Pinterest A Grateful Life Lived: January 2016

Friday, January 22, 2016

What I Wish They New

"I ate so much yesterday, that I'm not going to eat much today."

Thus went my conversation with someone last week.  I say conversation, but it was really just a nod from me as I tried to block out the influx of anxiety that was flooding into my body at that very moment.

Most people know my story.  I'm open about it, and that transparency is very deliberate.  However, I still feel like there is such a misunderstanding about eating disorders and the recovery process.  A lot of the time, people either view me as "the eating disorder girl" or they forget that aspect of my life completely and expect me to fully immerse myself in the normalcy of life.  As if eating dinner was just eating dinner.

And that's what I've been struggling with lately: The pain of feeling alone when everyone thinks life is perfect again.  In full disclosure, I am actively in recovery and not relapsing.  I'm not writing this as a covert call for help, but it has been really tough lately and it does feel like everyone just expects me to "be better."  So what happens then?  What happens when the world forgets?

At the risk of sounding whiney, I must confess that it feels that way this week.  It feels that way when people say triggering things about weight and food.  It feels that way when no one asks me how I'm doing or what is going on in my heart.  It also feels that way when I hear the ever-looming "average recovery time," ticking like an obnoxious clock.

But as I vent on my own struggles, I realize that I'm surely not the only one feeling forgotten.  There must be others just like me who are walking through trials and have little outward indication of their inner battles.  And I want to be someone who can detect and search through the outer layers to comfort the heart of others.  That is what I want for myself, and it's what I long to give others.

See, no trial in life is merely erased when the physical realm is washed anew.  The roots of heartache and pain are gingerly pulled, and the fighter often forgoes the healing process alone because nobody sees.

My personal message here is clear:  Healing from an eating disorder takes time.  If you are supporting someone or are going through recovery yourself, remember this crucial nugget of wisdom.  It is a long term process.  Those in recovery are pursuing a life away from the eating disorder, but that doesn't mean it's not a constant threat.  Outward serenity doesn't mean that someone in recovery doesn't need your support anymore.

But this post has a larger message than just my own struggles lately.

In reality, I'm trying to extend a message of human kindness, encouraging us all to look after each others' hearts.  We may not know the extent of each other's brokenness, but we owe it to each other to find out.  That is part of our beautiful humanity.  We are all needing love, and while I believe that Christ alone satisfies us, we were created to be in community.  We need each other.

As I reflect on my own struggles with loneliness and recovery battles, I realize that others around me feel that same desire to have support.  Lets commit to trusting God to bring the right supporters alongside us, and lets turn our focus to the pain in others that we know all too well.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

In Awe: Blessed By The Journey

After arriving back at Butler this evening, I spent an exorbitant amount of time organizing everything I own.  I (sadly) packed up my Christmas decorations, reorganized my closet and drawers and cleaned my room.  And as I was putting away my coats, I found a little note tucked in my pocket, that made me tear up with thoughts of home.  Yet, I was smiling all the same, because my heart is healthy and happy tonight.  Sure, life isn't perfect and I'm injured and I'm still actively in recovery.  All those things are true.  But what's also true is that I am in a much better place than I've ever been, and I think my family knows that too. (RELATED: Roadblocks (?))

What better way to start of An Awestruck 2016, than to think of what God has done since this time last year.  See, last year I was firm as concrete that I would stay "a week or so" longer at home, in order to do a short stint in recovery and go back to school.  That was my plan.  Two weeks turned into about ten weeks and I'm grateful to God that His plan is sovereign. (RELATED: NEDA Awareness Post #4: Recovery Takes a While)

That was what I needed.  I needed nourished in my body and in my soul.  I needed help.  I needed constant love and support, encouragement to keep pressing on.  Essentially, I needed to learn how to live again, and that doesn't coincide very well with the demanding schedule of a college student.  So I returned to Butler, only to pack up my room and retrieve my belongings.  And I was filled with such shame. (RELATED: Tear the Walls Down and Start Planting)

But here's the thing: The Lord works in all circumstances, and I already see this past year as the most rewarding year of my life, even though I don't believe the harvest period has even come yet.  In that humble place, I learned to be desperate-- and that is one of the most crucial lessons mankind can learn.  For when we are truly desperate, we learn what we need and what is frivolous; and in our desperation we find what matters.  I already knew God was the most important in my life, but I wasn't awestruck with Him.  I was just holding on for dear life.

It's crazy what a year can do, and at the same time it's not.  I know how much hard work has gone into this year-- both by myself and all those who've supported me.  But my hard work pales in comparison to the tsunami of God that has washed over the old Hannah.  He has worked His way into the bitterness and fear, the control and anxiety.  Forgiveness comes easier, panic attacks are lesser and I am more flexible with my life and my activity level.  

And it's all because of the Lord.

It's a testimony to His goodness, and not my own.  His plan is sovereign and the more He opens my eyes to what He is doing, the more I am in awe of the grace and love that pursue me.  Praise God! (RELATED: When God Gives you $20 and You Complain)

This next semester of school is a brand new adventure, one I wasn't able to embark on last year.  So I eagerly anticipate the joys and stresses that await me these next few months.  I'm ready to be even more awestruck by my God.  

I know that as I lean in closer to Him, He will become clearer.  Those chains of the past will become remnants of a girl I knew long ago.  The same can be true for you today, and I pray that our hearts will draw nearer to the Lord this year as we embark on our 2016 adventure together.  


Monday, January 4, 2016

Roadblocks (?)

Bitterness is something I know all too well.  It trapped me for many years, the ugly spawn of divorce and death that crippled me (RELATED: Unhinged). My tendency toward perfectionism only exacerbated it's pull, as I blamed situations and people for my failure to live up to my expectations.

But I never really saw the extent of my heart's bitterness until the past few months, until "fairness" was thrown to the wind and I was left with wounds festered in my bitterness.  See, I spent months doing all I could to be free from anorexia.  I put my all into recovery and restoring my body to health.  I felt that God was and is calling me to competitively running, so I endured the process of picking back up a passion that had almost killed me before.

I wrestled with running, trying to figure out where it fit in my life as a gift and not an idol.  And overall, this past fall has been an extremely valuable season of life that I praise God for.  I was able to race cross country, and the joy was written across my face as I used my body to glorify the Lord.  It was exhilarating!

But the "high" was short lived.

After four weeks of cross training and two weeks of not being able to put pressure on my left leg, the doctor took one look and was pretty sure it was a stress fracture.  Turns out, it was a stress fracture with a simultaneous stress reaction in the right leg.  And I began to sob.

So, in the quiet of the Indiana woods, I screamed to God.  Why had He done this to me.  What had I done wrong that I could never reach my full potential as an athlete, that I could never find success?  Self-pity took over as I cried to my Savior, and even in my selfish nature: He held me.

The injury had been overlooked when the pain had started almost two months prior, and finally I had an answer, but the pain only seeped deeper.  Bitterness began to take root as I drove the dimly light streets and mourned the loss. I let that bitterness fester for at least two weeks before I just couldn't take it anymore.  The voice of the Lord was breaking through my hardened heart, whispering the freedom of forgiveness.

"Don't you see, my daughter?  There is nothing I cannot turn for good."  His words penetrated the tears that began to flow.  I realized that it's entirely possible that I will never reach my full potential as an athlete and woman and make up 100% of the time I lost to anorexia. (RELATED: Am I Beautiful?).  I must be able to strive for my best, but be okay with the possibility that I will never get there.  See, perfection is not what my life is about.

For some reason, this is a part of God's plan now, an act of the enemy that the Lord will use and already is using.  So perhaps I can let go of the bitterness.  Maybe, because I know of all God has done for me, I can extend that forgiveness as well.  And maybe, I can breathe in the freedom of the Lord that promises strength for today (RELATED: An Awestruck 2016).

Asking myself what life would be like without these roadblocks is of no use to me.  What I do know, is that these so-called "roadblocks" have been building blocks for my faith, and I expect this injury to be no less.


Ps. Read more about my theme of being "awestruck" by the Lord this year by clicking HERE.  Enjoy!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

An Awestruck 2016

When I first began this blog in 2013, it was slated to be a blog about gratitude.  What I didn't know, was how cathartic and enjoyable the process would be.  Since then, I have had a theme every year, a lens through which I filter that year's experiences and lessons.

In years past, I have had little trouble deciphering the theme God intends for the next year.  This year, however, has been more difficult.  I narrowed it down to two, but was stumped.  As I prayed, I felt that there were just so many characteristics of God that He wants to grow in me.  I was hit-- err--struck with one word that encompassed all of the ones I was considering:


Awestruck: To be filled with awe, overwhelmed.  That is what I feel God is whispering about 2016.  This past year has indeed been a Freedom Filled 2015.  By God's grace, I have made strides in so many areas of my life (RELATED: Unhinged).  I am more free than I have ever been and I feel like God has brought me back to life again.

Yet, that freedom must be maintained, and I also recognize there are numerous areas of my life where I've yet to take back from the enemy.  It is hard work!  Without a doubt, I know I have worked harder in 2015 than any other year of my life.  It has been so worth it, but it hasn't been without cost.

I have been met with anxiety and fatigue, fear and loneliness.  And amid the struggle, I have imperfectly clung to the Lord.  At many times, I've been angry with myself because of how imperfectly I've done sobut His grace has swept me up time and time again this year.  As a friend reminded me at church last week, God's faithful even when we are not.  Even when we feel weak and far from Him, He is ever near.

But I want to be awestruck again.  I long to have that childlike faith again that charges head-on into the battle of 2016, with my eyes on Christ.

I'm emerging from 2015 with battle scars and a weary heart, and I need to be in awe of God again.  I've always loved Psalm 27 for this very reason. And my heart, like David's, longs only for more of God this next year.

One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in his temple.

This year, God wants my heart.  He wants the hopes of my heart that have dried up like a wilted flower, crushed by the weight of tribulation.  If there's one thing I've learned this year: It's that the grace of the Lord truly is new every morning and it's certainly new every year.  That grace and presence has been here all along, but it's time for me to seek after it with all I've got.

The root of freedom, is adoration of the One who sets us free.  That's why my theme this year is An Awestruck 2016.  Because only the Lord can heal my wounds and bring greater freedom, and I long to be more in awe of Him.

I encourage you to come with me on my journey this year.  It won't be pretty and it won't be perfect, but that's life.