UnmaskED Gala 2017 UnmaskED Gala 2017 UnmaskED Gala 2017 UnmaskED Gala 2017 UnmaskED Gala 2017

Tag Archive for Faith/Gospel

Being Still

Written by Heather Olson

TreesAs I’ve been working through recovery, one of the most challenging things I’ve encountered is appreciating and spending time alone. I find it very difficult to be alone because of the temptation to fall back into old habits when struggling with the difficulties of the day and the accompanied strong emotional reactions.  I find this to be challenging as well because I tend to be a naturally social and extroverted person who wants to talk to others constantly, even when I’m in a negative place and am not able to have the most positive interaction.  This can be especially draining when trying to sift through overwhelming temptations and strong emotions.

When I push myself out of my comfort zone to spend necessary time alone, whether it be taking a walk in the park, listening to my favorite worship music or sitting in complete silence and praying, it can sometimes be more helpful with working through what’s weighing on my heart and mind. One Bible verse that has really spoken to me in this area is Psalm 46:10 – “Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation.  I will be honored throughout the world.”  Being able to be still by calming my mind and body before God and allowing Him to speak to me is precious and minimizes my focus that would have previously been on any self-destructive thoughts or actions.  It helps me to refocus and have more fruitful and positive interactions with others as well!

 

Renewing Your Mind

Written by Heather Olson

I’m constantly amazed by how powerful the mind is. I’ve become more aware of this every day as I work through recovery.  I’ve found that renewing my mind is a daily process (even hourly at times), which involves filling it with truth rather than the lies that have held me captive for so long.  I know I’ve felt in so many instances that I don’t have any control over the thoughts that can debilitate me, but I’ve learned that I have more power than I realize.

 

I get to choose what I’m going to focus my thoughts on and what I’m not. 

I get to choose whose words will be allowed to enter my mind that will help me grow (whether they are uplifting or constructive criticism).  Ultimately, I get to choose what fills my mind and what doesn’t.  I’ve personally found that reading my Bible and learning about how God sees me and how much He lovesFlowers me helps to change the negative thoughts that come into my mind constantly throughout the day, especially the lies I personally tell myself.  One verse that I love replaying in my mind every day is 1 Peter 5:7 – “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.”  This reminds me that I have the choice to give God ALL of my worries, stresses and daily struggles and don’t need to carry them on my own.  He has placed people in my life to walk beside me and help me through them.  As a result, my mind can refocus on positive thoughts and can be renewed!

Becoming Lighter Each Stone I dropped

By Angela Haugen

I spent a lot of time in my recovery feeling like I was wasting my time. I thought that every counseling session should produce enlightenment and each day should provide improvement.  When that wasn’t happening, I was surely failing. stones-in-hands

After four straight years of feeling as though I’d made no progress, I can remember numbing myself to the possibility of change. At the time, I happen to have found a church that I could sneak in and sneak out of with little interaction with others.  It was a great place for me to just ‘be’ for a while and witness other people feeling things that I no longer thought viable. It was here that I was awakened to the possibility of releasing – of letting go of all guilt and all pain.  All my mistakes, everything from the last minute to the last hour to the last four years, I could literally let them go.

The speaker had talked about the difference between guilt and conviction: one of them holds you frozen in place, keeping you stuck wherever you transgressed; the other moves you toward something new.

Though I was not in a spiritual place, I quickly saw the connection between the extra weight that I felt I was carrying – the weight I was trying to shed with all my restrictions and rules – all of that weight was burden and guilt. I needed to let it go.

The hardest part in all of this process was focusing on me. I was very used to helping others, and accommodating for others, and understanding for others, and forgiving others… but the truth was I just added stones into an invisible backpack of burden each time I did that.  My strong empathetic nature had me carrying unnecessary weight.  It was guilt of what would happen if I disagreed, didn’t accommodate, did things my own way.  And, though I wasn’t in tune enough to FEEL that load emotionally, I mixed it all up in my head and had mistakenly felt it physically.

The first step for me was to look at myself, as I was that day, and drop the stone of that day. Each time I restricted or binged or purged – each and EVERY time – I forgave myself, acknowledged that I didn’t have to do that, but that I was still and person that needed love, even if it was just love from myself.

It didn’t stop right away, but I stayed in the practice of acknowledging exactly where I was and what I did or didn’t like about the situation. I acknowledged the feeling of being disappointed, of wanting something more.  I refused the stone of guilt and set it down.

I stayed in that space, each day dropping the stone of that day but, eventually, I also tried to drop the stones I had collected along the way. Stones of friendships and relationships lost over my ED – acknowledging my part in the loss, but also acknowledging where others had let me down and had left the burden in my hands to carry. Stones of burdens unrealized from childhood and from school and from missed expectations: where people had failed me, where I had failed people.  Where I didn’t match up to what I expected, where I didn’t match up to what everyone else expected, where everyone else’s expectations were unfair or just plain wrong – I released each stone that I could not change or control.  I addressed the ones that  I could confront.  I set down the ones that I could not.

I released other people’s feelings and their reactions. I did not do everything right, but I trusted that others were either capable of addressing that with me, or else let them carry their own responsibility to address it.  I worked hard to releasing the stone of assumption and presumption, and instead focused on laying those stones at the feet of other people.  I asked more questions, clarified statements, and started to say when things bothered me or hurt me or just didn’t fit into my schedule.  I set the stones down in conversations or prayers or calls for help.

It all felt selfish at first. Some people tried to throw the stones back at me and wanted me to carry them (because most people don’t want to hold on to them, I find that they often deflect them – but that doesn’t mean that I have to pick them up!).  I hated having to let go of the comfortable role I’d established as being an ‘easy-going’ personality.  I didn’t want to push back – I wanted to still be the flexible one.  I didn’t want to be the one who riled the relationship or who seemed ‘difficult’ to work with.  But I also didn’t want to carry the excess weight anymore.

Once I realized that I wasn’t going to lose anymore weight because I didn’t actually have any to lose, I was freed up to loose the weight that was tied around my heart – the weight of heavy emotions that were easier to carry than to just address. When I freed myself to no longer carry the ‘bad’ feelings, but instead set those stones aside, I freed myself up to be ok with letting people down, making mistakes, and trying to figure it all out – just like everyone else is doing.

I literally had to forgive myself and embrace the conviction of the self-damaging behavior Every. Single. Day.

Multiple times each day – for over a year an a half before I felt the miraculous release of my ED. The interesting thing was, the day that I let the last stone go – I remember feeling a physical weight lifted off my shoulder.  For the first time in over 5 years, I was lighter.  All because I embraced feeling bad about myself and others…

and then, let it go.

 

We are All the Same, Perfectly Unique!

By Lindsay Deans

LYB Cards

When it comes down to it, I believe we really are all the same. We are all humans that have been uniquely made and placed on this earth for a purpose.  Annie F. Downs, author of “Perfectly Unique: Praising God from head to foot,” writes:

In my findings, based only on a small backyard and no scientific equipment used, all blades of grass seem to have common form – straight and growing upward. But they come in different heights, widths, and shades of green. I cannot find two that seem to be exact matches… Humans are the same way. We may come in different heights, widths and shades (not green of course), but we all have common form. Aside from rare exceptions we all have two arms, two legs, two eyes, one mouth (though mine could really count for two or three – I’m loud), a backbone, skin, organs, etc.

-(Perfectly Unique, pg. xiii)

How easy it is to get caught up in the comparison game: oh I wish my skin were that shade of green, if only I was a little taller, I wish I were wider or thinner. But when we start to wish and compare, we loose appreciation for who we were made to be. I was made to be five-feet-nine-inches tall, have a scrunchy nose when I smile, and have brown hair.Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and that is such an accurate statement. When I turn my eyes away from appreciating who I am, I look toward who I wish I were based on others. This steals my joy concerning who I was made to be.

He made you once. You were worth the work the first time. Then he threw away that mold because one of you is enough for Him. You’re enough. You are the sacred painting, the original.

-(Perfectly Unique, pg. xii)

What if today for “Love Your Body Thursday,” you made a list of ten things you love about who you are? I’ll even participate on the blog!

1.    I love my two colored eye
2.    I love my scrunchy nose when I laugh and smile
3.    I love my humor and wit
4.    I love the passion I have for people
5.    I love that my hair can be curly or straight
6.    I love that I can be intellectual
7.    I love that I am creative
8.    I love how I see good in others
9.    I love that I am tall
10.     I love how I have dimples when I smile really big

We are supposed to love other people the same way that we love ourselves. But do you love yourself? Better phrased: do you love all of you?

-(Perfectly Unique, pg. 3)

Downs, A.F. (2012). Perfectly unique: Praising God from head to foot.
Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

He is the Deepest Desire

Submitted by Mel Ness.

 

I want things in this life.

I want to get married, have kids, and impact people for the better.

 

But don’t we all want something?

We all have goals.

Benchmarks.

Aspirations.

 

Push away all of these things, just for a minute.

Slide back the veil of what makes each of us different.

 

Income.

Social status.

Sexual orientation.

Race.

Gender.

Career.

Body type.

You fill in the blank.

 

Push back these things and you will find that there is one commonality, one thing that makes us all not so different.

We all want to know that we are worth something.

We all want something to bring to the table as an offering to the world.

Not just something, but something of value.

 

We try so hard to come up with things to be good at.

 

We spend hours practicing sports and music in hopes of being just a tad more talented than the guy next to us.

We read books, go to school, and get an education so that we can contribute to society and show that we’re worth something.

 

We workout because we want to be perfect, beautiful, worthy.

We marry someone because we want our life to scream to others that we are ‘finally starting something worthwhile.’

 

Do you want to know a secret?

There is this Gift-giver.

 

A Giver who has given us something to offer when we don’t have anything else to give.

But we forget.

So when our dreams, goals, and benchmarks have been reached and they still don’t seem to cut it…He is standing there.

The Gift-giver stands up with a gift, beautifully wrapped.

The Giver stands, saying, “I am the deepest – the deepest desire of your heart.

 

“When you get that raise and you’re finally making the income you always thought would make you feel as though you’d arrived and it still doesn’t solve all your problems – I am there.

When you get married to the one you love and you still don’t feel fully fulfilled – I am there.

When you have children and they’re amazing, wonderful, and all you’d ever hoped for…but you feel as though you’re not “doing much” in the world – I am there.

When you try your hardest to look perfect, lose those last five pounds, spend your time and resources on looking your best, but feel frustrated that there is someone next to you who is more perfect, skinnier, and more put together than you – I am there.

When you finally reach that milestone in your career, yet you are miserable – I am there.

When you accomplish and still feel as though you fall short – I am there.

 

I am here.

Waving my arms.

Trying to grasp your attention and win your affection.

 

Why do you try so hard to find a gift to offer, when I have already given you one? I have given you a Gift to offer that will outshine and outlast anything out there. My name is the Christ.”

 

‘I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10