Posts Tagged ‘love your body’

How to Love Your Body–Some Practicals

Eating Disorder Awareness- How to love your body- Some Practicals

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, advice which continue to be misunderstood and stigmatized, buy  share my experience with those who have eating disorders or know others who do, 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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This blog post is continuing along the theme of the post I wrote several weeks ago–A Resolution that Could Actually Change Your Life, which was a post encouraging people to not weight themselves. This blog post will offer some concrete, practical changes you can make in your life. Who do I think may benefit from making these life changes?

  • People in recovery from eating disorders
  • People who want to be in recovery from eating disorders
  • People who struggle with disordered behaviors and thoughts
  • People who have low self esteem and want to learn to love themselves more
  • People who want to support those in their lives who have eating disorders
  • People who want to support those in their lives who are in recovery
  • People who want to fight eating disorder culture

Ok! So what are these practicals?

  • Write a Thank You note to your body--Writing a thank you note to your body, thanking it for all that it does for you, is one great way to start loving and appreciating your body. You can also write an apology note for all the ways you have mistreated or failed to appreciate your body. Another thing you can do is keep a list of everything you like about your body, adding one thing to the list every day. You can also take 10 minutes every morning to thank God for each of your body parts–no skipping parts allowed :)
How to Love Your Body--Some Practicals From http://eatingdisorderrecovery.tumblr.com/%5B/caption%5D
  • Stop Weighing Yourself–If you haven’t read A Resolution that Could Actually Change Your Life, I recommend it! I think we would all be much healthier and start on the journey of loving our bodies more if we all stopped weighing ourselves. I explain more why in that post.
  • Stop Counting Calories–Americans seem to have an obsession with counting calories. I personally don’t think anything good comes out of it. It gets all of us obsessed and focused on a number, which really doesn’t tell us much about how healthy we are. For people with eating disorders, they generally have a number of calories in their mind that feels acceptable to eat, and it’s generally a number that is way to low for their bodies to actually function at any sort of baseline level. Our society tells us that the fewer calories we eat, the better. But any good nutritionist would tell you that that’s just not true. Instead of focusing on the calorie content (or fat content, or whatever else) in food, focus on eating a wide variety of foods from all categories (starches, meat proteins, dairy proteins, fruits, veggies, and fats) plus some treats now and then (or everyday if you have a sweet tooth like mine). :) If you are in recovery or supporting someone in recovery, I would recommend blocking out all the nutrition facts on the food labels on the food you buy. I am very frustrated by the new proposed Nutrition Label design (click here to see it). I have no issue with the changes they’re proposing as to what is shown, but the MASSIVE calorie number at the top makes it seem as though the most important thing on the label is the calorie content and it also makes it incredibly difficult for people, like me, who try not to look at the label, to avoid the huge bold number at the top.
  • Evaluate Your Workout Habits–Society tells us that you can never work out too much. This is absolutely not true. Working out excessively can actually work to break down your body, especially if you aren’t eating enough food to balance your workout, and excessively working out can harm you psychologically. If the thought of missing a workout gives you anxiety, your workout habit is probably not healthy. If you associate working out with being a “good” person and not working out with being a “bad” person, your workout habit is most likely not healthy. If your eating habits are such that you are not be able to eat enough to support the amount of exercise you are getting, your workout habits are probably not healthy. My suggestion for healthy workout habits is to not focus on calories burned while working out (I have a rule that I don’t workout on a machine that shows me calories burned because I know it would be unhealthy for me). Also, don’t do workouts that aren’t fun for you. Find a way of staying active that gives you joy–that might be hiking, going on walks around the neighborhood, yoga, zumba, dancing around your room, roller blading, biking, soccer, softball, ice skating, swimming, running, etc. I would say that being honest with your workout habits and how it may be negatively affecting your mind and body is probably one of the hardest things to do, but I really recommend taking the time to really think about it and consider some of the things I talked about here.
  • Don’t Look at Clothing Size Tags– I realize that this is a hard one to do because you choose the clothing you’re going to try on by the marked size. Here are some ideas of things you can do to help avoid clothing size: Shop with a friend or family member and have them bring you a wide variety of clothing sizes and don’t look at the tags when you try them on. A healthy thing for everyone to do is cut the tags out of your clothing once you buy them–eventually you’ll forget what exact size you’re wearing, or at least won’t be reminded every time you put them on. Another thing you could do is choose clothing that is stretchy and so it will fit you at a range of weights. This helps you take your mind off of any changes happening in your body–this is one of the reasons I wear leggings pretty much 24/7. It helped me take my mind off of my body as I was trying to recover and it still makes me feel more comfortable now.
  • Do Things that Make You Happy–I cannot stress enough how important it is to take time for yourself. I don’t have class until 3pm on Tuesdays so I get up early, go to yoga, and then go to a cafe and get something yummy for breakfast, have time with Jesus, and then do homework. Tuesdays are so fun because I get some time to myself and treat myself :)
  • Avoid mirrors–I would suggest not having a mirror in your room. I live in a dorm so I can’t remove the mirror that is in there, but last year as I was trying to recover, I was able to strategically move one of our dressers in front of the mirror. The less time you spend in front of the mirror, the less self-conscious you’ll feel about yourself. Also writing encouraging notes to yourself or whoever else shares your mirror is always nice :)
  • Surround yourself with healthy people–If you mostly hang out with a group of people who constantly talk about their eating and workout habits, discussing their bodies, dieting, etc., it’s going to be very difficult for you to keep healthy and positive thoughts going in your mind. Really think about who you spend your time with and what effect they’re having on you and your self esteem. Also, don’t be afraid to tell the people you’re hanging out with that you would prefer for them to change the subject if they’re talking about something that is triggering or just unhealthy. I have to do this sometimes with my friends and they’re always super respectful and move on to a new topic.
  • Mediate on Psalm 139–Psalm 139 is quoted so much to the point where it seems kind of trite and cheesy. I went for a long time without reading Psalm 139 because of this reason, but lately I’ve been reading it a lot and have been struck by how powerful it is. It’s quoted all the time because it’s amazing. I’ve been so moved by the idea of God being with me even before I was born–that He saw my unformed body and that His presence kept me company even in the womb. God is so awesome!
From http://hellobrielle.wordpress.com[/caption%5D
  • Be careful of the language you use with yourself–This is a really hard one–it is really challenging to change your thought processes. One thing I would have you think about is this: Would you ever speak to someone the way you speak to yourself? Would you ever critique someone’s body and actions the way you do yours? I would guess that for most of you, the answer is no. When you catch yourself saying something really mean to yourself, make the effort to stop that thought and speak a truth against it. Just try your best to remember that there is so much grace, always.
  • Keep a list of how you want to impact your world and the people around you–I’m guessing when you think about how you want to be remembered in this world, how you want to better the lives of your friends, family members, and strangers, the number one thing that comes to mind is not that you want to be remembered for the shape of your body. You have the ability to change lives, to bring hope, to give love to those who do not feel loved, to be the hands and feet of Christ. What is your life’s work? What is the call of your soul?

Be gentle with yourself. Learning to love yourself is a long process, but it’s so worth it <3

Interested in learning more about eating disorders? Click here to read more posts I’ve written on the topic.

Top Eating Disorder Myths

eating disorder awareness- top eating disorder myths

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, decease which continue to be misunderstood and stigmatized, share my experience with those who have eating disorders or know others who do, 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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Eating disorders are really misunderstood diseases and the fact that there are so many false beliefs about EDs means that many people don’t get the treatment or support that they need. Eating disorders are diseases that tell you every day you don’t have them. All the girls I was in treatment with shared the fact that they had been diagnosed with EDs by professionally trained psychologists, and yet all us of consistently doubted that we really had EDs or deserved to be in treatment. Part of the reason for that, I believe, is that our society has this picture of what eating disorders look like and that picture is wrong. This post tries to take apart some commonly held ideas about eating disorders.

So here they are, the Top Eating Disorder Myths:

  • Most people with eating disorders are underweight– This absolutely false idea is immensely detrimental to those with eating disorders for it is a belief that really hinders people from seeking treatment or accepting the fact that they have an eating disorder. There’s a belief that the majority of people with eating disorders are emaciated which makes people with eating disorders often believe that they don’t have an eating disorder because they aren’t “skinny enough.” This also makes it so that if someone who is not underweight is seeking treatment for an eating disorder, people often think that the person doesn’t have a severe problem and doesn’t actually need treatment. There are two things I learned in treatment that helped me tremendously in recovery. The first is this statistic: 80-90% of people with eating disorders are not underweight. The second is what one of our therapists shared: she used to have an eating disorder and said that when she was the sickest in her eating disorder was not when she was at her lowest weight. Weight does not accurately indicate how sick in your eating disorder you are. If we as a society could wrap our heads around that, I think people who are severely struggling with eating disorders would get a lot more support and understanding.
  • If you have an eating disorder you’re either anorexic or bulimic– This is actually not true. There are currently three named eating disorders in the DSM 5 and they are anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating disorder. However, the most diagnosed eating disorder is EDNOS (now OSFED), which is Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified. EDNOS means that you do not neatly fit into the criteria outlined for the other three disorders. It does NOT mean that you don’t have a real eating disorder. It does NOT mean that your struggle isn’t that bad or that it’s not real. If you or someone you love is diagnosed with EDNOS, it is just as serious as any of the other disorders. It just means that they have a mixture of behaviors and physical manifestations of the disorder that can’t be neatly categorized. Also, important note: most people with eating disorders will struggle with different behaviors and it’s not unusual for someone to transition from anorexia to bulimia to ENOS to binge-eating disorder, etc.
  • Eating disorders aren’t that serious Yes, they are. They have the highest mortality rate of all psychological disorders, with EDNOS having the highest mortality rate over both anorexia and bulimia.
  • Eating disorders are just about food– There’s this misconception that eating disorders are mainly about behaviors, the disordered ways that people eat food. Behaviors do make up a large part of eating disorders and part of treatment is absolutely addressing and stopping behaviors. However, just because behaviors have gone away does not mean that the eating disorder has. Many people will see their loved one with an eating disorder start eating well and stopping their dangerous behaviors and they will assume that they are recovered, and so it’s frustrating when they see their loved one still struggling with this supposed eating disorder and remain in treatment or go back to treatment. “But you eat now and are physically healthy, why do you need treatment?” It’s because behaviors are just a part of what it means to have an eating disorder, and as hard as the behaviors are to get rid of, the thoughts that plague and torture the mind of the person with an eating disorder stick around for a lot longer than the behaviors (I share the mental struggle of living with eating disorders in this post). If a person struggling with an ED has managed to stop all behaviors, that is huge and something to be celebrated. But we all need to recognize that getting rid of behaviors does not constitute recovery.
  • Men don’t get eating disorders- It is estimated that 1 million men in the U.S. are currently struggling with eating disorders, and I’m guessing that in reality, that number is even higher. There is a huge stigma attached to eating disorders in general, but even more so for men which means that few seek treatment.
  • The only people with eating disorders are upper class white teenage girls- Eating disorders are equal opportunity diseases. While a large number of people with eating disorders are white teenage girls, people of all ages, races, and socioeconomic statuses are affected. In fact, there are studies showing that black girls are 50% more likely to suffer from bulimia than white girls, and the girls in the lowest income bracket of those studied were 153% more likely to be bulimic than girls from the highest income bracket.
  • People with eating disorders are super vain and don’t have their lives together- Most (if not all) people with eating disorders are very high-achieving, high-functional people. In treatment with me were straight-A students, star runners, nationally recognized dancers, lawyers, college professors. Eating disorders have genetic and biological, psychological, and social roots. They are not choices and they are not vanity.
  • Binge eating is just a lack of self control– Binge-eating disorder is now an official eating disorder (which I’m so happy about!). Binge eating is not just eating too much food because you lack self control. Binging is the compulsive need to fill a void with food. The crucial thing to understand is the binging is an uncontrollable impulse, very similar to how alcoholics or drug addicts have the compulsion to use. Food becomes a drug that you cannot stop using- binge eating was, at times, a part of my eating disorder and I was never able to stop mid-binge, even when in my mind I was screaming, “I don’t want to eat this food!” Binging is typically followed by massive feelings of guilt and self-loathing. Binge eating is not a lack of self-control- it is a symptom of a very real disease.
  • Eating disorders are caused by the media and dysfunctional families– There are absolutely social and environmental factors that contribute to the onset of eating disorder. These factors include the media’s unrealistic depictions of the “perfect body,” bullying, being abused, growing up in an abusive or unhealthy family, etc. However, more and more studies are showing that there is a massive genetic component to eating disorders, with some studies finding that genetics account for 50-80% of the risk of getting an eating disorder. And while families are getting less of the blame for the onset of eating disorders, psychologists continue to recognize the need for family involvement in treatment and recovery.
  • People with eating disorders only eat _______ – It doesn’t matter what food item you put in that blank, your statement is false. Why? Because all eating disorders are unique. One specific food or category of food might be a fear food for one person and a safe food for another. Also, it is not unusual for people with eating disorders to do a lot of cooking and baking.
  • Eating disorders are glamorous- I had this idea in my mind that anorexia was a “desirable” eating disorder because you lose weight and also because that’s how it’s often portrayed in the media. My picture of anorexia was quickly dashed to reality once my eating disorder transitioned to anorexia. No eating disorder is desirable because all of them transform your mind into a hostile place and when your mind is hostile, you become a hostile person towards others. Additionally, all eating disorder start breaking down and destroying your body. If you need to hear some of the really gross and terrible things that start happening to your body when you struggle with an eating disorder, get in touch with me and I’ll fill you in on some of the details that our society seems to conveniently overlook.
  • Eating disorders are a lifestyle choice- I despise pro-ana and pro-mia communities (communities that promote anorexia and bulimia as valid lifestyles). Eating disorders are serious psychological diseases, NOT lifestyle choices. When you have an eating disorder, you are not in control. Your eating disorder tells you that you’re the one in control and that the behaviors you’re doing and the thoughts you’re thinking are your choice, but they’re not. Your eating disorder is the one running the show. And let’s be clear- any “way of life” with an alarmingly high death rate is anything but a “life” style.

So do any of these surprise you? Feel free to ask questions or comment on this post!

Want to learn more about eating disorders? Click here to read more posts I’ve written on the topic.

A resolution that might actually change your life- learning to love our bodies

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, nurse  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, pathopsychology 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).
who rules the world 3

This is Part 3 in a 5 part series. To see all the posts in the Who Rules the World? series, ed CLICK HERE.

This is the third post of my “Who Rules the World?” series. Calling this string of related blog posts a “series” makes me feel much more official and legit. It’s funny how, no rx quite often, pastors create sermon series and say that it has 3 parts or 5 parts to it, but somehow it always seems to happen that weeks later you’re sitting in church listening to part 7 of the series because, let’s face it, it’s hard to be concise and condense things when you’re talking about the all-consuming living Author of Life. All this to say, I originally said that my “series” had 4 parts and now I’ve stretched it out to 5 because, as it turns out, intercessory prayer is rather a large topic. I was writing this post in a word document and once I got to page 6 I thought it might be a good idea to save some for another post if I had hopes of people actually making it to the end. All that to say, here is part 3 out of my 5-part-but-who-knows-how-long-it-will-be series. Before you read this post I would recommend that you read Part 1 and Part 2 because they really lead up and set the theological foundation for this post and the next.

In my last post, I proposed the idea that God is not in control over everything that happens in the world because He has given us freewill and also because He wants to work through us to bring His kingdom to earth, not independent of us. And this brings us to, what I believe, is one of the most crucial aspects of the Christian faith- intercessory prayer.

What is intercessory prayer? Simply put, it is to pray to God on the behalf of someone else for something to change- for people to be healed, saved, set free. An intercessor is a mediator, someone who goes between.

I love this quote by E.M. Bounds:

God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil…the prayers of God’s saints are the capital stock of heaven by which God carries on His great work upon the earth. God conditions the very life and prosperity of His cause on prayer.

Wow. Let those words sink in. Prayer is the way God carries His great work upon the earth. The life and prosperity of God’s cause depends on us and our prayers. I believe the powerful ideas expressed in this quote are absolutely backed up by the Bible. One  example is found in the book of 1 Kings.

The context of this passage is that the prophet Elijah had previously prayed for there to be a drought in the land and there had indeed been a drought for 3 years. This is where the passage picks up:

After a long time, in the third year, the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” -1 Kings 18:1

In this verse, the Lord comes to Elijah and says that He is going to send rain. I think it’s crucial to note that Elijah was not the one requesting rain, but rather the Lord reveals that it’s His will to bring the rain.

Later on in this chapter, Elijah says to Ahab:

“Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees. -1 Kings 18:41-42

Elijah knows that the Lord has promised rain and that the Lord Himself desires the rain to come. So what Elijah does in response to this is quite interesting- he tells Ahab to eat because he knows that they will have to leave Mount Carmel to escape the heavy rains, and then he goes to the top of the mountain, gets on the ground, and puts his face between his knees. Elijah is praying for rain.

“Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked. “There is nothing there,” he said. Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.” The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”            -1 Kings 18:43-44

Elijah prayed fervently and persistently- he prayed seven times for the Lord to fulfill His word. In the New Testament, James talks about Elijah’s actions and confirms that it was indeed Elijah’s prayers that brought the rain:

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the sky poured rain, and the earth produced its fruit. James 5:17-18

I believe this story is absolutely crucial to understanding the fact that God has chosen to work through people. Even when it is the Lord Himself initiating something, earnestly desiring to do it, He still needs us to ask.

I love this quote from Andrew Murray:

God’s giving is inseparably connected with our asking…Only by intercession can that power be brought down from heaven which will enable to church to conquer the world.

His giving and His power coming down is connected inseparably with our asking.

I would go so far as to say that if you believe that everything is controlled by God, there’s no point to praying intercessory prayers. If what God wills is going to happen on earth, there is no point for us to pray fervently and persistently for His will to come. And yet this is precisely what Jesus tells us to pray:

This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. -Matthew 6:9-10

We need to pray for God’s will to be done- this implies that God’s will is not currently being done on earth.

If you truly believe prayer is important, that things truly hang in the balance, you will pray with urgency. When we understand that the living God of the universe wants and needs us to bring His will, His work, His kingdom to this earth, it transforms the way we view prayer.

So this brings us to the important question, what is it that God wills? What is it that He wants to do on this earth, in the lives of His precious children? And this is where I will pick off in the next post!

To read the next post, Part 4, 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).

A resolution that might change your life- learning to love our bodies

Trigger Warning: mention of eating disorder, approved
ED behaviors, this
weight, case
self-esteem, depression

When was the last time you made a New Year’s Resolution that changed your life and actually helped you love yourself more?

I know that the end of January is not the typical time for writing blog posts about resolutions, but change doesn’t have to happen at the beginning of a new year. Each and every day of the year is the perfect time to start honoring your body and loving yourself—you, a precious child of God who was so tenderly created by the Creator of all beautiful things.

I know full well how hard it is to love your body—I’m traveling this road along with you, walking in the footsteps of my Lord who is teaching me day by day how to relate to this thing He created many years ago in the secret place. Through this journey I’ve learned some practical ways to love my body, and I want to share one of those today.

The top U.S. resolutions are consistently to lose weight, get in shape, eat healthier, and workout. And those things aren’t necessarily bad—we need to love and honor our bodies, and that means keeping them healthy. But in the process of trying to keep our bodies healthy, we neglect our emotional and mental health. I think most of us have this idea that if we only lose weight, if we just get in shape, if we just looked more like that person, if we only fit into that pair of pants, THEN we would finally love ourselves.

But let me tell you, if you don’t love your body how it is right now, you won’t love it no matter how much weight you lose.

For a lot of my life, I was more on the heavier side. I struggled with binge eating and low self esteem and I was never happy with my body or my weight. I hit my highest weight freshmen year of high school as I started to struggle with depression and my emotional and binge eating increased. During that time, I had this magical number in my head- the perfect weight. And if I got down to that number, I would finally have the perfect body and I would love myself and everything would be great.

Well fast-forward a few years and there I was struggling with anorexia. I was still depressed, had massive anxiety, was majorly restricting my food intake, and was weighing myself every day (multiple times a day if I could). And guess what? I got down to that number. And then I lost 7 more pounds. And I can tell you with complete honestly, I have never hated myself more.

I would weigh myself in order to figure out how to feel about myself. How much am I worth today? How good am I today? How loved am I today? Let me weigh myself and see.

As part of my recovery process from my eating disorder, I have stopped weighing myself. In fact, it has been 14 months since I last weighed myself and I have never felt better about myself or more joyous about my life! Not weighing myself has freed me.

I hear you saying, “Well that’s nice for you, but I don’t have an eating disorder so I can weigh myself and be just fine.”

I could be wrong, but I have a feeling that your relationship with your scale is not as harmonious as you think it is.

Let me ask you this: Can you give me a good, legitimate reason why you should weigh yourself?

“Well it helps me ensure that I don’t gain too much weight, because that’s unhealthy.”

“Weighing myself helps me track my progress with working out and eating healthy, and it helps keep me motivated and it’s exciting when I lose weight.”

“I just weigh myself to track overall trends in my weight, not because I actually care that much.”

Personally, I think that all those reasons are crap. I have yet to hear a good reason why anyone needs to weigh themselves. This isn’t how I’ve always felt, partially because my eating disorder told me I needed to weigh myself but also because the media tells us that knowing and tracking our weight is crucial and important. My beliefs about weighing myself were really challenged in treatment when one of the therapists made the comment that there is actually no reason to weigh yourself—if you go to the Dr. for a yearly check-up each year, they can track your weight and let you know if you need to be concerned.

“But however will I know if I’m gaining weight, if I’m unhealthy, if my workouts are effective??!??”

Learn how to listen to your body.

Our bodies can tell us so much—when we need rest, when we need to be pushed, what foods feel good, what gives us energy, what makes us feel joyous, what makes us feel loved and beautiful.

For me, I’ve learned that running makes me feel upset and inadequate, whereas doing Zumba actually makes me feel happy and energized. I’ve learned that yoga helps me pay attention to my body, which is uncomfortable for me but uncomfortable in a good way. I’ve learned that my body craves apples and carrots and sometimes snuggling up in my bed and watching a movie while eating a piece of chocolate cake is just what I needed. None of these things have to do with my weight and I would go so far as to say that not knowing my weight, not counting calories, not measuring my various body parts, is what has allowed me to find out these things about myself.

Not convinced yet? Let me ask you this question:

Does the thought of throwing out your scale and not weighing yourself make you feel at all uncomfortable?

Be honest with yourself.

If it does, let me tell you: Your scale and what it tells you has a hold upon your life.  

And if you really don’t think that not weighing yourself would have an effect on you I want to challenge you with these two thoughts: First of all, why are you still weighing yourself, then? I think it’s something to think about. And second of all, who are those around you who you have influence over?

Maybe you feel like weighing yourself is a perfectly healthy aspect of your life. But if you are a mom or dad or roommate or older sister or brother or friend, your weighing yourself could be having a serious effect on those around you.

If you keep a scale in your home, what are you communicating to your kids? If you’re an older sibling and you weigh yourself, what are you communicating to your younger siblings? Even if you never say anything negative about your weight or about the scale, you are telling them that, for whatever reason, that number is important. And let me tell you, the media and society will tell them what the importance of that number is much louder than you ever can.

I cringe every time I think about the few times where I weighed myself in front of my youngest sister. I wish more than anything that I could take every one of those times back and instead tell her that she is fearfully and wonderfully made and to never let anyone make her doubt that truth.

I’ll end this post with a challenge—will you commit to stop weighing yourself? Will you stop letting a number define who you are, who the Creator has made you to be?

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,”
 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.