Monday, August 27, 2012


I need to write more. I think I've had some version of writer's block lately. I think I just need to sit down and type.

My heart is weary. There's a song that I love. It says "These are old shoes that I'm walking in, I'm wearing weary like it's a second skin." I feel like those words will never get old. Audrey Assad and I have the same heart and feeling like someone gets me, even if I don't know them at all, is always encouraging.

I'm trying to learn to be ok with gray. gray is an achromatic or neutral color that can be correctly spelled with either an 'e' or an 'a' as its vowel. gray can be used to balance an all-black or all-white view. gray means there's not really an answer. unclear. uncertain. I've been known to be an extremist at times. life is either really good or really bad. I have a hard time only being ok. ok just doesn't seem like enough. gray means I haven't figured it out. I haven't evaluated enough. I love the color gray. I was an English major. gray is celebrated in literature and the evaluation and critique of it. Math is black and white, there's only one answer. English is gray, the right answer is what you make it. So overall, I love gray but when it comes to my own life and my evaluation of it, gray is hard to swallow.

Loneliness. what a bizarre concept. How can one be lonely when surrounded by people? Somehow, it happens. it happens a lot. I've struggled with this before, in fact I think I've spent most of my life afraid to really trust people enough to make them safe enough to even remotely touch my loneliness. At this point in my life, there are a few but having diabetes has tied a knot in my safety net. how can anyone really understand what this is like? having struggled for years with disordered eating, I feel like food has always consumed my life. Food is simultaneously my best friend and my worst enemy. and now I'm expected to pay close enough attention to what I eat that I can calculate exactly how much insulin my body needs to appropriately use the number of carbs that I give it. I've always payed close attention to what I put in my mouth and there's always been a monologue of shame and guilt associated with every calorie. it seems my bingeing and my diabetes can't coexist without killing me. I know what you're thinking. "Well, you can't not have diabetes, you're stuck with it. so, guess you'll have to stop bingeing." and my answer to that is, "If I could do that, don't you think I would've done it a long time ago?"

I randomly picked up this book that I borrowed from a friend called "Breaking Free from Emotional Eating." My first thoughts were, "GREAT! another book that will tell me all the same things about eating and food that every other book has echoed throughout the years. Ideas, concepts, plans, suggestions, and strategies that echo relentlessly in my head, in the end only adding link by link to the chains of guilt and shame that have had me bound for longer than I care to admit. Nonetheless, I decided to 'skim' it. turns out, this woman knows me.

2.5 years of therapy has taught me that I don't take care of myself well. the minute I stop intentionally choosing and scheduling things that take care of me, those things quickly lose their place of priority. quickly and quietly. until one day, I wake up and realize that I've done nothing to care for myself in weeks and I'm empty and exhausted and discouraged. on that day, if I look at the last few days, sometimes weeks, I usually see at least one binge a day, sometimes more. "Binges are purposeful acts, not demented feelings..a binge can be an urgent attempt to care for yourself when you feel uncared for. Binges speak the voice of survival. They are signals that something is terribly wrong, that you are not giving yourself what you need--either physically (with food) or emotionally (with intimacy, work, relationships). They are your last stand against deprivation" (p. 68). Anne always says "just remember that it's not about the food." that's so true, the eating is a symptom, a sign-post, a red flag or check engine light that tells me something is disoriented or awry in my heart. the problem comes when I don't stop for long enough to realize what the binge is pointing to. I'm afraid to stop. I have a deep seated longing, almost compulsion, to DO something. "We can excuse ourselves for doing nothing when we eat because eating is doing something. Eating is a socially acceptable way of taking time for ourselves, All else is defined as indulgence. or selfish or unnecessary waste of time" (p. 68) Ah, the chronic problem of humanity's need to do instead of just be. I constantly find myself running in step with the Galatians, whom Paul refers to as "foolish" simply because they've begun working, trying to earn their standing before the Lord and perfect themselves. It's as if they've suddenly convinced themselves that what only God can perfect by His Spirit, they can perfect by their own flesh...nope, it's just never gonna be enough. Of course I believe that, right? I know I could never be perfect, yet there are hundreds of ways every single day that I reject grace and sometimes subtly, sometimes not-so-subtly, attempt to prove my worth and earn my own righteousness. For me, the arena is often the space between my hand and my mouth.

For years, I saw my mom try diet after diet after diet yet caught her crying at the kitchen table in the middle of the night. I saw the guilt and shame on her face after she ate something she "wasn't supposed to." I ate because everyone in my family ate. Overeating was celebrated. I was just eating like a Yarbrough. In order to feel like I belonged, I had to overeat, indulge, eat myself into oblivion and physical pain. I could never even begin to count the conversations revolving around "rolling ourselves out of a restaurant" because we had eaten so much that we couldn't bear the thought of moving. I heard the message, spoken and unspoken, that I should watch what I ate. After all, obesity runs in our family. yet I learned quickly that feeling "full" could numb some of the pain, some of the disconnected loneliness I felt, some of my desire to feel like I belonged. It numbed me, made it bearable to keep my eyes open long enough to make it through the day. It wasn't ok to be sad when I was sad so I just ate when I was sad. It wasn't enough to just celebrate when we were happy, we had to eat when we were happy. Nothing was done without food or at least the nearness of it. Quite often, we still discuss the plans for our next meal while we're eating. I was never taught to just enjoy food. The "enjoyment" was followed with shame, which automatically negated the enjoyment. "How could you let yourself eat that much? You said you were only going to eat half. You said you weren't getting dessert but then you ate enough of everyone else's to far surpass the impact that your own dessert would've had. You said you'd order a salad. You can't even have enough discipline to do what you decide to do! and it's only been 10 minutes since you decided it. Seriously, again? You are such a failure. You can't do anything right. You might as well just stop trying because you're never going to be able to do it. You're never going to say no enough times to make it count. One day you're going to screw up so badly that no one will ever love you again. No one wants to be around the fat girl. No one thinks fat is beautiful. No one wants to deal with your issues. You'll always be alone. You'll always be left to fend for yourself, to wrestle these demons again and again until one day they suffocate you. You'll always be alone and scared." It's unreal how a few bites of food becomes a deep, deep worth issue. Somewhere along the way, how "well" I eat became a significant measure of my worth. "If they really knew how and what I ate, they'd be disgusted, they wouldn't love me.." that's a problem.

So often, I rely on something other than the gift of God's grace in my Savior to monitor my "goodness" and "badness." I'm good when I exercise, bad when I don't. Good when I eat carrots, bad when I eat cookies. and so on and so forth. This structure of evaluation is so natural that it's hard for me to even notice it, much less to put it into words or stop it before it starts.

For so long, I've held my life together with the structure of a diet or an exercise plan. I complain about having to record carbs and blood sugars, and insulin but somewhere deep down, I like the boundaries it creates. I'm so afraid of letting go of those things. But there's this verse that talks about how Jesus was before all things and in Him ALL things hold together. and there's this other verse that talks about how if God gave us His own Son, how could he not graciously give us all things. Would he deny me the safety, security, and structure of Jesus holding my life together, too? How prideful for me to think that I could even begin to hold this all together with my own expectations or plans. He delights to hold my life together. He loves me and he loves my life and my rebellious heart. He pursues me even when all I want to pursue is the latest diet or the ever elusive calorie-free comfort food. He says that His eye is on the sparrow, all the sparrows, and if his eye is on all the sparrows then how could I forget that He sees me? He is near to the broken-hearted, he provides security in a way that nothing in this world could ever do, He sees me when I can't even see myself, He can see the face that I don't want anyone else to ever see, He knows my deepest desires and my deepest fears...and He promises never to leave, to always be near, to walk alongside me and go before me in the fight, to shepherd me in a way that makes me lie down and trust Him instead of scrambling around trying to prove myself. Oh how I long for these truths to take root in my heart. to take root and grow, such that my life and the way that I eat and the choices that I make reflect the reality of His relentless love.

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