Pinterest A Grateful Life Lived: November 2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015

I Am So Thankful for You!

You know how your family does that "tell everyone what you're thankful for" thing?  Well, I was always the kid who tried to think of the most holy-sounding response, usually throwing in "God" and "family" as buzzwords here and there.  Honestly though, Thanksgiving meant very little to me during the first nineteen years of my life.  I mean, I took great care to be grateful every day.  Plus, it was just another holiday I had to navigate the realities of my parents' divorce (talk about tricky dinner conversation).  The point is: Thanksgiving was just a chance to play with my cousins and verbally sprinkle my Christmas wish list on anyone who would humor my dreams of getting a puppy.

Now, that all changed when the eating disorder reared its ugly head.  The holiday season became nothing short of miserable, and Thanksgiving in particular felt like an ultimate test in which I was doomed to fail with family and friends all watching.

At the risk of sounding cliche though: This year is different.  It's the first year that Thanksgiving is "capable" not "calories" and "gratitude" instead of "guilt."  See, like the Pilgrims did almost 400 years ago: I now recognize that looking back is a vital part of moving forward.

Let me tell ya: Looking back is painful.  At the same time, it amazes me what God has done in my life this year.  It also humbles me to realize how many friends and family-- many of you-- have stood with me, prayed for me and cried with me during the process thus far.  You have eaten meals with me, learned about meal plans, texted encouragement and shown me what "fun" is-- something I'd missed out on for about five years.  And for those five years, I hated Thanksgiving.

And I want to say thank you.  Thank you to my parents.  Thank you to my church-- both in Indy and Columbus.  Thank you to Mary, Katy, Olivia, Stephanie, Hannah, Lexi, Lauren, Kristin and Stacie.  Thank you to the amazing friends I met in recovery (because you women actually empathize with the struggle of this journey).  Thank you to my therapists and mentors and dietician and everyone else who has seen God at work in my life.  This Thanksgiving is such a miraculous milestone for me, largely due to your love and support.

Some of you know that I had a mild muscle strain that didn't allow me to finish our my cross country season the way I'd hoped.  And yet: I am so grateful that God has given me this opportunity to learn how to cope with injury in a healthy way.  How can I retain anger about that though!?  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be competing and running again with joy.  I never thought I'd really feel comfortable being myself and letting others see that.  I never thought I'd have real friends-- ones who were there all along, in reality.  God is restoring life to me in ways I never thought were even possible.

All of this is bogus when I think about the pain I was going through at this time last year: Faced with the shame of having to withdraw from school because I was too unhealthy.  I've worked with every fiber of my being to get where I am.  But, like Paul says in 1 Corinthians, it is by the grace of God I am where I am.  My strength comes from Him alone, and I am eternally grateful that I have so many people on "Team Hannah."  I'm overwhelmed with thanks.  But the cool part is, that joy now overflows into my life, paid forward to others in a grand circle of God's love!

So while you are enjoying your family and friends this holiday, I want you to know that I am grateful-- immensely grateful-- for YOU.  So many of you have made a huge impact in my life.  Happy Thanksgiving.  This is my "Freedom Filled 2015," and Thanksgiving is such a sweet time to reflect on all this year has been.  Thank you.


Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Waiting Game

Waiting.  It's something we humans know oh too well.  We wait for buses; we wait for the weekend, for texts messages and phone calls and unruly children.  It's quite a bother, really.  Partly because we don't know when the waiting ends and partly because we don't have control over when it ends, waiting causes anxiety for most of us.

One thing I've been learning this fall, however, is that there are certain things I don't have to wait on.  I don't have to wait on the Lord's peace and I don't have to wait for good circumstances in order to have a good attitude.  I've learned the hard way that: "I'll have peace when....." doesn't play out well.

John 14:27 says that the Lord gives us peace that is not of this world.  In Philippians 4:7, Paul reminds us that God's peace surpasses all understanding.  That has been so comforting to me these past few months, as I've gone through joyful circumstances and difficult trials.  Being the emotionally-high-strung woman that I am, I tend to get thrown for a loop anytime something is out of my plan.  In case you haven't noticed: That happens a lot.

I told myself I would wait until God healed tight and strained muscles, until He provided a place to live next year, until He gave me more friends.  I kept rationalizing my fear and anxiety with this internal promise that WHEN God acted, I would have peace and relax.

There's two things I learned from doing things the wrong way.  Number one: God is always acting.  Just because He isn't doing things the way I want or the pace I want, doesn't mean that He isn't working for our good all the time.  This truth requires us to recognize that sometimes, our dreams are in line with His will and sometimes they aren't.  The second thing I learned was that life will never present an ideal, easy way for us to let go of fear.  Remember that proverbial "when" I mentioned.  It never comes.  Our finite minds can't grasp eternity, so instead we keep grasping for the next thing and the next thing, and our "when" keeps growing even as God provides.  We miss what God is doing because we're too busy thinking that all of a sudden, second isn't good enough and we must keep worrying and keep being anxious until we reach the very top.

So here's what we do.  We buckle down and face reality.  Life is gritty.  It's unexpected, it's painful and it's joyous. It's never perfect.  We rest in the peace of the Lord that tells us He is in control and He is good to us-- it's not enough for God to just be powerful, we have to remember He is good!  Physical pain, relationship strains, loneliness-- it's all in His hands.

What keeps you from letting go today?  What lack is fueling you restlessness and anxiety.  I want to remind you of my two lessons: Life is never going to be perfect AND God is always in motion in your life.  This is stuff we already know, but perhaps you need a reminder today like I did.  Keep pressing on!