"This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin." ~ 1 John 1.5-7 (NLT)
I am tired of living in the shadows.
Now, if you know me at all, you might wonder why I say that. After all, over the last few years in particular, I have become a woman who is pretty "out there" in terms of my willingness to speak up about lots of things and to share transparently about aspects of my life. In fact, a few people have told me they sometimes wonder if my pendulum has swung a little too far in that direction.
But there's an area I've purposely kept rather veiled - not in total darkness but definitely shadowed - because fully acknowledging the truth to myself, and then the thought of others really knowing, made me feel ashamed. So I've just kept trying to deal with it alone, in virtual secrecy, planning to announce victory in Jesus' strength (which I know is the only way any of us can really overcome anything) when I finally triumphed. But He recently convicted me of the application of this verse to my situation, and it became clear that He wants me to bring it out utterly into the Light if I really want ultimate freedom. And I do...so I will.
Here's the deal: It's no secret that I've wrestled with the consequences of having suffered - and survived - childhood sexual abuse, perhaps most glaringly in having developed bulimia when I first went to college. My close friends know I've battled long against that - albeit somewhat ambivalently too much of the time - and I do not fail to mention it when I speak of the abuse and its fallout. However - and here's where I've shoved it into the shadows - I've generally glossed over it in order to make it seem as if my disordered eating is well in the past. Because, you see, to acknowledge a former struggle with such an issue is no shame, given its roots. But it's another thing entirely to stand up and say, "This thing is still going on more than 20 years later, even though I fully understand it and possess every necessary tool for overcoming it." Ouch.
And my shame feels bigger because of the way my twisted thinking manifests itself now. Specifically, my habits have morphed over the past few years so that I purge and restrict much less than I used to...and binge as much or more. In my mind, restriction and purging (though deadly) were rather "heroic" because they symbolized self-denial and austerity; in contrast, bingeing has stood as the beacon of everything bad and out-of-control about me. Thus, to mostly stop the former (instituted lately only when I feel sickeningly stuffed) while increasing the frequency of the latter has felt like the worst-case scenario.
And it has brought to fruition one of my longest-held, worst fears: weight gain - to the point of now being clinically overweight (according to the admittedly flawed but common BMI measure).
Right about now, those of you who know me in real life are probably thinking, "Okay, she has major body image issues because she looks fine."
You're right. I am not "huge." And, because I exercise pretty frequently and, therefore, probably carry a fair amount of muscle, I may not even look overweight to anyone. But I am.
For many years, I avoided stepping on scales and even closed my eyes when I had to be weighed at doctor appointments. And, if that were still the case, I'd have no reason for making my assertion. However, back in October, the Lord used a series of circumstances to give me the emotional strength to stand on a scale and look. And I've been doing so regularly ever since - most recently last Sunday, when I learned that I was at that moment nearly 13 pounds over the very highest "healthy" number in the 30-pound normal range for my height.
And now - whether you've ever seen me in real life or not - many of you are shaking your heads, thinking, "Thirteen pounds? So what? Honestly, what's the big deal?"
You're right. My health is not in jeopardy at this weight even if I would stay here for the rest of my life. And 13 pounds is nothing compared to that with which many overweight folks struggle.
I am not arguing any of that. But for someone who has spent her entire adult life longing to be "underweight," acknowledging the reality of the opposite is mortifying. Whether or not it "should" be is not the issue; the fact is, it is. And so until this week, I would have done almost anything than admit it.
But part of coming utterly into the Light means I have to be completely honest - by verbalizing the truth to others instead of (as I've done since October) just knowing it myself.
Of course, my overall motivation in baring all is to set the stage for victory - so I can render satan impotent in my life on this issue and beat back the demon of bulimia (manifested in me now more as compulsive overeating) once and for all. The only way to do that, I've realized, is to get completely out of the shadows.
From a human perspective, I don't "need" to lose even one pound; I know that. But I am certain God is expecting me to stop bingeing once and for all - and to instead eat in a healthy, self-controlled (not restrictive) manner so I can honor this body He's given me as the temple of the Holy Spirit He says that it is (1 Corinthians 6.19-20). And, given how I know my body works, the evidence of my obedience will be in losing those 13 pounds - and a bit more.
I don't want to teeter on the edge of the healthy/overweight fault line, wondering from day to day which side can lay claim to me. So I did some research - I called my health care provider and had her nurse look up what I weighed a few years ago, when I'd been eating in a healthy way for several months - and then heard (in my spirit) an unmistakable prompting from the Lord about where He wants me. Not on the high end...and not anywhere near the "underweight" red flag. Just basically smack in the middle of the healthy range for my height...which would render me about 25 pounds less than I was on Sunday.
Perhaps some of you are worried about my thinking; after all, I've got "a history," and I'm talking about weight loss. But I want to assure you that my thinking now - and, in fact, my behavior over the past week - has undergone a sea-change compared to how I've ever considered this topic before. That is, I am not focused on "weight loss." Instead, I am putting my energies toward being healthy each day, moment by moment - and, based on what the Lord has been showing me lately, I believe one result or "side effect" of my obedience will be moderate weight loss, putting me in middle of the healthy range for my height. And the fact that I am putting it all out here for anyone to see - and hold me to account - should ease your fears about my ultimate motivation.
Stepping out into the Light also enables me to journal my process and progress here from time to time, which I hope will bring glory to the Lord and encouragement to others. To that end, I am happy to report that I've had a healthy, binge-, purge-, and restriction-free first week and am confident I'll have lost two or three pounds when I check the scale again on Sunday or Monday. More importantly, I have seen other fruits of obedience: increased patience, peace, and joy, to name a few.
But I'm not naive. Like anyone else, I am naturally prone to sin, and so I know this won't be a "cake walk" (nice analogy, given the topic, huh?). I am also absolutely certain satan is livid with my decision to choose obedience...and he is surely apoplectic that I've finally walked all the way out of the darkness by choosing to share. In fact, he sent his minions to assault me in unexpected ways yesterday as I prepared to do this. And I am bracing for nuclear options as soon as I hit "publish."
Still, greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world (1 John 4.4)...and so I am confident that I can do this through Christ who gives me strength (Philippians 4.13). I may lose a skirmish now and then along the way, but that won't matter. George Washington lost many battles in his quest to lead America to independence, but he ultimately won the war. And so will I - now that I'm standing under Jesus' spotlight for all to see.
Photo Credit: holly henry (http://www.flickr.com/photos/pepsi11295/3630105327/)