God hits me over the head a lot. He has to; I’m thick headed and stubborn and I don’t listen. I’m amazed by two things – first of all that I continually grow a thick skull and two, that God knows exactly how to get my attention when I don’t listen to the more softer ways he communicates.
I’ve been moving slowly toward ED in subtle ways the past few weeks. I stopped taking a morning off, got annoyed if Benj didn’t walk fast enough for me, worried about these past days of having to sit on my butt all afternoon to work on lesson plans, started looking at body parts in the mirror and hating what I saw, felt out of control by the food I ate. I tricked myself into thinking that I had this under control, that my Wise Mind could stand up to these subtle ED attacks. Don’t ever try to fight the Devil alone.
I’ll tell you, looking back, how God tried to speak to me calmly, how he tried to show me I was turning away from him. Devotions lacked their normal depth. I couldn’t get myself excited to be in God’s word. That should have been the first clear notice of danger ahead. I was tired. I dragged. The morning did not hold anticipation for what lay ahead. I often found myself doing that thing – where I had to recap what I had eaten the night before to decide if I should feel guilty. I started standing up on the toilet in order to see myself in the mirror above our sinks. I haven’t cared what my clothes look like on for a very long time. As long as I felt confident in them, that’s all that mattered to me. But my confidence started to fade and I began to wonder if I really looked as good as I thought I did. So I started to check. These all may seem small, but I know how ED works and those should have been huge red flags for me. And I think they were, but I kept telling myself my Wise Mind was in control and ED was not. Like I said, he had a toe, but steady pressure kept moving that door by centimeters. And I didn’t go to God immediately for help. He wasn’t my first line of defense because I was denying the problem. I needed God but I wasn’t acknowledging him as my greatest need. Instead, I made excuses.
Last weekend is when ED pushed hard on my door and tried to get his entire foot inside. For the first time since Melrose, I ran outside in Sioux Center. I signed up to run a 5k for a good cause in town. I’ve run outside when we’re camping, and that has been fine. I have a course and never feel out of control running there. But I have not dared to run outside in Sioux Center. How do I explain this? The streets of Sioux Center, every single one of them, holds ghosts for me. Before any run I used to take, I knew exactly what roads to turn on in order to draw out my run to exactly the time length I wanted. I knew how many extra corners to turn or out of the way roads to take so that I could put in 5, 10, 37 extra minutes. I had an inner stop watch and mileage tracker that turned on simultaneously with my feet hitting that first step off my driveway. I feel ED on the streets of Sioux Center. I FEEL him. And so I’ve never run outside here. I don’t want to meet ED anywhere. I don’t want my running brain to turn on the minute I hit the pavement. The same is true for the exercise room in the fire station. I have spent hours and hours and hours in that room. I’ve logged more miles on that treadmill than are countable. I dreaded the walk up those stairs every morning at 4:30, but I never turned around. ED always dragged me to the top and onto the machine. I will never – I will never – step foot in that exercise room again. Never. That is a dark, dark space to me and evil turns it black in my memory. Snap Fitness has been safe for me because I don’t have any memories with ED there. It is exercise pure for me; exercise where ED has never been with me without the support I have needed.
And so when I ran last Saturday morning, I think ED came with. Yes, I was in the middle of a crowd on a closed course, but competition brought ED to the surface. I’m not fast; I know that, but I compete with myself. Can I pass that person? Can I reach that corner before her? I didn’t think I was faster than _____ but now I’m passing him – I’m better than I thought. I can beat her. I can pass them. I can sprint to the finish. Competition is ED’s breeding ground for me. Running was my identity. I was known for my running. Friends always made comments that they’d never be able to keep up with me. They would say how much better I was than they were. ED reveled in that. That was his ego. And on Saturday, after all this time, people still made those comments to me. But I don’t think people understand that I don’t train like that anymore. I don’t run like that anymore. I felt separated again by my running. I just wanted to be part of a group of friends who wanted to run with me because I wanted to run with them for fun. I don’t want to be labeled “Runner” anymore. Because I am not a runner anymore.
I am not a runner anymore.
Just now, just now as I write those words I know deep in my heart that those words are true. I didn’t know it until now. This is how ED has gotten to me. This was going to be his push to get fully inside my heart. But hear this, ED! I am not a runner anymore and I don’t want to be labeled as a runner. I don’t want people to compare themselves to me and tell me I’m better than they are. I don’t want to be put on this running pedestal because I train so hard. I don’t want anyone to lump me in that category anymore. I don’t want to be a runner. I want to be Rhonda. I want to be Rhonda who runs for exercise. I don’t want to be Rhonda who used to have an eating disorder. I don’t want to be Rhonda who used to have no confidence apart from her label as a runner. I don’t want to be Rhonda who didn’t have any true friends because she set herself apart by her running. I don’t want to be Rhonda who stayed away from people so they couldn’t show me they were better than me. I don’t want to be Rhonda who lets ED be in charge. I just want to be me. I want people to feel like they can invite me for a run because I run for fun. I want people to invite me to do a 5k with them because it’s a social event and Rhonda does social now. I want to be just like everyone else. I want to be God’s child who reflects his image in her love for life and for people. That’s what I want. When I say that writing helps me process – this post is true processing.
The other reason I know I was letting ED have a toe in the door was because I’ve been trying to write this post for a week and it wouldn’t come out. I know now, what I was trying to write before was full of self pity and blame in the form of excuses. I was blaming other people for how low I was sinking. I was feeling sorry for myself and not taking the responsibility on my shoulders for not turning to my God and Savior for the help I needed. I wasn’t asking forgiveness for holding onto ED. Pastor Bob gave a sermon on forgiveness last Sunday and now I know, right now I know why that sermon hit me right between the eyes. God hit me between the eyes. I needed forgiveness and wasn’t asking for it. ED was my crutch and I wasn’t letting him go again. I was still labeling myself by holding on to ED. I surrendered my life on November 7, 2016, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to keep surrendering. I see this now, but not until Tuesday morning when God had to bring out his “Rhonda get your head out of the gutter” voice, did this fog break. I woke up that morning with my dreams very vivid in my mind. I dreamt that night of demons attacking people. I remember very clear details from the dreams even now. This is spiritual warfare. This is real. This is Satan trying to get me exactly where he knew he could – in my pride, my stubborn thick-headedness, my lack of understanding of how sneaky he is. I thought I could take care of this on my own, that my Wise Mind was wiser than God. But now I know, again. I can never be wiser than God.
I want to be Rhonda, child of the King, born again, saved and redeemed, transformed and living as a reflection of the God who saved her. That’s who I want to be. But I can’t be that until I look Jesus directly in the face and say, please save me again. Save me again. Don’t let Satan have even a toenail in my door. Be my shield and my redemption, today, tomorrow, forever. We can’t be saved from our traps if we are looking behind us all the time. I can’t be Rhonda, child of the King, if I’m holding on to Rhonda, the runner or Rhonda, the skinny or Rhonda, the friendless. I need a new identity with no masks and no holding back and no self pity. Tonight I write this blog in true transparency. I am healing, but until Christ returns to this earth, I will have to stand my guard against the evil one.
We need to pray for each other, just like my friends prayed for me when I finally realized I needed them to pray on Tuesday morning. I texted as soon as I woke up because I knew Satan was going to start making me second guess what I knew to be true. When Satan attacks, ASK FOR HELP. Ask for prayer. Ask for people to hold you up. We need each other. God made us family. Let us stand as one.