize the utter arrogance that it takes to call what God creates flawed. I have spent my whole life telling God that He should have done better when he made me. I have bought into the idea that I did not measure up to some impossible standard. Then one day riding in the van I realized that if God wanted us all to be the same shape, size and build, He would have made us that way. The beauty is in the amazing diversity He placed in all of us. We are beautiful b/c we are different. We are beautiful because some of us are tall and thin, some of us are short and stocky; we are all different sizes and shapes because He thinks that is beautiful. Who am I to tall my creator that what He made is not good enough? He is the artist? He chooses what is beautiful. So I started asking Him to help me see the beauty in how He uniquely and individually made me. Knowing that I cannot change my heart, only He can, I began to ask Him to change my heart and to help me see myself the way He saw me.

Then there were several things in the book that really stood out to me. Lysa said that the number on the scale tells me how much my body weighs, but it does not tell me my value. In another part of the book she talks about a friend of hers and how God helped her see that she could not measure success in a week by the number on the scale. The measure of success is a few questions: did I overeat this week, did I exercise more this week, did I eat in secret or out of anger or frustration, did I at any time choose food over God, before I hopped on the scale did I feel like it was a successful week? Questions like that look at the heart which is really the most important factor. These two passages really took that food out of the physical realm and into the heart realm for the first time for me.

Is my body at it most optimum weight, right now? Probably not. I could be in better shape definitely. Now, though, my focus doesn't feel so much about a number on the scale or a clothing size. My focus can be on seeking God and measuring where I am at by my heart. The weight is a symptom of a sinful relationship with food. Going on some crazy restrictive diet and exercise program will never be the answer. I have done that over and over. I have been a yo-yo. I have lost and gained that way without ever dealing with the heart of the matter. I realize in Ethiopia that food is the oldest addiction I have. It goes back farther than I can remember. It by far supersedes the drugs or alcohol. Sugar was the first drug I indulged in. I have often talked about how my alcoholism can definitely continues in the way I eat sugar. The thought had never occurred to me that the alcohol is a continuation of the sugar addiction from very early childhood. Talk about having things reversed. Sugar was the earliest comfort I can remember. I remember being very very young and binging on candy and cookies.

Having been shown so many things and dealing with the roots of the tree as well as being given tools to deal with this problem led me to this huge breakthrough this morning. I am not where I would like to be, but I know what I need to do to get there. I can measure progress not by numbers on a scale, but by where my heart has been for the day or week.

As I did my Pilate's this morning, I realized that I did not hate my body. I was content. My value for the first time in my life was not tied to how I looked. I could see the beauty in the way God made me. I was able to delight in the amazing way that my muscles move and respond to the exercises I was doing. When I got out of the shower across from the floor to ceiling mirrored closet doors, I did not look at my hips with absolute disgust and disdain. I looked and it was okay. I was beautiful exactly how I was. I am not perfect, but the imperfection is the beauty. I cannot ever remember looking in the mirror and being happy with what I saw. I cannot even put into words how huge this is for me. Only God could unravel that huge mess that has been wrapped around me for my entire life.

I feel like I have come home from Ethiopia more whole and free. I feel this contentment and rest in my soul that I have never felt. It's like God removed the knob inside of me that kept everything wound so tight. I feel loose, at peace; the intensity tightness is gone. I don't feel like there is such a tightness in my chest. There is an ease about the way I feel, walk, think, and react. I feel so at peace and rest.

I guess that is all there is to bubble for now.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful writing Dawn! I am so glad that your trip changed you. I am proud of your progress. You make me a stronger better person!