I knew it would happen. Still, I wasn’t prepared.
I’ve spent a lot of my past in eating disorder treatment. When I agreed to this intensive outpatient program, I knew the chance of seeing someone from my past admissions was high. I was right; one of the IOP dietitians was a familiar face.
“You had a good run this time around,” she said.
I didn’t want a good run, I wanted a good life.
The words cut me to the core.
I swore I’d never go back there again. I had been set free. Jesus broke the chains of my eating disorder back at Mercy. I claimed His victory over my life. His light had cast out the darkness.
But the chains had dragged me into depression yet again. I was back at the very place I had worked so hard to escape.
I had failed.
No wonder it took me so long to admit to a relapse. It was shameful. It was embarrassing.
I had disappointed so many. My family. My friends. Mercy. God. Myself.
…or so I thought…
Anyone who has struggled with mental illness or addiction will tell you. We all see and hear the stories of those who surrender their lives to God and are instantaneously transformed. They no longer crave their substance or turn to their addiction as a coping mechanism. The darkness is shattered with light. Their transformation is radical. Captivating. The miracle is undeniable.
We yearn to experience recovery in such a way, yet the truth is most do not. We think there’s something wrong with us. We wonder where we strayed. We torment ourselves with guilt. With shame. As if our struggle isn’t enough, we condemn ourselves for our humanity.
The world we live in is full of polar opposites. Right and wrong. Black and white. Good and evil. There is no middle ground.
Some chant the words, “Once an addict, always an addict.” But say this phrase in a church and you will likely come under attack. “Jesus can set you free,” they say.
“Your addiction is not your identity.”
“The struggle is real.”
“Fight for your life.”
“Embrace your weaknesses.”
My spirit is torn in 2 trying to decide whether to struggle, surrender, fight…be strong or weak. And it doesn’t matter what I decide. Any choice results in failing to fulfill the others. I will always come under attack. Every choice is wrong.
Yet if I have any shot at recovery, I cannot stay where I am. I must choose to move in a direction. And any direction will do at this point.
So this is what I know to be true. I am not anorexic; I have anorexia. I am not depressed; I have depression. My identity is not in a diagnosis, but in Jesus.
He HAS set me free. I still struggle. These 2 statements CAN coexist. Although one can demolish the other, it does not always do so. One gives purpose and the other serves one. I cannot deny either.
The world demands that we step into the black or the white. Rarely are we allowed to place both feet in the grey and stay. Confidently. It takes something special to do so.
We hear the perfect testimony and we immediately see the massive miracle of redemption. We look at ourselves and we see only flaws. But there are miracles within each of us. Grace invades our lives every day. Inviting us into another chance. We are not set free to live perfect lives. We will struggle. We are set free to struggle WELL.
I DID have a good run, and I WILL have others. Combined with the bumpy roads, my runs will comprise what ultimately becomes a good life. Of this I am sure.