Last weekend I went out of town to the mountains of Arizona. It was a beautiful place although the accommodations were…rustic. Y’all know I’m not a princess and I do pretty well rolling with what comes my way, but I was not prepared physically or emotionally for the weekend which in retrospect, might be the good news.
So there I was in the mountains with women I don’t know and who don’t know me and for the first time in a long time I was painfully self-conscious. I felt big and clumsy. I felt like I was in the way and in the line of fire. I was lonely and I was trying to make a very challenging change with only my integrity and prayer to hold me accountable and the biggest challenge was that we were staying in these flippin’ cabins, on bunk beds, like puppies in a pile and there was nowhere to hide. There were tables of snacks that I passed every time I went to my seat, and I had to pray every single time or I knew I would justify just one handful, just a couple of bites, just a little of something which always always always leads me to a binge.
Saturday morning, someone said something angry (that she didn’t know I heard) and I sat on my bunk bed in the dark and cried. I was exhausted. I was hurt. I was wrung out and now someone was pissed off about something I can’t control. And this is the exact spot where God showed up.
I was really afraid. You see I had my feelings hurt and in just a few hours someone was going to give me a microphone and I knew that if I didn’t get my head screwed on straight, I was going to retaliate and it was going to be slick and it was going to make her feel as small as she’d made me feel. But I started praying and God showed me a different way. God showed me how much pain she’s in as I prayed for her. I was led to share my feelings and to reach out to others who might be feeling that way too. I was reminded that I was there to carry a message and that God was trusting me to bring light and love even though I wasn’t feeling either. God settled my emotions and on the way to meet the day, I stopped and closed my eyes and felt the sun on my face. I knew I was going to be okay.
I was reminded that earlier that week in meditation I’d been told that the world is healed by the love we give, not the love we receive. As I wrote in my journal, I saw a bookmark I made that read, “CHOOSE HAPPY!” I shared from the heart and I believe those who needed to hear God’s love, heard it.
The rest of the weekend went the way it went. I apologized to the lady who said the unkind thing (and honestly, I had no idea I was going to do that!). She acted like it was no big deal but brought it up several more times, only it didn’t matter because I was done being hurt and ashamed about something I just can’t help. I kept praying and stayed in the middle of these women. I prayed every time I passed the snack table. I made the right choices even when it was hard and I got to come home exhausted and triumphant. I’m guessing this is how marathon runners or mountain climbers feel: wrecked and happy.
This morning as I was writing in my journal, I continued writing about my relationship with food and eating and I had this aha! about the ways I use food as a substitute for a connection with God and others. It satisfies temporarily–until it doesn’t. This weekend I got to see that even when my connection with others is broken (temporarily) by hurt, anger, misunderstanding, or disappointment that there is a greater connection to God (or nature, or hope, or whatever greater thing we believe in) that WILL satisfy, that WILL comfort, that WILL protect, and that WILL be faithful even in the darkest moments. I’ve been starving for a deeper connection with this power but I couldn’t access it until I was willing to set aside my chosen substitute. Today I saw how that unexpected challenge led me to a spot where I had to choose between falling back into painful habits or reaching out for another solution.
I don’t know what you’re using to pacify yourself in those moments of uncertainty but if your substitutes are causing more problems than they’re solving, I hope you’ll stop and pray. (The weird thing is that prayer seems to work even when we don’t believe it will; even when we don’t believe anyone is listening. It’s kind of crazy but it happens all the time!) I also want to encourage you to ask for help. I’ve found that there are things I can’t do alone, that I can do with others who understand, educate, and encourage.
Have a victorious Monday, y’all!