It’s hard to believe my freshman year of college is complete. It’s even harder to believe just how much has changed in the last 12 months. If I had to choose three words that sum up the past year, I would choose destruction, restoration, and growth. I have experienced joy and peace in the most genuine yet illogical ways. I have seen mountains move in my life, and have witnessed God’s personal love like never before. This past year has been simultaneously the hardest and happiest year I have ever experienced, and I am humbly reminded of God’s grace and goodness as I reflect on all that has occurred.
Rewind to one year ago (May 2015), I had just graduated high school and was intimidated by the opportunity that stood before me. I had learned to define myself by my own success, and feared that I would fail in this new season of life. I was overwhelmed, stressed, and fearful of what the future would hold. I wasn’t sure if I was capable of being more independent. Fear and doubt poisoned my spirit, convincing me to retreat into pursuing the one thing I knew I could control: food. My life began to revolve around counting calories, losing weight, and focusing on food. My eating disorder became a distraction from life’s stress. Physically, I was weak, exhausted, and dying. I was convinced that dying from the success of an eating disorder was better than failing at “life”.
In July of 2015 I began working part time as a bank teller, and in August I became a full time student. Working 30 hours a week, taking 15 credit hours in school, and attempting to manage an eating disorder were becoming too much to handle. I wanted to succeed in school and work, and being malnourished was inhibiting me from achieving my potential. My heart was yearning for change, but the thought of giving up control and gaining weight prevented me from fully committing to recovery. Logically, I knew I needed to change; however, my heart was far from being motivated to recover. Finally, I decided to step out on a limb and write my prayer request on a connect card at church. I wrote out my situation/prayer need, and kept the connect card in my purse for a few weeks before finding the courage to turn it in on a Sunday. Not only was it hard being so vulnerable and risking judgement, but I also wasn’t convinced I could get better. In some ways, it felt pointless asking for prayer. A few weeks later, I got a call from a woman in my church who offered to pray for and encourage me. Her simple texts of encouragement throughout the week reminded me to refocus my thoughts on God’s truth.
I can’t fully explain the chain of events that occurred over the next month. But, I can say that prayer is powerful. Healing starts in the heart, and I truly believe that the prayers I received over my connect card were the catalyst to my recovery. It definitely was not in my own ability or desire to see myself achieve my full potential. My heart just started to transform and my perspective on the world changed. In October, God started nudging on my heart. I felt Him reminding me that I am not a victim to my circumstances. For years, my eating disorder had been my escape from undesirable/stressful situations. But, I felt God heavily weighing the words peace and joy on my heart. I felt challenged to seek for the miracles in EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I was no longer content with barely surviving. I desired to see God move in my mundane moments. The more I seeked God’s peace, joy, and victory, the more peace, joy, and victory I felt.
Also, it was in October that I was confronted by the unglamorous and embarrassing reality of what years of malnutrition and purging will do to your body. After avoiding the dentist for months, I finally had to get a decaying tooth checked out. I was hoping that a simple filling would fix the problem. Unfortunately, when they went to do the operation they discovered that the damage was too close to the root of the tooth, and they decided that a root canal was the best option. I remember feeling slightly betrayed by God. When my dentist started operating, he mentioned that if this was unsuccessful, a root canal would be necessary. In that moment I prayed wholeheartedly for restoration and healing. Part of me was praying out of embarrassment. I didn’t want a root canal to taint my image. If my tooth would just magically heal, I wouldn’t have to face the reality of how sick I was…but that didn’t happen. Within minutes of working on the filing, my dentist stopped and declared that the damage was too deep. I needed a root canal.
I defeatedly got in my car to drive home. I was ashamed. I felt judged by my dentist, and was nervous to reveal the news to my mom. No one ever verbally said that the purging had caused this; however, the connection was unquestionably understood. In a moment where I began to question God’s goodness, He showed up. While driving home, a song began to play on the radio. The song was “Restore” by Chris August. Even though the song is about restoring a marriage, the chorus spoke exactly to how I was feeling. The chorus sings about God’s healing love and his ability to bring restoration. I had literally been praying for restoration as I sat in the dentist’s office, so when I heard these lyrics I knew God was speaking to my heart.
In that moment, I felt God reminding me that His healing isn’t some temporary filling. His healing love is a root canal. In order to find restoration in our life, we have to dig deep into the parts of our life that have suffered decay and remove the toxic roots. The root canal was the restoration my tooth needed, even if involved taking a hit to my image. See, I thought that if I whitened my teeth and used enamel strengthening toothpaste then I could fool my dentist. As long as my teeth looked clean and shiny on the outside, then the inner damage would go unnoticed. Clearly that wasn’t the case. After the root canal, I had to schedule another appointment to get a crown that would take the place of the old tooth. The crown looks like the tooth that once occupied the space in the back corner of my mouth; however, it is much stronger than the old, decaying molar. From the outside, the change is unnoticeable; however, the strength of the crown is much more reliable and usable.
God wants to place his heavenly crown on us. He never asks us to remove the dying parts of our self without replacing it with new life! In fact, usually he starts to root his love in us before we even begin to remove the decay. It was in late October/early November of 2015 that I found a new passion for my calling. I finally believed I was “usable” by God because of who HE is. When I started recovery, I created an Instagram account to track my journey. I wanted to be a light of encouragement to those who felt hopeless, lost, and beyond repair. I wanted to be an example of God’s powerful healing and personal love. Over the last 8 months of this account, I have been humbled by God’s ability to use me to encourage others. I feel privileged to receive daily messages from people all over the world asking me about who God is, and how my faith has helped my recovery. I get to spread God’s love to others, and be a voice of empowerment in declaring victory over the enemy.
2015 was a year of destroying who I thought I needed to be, and allowing God to restore my damaged parts. I embraced my image as a child of God, and allowed His love to transform my life. 2016 began with 21 days of prayer and fasting my snooze button. God spoke so much clarity and truth into my life over those three weeks, and that has set the pace for my growth thus far. My main prayer for this year has been that I would get more rooted at my church. Over the last several months, I have witnessed God answer the deepest desires of my heart. I have joined amazing teams that allow me to serve each week, I have gained so many valuable relationships with the kindest people in Kansas City, and I have been blessed with an opportunity to go on a Mission Trip to the LA Dream Center in three weeks.
Honestly, 12 months ago I had began to subtly say my goodbyes. The instability of my declining health made me uncertain of my future. BUT PRAISE GOD THAT THE TRUTH OF HIS PROMISE IS THAT WE HAVE A FUTURE OF HOPE AND PROSPERITY. I cannot adequately express how thankful and humbled I am by God’s kindness and love. As God transformed my heart and equipped my spirit, I found confidence and courage to pursue my calling. I have experienced abundant peace and joy despite my circumstances, and have found freedom in declaring the promises of God into my life. This last year has made me very certain of a few things:
- God’s plan is (wayyyyyy) better than my plan.
- I am a child of God.
- I have a God-planned and God-protected calling.
- There is power in community.
- Pray intentionally and boldly for God’s promises.
“I will turn my hand against you; I will thoroughly purge away your dross and remove all your impurities. I will restore your leaders as in days of old, your rulers as at the beginning. Afterward you will be called the City of Righteousness, the Faithful City.”” (Isaiah 1:25-26 NIV)
God reclaims and renames the city with its true identity, despite the contrast of an unfaithful and unrighteous past. This is what I love about God! He doesn’t look at our past/present and call us unfaithful, broken, and flawed. He only calls us by our identity. I am a child of God! I am complete, whole, worthy, valuable, and loved always!