- Sara Mann
Over the past few weeks I have come to the realization that I don’t feel like I am really living life anymore. Somewhere along this journey my whole life started to be about recovering from my eating disorder. From doctors appointments, to support groups. Meals plans to recovery record. Therapy and coping skills, my every moment is bombarded with recovery thoughts, decisions, questions, and stress. I went from a person who lived life to someone who feels like life is kind of just passing me by. I feel like I’m putting all of my energy into figuring out how to get my energy and body back to normal and it has become all consuming. So much so that I didn’t realize that a lot of things that are important to me have started to disappear and over the past week I became aware that I miss living life and I’m tired of my life being all about recovering. I feel like my faith isn’t as strong, my mission isn’t as strong, my career isn’t as strong, my goals and direction in life is stagnant and I’m just waiting on my body to dictate how the rest of my life is going to end up. This can’t be how it is, right?!
I’ll put it to you this way, if my entire life goal is to get my body back to it’s normal weight and be healthy, then that is what I’m going to do every single day. And every single day that I don’t lose a pound or swell again, I will become distraught and upset because I’m not achieving my life goal. This has made me realize….this can no longer be my life goal. I NEED to start living again. The problem is, I have forgotten what that looks like. I’ve forgotten what gives me life and makes me feel alive. I feel amazing when my body has a good day, but it quickly goes away when the next day I’m more swollen then usual or tired. I feel fulfilled and loved when I spend a week in Ohio with my family, but that week eventually comes to an end and that feeling is gone again. I feel encouraged and good when I go to my doctor and she reassures me I’m on track, but then two weeks later, after doing all the mundane things, I start to waver and yet again feel upset and worried I’m stuck like this. I can do an amazing photo shoot, but just like that, it’s over and the money I made is spent on another thing that I did or did not need. It’s like I keep trying to fill this void in my life with short term things and circumstances, but they all end up going away, failing or not really hitting the mark. I even feel like lately I’ve been more angry at God for my circumstance because it isn’t going exactly how I want. It’s been a real ugly place to be chilling out and thankfully this past Sunday I got smacked back into reality about what my life is actually suppose to be lived for and how I can turn this mundane day to day, stuck feeling around. I’m going to live loved.
Last Sunday I went to church and the message was all about what life is. If I take a look back over the past year it is safe to say my definition of what life is would be, life is recovering. Life is getting my body back. Life is looking how I want to look again. Life is being in control of my body. Life is overcoming this eating disorder. Whats funny is, I’m putting my ALL into this definition of life and as I sit back I realize…hmmm.. Im not really living. I feel more depressed, angry, lost and dead then ever. As I listened to the pastor (who actually happened to be my brother!), what I learned was, life Is LOVE.
When God was asked in the book of Matthew (1) what was the most important commandment, he talked about love. Loving God and loving my neighbor. It wasn’t having a perfect body, it wasn’t losing weight, it wasn’t recovering from an eating disorder, it was loving God and loving my neighbor. 1 Corinthians 13 is another chapter of the bible that discusses how important love is, “and what if I had faith that moved mountains? I would be nothing unless I loved others. What if I gave away all that I owned and let myself be burned alive? I would gain nothing, unless I loved others. Love is kind and patent, never jealous, boastful, proud or rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do. Love rejoices in truth, but not in evil. Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful and trusting. Love never fails!” According to M. Scott Peck, love is, “The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing another’s spiritual growth.” For example, I am patient with a person that is making the worst decisions because I love them and want to help them grow as a person and I can’t do that being an impatient jerk.
Another aspect of this is that God is love and he extends that love to me and allows me to live in that love with Him. Kind of like a circuit. We can connect to him and live in the power of his loving circuit. Every day I can choose to be in the circuit of his love and live life in the fulfillment of his love, but lately it seems like I choose not to. I get sidetracked with my obsession with getting my body back to the weight I desire which sends me down the rabbit trail of embarrassment to go to the beach, missing out on life because of fear, spending hours depressed, agonizing over how I look in shorts or how thick my upper knee is or what others will think of me when they see me. This is not living in the circuit of Gods love. This is not living a life that loves others. This a life where all I’m thinking about is myself and my body. No wonder I feel stagnant. No wonder I feel unfulfilled. No wonder I cry every day. I’m not living LIFE. LIFE IS LOVE. I should daily be living in the glory of Gods love and then turning around and loving others. How could I POSSIBLY care about my weight when I’m doing that? How could I lose hope that I will heal if I am living this way? At the end of our talk we were asked four questions, and before I get to those a crazy thing happened. Another pastor came up and talked for a couple of minutes. (This must have been like tag team preaching haha.) This second pastor started talking about this man named Hosea and how much Hosea loved his prostitute wife no matter what she did. This represented how much God loves us, no matter what we do. That it’s time for us to sit back and just accept his love and live in it! Whats crazy about this, is this is exactly what I’m studying in my bible study! If God isn’t knocking on my door saying, “HELLO, SARA, DO YOU GET IT YET?!?! LIFE IS NOT ABOUT YOUR BODY! I LOVE YOU! LIVE LOVED BY ME!” then I don’t know how it could get any more clear.
So I read through these four questions and I’ve decided to answer a couple of them here openly on my blog, and hey, maybe you can answer them for yourself…
1.How much of your day do you think you live connected to the circuitry of God’s love? I can honestly say, even though I call myself a strong Christian, go to bible studies, head to church each sunday and live my life as much according to Gods will as I can try, I would say 2-10% of my day I live connected to God’s love. Like actually connected to feeling his love and being in it and extending it to others….
2. What are some activities in your day that are not helping you to experience the circuitry of God’s love? My constant thought pattern and obsession with my weight. Google. Social Media. Getting busy with things that don’t matter. Prioritizing things in an order that puts this last. Satans attacks and my own mental mind game.
3. What do you think it would feel like to live an entire day completely connected to the circuitry of God’s love? What would be different? WOW! I feel so far from that, that I’m not sure I know what it would feel like any more. I think my perspective on things would change. I think I would feel life again. Almost lighter. I would have a sense of hope and relationship. Less lonely. More Purposeful. I think my motivation and thoughts would be different.
After going over these questions I realized a few things. First, I’m not living in Gods love enough. I’m not! Second, a lot of what I spend my time doing is actually keeping me from living in God’s love and third, I’m seriously curious as to what my life would be like if I actually lived in circuitry with Gods love!
So, I decided to put it to the test! I mean, if this is life, and I test it out, it has to work right? Plus, I know there are a lot of people out there that think this kind of talk is absolute quackery, so I’m going to put my money where my mouth is and give it a try. I also have nothing to lose. Worse case scenario is that I still feel stuck, depressed, insecure and lonely. I decided that my goal for this coming week would be to live in circuitry with Gods love. Instead of plugging into the world or myself, I would be plugging into God.
How will I do this? Welp,
I’m going to listen to worship music. I’m going to stay plugged into his love by worshiping him.
Prayer. I’m going to take my prayer life up a notch. Forget just the morning and evening and before dinner prayer, I’m going to try and be in constant communication with Him.
Scripture. I will continue to do my bible study, but I’m going to post little scripture reminders of his love for me around my house and read scripture whenever I can.
Work hard to cut out the stuff that I listed that keeps me away from his love. It’s hard to cut out social media, but maybe I can limit myself to looking at it once or twice a day, not every time I have a spare boring second at the doctors office or waiting in line at the grocery store.
I’m going to love others. Whether it’s volunteering, helping a neighbor, being kinder to my husband (he’ll love this week), I’ll live in loving others.
Perspective. I’m going to have my main coping skill and perspective be God’s love. I know body image stuff will come up this week and so will thoughts about my weight and recovery. I will do my best to remind myself I am deeply loved by God and see how that works!
Attitude. Everything I do I will try to do with love. This will be very hard seeing as I’m a feisty person who loves my car horn and can’t stand something out of place….I will try anyway.
Ok..that’s my plan..I’m writing this on Sunday, July 8th…I’ll report back on Friday July 13th and we’ll see how it went!
Well, it's July 14th! Want to know how it went?!?!?!
I can say this with 100% honesty (and anyone that knows me knows that I'm brutally honest), IT WORKED! I'm serious. It worked. Here's how my week kind of went...
The first day or two I have to admit I felt like I was kind of just going through the motions. It felt a little "fake" not gonna lie. I printed off scriptures of Gods love and posted them all around my house where I could see them in really cute pink font. I got up in the morning and first thing did my bible study and wrote out my prayers in really cute pen colors. I turned on worship music instead of my normal podcasts and tried hard to stick to my list of "DO's" for the week. It was a little disconnected. I was doing everything right, but I didn't really feel connected to the circuit of God's love like I was living any different other then changing my priorities, but I kept it up none the less. I read the scriptures every time I saw them. I prayed any time I had a thought that was negative about my body or worry entered my mind about being stuck. I sat outside in the morning doing my bible study and writing my prayers not just about myself but about everyone I could think of and by the third day, something changed. I'm serious! I woke up looking forward to my time with God. I felt motivated to live life. I felt lighter. This might sound weird but I even heard a Kelly Clarkson song about love on the radio and I thought about God and my relationship with Him! Haha!
What I started to realize was that the more I got to know God again and spend time with him, the more I felt loved by him and secure with who I am. I felt more confident in what he was doing and that I could trust him, and less hopeless and bitter about my situation. I think in the past I was just so caught up in complaining about my situation I wasn't paying attention to what he was doing. I started to see that he WAS answering my prayers. For example, I prayed specifically about my loneliness and for him to help me find ways to be less alone as I go through the next few weeks, and boom, my brother who just moved is staying with us on and off over the next couple of weeks. I always always pray for healing of my body and for it to return to normal, but I prayed for him to give me earthly validation that he is still working and that it WILL happen. That very day I had a phone call with my doctor who put me on a new medication after a test and my doctor assured me without any doubt that while this might take a bit longer, my body will for certain heal and my weight will go back to normal.
There were a few moments that I had some body image blues. I started lifting weights again and there is a giant mirror that is the size of the entire wall at our gym. (UGH). It is what I like to call a "fattifying" mirror haha. Even when I was thin as a rail I thought this mirror made me look fat. It was pretty triggering as I worked out but when I decided to short circuit my fat thoughts and re-route them to thoughts about how loved I am by God and how proud of me he is for getting out there and lifting weights I felt less disgusting and more strong.
I also noticed that when I asked God to help me live in the circuit of his love he LITERALLY did that. Like no joke, not only did he speak to me through my bible study and by answering prayers directly, I also in one day received a text from my sister sharing scripture with me that reminds us that God relates to us and loves us, got another text from my Aunt saying she was praying for me that morning and praying that I will see glimpses of God in the midst of my difficult journey (ummm her texting me was that glimpse, CRAZY!) and ANOTHER friend, an hour after that randomly messaged me all the way from Japan to say, "Just a short reminder that you are in my prayers and that God has given you a dignity and preciousness that you can never lose or diminish." WHAT?!?!?! Let me tell you people. It is very clear to me that when you decide to live in the circuit of Gods love HE. SHOWS. UP. He shows up in scripture, he shows up in prayer, he shows up through people, through doctors, through thoughts, through everything!
Now before this turns into a short novel, I do want to share that it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows. On Friday I backslid. I became stuck again. I questioned what my doctor said, a few things triggered me into feeling fat and stuck and scared and instead of seeking out the safety of God's love I sought out google. Yep. I googled, I stressed, I whined and within a couple of hours I found myself in the depressed, scared and bitter hole again, worried about my weight, wanting to control everything, insecure, acting out and hopeless. I'm glad this happened. It honestly made this pretty black and white for me. When I live in the circuit of God's love I am LIVING. When I'm not I feel hopeless and dead. It was enough of a jolt to say, WHOA, I think I'll be sticking to the circuit as best I can from here on out, because living in his love this past week was more freeing, reassuring, safe, hopeful, and confident then I have felt in a REALLY long time! Don't believe me? Try it!
- Sara -
P.S. Here are the verses that I posted around my house for me to see everywhere and remind myself of Gods love!
The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. - Zephaniah 3:17
You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. - Psalm 86:5
Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations. - Deuteronomy 7:9
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:18-19
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Psalm 107:8-9
“In all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death or life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
“For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” 1 Timothy 1:7
“‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10
So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
1 - Matthew 22:36-40