I was blessed to share my testimony in church yesterday as part of Pastor Bob’s sermon series on Habakuk. Each week he has been leading us to look at the questions Habakuk asked. We looked at “How long?” and “Why?” and now mine speaks to “When?”.
Benj should maybe be the one to start our answer to this question of when. He sat in the waiting room for the first 14 years of our marriage, watching me waste away while I allowed my eating disorder to steal my life away, both literally and figuratively. He waited consciously during those years, knowing exactly what he was waiting for – his wife to see and understand that she had an eating disorder.
My waiting was done obliviously. I didn’t know I was waiting for freedom from the mental disease I didn’t admit to have. But my first night at Melrose, that night I laid in my bed and realized I was at the lowest point of my life with God my only way out, that night I surrendered my fight into his hands and truly understood joy for the first time in my life. Joy came in the surrender, but that didn’t mean the fight was over. I remember meetings with my therapist or sitting in different groups and wondering when I would be “normal” again. I could not imagine a life free from ED at that point, but what I had because of my surrender was the complete faith in God that he would bring that freedom to me. I asked when, and he told me to trust the process. Trust the people around me. Trust my therapist when she began to help me separate the lies from truth. Trust my dietitian when she told me I needed to up my meal plan because I had stopped gaining weight. Trust Benj when he told me he and the boys were just fine and I needed to focus on getting better. Trust in the encouragement and community of people that reached out to me with love. Trust my body to heal as I took the steps needed to allow that to happen. I didn’t know when this struggle would end, but completely surrendering to my need to trust God to make it happen became my definition of joy.
Waiting for “When” has not been easy. I met with another girl who suffered from an eating disorder a few weeks after I got back from Melrose, and in our discussion I told her that I fully expected to recover. She got very angry with me because she didn’t believe that I had any right to expect full recovery from God. She said I had no way of knowing that he would do that for me. But without being disrespectful to her views, I told her that I believed I could expect that. But I also told her that that didn’t mean I could wait passively. Waiting on God for my “when” did not mean that I could sit back and say, “Hey, God, do your thing; I’ll just sit back and wait.” Waiting for God’s “when” meant that I had to be busy in the wait. I couldn’t stand still and expect recovery. I knew that my responsibility was to take steps to heal. That’s why I started my blog – to share and process my steps both forward and backwards. That’s why I refused to miss any of my tallies in my meal plan. I knew that missing one tally would allow ED to creep in and give me permission to miss another and another. That’s why I had to bang my head against the shower wall when the voices in my head would not leave me alone. That’s why I yelled at Satan to make sure he knew that he was not allowed to have my joy or my freedom. That’s why I memorized Bible verses so that I would have truth to fight the lies. That’s why I exercised with my friends to have accountability when I wasn’t sure I would be able to stop. All of these decisions were my response to God’s “when”. I don’t know how long it will be before God gives me an answer to “when” ED will be completely shut down and blocked from my life. I feel close. And as opposed to when I was in treatment, I know now what “normal” is. I don’t have to imagine it. I understand truth and can use it to shut down the lies. “When” gets closer every day.
A wise friend told me the day I left for Melrose that our responsibility to God is to use the struggles in our lives to be a blessing to others. If I can help someone else while they wait for an answer to their question of when, then I feel blessed to be able to do so. God has asked me to wait for “when”, and I have learned a lot in that wait. While I have waited, I have learned more about trust and dependence and relationships and community and joy than I ever would have without my eating disorder. Though I wouldn’t wish this on any person, what I do wish for every person is the lessons of waiting for God’s answer to “when”. The joy in surrendering to his timing is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I praise him every day for the question of “when”.