Archive of ‘My Testimony’ category

My 21st Birthday & Why I Don’t Drink

Chiva-ing with Friends

Chiva-ing with Friends

I am 21! Woohoo!

The past few days have been really fun. My friends threw me a Frozen-themed surprise party on Thursday, order I went out for Japanese food Friday night, viagra and then on my birthday I had cake with my host family (for breakfast) and then went out on a Chiva (an open-air party bus) that night.

Turning 21 in Ecuador is kind of anticlimactic because 21 doesn’t mean anything here (as the drinking age is 18). But, sickness let’s be real, it would be pretty anticlimactic in the States, too, since I don’t drink. Throughout the past two semesters of study abroad, I have gotten the chance to share with some people why I don’t drink, and I thought this was a good opportunity to share with all of you! I made the decision that I was not going to ever drink alcohol when I was 18, before I left for college. But I haven’t actually shared why with a lot of the people in my life. So here we go!

I’ve shared quite a bit on this blog about my long-term struggle with disordered eating and an eating disorder, as well as my journey with depression. The past several years of my life have been a difficult, beautiful, miraculous, painful, and blessed fight to live in freedom and be filled with the joy of the Lord. In many ways I am so thankful for this battle because it’s taught me who I am and shown me the strength and love of God. I am living a freedom-filled, redeemed life and it still amazes me every day.

However, because of my life experiences, my genetics, and by virtue of living in a fallen world, I know that I have a propensity towards depression and anxiety and using unhealthy coping methods to deal with these really hard disorders. Do you know what disorders are most commonly co-morbid (happen alongside of) alcohol and substance abuse? Depression, anxiety, and eating disorders (binge eating and binge drinking are really two sides of the same coin). I am so thankful for my recovery story and everything the Lord revealed to me during that time, but I am not at all interested in having to battle with and recover from another disorder. I think there’s a reasonable chance that if I drank alcohol, I would eventually struggle with alcoholism.

I love what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians:

“Everything is permissible for me”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”–but I will not be mastered by anything. 

Here’s the thing: I believe alcohol is permissible for me (and all followers of Jesus). In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to find out that Jesus is a bit of a wine aficionado, since the water he turned into wine seemed to be pretty rockin’. But that doesn’t mean that it’s beneficial for me. And I do not want to be mastered by anything.

Galatians 5:1 says:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yolk of slavery.

I don’t want to be burdened by a yolk of slavery. God and I decided together that I would not drink alcohol, even after turning 21. This is not a decision I’ve made out of fear, rather it’s a decision I’ve made out of my love for the life God has given me and out of respect for my own body.

There’s always some difficulty when we make decisions that are different from the norm. I honestly have no interest in drinking alcohol–it just does not appeal to me and I truly believe that’s a result of the Holy Spirit working in me to make life easier for me. What is hard, and I’m sure this will get harder as I move back to the States as a 21 year old, is feeling like I’m missing out when I’m with my friends who are drinking. Or encountering people who feel judged by me because they are drinking. Or people who think that I’m a really boring person because I don’t drink. However, living the freedom-filled life God calls me to is worth it, especially because I know at my core that His opinion of me is the only one the truly matters.

Often when we speak of freedom, we mean that we can do anything we want. However, I submit to you that many of the things we do in our freedom actually make us slaves. Just because you have the freedom to drink does not mean that drinking keeps you in freedom. This is true for both Christians and non Christians.

Nothing is impossible with God. I love this from Francis Chan: Something is wrong when our lives make sense to nonbelievers. I think that’s largely true. There’s a lot of things in my life, and not just with alcohol, that don’t make sense to those who don’t know Jesus. And it makes complete sense that it doesn’t make sense! God calls us to live our lives in ways that don’t necessarily seem practical or in line with the norm. And the more confident you are with your identity in Christ, the easier it will be to follow him and be obedient to what he’s called you to.

In conclusion:

~I have made the decision to not drink alcohol at all, ever. Sooo close friends and family you should probably just accept that now ;)

~I am not judging you if you drink. I do not feel uncomfortable if you drink around me. Last semester I would go out to clubs quite a bit with my friends. Yesterday I spent my birthday night on a Chiva with lots of alcohol. It doesn’t bother me, as long as you’re respectful of me!

~I believe that Christians are completely permitted to drink alcohol, although I challenge you to make sure you’re doing it in a way that honors God.

~It is completely possible to not drink alcohol if that’s what the Lord is speaking to you.

I’m really excited to see what 21 brings! I’ve received some promises from the Lord that I’m so excited about! And thank you so much for everyone who made my birthday special. It’s hard to have a birthday abroad, but it was a good one :)

What Recovery Looks Like

In my first ever post on this blog I shared that God told me that 2013 would be the year I recovered from my long-term eating disorder. And it was. This is an update on my recovery journey, ask two years after I received that promise. 2014 ushered in a year of solid, glorious recovery. I’m living a life I never thought was possible and it just keeps getting better year by year!

I’ve learned that recovery truly is a process. In 2013, I had a lot of bad days, days where I felt like my eating disorder was controlling my life. But I was able to stop all my eating disorder behaviors and then slowly my depression started fading away and my self esteem improved and I entered 2014 with so much more confidence and actually loving my body for the first time!

In 2014 I found a continual increase of good days. Days filled with glorious freedom, days where my mind was able to fully focus on the present, on my day to day life and my relationship with my friends, family, and God. I would find myself during rare, quiet moments realizing that I hadn’t even struggled remotely with my eating disorder in a long time. My eating disorder is becoming more and more removed from me, fading into my past, becoming more like the memory of a nightmare that almost doesn’t feel real to me anymore.

If you had told me that this sort of recovery were possible for me while I was in treatment or even during my first semester of college, I wouldn’t have believed you. And yet here I am.

I’ve learned a lot about recovery and have been so surprised by the faithfulness of God. And when I say the faithfulness of God, I really mean it. I think back on the life I was living, completely miserable and distanced from my friends and family, hating myself and convinced that God didn’t love me, and I’m left feeling astounded and thankful because I know none of it would have been possible without God’s never-ending pursuit of me.

My recovery means that I’m living a joyful life. It’s not all happy rainbows, it’s not perfect, but it is marked by joy, a hope and excitement for each new day.

My recovery means that I understand that food is necessary for my health and survival, but also that it can be eaten simply to be enjoyed.

My recovery means that I can go clothes shopping and not be bothered that I can’t fit into the sizes I used to wear. It means I can wear a bathing suit and feel pretty darn good about myself.

I love my tattoo for so many reasons – it reminds me of God’s promise and faithfulness to me and it also embodies all the things I’ve learned about recovery – it’s continuous, it doesn’t move on a straight line. He is making everything new. He’s doing a new thing. And if it’s possible for my life, it’s possible for yours.

What Recovery Looks Like | He is Making Everything New

Recovery is a process and I’m learning what its twists and turns looks like. I am looking forward to the day that I realize that I haven’t thought of my eating disorder for years. I know that day is ahead of me and I am ready for it!

When relapse happens

When Relapse Happens

Trigger warning: drugs, website addiction, decease relapse, herbal eating disorder, depression, anxiety

I was sitting in a cafe today, reading various theology essays for one of my classes while also listening to some music. I ended up turning on Macklemore, just needing to listen to something different. What I wasn’t expecting was to start tearing up right there in the coffee shop. I was listening to Starting Over off The Heist album and its honesty and vulnerability really struck me, as well as its connections to my own journey and story. Starting Over is, in a way, a follow up to his song Otherside, which Macklemore wrote about his journey to getting sober.

*Both of these songs have swear words*

Here is Otherside (this is the remix):

I’ve seen my people’s dreams die
I’ve seen what they can be denied
And “weeds not a drug” – that’s denial
Groundhog Day like repeat each time
I’ve seen Oxycontin take three lives
I grew up with them, we used to chief dimes
I’ve seen cocaine bring out the demons inside
Cheatin’ and lyin’
Friendship cease, no peace in the mind
Stealin’ and takin’ anything to fix the pieces inside
Broken, hopeless, headed nowhere
Only motivation for what the dealer’s supplying
That rush, that drug, that dope
Those pills, that crumb, that roach
Thinkin’ I would never do that, not that drug
And growing up nobody ever does
Until your stuck, lookin’ in the mirror like I can’t believe what I’ve become
Swore I was goin’ to be someone
And growing up everyone always does
We sell our dreams and our potential
To escape through that buzz
Just keep me up, keep me up
Hollywood here we come

And here is Starting Over:

Somebody stops me and says, “Are you Macklemore?
Maybe this isn’t the place or time
I just wanted to say that if it wasn’t for Otherside I wouldn’t have made it.”
I just look down at the ground and say thank you
She tells me she has 9 months and that she’s so grateful
Tears in her eyes, looking like she’s gonna cry. Fuck!
I barely got 48 hours, treated like I’m some wise monk
I wanna tell her I relapsed but I can’t
I just shake her hand and tell her congrats
Get back to my car and I think I’m tripping yea
Cuz God wrote Otherside, that pen was in my hand
Im just a flawed man, man I fucked up up
Like so many others I just never thought I would
I never thought I would, didn’t pick up the book
Doin it by myself, didn’t turn out that good

If I can be an example of getting sober
Then I can be an example of starting over
If I can be an example of getting sober
Then I can be an example of starting over

Whew that last line gets me every time. Otherside continues to help people get sober, and yet Starting Over is just as important because we all need reminders that our relapses are not the end of our stories.

My own personal journey is different from Macklemore’s. I’ve never struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, but I have struggled with an eating disorder, depression, and anxiety. I am very open with people about my journey and about the freedom I have now in the Lord. But, at least for me, it’s really easy to get into the mindset that because I have freedom from these things, I will never relapse. And if I do relapse, then that must mean that I have failed in my freedom, I’ve failed God, and I’ve messed up my testimony. And that thinking makes it so difficult to be open with and share struggles that I still have.

There are days that I look at my body and I don’t feel like a new creation. My mind starts going and I fall back into eating disorder thoughts. 

After months of being depression free I experience another depressive episode and then another and I don’t want to admit that it’s actually depression.

Then out of nowhere I find myself triggered and my anxiety rushes back and I don’t know how to respond except to shut down.

God has been teaching me a lot about what it means to live in freedom.

–I’m starting to understand that to live in freedom means to live free of the shame that accompanies struggling.

–He’s teaching me that the sooner I can lean in to community and let people know that I’m hurting, the faster I experience freedom again because Satan operates in secrecy and darkness.

–And I’m learning that relapsing doesn’t change the fact that I am a new creation and that I live in Christ’s freedom. I belong to Jesus and Satan has no authority over me. My identity is freedom and that cannot be shaken or taken away from me. My relapses do not define me or change the fact that my story is about God’s continual faithfulness to me.

We need more stories of freedom from addiction and eating disorders and depression and trauma. But we also need more stories of people bravely starting over again.

Let’s keep writing our stories together, armed with grace and love for ourselves and the power of Christ.

Recovery

Eating Disorder Awareness- Recovery

Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist and am not trained in eating disorder treatment or prevention. I struggled with disordered eating/eating disorders for 12 years and I am now in recovery. My purpose behind writing these posts is to start the conversation about eating disorders, cialis which continue to be misunderstood and stigmatized, treat  share my experience with those who have eating disorders or know others who do, treat and to hopefully give some clarity and understanding about these complicated and dangerous diseases. I also want to give hope that recovery is possible!
Trigger warnings: In all of my posts about eating disorders, I try to be very sensitive and avoid triggering language. However, the reality is that I am talking about eating disorder thoughts and behaviors and recognize that these posts could trigger people struggling with EDs. If you think that these posts could be the least bit triggering for you, please do not read them. The last thing I want to do is to set anyone back in their recovery process.

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Who you are and what you struggle with are not the same thing.

This statement it true, but when you are struggling with an eating disorder, it doesn’t feel true.

When I was struggling with my eating disorder, I lost who I was. I couldn’t separate myself from it—we were the same.

The scariest part of recovery for me was not the idea of gaining weight or losing my long-time coping mechanisms…don’t get me wrong, those things were absolutely terrifying. But there was something that was even harder for me to face and that was the reality that I didn’t know who I was without my eating disorder. I was scared of losing my identity.

And the idea that your eating disorder gives you your identity is such a lie from the Enemy—no one but the Lord gives you your identity. And while I knew that with my mind, I didn’t feel it in my heart. Twelve years of hearing the lies of the Enemy had given them such a hold over me.

As I entered into recovery, the eating disorder and I started to separate. Instead of it being a part of me, it stood right behind me, breathing down my neck. But it was a start. As I walked further into recovery the eating disorder was pushed further back behind me. It could still talk to me, but the voice grew quieter as it was pushed further away. Sometimes it was so far behind me that I couldn’t hear its shouts anymore. And sometimes something would happen that pushed it right behind me again.

There’s an argument between psychologists whether or not people can ever be recovered from their eating disorder, or if they will always be “in recovery.” I absolutely one hundred percent believe that full and final recovery is possible not only because I have met people who consider themselves recovered, but most of all because I love a God with whom all impossible things become possible.

In this post I talked about how God promised me that the year 2013 would be the year of my recovery and praise God it was! I saw such amazing freedom in the year 2013 and as it got closer to the New Year, I got more and more excited about full freedom. But the Lord also warned me—He warned me that just because I knew recovery was coming didn’t mean that the Enemy would respect it one bit. And let me tell you, Satan has not respected my recovery.

On the morning of January 1st, 2014, I got up and was so excited! Yeah freedom! I went downstairs, made breakfast, and when I put the first bit of food in my mouth I had the strongest urge to use an old ED behavior. And you know what I did? I said, “Well, that’s not who I am anymore!” finished that bite of food and the rest of my breakfast, and then I praised God for His faithfulness!

I currently consider myself in recovery, not quite to the point of recovered, only because I have to continue to be on high alert for any ED thoughts or behaviors that enter my life. But I know that the status of recovered is in my future. I am confident of it because in the past year God has taught me who I am in Him. Any anytime Satan tries to tell me otherwise, I can look him in the face and say I am a new creation in Christ! He has made me new and I will never forget my identity in Him. The parts of me that fell away along with my eating disorder were not core parts of my identity. I did lose things with the loss of my eating disorder–I lost depression, anxiety, and bitterness. And it turns out, I was just fine letting go of those things.

Eating disorder recovery statistics are discouraging. But Praise the Lord that He is not a respecter of statistics. After 12 years of battling an eating disorder I didn’t think that I would ever recover. And yet I have :) If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, don’t give up on recovery! No matter how long you’ve been battling this disease, you can win.

If you want to learn more about eating disorders, click here to read more posts I’ve written about the issue :)

How I Never Would Have Overcome Depression Without the Church

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At the beginning of 2013, visit web the Lord promised me recovery from my eating disorder. And I did experience freedom- little by little my eating disorder started to lose control over my life, symptoms wasn’t quite so loud in my head. But my depression persisted. And that made me mad. What sort of freedom was this? I was no longer experiencing chronic depression as I had in years past, urologist but rather depressive episodes. I’d be going along, doing just fine, when all of a sudden a wave of depression would hit me and persist for a week or two. And in the middle of my depression I was so lost and alone, always so worn out. And I felt completely incapable of spending time with God. The idea of opening my Bible, of praying, of even approaching the throne of God was too much for me to handle. And as more and more days went by without me talking to God or reading a single Bible verse, the more inadequate I felt. The wonderful person who disciples me encouraged me to ask God why I was still depressed, and so I finally did. This is from a February 2013 journal entry:

God, I have been struggling a lot with depression and I need you to help me. What can I do to receive healing? Why don’t you take this from me?

And He responded: I want you to be vulnerable in community. Tell people you’re struggling when you are. Be honest. Ask for their encouragement, ask them to pray for you. Don’t wallow in your pain and don’t wait for them to approach you. Let them prove their faithfulness to you by letting them support you. I am walking beside you and offer my strength to you freely. I love you, daughter. This pain will not be forever, that I promise you. These next years will be years of great newness and excitement. They will be instrumental on your life. And I will not leave you in your struggles. And not only do I desire for you not to feel this pain anymore, but I promise that it will pass. You have all eternity to bask in my greatness. There will be such glory that your dark memories cannot touch you. Don’t give up your fight. You might not always be strong enough, but you have the strongest, most loving defender.

I wasn’t expecting this answer. And while it seems simple- ask for support when you need help- reaching out from the depths of depression is incredibly difficult. But by the grace of God, I managed to do just this when I next felt depressed. It was a Tuesday night and I was having a very bad day. I made the choice to go to the Tuesday night faithgroup- not the one I usually went to- in order to be around my supportive community and receive prayer. At the end of faithgroup, we broke up into groups to pray for each other. I ended up in a group with two wonderful friends- and I told them that I was depressed and needed prayer. And they were so sweet and so kind and they prayed for me and gave me words of encouragement. And that was the last depressive episode I had for six months. And, besides one depressive episode this past fall, I have been depression-free for 10 months!

I have been depression-free by the work of the Lord. But it was the work of the Lord through those in my community. Without the Church, I am convinced that I would still be stuck in the valley of darkness. For this, and for many other reasons, I believe in the Church.

I see so many people my age who are passionately embracing authentic Christianity, laying down their lives to serve Jesus and giving everything they have to Him who is deserving of it all. Out of this desire to truly pursue Jesus instead of religion, there is a growing frustration with the American church. And I totally get it. I’m frustrated, too. I am absolutely fed up with politicized, Bible-belt, shallow, religion-filled, and empty “Christianity.” But, in response to their frustration, many people are leaving church and are distancing themselves from faith communities. Yet in all the Gospels, in all of Acts, in all the epistles, you never see people doing Church alone. You never see followers of Jesus left without community. And I think that the reason why is because the world is hard as it is, and to follow in the footsteps of Christ makes the world even harder.

When you are in the valley, do you have people who will walk with you? When you are incapable of coming to the throne, of praying, do you have people who will pray for you? Do you have people who will physically come around you and bear your burdens away? We need each other to face the troubles of this world. We need people to remind us that the Lord is faithful when we can’t seem to hold on to that truth. As my friends reminded me that night, we need people to remind us of how far God has brought us, and how far He is going to bring us in the future. We need the Church to remind us to hold on to His promises when we feel like letting go.

And for all of you struggling with depression, He has freedom for you. He has joy for you. With all you are, lean into Him. And when you can’t, lean into the fellowship of the believers. Lean in to His Church.

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