Ever since I started writing in this blog, I’ve had a yearly theme. Each year, it has been a quick and easy decision. First, it was a Grateful 2013, hence the name of this blog. Then, I focused on God’s presence with a Presence Filled 2014. Now, it seems fitting to have a Freedom Filled 2015. I didn’t even think twice when I wrote my first 2015 post, because that has been such a huge theme in my life lately.
This is the year that I leave the teens and step into adulthood. But even more so, this is the first time I have commenced a year with such hope. As I’ve recently shared, I have long battled with anorexia and was on a serious downhill slope since my senior year of high school. For that reason, I was encouraged to get into a partial hospitalization program (PHP) over Christmas break. Begrudgingly, I did, counting down the days until I could get out. Yet, I found myself looking forward to PHP. I began to realize that while it wasn’t how I wanted it, it was exactly how God had planned it.
That is also when I realized the decision that loomed ahead of me, apparent in every e-mail I read about selling textbooks and prepping for the spring semester. Everyone was excited to return. They had Christmas gifts to show off, Greek rush to participate in and classes to kick-off. Me? I wasn’t sure what the heck I was going to do. My suitcase sat the corner as I ignored every e-mail about buying the resources for my upcoming classes. I didn’t tell anyone, but my rock-solid resolve to return was slowly melting the more I thought about it.
I would be leaving my strong support at home, decreasing my level of care from PHP to outpatient. I would have to adjust to my new environment again, tackle my heavy class-load and commute to my outpatient program three days a week. And when I finally let down my walls and wrote down every pro and con I could think of regarding the issue, I sat down in my room and cried.
I sought council and prayed about it for a few weeks and God made it very clear: I needed to stay home this semester and focus on my healthy and my recovery. Instead of acting in my typical manner of taking on everything and pushing myself to the point of exhaustion, I needed to have a single-minded focus on recovering and reaching a healthy place. I needed to let go and admit that I couldn’t do it all.
It felt awful.
All I could think about was all I was going to miss: I would get behind, I would lose the friends I had just started making, I would ruin even more of my life and my college experience. I thought it was pretty much the end of the world.
But there was a peace as I realized it was exactly what God wanted me to do. And as I began to engage and form relationships with others who are struggling with eating disorders, I started to affirm the truth that there is no shame. Trials struggles, sin: We all have them. Mine may be different than yours, but it doesn’t mean I’m a freak. I’ve pushed the envelope for so long, wanting to do the least treatment I can. A “normal” college student didn’t do an intensive outpatient program, so neither did I. A “normal” cross country runner didn’t have to stop working out and moving, so neither did I. And so began a decline in my own confidence and my health.
But thank God: I wasn’t out of His reach. In fact, I’d never even left His arms. He spoke to me and used many other people to bless and encourage me. And now, I’m doing better than I have been in a long time.
I’ve started eating with my family again, I enjoy relaxing with a good book, I’ve developed a newfound love of music. Heck: I even ate waffles and went out to dinner last week! (Pretend like you know that is a big deal, because it is!)
God is using what the enemy meant for evil, for good. One of my favorite songs is by Michael W. Smith and is called “Sovereign Over Us.” Take a look at these lyrics:
Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
Your with us in the fire, and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love, You are sovereign over us
I am living, breathing proof that He is sovereign and able to overcome even the greatest heartbreak. Next week, I’m stepping down from PHP to the less-intensive MAP program, and I am truly seeing hints of freedom for the first time since I was a little girl who found out her parents were going to divorce.
So, don’t check back in 2016 to see a story of freedom and hope in my life. Look now. It is already in progress.
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