It has been an exceedingly long time since I have felt driven to write. I have been around many beautiful people with insightful thoughts and nuggets of wisdom, I attended a 3-day Theology of the Body Conference, I have been reading many great books, and daily I dive into the Bible and always seem to find that His words will captivate my heart. There truly has been no lack of inspiration in my days, but I have honestly felt mute, or in this case, broken-fingered. The time is now to break my silence!
Over the past eight months, people have asked me how I have enjoyed living in China. I go through some minor details of work and then seem to have a standard response that truly defines not only my overall experience of living here but, also, describes my Spiritual journey that is interwoven through my daily life. Living in China is like looking into the hyper-magnified side of a mirror. You can see every pore, wrinkle, hair, and blemish that from any normal mirror, fades into the rest of the reflection. At first, the image is truly horrifying, ask any woman, and then it becomes an opportunity to see what work truly may need to be done. God, in His infinite mercy, reveals only sections of the image at a time, making the job seem manageable and possible, through His help.
My greatest discovery, more commonly referred to as my greatest challenge, is how often I have replaced the Lord in His role of Protector and Healer with food, relationships, and at times, alcohol. Because of this perpetuating loneliness that I felt inside, I constantly grasped for things that the Lord created for enjoyment and attempted to use them to fill the void that was aching inside. When I felt unworthy for love or unlovable, a man could stand in for that. When the ‘boyfriends’ would hurt me, there was always a glass of wine waiting. When people or friends disappointed me, there was ice cream for that. Each and every issue, trial, or wound was covered with things of this world that never truly satisfy or rectify the real problem- living life without Christ.
I bought into the lies of magazines, society, movies, and every ploy of modern media that claims
that when we have this body, that man, or that amount of money, then we will be satisfied and truly happy. These magazines will at one second tell you to love your body, but then on the same cover promote tips for weight-loss and picture models with physiques that in actuality, they don’t even have (thank you, Photoshop). If that isn’t enough, we equate our looks to the quality of the relationships in our lives. “He wouldn’t have left if I were skinnier, or if my teeth were whiter, or if I was just one size smaller.” Lies, lies, lies! Although we may be thinking, this isn’t me, I ask you to take just two minutes today and look at yourself in a mirror. Study your face, hair, body, clothes, etc. If in those two minutes you do not find yourself discovering something to correct or alter, then congratulations, this woman that I speak of is not you and I beg you to pray for me. On the other hand, if like me, the list of things you do like in your reflection would require less time to compile, then please, keep reading.
On the feast of the Transfiguration, after months of begging the Lord to help me to master my flesh and practice self-control, He introduced me to an amazing program from a website called, Setting Captives Free. This protestant site takes varying addictions that claim the minds and hearts of many, i.e. pornography, self-mutilation, drug and nicotine addictions, etc, and uses a Biblical approach to healing. In my case, I began taking the 60day course entitled, The Lord’s Table. This free tool that rewires thinking from ‘me, me, me’ to ‘Jesus take the wheel’ (yes, I know that is a country song), has been monumental in my healing from using food as a filler for pain and emotion.
Take it from a girl who has tried every diet fad in the book, lived in the gym, and even tried the less-than-glamorous means to remain thin, I have found that the only permanent solution to being healthy or finding happiness is to let go of our false control and allow Jesus to work on the issue that is causing you to overeat, loathe your body, or seek other things and/or people to bring you satisfaction. If having a perfect body or a beautiful face meant that we would have healthy marriages and better relationships, then why is Hollywood plagued with divorce, adultery, and scandal? We must acknowledge this restlessness as a void that only One INFINITELY greater than the finite world, can fill.
As I have only recently discovered, our hearts were not made to be intimately shared with multiple people and should be protected and saved for only those who will respect and cherish the gift- in all cases, this means in the Sacrament of Marriage when husbands and wives decide to give up their lives for the sake of their beloved each and every day they have breath. I honestly cannot not put into words how excruciatingly beautiful this type of sacrifice and vocation is to me, and how fervently I pray begging the Lord to allow me to be used as a tool and witness to remedy the world’s mutilated construct of this union. Quoting Christ’s response to such a plea, “Stir not up nor awaken love until it please” (Song of Solomon 3:5, 8:4) I find that He is offering me an invitation to pick up the mirror of humility that lays before me and tackle each and every sinful behavior/weakness head-on in preparation for the life that awaits me.
So as you approach the Lord in prayer, allow Him, out of love, to reveal your own “fillers” for the pain, shame, guilt, fear, or anxiety that you may feel throughout your days. These qualities or struggles that you claim define you, are only obstacles to your sanctification and true happiness. If we each can rebuild our lives with Christ as the foundation and cornerstone, we will begin to see our bodies becoming more beautiful, our relationships have more joy, and we will be free from the chains of sin and bondage from conforming to the world. Let us unite together as the body of Christ and change the world by truly living our faith.