Slowly and repeatedly, some things dawn upon me. For one- I am not ill. I, for numerous reasons need to see myself as ill, and as one who has not recovered from a lifetime of food and body issues. But that's just not true any more. No matter what size I wish I were; I am not in an unhealthy relationship with food any more. I don't struggle with it any more. Alone in a kitchen does not make me afraid that I will begin to eat and end up 600 lb on a gurney en route to gastric bypass. Sitting down to a meal does not make me feel afraid or panicked. Snacks are not the boss of me. My bathroom scale is not my disapproving sargent. Weeks can pass by without me fighting the urge to stand upon it and measure whether I deserve to live or not.
I struggle with feeling that I am a failure. The truth is that I am a success. It's difficult for me to type that, as we've been trained that shitting upon oneself is righteous, whereas measuring one's true abilities and making an honest evaluation is a dangerous practise. It's the pride that comes before the fall. I just can't carry on indefinately believing that I am a flop and will never amount to much. It's tiresome. It's a lie.
The truth is that we all play world of warcraft. There is a whole fleet of rubbish getting thrown our way on a moment to moment basis. And there is an army of good stuff. Life giving stuff. You just get one pack of lies beaten down when you turn around and see another fire breathing dragon. You think.... "I CAN'T EQUIP THAT". I must be a failure. I must be stupid. I must have skipped that class and gone to 7-11 for slurpees and menthols. But the truth is that you're in a battle and it's just not tidy and linear.
The more that I learn and grow, the less time that I can really spend believing rubbish about myself. It just doesn't ring true any more. I've seen too much that contradicts those lies. I also know that if we are community, we do one another no good if we stay as small as possible. We are susceptible to depression and disappointment in self. That seems inevitable. To a certain degree we need those moments for balance. But to be deceived about who we can be in all our giftedness (read: God) is nearly irresponsible. It doesn't put your skills out there to serve the community. Nor does it make God look good.
We can only know in degrees whether we are successful or failures. In the day to day, we must ask ourselves: "How have I loved today?" We must take honest evaluation of where we need to make peace with others. Where we need to defend someone, where we need to feed, water, love, or listen.
I remember a pivotal moment many years ago in therapy. My counsellor looked at me and said; "Today you are not bulimic."
Here I had been striving and waiting and wrestling for years for the moment when I would no longer be ill, so that I could begin to live. And all we really have is today. If today I am not ill, how will my day look? There is no default, no excuse to wait, nothing to blame.
When I write the words; "I am not ill", I am filled with the strangest sensation. Like I am on the first square of a brand new game, ripe with possibilities. I don't have to be handicapped by my twenty pounds. It doesn't limit me from being well today. But if I believe that I am ill, then it is no wonder to me that I've made little of myself. It's a familiar place to be- one where you believe that you've been cut off at the knees and you just can't walk the same any more.
What I actually believe is that God has more for me. I know that sounds trite and maybe contrived. But when I trace my finger along the map of my life thus far, I see how things went when I carried on doing what I felt in my heart of hearts to do and be. I like the way that Jesus did only what his father asked him to do. And I want that. I'm not interested in a life lived outside of Jesus because I don't see anything there except the absence of God. Now, I'm miles away from the whole blessing theology. Therefore I don't believe that me doing the correct behaviors, praying enough, or praying correctly will iron all the kinks and unpleasantries out of life. The Bible I read tells about John the Baptizer's head being served on a plate. That was no punishment because he didn't pray hard enough or tithe less than 10%. It's just life. And I imagine that at the end of John's life as his head was getting sawed off, he didn't wish he had gone into business or farming instead. He was sold out- he knew who he was in the context of marching relentlessly after God.
In this world, with its warcraft, getting distracted is absolutely constant. Getting confused is a useful tactic. Having a form of godliness but denying its power is trendy and current.
We are all normal. There is a range of psychoses that falls within what we deem as "normal" in our culture. The truth is that we all battle demons that take upon themselves different forms, depending upon what our life story has been thus far. We all struggle with issues of identity. We all wonder about significance. Some of us are aware of these dramas, some further along in their resolution of them, and some up to their nackers in la-la land denial.
But I have a hope that they can be beat down. Well, maybe not beaten down, because maybe they'll keep hanging around and baring their teeth and snarling. But I think that in the battle, one can get to the point where the messages no longer seem personal. They are no longer defining. They don't have to be wrestled with for months or years because they will immediately be recognized as UNTRUE and therefore POWERLESS.
*thanks to my friends this week, many of whom were Jesus to me. Constantly pointing me to the truth, sharing their stories with me, feeding me cinnamon buns, drinking my coffee, invading my inbox. Jesus was really onto something when he said that strength lies in weakness. Always surprising, always miraculous to behold.