God has broken a big barrier in my life. Thanks to a pesky injury and ten days of severe pain, I have been able to challenge the eating disorder behavior, compulsive movement.
It started with a weird pain in my leg during a run, which I promptly stretched and iced. But the pain turned out to be terrible inflammation in my SI joint and running, let alone walking, became impossible. So the anxiety set in, because if I can't walk, then...then...what? I didn't know and I didn't want to face the possibility that I might have to sit still, which was not even plausible because of the lifestyle I'd developed during my eating disorder, making exercise
And it's the part of my recovery journey that I've kept secret....that is, until now.
I've been very vocal about my eating disorder on this blog. For one, it's my active defiance against shame- of where I am and where I've been. I also believe in the power of testimony, in showing what God has done in my life- that's how we overcome (Romans 12:11) I've had little trouble opening up about my challenges with food: Restricting it, skipping it and limiting it. But I've never formally talked about my struggle with exercise. (RELATED: Why Strong is Not The New Skinny)
Why is that?
Why is it that the idea of being vulnerable leaves me shaky and full of fear. I know am not given a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7), but it is so hard when the world is right here and Jesus can seem so far away. I fear it will discredit my love of running and hiking, that it will make the world laugh in my face. But then I remember all the good that has come from shedding light on the struggles in my life, and I know that staying silent is not an option.
What's the truth?
The truth is, I've hinted at this struggle to many friends and family, but they don't seem to get it. The truth is, this week has been miraculous for reasons many of you will never understand. It has brought me to my knees before the Lord, in the realization that I cannot continue to push my body to the brink of exhaustion. Even more important: I don't have to. All my life I've felt like I have to be the tough one, the strong one: But true strength is letting go and surrendering to the hold of the Savior. (RELATED: Surf the Urge)
God has been with me through it all, though. He was there last fall, when I spent my Friday nights walking the stairwells on campus, with tears in my eyes and terror in my heart. He was there when I took off across town, sentencing myself to 15 mile bike rides in secret. He was there when I formed all the rules: No sitting until 9 p.m., I must walk at least two hours in addition to my run, no sitting at meals. I missed Bible studies; movie outings and nights with friends, all because I was terrified to sit.
Yet, there was one night, in the stairwell, when I hit rock bottom. It had been a day of lonely failure, and I had retreated to the place I new best: A concrete prison that had become my solace when the sun set. But my frustration came pouring out, and I eventually collapsed on a step. All alone, I cried out to God in hopelessness. It was December and it felt like my world was falling down.
And I sat there and pleaded with the Lord, begging Him to change me and make it all okay. But then I realized I was sitting, and that "wasn't allowed." So I wiped the tears and resumed my routine.
A lot has changed since that night, but there is still a measure of fear in me, fear of being "found out." But when I look back at the old Hannah, I realize just how much God has done in five short months. And then I look back and am amazed at all He has done in this past week.
The truth is, we are His masterpieces, works in progress. I've been so hesitant to share this because of the shame, but after the wholeness I have found this week, I can't help but share. The truth is bursting out of me like a secret I cannot contain. I was bound up, but now I'm free. I was once held to rules and laws about when I can rest; now I am beginning to leave those behind for good.
This is my "thing". We all have one, and we all hide it away so no one can see. We cloak it in darkness until the Lord brings it to light in a glorious display of our surrender in the hands of His redemption. I have been so ashamed of this part of my life, but the Lord has worked wonders in me this week, through something I only saw as a terribly unfortunate event. But amidst all my whining and complaining, I began to see Him orchestrating something marvelous. I began to see the hands of God in one of the largest struggles I have ever had. This is my thing. It's now out for the world to see, published on a little blog in the blogosphere of writing where the world bears its heart. But in sharing "my thing," I hope to open the door for others, so we can crack this wall of shame and let the light come streaming in. (RELATED: Tear Down the Walls)
I'm no longer stuck in motion, thanks to this glorious grace. God is good, all the time.