Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

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.

Who Rules the World? Part 4- Praying God’s Will: the power of intercessory prayer

who rules the world 4.1

This is Part 4 in a 5 part series. To see all the posts in the Who Rules the World? series, contagion  CLICK HERE.

This is the continuation of the last post I wrote on intercessory prayer. I would recommend that you read that before reading this! Click Here to read the first part of this post.

In my last post, symptoms I spoke about the power and need for intercessory prayer and that when we pray, we need to pray according to God’s will. And if we are to pray according to God’s will, it seems as though we would need to know what that will is, which brings us to the important question, what does God will? What is it that He wants to do on this earth, in the lives of His precious children? First of all, I want to acknowledge that I cannot even begin to fathom and understand the will of the Lord God, an issue I’ve addressed in this post.

With that being said, John writes:

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. -1 John 5:14

And I don’t think that God would tell us to pray according to His will without giving us an understanding of what it is that He wills.

Sometimes, like with Elijah, we will receive words from the Lord on what to pray for, what His will is in a certain situation. But I also believe that there are three situations in which we can always know God’s will. This doesn’t mean that we will understand His timing or process, but it does mean we can pray with confidence, knowing that we are praying God’s will and that He desires to work through us to see what we are praying for accomplished.

Those three things are salvation, freedom, and healing.

1. Salvation- in 1 Timothy 2:1-6a, Paul writes:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people. -1 Timothy 2:1-6a

In 2 Peter 3:9, Peter writes:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. -2 Peter 3:9

We can be absolutely confident that when we pray intercessory prayers for people to be saved and come to the knowledge of the Lord, we are absolutely praying the will of God.

2. Freedom– Our God desires us to be free from sin, free from the chains that burden us, free from depression, eating disorders, anxiety, all other mental disorders, and demonic attacks and strongholds.

We see that time and time again, our Lord Jesus sets people who are in bondage free. Just one example of this is found Mark 9 when a father brings his son, who is being tormented by a demon, to Jesus.

When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit.
“You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. -Mark 9:25-27

He frees this boy from demonic attack.

When the teachers of the law and the Pharisees throw down a woman caught in the act of adultery before Jesus, he says:

“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. -John 8:7-11a

He frees this woman from shame.

In Psalm 107, the psalmist writes these words:

Some of you were sick because you’d lived a bad life, your bodies feeling the effects of your sin;
You couldn’t stand the sight of food, so miserable you thought you’d be better off dead.
Then you called out to God in your desperate condition; he got you out in the nick of time.
He spoke the word that healed you, that pulled you back from the brink of death.
So thank God for his marvelous love, for his miracle mercy to the children he loves;
Offer thanksgiving sacrifices, tell the world what he’s done—sing it out! -Psalm 107:17-22, The Message

He frees us from eating disorders. From depression. From bondage.

In Galatians 5:1, Paul writes:

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

Christ has set us free. He sets us free. He will set us free.

When we pray for people to be set free, we are praying the will of our loving Father.

3. Healing– We never see Jesus turn away a sick person who asks for healing.

When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases. -Matthew 8:16-17

“Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed from that moment. -Matthew 9:22

Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you,” and their sight was restored. -Matthew 9:29

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. -Matthew 9:35

And these are just some examples from Matthew 8 and 9!

In Mark 8:22-25, we see another instances where Jesus heals:

They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.

(Remember this passage…I’m going to be talking about it in the next post as well).

When it comes to healing, we often may not understand the process. In this case, Jesus spit in the man’s eyes to heal his blindness. Umm? But although we may not understand the how, I believe that when we pray for someone to be healed of a disease or injury, we are always praying God’s will to earth.

One last point I want to bring up that I think is important when talking about intercessory prayer is the idea that Jesus is the only intercessor for Paul writes:

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men- the testimony given in its proper time. -1 Timothy 2:5

So if there is only one intercessor, one mediator, how is it that we intercede for people? How can we pray these prayers of intercession?

Dutch Sheets explains this really well in his book Intercessory Prayer. He points out that our prayers of intercession are always and only an extension of Christ’s work of intercession. When Jesus came to earth, He bridged the gap between the Lord’s Kingdom and this earth- Jesus has interceded for all people. We don’t deliver anyone, we don’t reconcile anyone to God, we don’t defeat the enemy. The work is already done. And yet me must ask for the release and application of these things.

Our prayers of intercession release Christ’s finished work of intercession. His work empowers my prayers- our prayers release his work. -Dutch Sheets

To read the next post, Part 5, click HERE.

To learn more about intercessory prayer, here are some fantastic resources I would recommend:

Intercessory Prayer: How God Can Use Your Prayers to Move Heaven and Earth by Dutch Sheets – I cannot recommend this book enough. It is Biblically based, informative, and powerful.

-Sermon “God Needs Prayer” by Greg Boyd (Woodland Hills Church).