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?

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.

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.


Funks … Feelings … Freedom

I’ve been in a funk yesterday and today. Yesterday I was irritable, agitated and easily frustrated all morning into the afternoon for no reason that I could put my finger on. Everything was getting under my skin.

I left in the afternoon to go to the library to do some studying and journaling on a writing project that God and I have been working on together the last few weeks. All of the stuff God was showing me and reminding me in my writing time at the library was so powerful. Life changing truths and reminders of how faithful God was and is and will be.

As I was finishing up, I thought, I wonder if this funk is the enemy’s way of trying to intercept and prevent me from digging into God’s Word. I had been trying to write and study all morning at home but the interruptions and constant annoyances were so distracting and frustrating.

I felt better knowing as I left the library that I didn’t let the enemy have the final say and I thought my attitude would fall into line. It didn’t.

The rest of the evening and into today I was still struggling with this cloud hanging over my head. I had been trying to pinpoint the cause of this mood since yesterday morning. I had been praying and asking God to give me wisdom but nothing was coming to mind. I took some time this afternoon to really sit with my feelings for a longer amount of time instead of just offering up a 2 second prayer then rushing on to the next thought.

As I sat and tried to examine what I was feeling, I started to notice a feeling of sadness in my chest that felt like a physical aching. I asked God to tell me what I was feeling or if maybe I was just going crazy. I sat in silence and almost immediately my thoughts went to how selfishly I had treated my family yesterday and this morning in response to my agitation. It was like watching a video playback all my words and actions. I could see how I’d let my emotions drive me and I was filled with regret.

Through bawling tears I asked God to forgive me and to take my selfishness and my irritation. To take them and replace them with more of Him, His grace, His love.

As I was praying, the song “Build My Life” was playing and God used some of the lyrics to speak to me:

I will build my life upon Your love * It is a firm foundation * I will put my trust in You alone * I will not be shaken

As soon as the words “a firm foundation” hit my ears, I was reminded of my own blog [A House God (Re)Built] I just shared last week about how God has been re-building and re-making me. Renovating me on a new foundation. On His foundation.

How quickly I forget Who is doing the work and I start picking up the scraps and debris of what God has already torn down. I try to take over the process by trying to put the pieces back together on the trash heap of my old busted up foundation.

He is the only stable foundation. Everything else is shifting sand. He is my only safe place. My refuge and my strength. I need Him every minute of every day. I put my trust in Him alone and I am not shaken.

About the time I’d worked through all of that in my head and in my journal, the song “Faithful to the End” was playing. My favorite part is:

There wasn’t a day that You weren’t by my side * There wasn’t a day that You let me fall * All of my life Your love has been true * All of my life I will worship You

And then I love how they change the words to say:

There won’t be a day that You aren’t by my side * There won’t be a day that You’ll let me fall * All of my life Your love will be true * All of my life we will worship You

It reminds me that God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Beth Moore always says…God was, God is, God is yet to come and the “God is” would be who God is currently in the present. Right now. Today.

He is currently by my side.

He is currently not letting me fall.

His love is currently true in my life.

He is currently worthy of my worship with all of my life.

He is currently my firm foundation.

Today. Right now.

There’s no room for emotional funks or spiritual amnesia when I remember how much God has saved me from. Or when I think about how easy it is to slip back in to the old ways of feeling dread and despair.

I’m praying that God keeps me tender to His gentle tug on my heart when I start to stray away. When I start to pick up the pieces He’s already removed. I don’t ever want to wander as far away as I have in the past, where I find myself teetering on the edge of that old familiar dark pit. It would be so easy to fall back into the trash heap with the scraps and debris of all the old ways God has freed me and is currently freeing me from today.

I much more prefer the freedom of walking in the security of God’s love right by His side. A phrase I have picked up somewhere over the past few months of my counseling journey (or maybe I made it up?) is that I want to walk free and live loved. This has truly become words to live by for me.

How about you? What does it look like to you to walk free and live loved? How is God showing up currently in your life, right now, today?

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.

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.

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.

Father’s Day Reflections

Thinking about my Dad. Grateful for who he is and how my life has been blessed by him.

What is it about Dads & daughters that always gets me? Is it because my own relationship with my Dad hasn’t always been good that I have such a tender place in my heart on the subject? Or maybe because it’s a picture of my relationship with God as my Father?

My heart melts as I look back at pictures of my husband with our daughters as babies. As I watch him interacting with them in these growing up years I am thankful for a man who is loyal, faithful and strong. I pray these girls are growing up knowing how dearly loved they are by their Dad.

As parents we can reflect back on our childhood knowing how hard this job of raising kids is. Our parents weren’t perfect and neither are we. There is so much grace to be found & embraced in that realization.

There are so many things I can already say I wish I had done differently as a parent. I know my parents would say the same but there are many parts of my childhood that I see places to be thankful. Especially where my Dad is concerned.

My Dad has always been a memory-maker. Family vacations were important to him. He & my Mom took us places & gave us experiences that a lot of kids didn’t get to do growing up. I know that took sacrifice & I didn’t show very much gratitude at the time but I see it now. Thank you, Dad for the memories.

My Dad is a hard worker, even working two jobs at one point to make ends meet. As a kid you don’t know how hard it is to get up every day & go to a job, much less two! Thank you, Dad for being the kind of man who always did what needed doing to get the job done.

My Dad knows how to say “I’m sorry”. I’ve watched my Dad over the years own his stuff & let us know when he was wrong. Even as recently as a few months ago, to hear him say he was sorry for all the ways he wasn’t what we needed him to be as kids–there is healing in those words. Thank you, Dad for being courageous enough to own the hard things.

My Dad is an overcomer. I couldn’t appreciate as a kid the demons my Dad has wrestled with through out his life. My own journey of wandering so far from God & experiencing the power of His redemption in my life gave me a connection to my Dad that has always been special to me. Even though I haven’t been through all that he has gone through, I respect how hard he has fought to overcome addiction & choose to keep God at the center of his life every day. Thank you, Dad for fighting the good fight & letting God use your story.

My Dad has always been a crier. I cry so easily at any situation, happy or sad. I must get that from Dad. Any time my Dad prays for us, whether it was just the five of us years ago or the group we’ve grown into recently, the depth of emotion that fills his voice makes me cry time every time. I’m tearing up right now just thinking about it. I’m remembering phone conversations where we both ended up bawling our eyes out talking about the past. Or even all of the many tear-soaked airport goodbyes over the 10 years we lived away and the happy tears of joy when we finally came home again. Thank you, Dad for always being tender hearted & never being afraid to show your true emotions.

More & more I am seeing that I am who I am not just because of the choices I have made but also from the choices of all those who have come before me. Some good & some not so good.

Today I choose to focus on the good. I choose to be grateful for all the ways we’ve overcome what lies behind and look forward to all the blessings to come. I choose to say thank You to God for giving me a Dad who isn’t perfect but has impacted my life in so many ways by choosing to do the hard things, being courageous & allowing God to keep working in him.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I love you!

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.