Sunday, May 29, 2016

Revelation 7:17

For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. 

I can't get enough of this verse. Talk about servant leadership. The God who knows us because He wa with us who reigns over death because He first submitted to it. Jesus is the shepherd who can wipe away tears because He was first a tender lamb who cried.  He is a great leader because He humbled Himself to His Father's lead. This is Jesus, the servant-king.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Satya by the grace of God

Satya is a word that has been rolling around my mind lately. In sanskrit, it means truth. In yoga, it's one of the five yamas, "the virtuous restraint from falsehood and distortion of reality in one's expressions and actions".

Restraint from falsehood.

If you've never struggled with an eating disorder, please let me tell you how they love to lie. ED is fluent in deceit and a master of trickery. He loves to confuse you and warp what you know to be true. He is the serpent in the garden, the most crafty of all beings, forever asking, "Did God actually say...?" (Genesis 3:1-2).

I am currently living in almost daily, often hourly, tension. I value discipline. I value what is right over what feels good. And of course, this is where my enemy attacks. Because when I'm tired, when I'm sore, when I'm restless, when I don't know if I should take another class or be still, when I don't know if I should eat, what I should eat, I lean in and try to hear the God who says

Be still and know that am I God 

Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest 

My peace I give to you 

But I end up hearing

Doesn't Jesus always meet you on your mat?

You're just being lazy 

You'll feel better if you take class 

Don't be so entitled

Make a better choice  

And I do firmly believe that sometimes you have to do things that don't feel good, that you don't feel like doing. That's often where sacrificial, others-centered love comes in. That's the heart of servant hood and at the root of personal holiness. But self-denial (a good, biblical virtue) turns rotten in the hands of ED. That's what the enemy does. He doesn't have the power to create; instead he takes the good that God has made and he twists it. He distorts reality.

And what is satya?

Restraint from the distortion of reality.

Yoga has always been more than a physical practice for me. Right now, for me to practice satya is for me to ignore ED, which is much easier said than done. It's confusing and it's hard and I don't always get it right. But there is grace for that. I think one of the biggest graces I've recognized lately is that it is much harder for me to go without eating than it once was - I get extremely lightheaded and dizzy and it makes it almost unbearably difficult for me to do my job. How is that grace, you ask? It's grace because God loves me enough to make it nearly impossible for me to self-destruct. It helps me with the practice of satya because I have to confront reality. I have to see myself as I actually am.

"The grace of it all is the same grace that God offers me when I'm in my most self-destructive wounded places - they very weakness we feel in our image of ourselves is the place God will meet us most deeply. The way toward healthy body image isn't by ignoring our desires to be thin or muscular or shapely, but by stepping in closer to them. Every time we think 'fat' when passing by a mirror is an opportunity to notice and attend to our own sense of loneliness and inadequacy, a place that God's love and presence can meet us - if we'll open the door" Tara Owens, Embracing the Body



Wednesday, May 18, 2016

A lot of fight left

I forgot how hard it is to start blogging again once I stop! Carving out even a half hour to sit down and write seems so impossible, but I know it just takes discipline.

This is really more like two separate posts so I'll put in a big space between thoughts. They're related, but I'm not invested enough to make it satisfyingly cohesive.

Related to my last post, I'd like to keep talking. Talking about struggling can be really difficult for me, because I'm generally a joyful and independent person. I smile a lot. I'm often the person other people talk to about their burdens. Not to mention, I don't even know how to start the conversation half the time. I remember trying to tell Elizabeth last year that I was in counseling and we took a whole class together and walked home and I was trying to work up the nerve the entire time and then we got home and she went upstairs and I finally had to text her to come down because I had something to tell her. And we lived, worked and often played together! But sometimes it is harder with the people you're close to.

Anyway, I have a newer friend and we were just starting to get to know each other when I was in the thick of things several weeks back. I was scared to tell him what was really going on with me because I didn't want him to have to deal with my hot mess. I think there was also some fear that if he knew that part of me, he wouldn't want to hang around. But being honest and vulnerable was the best thing that could have happened. He has amazed me with his patience, care, encouragement and wisdom. I couldn't have dreamed of anything better.

This has been bothering me for over 24 hours now:
Yesterday morning, a woman at yoga with whom I regularly practice said I looked skinny. "You look skinny. Not that you weren't before, but there's a difference". We chatted, and it was apparent she meant it as a compliment. First of all, I dislike the word skinny. I don't know why - it's like how some people have an aversion to the word savory or moist. So right off the bat, it made me uneasy. Secondly, there have been times in my life where it was not meant as a compliment. It's been a question, "Are you ok?" "Do you need help?" and it's been a plea, "You need to take care of yourself". I am as guilty as anyone else for noticing, judging, criticizing, commenting on, and praising other people's bodies. But I've been trying to figure out why we do it. What makes it feel like it's our right? When it's people we love who are clearly unhealthy (on both ends - disorder-style thin, or obese), who are putting themselves at risk or even in danger, I think that our love for them should cause us to say something. I am so thankful for the people who have been brave and kind enough to say the hard things to me, even if it meant I didn't like them very much at the time.

But in other cases, why does it matter? Why is it our business? With yesterday morning, for example: I know that woman didn't mean anything harmful by what she said, but it triggered a lot for me. At first I wondered if she knew my "secret" (I say "secret" because it's on the internet so it's public but it's also not something I walk around advertising or talk about with many people) and was cautiously expressing concern. Then the darkness tried to tempt me: if she thinks I'm skinny and look good now, what if I was thinner? I'm moving past that now, but it could be a really awful thing. I'm doing pretty well now, but that might not have been the case. I just think there's no way to know what someone else could be dealing with and we should be considerate and careful with our words.

Thank you for hearing my truth. I have been absolutely loving Fight Song by Rachel Platten. Here's a little video of me doing the pre chorus and refrain. It's not awesome, but it's all just fun.

Because I've still got a lot of fight left in me

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Pain Before Peace

I am reading a beautiful, raw, haunting book called Finding God in the Ruins by Matt Bays. He writes about the hard, messy stuff in his life: being molested as a child, a broken family, his sister's cancer, his alcoholism. This is not the pretty kind of white middle America mega church Christianity. 

He talks a lot about the importance of living in the hard places, and telling your story and your truth. He writes, "The path of recovery is painful before it is peaceful". I identify with that a lot, especially right now. I've written before about my eating disorder and about the freedom I found for so long.

And then I had a day.

And a week.

And two weeks.

And a month.

A car accident, musical roommates, difficult work tasks, a death of a young student, a longtime coworker gone.

I tried. I tried more yoga. I tried less yoga. I tried reading. I tried sitting. Coloring. Walking. Singing. Running. Cooking. And when nothing else gave me the relief I wanted, I just stopped eating again.

It's scary how easy it felt. How comfortable. I don't even think I've told more than two or three people, and now here I am telling everyone at once. I went to see my counselor probably a week after I should have, but I went.

I don't know who first said it, but addiction is often likened to having a pet tiger. If you are addicted to drugs or alcohol, your recovery is about learning to keep your tiger in its cage. No one expects you to casually be able to go to a bar or have just one drink. But recovering from an eating disorder is about learning to take that pet tiger for a walk three times a day. And even when he's been on his best behavior, things can go wrong fast.

For me, watching my tiger run wild all over again was like watching your child have a very public tantrum: embarrassing. shameful. out of control. helpless. as if people were judging me.

But Matt's book is encouraging me in the best ways right now.

What if we aren't going to 'get better'? What if our sufferings and doubts are necessary components - or even the very essence of our faith? 

You might feel that going back will break you, but maybe it will make you instead. 

 My counselor said she was so glad I reached out. I scolded myself for not being better and talking to her sooner, but she said I did a great, brave thing in asking for help. And part of all of this is believing that she's right, that even if going back, digging deep, and being honest feels like the worst, most terrifyingly awful thing in the whole world, and it happens a fraction of an inch at a time, it's one more fraction of an inch towards wholeness than I had before.

Isaiah 45:7 says

I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord who does all these things

 God is the author of all things, so to reject the pain and the rough edges is to reject a fundamental part of who He is. As Bays writes,

When our faith is built upon a theology of no more pain, we fail to hold dark and light together and cannot experience the fullness of God. It could even be said that we willfully reject His fullness.
I'm learning that even this part of my story has a plot twist, that the neat and tidy ending I thought I had was only part of its arc. I'm learning to be ok with that, and I'm learning that I still have a lot more left to write. I want that wholeness and even if it's hard and I feel like I'm breaking, I'll keep pushing back.

You might feel that going back will break you, but maybe it will make you instead.