Discovering the Truth

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I can think of few times in my life I have been so heart happy and heart heavy at the exact same time.

Recently, I had the privilege of witnessing a dear friend of mine graduate from a three month stay at a home that helps rehabilitate women suffering from eating disorders. My tears fell instantly upon my arrival when seeing her physical transformation into a much healthier version of herself. Yet, the majority of my happy tears fell because of the brighter light radiating from her eyes.

Tears fall even now as I write this. I am struggling for words to convey to you everything I experienced and felt in the brief hour I joined her there.

The commencement begins with the graduate presenting a body image project. Art therapy is a significant part of the treatment program. Proper, healthy, supportive images are so important to the rehabilitation of these women. Encouraging quotes and pictures adorned the walls of the house in what seemed like every possible location, surrounding the residents with positive messages at every turn.

My heart felt like it doubled in size when I saw my friend’s two projects. One, was a new depiction of an image I had sent to her shortly after her admission. Added to the image was a heart, depicting one of her goals for connection, which she found with the women in her program. Another addition was the symbol of recovery, which for me represented so much hope and a clear representation of God’s hands in her healing.

The second picture is a figure with arms spread wide open and origami butterflies all around. What you can’t see in the picture, are words written on the butterflies…words of new characteristics implanted during her stay. Her old messages of unworthiness, failure, and fear are being rewritten into something much more beautiful.

Another part of the ceremony allows all of the residents and employees (nurses, therapists, resident assistants, etc.) to say something directly to the graduate. It could be what they might have learned from them, their impression of the project, how that person touched their life, etc. How humbled I felt to hear so many amazing facts about my friend and the impact she had on others during her stay.

Yet, for all of my joy, I drove away with my heart very burdened. My mind could not conceive of the pain many of the women in that room have experienced. I cannot comprehend the struggle they endure to become healthy, both mentally and physically, again. What I saw before me as I listened to them, were beautiful, articulate, caring, compassionate, intelligent women. In their own minds, that is not what they see, and it leaves me dumbfounded.

I got to speak to them for only a brief time. They surrounded me, and one of our other longtime friends who was with us, as my friend and her husband gathered her belongings to leave. They told us more stories of how wonderful my friend had been to them. These ladies were funny. They seemed kind. Their smiles were lovely.

We talked for only a mere 10 or 15 minutes. I hugged many of them as I left. Friends, I don’t make it a habit of hugging near strangers, so that was pretty weird for me to do. My inclination was to load them all in the van with us and take them home just so I could speak words of encouragement over them daily. What an honor it would be to help them rewrite their inner dialogue.

I am reminded of another picture I saw once. Not long ago at a leadership retreat we were assigned the task of drawing a picture that represented how we had experienced God’s love. One of my friends, a survivor of abuse, drew a picture that made a great impression on me. I don’t remember exactly what it looked like, but it depicted a person’s mind with all kinds of negative words. Those were crossed out and positive words were put in their place. She admitted she continues to struggle with replacing the ugly thoughts, but God’s love for her helps her do that. I hurt to know my friend who is so talented, capable, encouraging, creative, and simply lovely could think such awful things because of cruel people.

Our minds can be our own worst enemies. In her book, Rising Strong, Brené Brown talks about how our minds long to make connections. As a result, our brains will often make up a story that isn’t true, simply to create a beginning, middle, and end to something we don’t understand. People who are able to rise strong after falling due to difficult circumstances are able to do so because they reckon with those stories and seek the actual truth about them, not simply accepting the made up story. Our brains can easily fall into negative thought patterns, and we must work hard to rewire those patterns.

I’ll leave you with the lyrics to one of my favorite songs, Mercy Me’s Greater (or you can click the link and listen to it on YouTube):

Bring your tired
And bring your shame
Bring your guilt
And bring your pain
Don’t you know that’s not you’re name
You will always be much more to me

Every day I wrestle with the voices
That keep telling me I’m not right
But that’s alright

‘Cause I hear a voice and He calls me redeemed
When others say I’ll never be enough
And greater is the One living inside of me
Than he who is living in the world
In the world
In the world
And greater is the One living inside of me
Than he who is living in the world

Bring your doubts
And bring your fears
Bring your hurt
And bring your tears
There’ll be no condemnation here
You are holy, righteous and redeemed

Read more: Mercy Me – Greater Lyrics | MetroLyrics

“So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away–look, what is new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

2 Corinthians 5:17-20 The Message 

16-20 Because of this decision we don’t evaluate people by what they have or how they look. We looked at the Messiah that way once and got it all wrong, as you know. We certainly don’t look at him that way anymore. Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it! All this comes from the God who settled the relationship between us and him, and then called us to settle our relationships with each other. God put the world square with himself through the Messiah, giving the world a fresh start by offering forgiveness of sins. God has given us the task of telling everyone what he is doing. We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.

What you choose to become...

Recovery symbol

Blessings,

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*To my dear friend, thank you for allowing me to share your images and your story. And to all of your fellow warriors at the house, you are beautiful, you are worthy, you are enough.*

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3 thoughts on “Discovering the Truth

  1. As the mother of a daughter who struggles with this problem on a daily basis, and has for several years, thank you. It is so hard to get them to see the beautiful perfection that God created them to be.

    • I just learned of a book called Chasing Silhouettes by Emily Wierenga. It’s for families of people dealing with this issue. You might check it out. It is well reviewed. It’s so hard to see the ones we love struggle with this!!!

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