Toxic Friends

Have you ever had a toxic friend or relationship? I have experienced a toxic relationship with a friend I’ve had my whole life.

We’ve hung out together for innumerable hours and celebrated many milestones together. When I was sad or bored or angry or frustrated or overwhelmed, my friend was always there with promises to comfort me, pick me up, make me happy and take away my pain.

Those promises never came true. My friend didn’t have the ability to meet those needs in my life but I still kept coming back hoping my cup would be filled up at this dry, empty well of a friendship. The expectation and hope that I put in my friend always led to disappointment and then anger and sometimes the anger turned to an out of control rage inside of me. Unrealistic expectations and unmet needs can do that.

I could see we had an unhealthy attachment because all of my emotions were wrapped up in this friend but I couldn’t see a way out. Even though I hated the way I felt, I couldn’t imagine life without this friendship because we had been together for so long. What could life possibly look like without it?

We have been the best of friends and the absolute worst enemies my whole life. Up until recently that is. Do you have a toxic friend like this in your life? The friend I have been describing is not a person but a thing and this friend’s name is Food.

I have spent so many years looking to Food to fill me up emotionally while filling me up physically. Comfort me, calm me, numb me, excite me, reward me…Food has been my closest friend for a lifetime.

A friend and a traitorous foe. An unfulfilling backstabber that only led me deeper into disappointment, anger and rage layered with shame, anxiety and depression. Even at my lowest rock bottom knowing I needed to end this relationship I felt paralyzed and overwhelmed with fear.

The possibility of turning my back and walking away from this mainstay of my existence felt scary and impossible at the beginning of my recovery journey. How could I possibly make it through each day without my faithful friend to lean on? The mind is a tricky battlefield. Quick to forget how unfaithful our toxic friends actually are.

My journey started with one step of faith: simply admitting that what I have been doing for 30+ years has only gotten me deeper into a pit of despair. Then a second step of faith: asking God to help me trust Him to find a better way.

As God started removing my attachment to that toxic friendship, I could see more clearly how I had been allowing myself to be poisoned day in and day out. I could see that Food was never going to give me all of the things I so desperately needed and it was obvious now that it had been foolish to ever think anything different from something so empty. The farther I walk from that pit the clearer I can see how much more life there is to be lived outside of that toxic dependency on Food.

Detaching from Food and setting a boundary around myself has opened up more space in my mind and heart for God to fill me with more of Him. I’m finding the more filled up I am with all of the life giving things from God the less I need Food.

I can finally answer the question, “What is life without Food?”

It’s true life.

It’s life how God intended it to be lived.

It’s a life that makes me thankful for how my eyes have been opened to what has kept me chained and bound for so long to a very limited existence.

It’s a life lived more abundantly with abundant grace, abundant love, abundant forgiveness. For others and finally, after all these years, for me, too.

Life without the toxic Food friendship is a life filled with experiences and people that pour God’s richest blessings into my empty cup.

It’s a life completely dependent on God to comfort me, calm me, bring me joy and bless me beyond all I could ever ask or imagine.

It’s a life lived learning to love and trust and grow the ultimate friendship with my Savior, my Jesus.

There is nothing more filling than that.

What or who are you looking to today to fill you up? What is the toxic friend in your life that you need to break up with? What dry, empty well do you need to walk away from?

This has been the scariest and hardest journey I have ever taken but I am learning that it’s ok to take it one step at a time. One day at a time. One choice at a time. One step combined with the next step and the next eventually makes a mile. One day combined with the next day and the next eventually leads you to a week, a month, a year. One choice combined with the next choice and the next eventually leads you to a freedom you never thought possible.

If you’re facing a similar struggle whether it’s food, alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, gambling, anything…you are not alone.

There is no shame in asking for help or admitting you’ve reached rock bottom. You don’t have to live this way anymore.

There is hope. There is help. One step, one day, one choice at a time.

What step are you willing to take today?


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You can also read all of my other posts by clicking here.

If you are struggling with any type of addiction and would like more information on a 12 step recovery program near you. Please click here for more information.

We can all help prevent suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones. Click here for more information.

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A House that God (Re)Built

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” -Matthew 7:24

This morning I was reading over some note cards that I’ve written some meaningful verses on over the last 6 months. God gave me a fresh message over these particular verses:

“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, sustain me.”

-Psalm 51:10-12

These verses are very familiar to me and they have been encouraging to me at different seasons in my life but I haven’t read these particular verses since starting my recent journey of recovery.

The words RESTORE and WILLING seemed to jump off the page in front of me this morning! For anyone familiar with the 12 steps of recovery, the second step is believing that a power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity and the third step is being willing to trust that power greater than yourself with your will and your life. Reading these verses this morning made me realize God has restored my joy by restoring my sanity around food, people, work, family, etc. He has granted me a willing spirit to live a surrendered life. To place my will and my life into His care every day. That has sustained me in a way that I have never known before.

This doesn’t happen overnight and it’s definitely not easy. I was speaking with a mutual member of an Overeaters Anonymous Facebook group about how when we began working the OA program and truly trying to trust God with, not just our food, but with our whole lives, we felt uprooted and off balance.

A few months ago God gave me a pretty vivid “house” analogy that explained to me clearly why I felt that way. It was so hard to come to terms with at the time God was revealing this to me because I felt like I was on shaky ground. My whole life I had built my own foundation on my own set of rules, my self reliance, my pride, my insecurities, etc. and I kept asking God to do a new thing in me but I was still standing on a broken foundation.

God showed me that He wanted to do a complete renovation on me and just like with a house renovation, He was going to re-make me inside and out. That would have to start with demo on all of the existing walls and rooms that I’d been wandering around aimlessly in all these years.

I think at some level the demo and the renovation continue throughout our whole lives but the initial whack of the sledge hammer completely rocked me. I felt like I had been through an earthquake and my foundation had been split wide open. All I could see at the time were busted up pieces of my heart scattered all over the place. I know now that God broke through what I had made for myself so that He could start re-making me and re-building me on His foundation.

Today I can see Psalm 51:10-12 at work in my life. God is clearing out the messes and the junk in my heart. He is creating a pure and clean heart in me. He has given me the ability to stand steady and stand firm. He has renewed a steadfast spirit within me. His presence and His Spirit are with me, filling me with His power and His strength. He has restored the joy of knowing I’m saved, I’m His, I’m free and I’m an overcomer in Him. He has granted me a willingness to keep trusting Him to sustain me, comfort me, help me, encourage me, carry me and care for me.

The Message Bible translates Psalm 51:10-12 to say:

“God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.

Don’t throw me out with the trash, or fail to breathe holiness in me.

Bring me back from gray exile, put a fresh wind in my sails!”

I love how other translations can sometimes paint a different picture and this did NOT disappoint!

Where do you need God to shape a Genesis week in the chaos of your life and give you a fresh start?

Just as God breathed life into Adam, I want His life giving breath of holiness to cover me and fill me.

With just one single exhale from God, our sails are full again and we are able to keep traveling forward.

Re-made, re-built, re-created, restored and full of the powerful breath of God reviving our dead hearts back to life.


If you found this post encouraging, please feel free to share and I would love to hear what you think! You can also read all of my other posts by clicking here.

Insides and Outsides

We all need a God who knows and loves our insides and our outsides!

For those of you who don’t know, I started a journey about 3 months ago looking to find better emotional and mental health for myself. I was depressed, discontent, hopeless and empty. My counselor has given me a lot of really great suggestions on this journey of self-discovery. Two of the biggest ones have been reading the book Loveable by Kelly Flanagan (that I mentioned in this previous blog) and also attending Overeaters Anonymous to address my eating issues. I was able to finally admit that I have been struggling all my life with food addiction that has lead to out of control binge eating to try to numb out of control feelings.

As of today, I have 60 days of abstinence in the OA program. Which means I’ve gone 60 days without binge eating or using food as a comfort, a crutch, a drug or a diversion. I’ve lost more weight in this 2 month period than I ever thought possible and I’ve acquired more life changing things than I ever knew to ask for. It’s been the most absolutely freeing experience I have ever walked through and this is only the beginning!

One of the life changing things I’ve come across is a chapter in the book Loveable entitled WHY WE NEED TO QUIT LOOKING INTO MIRRORS. I have the entire chapter either highlighted or underlined but here’s just a few of the high points for me from this chapter:

“If we are seen and mirrored well by the people we love, our life ceases to be a question asked and becomes an answer lived. If we are mirrored well.

The problem is, most of our mirrors — the people who could have reflected our hearts back to us — were cracked. Those we looked to for mirroring were, for the most part, not bad people; they were broken people. In other words, they were normal people. Still preoccupied with their own inner drama, they were too busy asking Who am I? to answer that question for us. Still absorbed for their own search for worthiness, they were too distracted to mirror the worthiness in us. Still in search of their own mirror, they may have even used us as a mirror for themselves. Or, still cracked by their own shame, they may have cracked us a little bit too. Thus, as we grew bigger, so did the need for an answer to our question: Who am I?

If we can’t find anyone to adequately mirror our heart, we’ll settle for any kind of mirror we can find. And there is one kind mirror we do not have to look hard to find: body mirrors. They’re everywhere. In weight rooms, restrooms, makeup aisles, smartphones, and in giant steel beans.

And, of course, in dressing rooms…”

———–

“In the absence of heart mirrors, we gaze into body mirrors, searching for the answer to our question of identity, and the shameful message slowly and subtly seeps into us:

I am my body.I am my skin, my shape, my measurements, my weight, my firmness, and my youthfulness.I am my body, so I can make myself a better a better me by changing my appearance and preserving my youth. I can diet and exercise and poke and prod and have surgeries and get injections and buy more products. The numbers on the scale tell me who I am. The people who like or reject my body tell me who I am. The mirrors in the dressing room tell me who I am.”

———–

“I think the movement to accept our bodies is equally riddled with shame and just as doomed to failure.

Because the mind plays tricks.

You can’t think less about something by trying to think about it less. If, for instance, I told you not to think about white bears, all you would think about is white bears. And, similarly, you can’t accept something by trying to accept it. Whether you are looking at your body to judge it or accept it, you’re still looking at your body. When you try to accept your body by focusing on your body, you are trying to solve the problem by practicing the problem, and the problem is this: if you look to your body to tell you who you are, you’ll never get around to looking for your heart. If you’re focused on your body image — positively or negatively — you’ll never get around to focusing on yoursoul image. If you search for your identity on the surface of yourself, you’ll never get around to searching for it underneath, at the center of yourself. So, instead of obsessing about changing your body or accepting your body, what if you let yourself forget about your body, for just a little while.

What if you forgot about your body so you could remember your heart?

After reading this chapter, I clung to the following statements as reminders of where my focus needs to lie:

  • I am not my body.
  • My value is not based on my outside appearance. My worth is found within.
  • And this familiar verse: “The Lord does not look at things people look at. People look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks on the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7(NIV)

These are all well and good until you’re trying to fit your OUTSIDES into a swimsuit.

Which is where I found myself today. Swimsuit shopping and battling my own mind in front of a dressing room mirror.

I wasn’t trying to find a swimsuit that fit my insides. I was trying to find one that fit my outsides.

Standing in that dressing room, dripping with sweat, thinking how disgusted I felt looking in the mirror I honestly tried to tell myself, I am not my body. That my value and my worth are not contingent on my clothing size, my weight or how I look in a swimsuit. All true in my head but then why was this still so discouraging and frustrating? Why did I sit in my car and cry for 30 minutes after leaving the store? Why am I still crying as I write this? How can we ever come to terms with both sides of this?

I don’t have a clear answer for that except for another section from Loveable that jumped off the page at me when I first read it. It says:

“The voice of Grace doesn’t challenge the story I’ve been told by my shame — it totally subverts it by reminding me of the rest of the story. The voice of Grace doesn’t try to disprove the voice of shame. It doesn’t do a Yeah, but. It does a Yes, and. It disrupts all the internal debates, undermines all the second-guessing, and avoids all the inner conflict. It says, Yes, that may be true, and this is definitively true. Grace tells you you’re a mess and also lovely, broken and also beautiful, full of darkness and light. Grace is the love that sees the ugly along with the beautiful, and joyfully holds both together in a tender embrace.”

Can it really be both? Can I feel frustrated and also know I am not my body? Does that even make sense? I don’t know.

What I do know is that the enemy wants me to wallow in shame and self pity. He wants to keep me bound to my insecurities. He wants me to throw in the towel and give up when it gets hard. I also know that I have placed my will and my life in the care of God. I have decided that I will trust Him to take care of my thoughts, my actions and all the details that are out of my control.

Does that mean I can trust Him to figure out how to navigate swimsuit season? Yes.

Does that mean I am willing to stop listening to the voice of shame and see myself through His eyes? Yes.

Does that mean I can choose to stop spinning out of control on the hamster wheel of destructive, demeaning insecurities and just rest in the security of His tender embrace? Yes.

Does that mean I will stop yelling inside my own head about how frustrated I am and listen for His voice singing over me? Yes.

I choose to say no to shame. No to the enemy. No to lies. No to my old ways of thinking.

I choose to say YES to grace. YES to God. YES to truth. YES to freedom.

Yes, it is frustrating and I am not my body.

Yes, it’s still a struggle and it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Yes, I need grace and also worthy of that grace.

Yes, I am a mess and also valuable.

Yes, I am broken and also beautiful.

And…so are you. We all are. Maybe you don’t struggle in front of the mirror. Maybe swimsuit shopping doesn’t make you cringe inside. But all of us have something in our lives that will bring us to our knees if our feet aren’t planted firmly on the rock solid foundation of the God who made us. He knows and loves every bit of each one of us. All of our insides and our outsides.


If you found this post encouraging, please feel free to share and I would love to hear what you think! You can also read all of my other posts by clicking here.

Memory of a Song

Have you ever come across a song that used to mean so much to you at one time? I listened to this song today (Kirk Franklin – I Am God) and it immediately took me back to 10 years ago. I could picture myself listening to this song and begging God to free me from all that was holding me bound to shame and anxiety and depression and darkness and every lie that the enemy was beating me down with. I would get a tiny glimpse of freedom but always ended up back in that place of bondage and depression. I listened to this song today with tears running down my face because I have finally started to experience genuine freedom for the first time in my life. I can listen to this song with joy overflowing from my heart because I am finally walking out of that dark pit. I am choosing to live intentionally every day in a way that keeps me moving forward and away from the pit yawning behind me. I am still a work in progress but every day God is showing me how to walk free and live loved.


If you found this post encouraging, please feel free to share and I would love to hear what you think! You can also read all of my other posts by clicking here.

Out of Control

Fists clenched. Teeth gritted. Pride up. Guard down.

Prayers left unanswered or answered with a NO. So I’ll go my own way. Do my own thing because I got this.

Oh yeah, and God, can You bless me where I go today?

Heavy burdens. Weary mind. Tired of trying. Ready to fall.

I’ve got to try harder. Can’t give up now. Keep doing my thing because my way will work.

God? Still waiting for Your blessing….

Something’s gotta give. This pit is too deep. This tunnel’s too dark. How did I get here and when will I get out?

GOD!! I asked You to bless me and this is Your answer? You’ve left me alone. Lost in the dark. I need You. Where are You? Are You there?

I AM where I have always been. Right here beside you. Patiently waiting for you to stop wandering. Cease struggling. Start trusting Me, not you. Lay down your need to control. The need for perfection. 

Where there is perfection, there is no need for My grace. 

Where every detail is orchestrated by you, there is no room for My Spirit to lead and move. 

Where you are trying to control everything, there is only legalism. 

No freedom. 

A false sense of security that will keep you lost at the bottom of the pit and stumbling in the darkest tunnel. 

Let My light shine brighter and My voice speak louder than all of the flashy, noisy distractions that you’ve allowed to lead you away.

Cast your cares at My feet. I care enough for you to want to ease your burden.

Put your worries in My hands. I am able to carry the load that was never yours to bear.

Stop your constant striving. 

Breathe. 

Rest. 

Heal. 

Live. 

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:7

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. – John 10:10

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30

 


If you found this post encouraging, please feel free to share and I would love to hear what you think! You can also read all of my other posts by clicking here.

Resolve to Live

12/31/16. Last day of 2016. Looking back over the last 365 days and looking forward to the next 365 days. Thinking about my New Year’s resolutions and whether it’s even worth it or not. Thinking about how to hold on to all that I so desperately need to bring with me into 2017 and trying to figure out how to let go of everything holding me back that I somehow keep dragging with me.

My resolutions for 2017 pretty much look like the same ones I’ve set every year:

  1. Read my Bible and pray more
  2. Lose weight
  3. Be a better Mom

There’s something so hopeless about striving for the same thing year after year and feeling like every time you look back you’re no closer to where you wanted to be than when you started. I ask myself the same question that I just can’t seem to figure out — why do I keep letting go of what I’ve promised to hold tightly to just to find myself clinging to an empty imitation of really living?

I’m sitting here crying over time wasted, mistakes made & words spoken (yelled) that I can never take back. Even as I’m writing this, I’m interrupted by someone asking me to watch them dance and another someone wanting me to see what their toy can do. And I say, “Not now! Can’t you see I’m doing something?”

I hear a voice in my head say, “Resolutions are not met by writing them on paper. Be what you have resolved to be.”

I set my pin down and apologize (again) that Mom doesn’t get it right as much as she should. And I ask the dancer to dance. And I tell the little one I would love to see her toy. And I pray that as they grow they will not just see all the places I’m weak and all the ways I blow it every day but they would see a woman with brokenness and insecurities in desperate need of her Savior, who kept persevering and kept trying to get it right no matter how many times she foolishly let go of what matters most.

This New Year’s Eve I won’t just be setting goals and making resolutions but I’m resolving to be the woman God has called me to be. A woman after His heart and His purpose for my life. A woman who wants to be healthier so she chooses to live healthier. A woman that is already the exact Mom for these girls that God knew they would need. A woman who struggles with being validated, accepted, liked and seen by every single person she meets on this journey but who is learning to rest in the validation, acceptance and love of a God who knows her deeply, sees her fully and in His faithfulness has promised to hold tightly to her…regardless of what was or wasn’t accomplished in 2016.

Another fresh start is on the horizon and I want to make the most of the time I have been given. I resolve to live.


If you found this post encouraging, please feel free to share and I would love to hear what you think! You can also read all of my other posts by clicking here.