Ladies (and gentlemen), I don’t know where you are in the race or how much gas you have left in your tank, but deep down I know that you know that that there is more to this life than the next social media post, job promotion, glass of wine or shot of vodka, relationship, shopping spree, bigger house, phone upgrade, pizza delivery or Netflix binge. I know some of you reading this are in a cycle of insanity that you feel shackled to. The insanity of knowing your thoughts and behaviors are never going to produce what you desire, but feeling like you can’t get off the crazy train.
For years, I would put my face in the toilet and rape the inside of my body as I purged the copious amounts of food and alcohol I shoved down my throat for just a moment of escape, comfort, fullness and control. Tears would stream down my face - a combination of tears from forceful vomiting and tears of shame and hopelessness. I just didn’t understand myself. I was smart. I was successful. I knew my actions were destroying me from the inside-out, but I couldn’t stop. I would promise myself, ‘never again’, only to betray myself within hours or a day. Do you have something destructive in your life that you just can’t stop doing?
Perhaps it’s drinking alone or throughout the day, pain pills, porn, cutting, anoxorexia, bulimia, sex addiction, dieting, laxative abuse, self-hate and condemnation, shopping addiction, suicidal thoughts, cheating on your spouse, shop lifting, etc. Or perhaps it’s more subtle like gossiping, comparing, envying, judging, walking around in unforgiveness, harboring anger or perfecting your outward appearance so you look like you have it all together. Bondage is bondage - no matter what face it wears. Don’t allow the lie that “this isn’t as big of a deal as _____” keep you from addressing what is robbing you of peace and joy. And please know that if I didn’t name your struggle, it is validated here and you should read on for some keys to overcoming the struggle.
- Know who you are
Your struggle brings with it guilt and shame, right? And guilt and shame will always stand as a barrier to the truth that we are unconditionally accepted and loved by God and free from the power of destructive behaviors and thoughts through the sacrifice of Jesus. Guilt and shame leads us to doubt we are free, question our identity and dismiss our authority over the taunts and temptations of the enemy.
I do not identify with bulimia or any other worldly label based on my past because it’s been replaced with my identity as God’s redeemed and restored daughter. Many experts will say that you will always be a victim to your addictions and spend a lifetime fighting them. Not me. I declare that my victory has been won. I believe in the truth of the bible that I have been given all power over the darkness through the blood and stripes of Jesus and so I walk in freedom today, tomorrow and every day. Although in this season of my life, I have very little value by worldly standards, the unshakeable peace, joy and contentment of my soul is beyond measure and my eternal future is firm. What else could I ask for?
Do you know who you are when you strip everything away? Are you in a season of exposure as you tackle habits and hang-ups? Get ready, my friend. This is your opportunity to root your identity in something unshakeable and eternal if you choose to resist the temptation of the world that wants you to spend the rest of your life proving who you. Imagine the freedom of being so securely rooted in the love of God that you never have to strive for validation or approval ever again.
- Just because it feels real, doesn’t mean it’s truth
Isaiah 43:1b says, I have called you by name; you are mine. The whole story of humanity is a love story of God bringing us back to right standing with Him. But when we don’t know who we are in God, we will be compelled to hide ourselves in strongholds and live shackled to the fear of exposure, judgement and rejection. Trust me, I know the fear feels real and it feels right to want to run and hide, but we are running and hiding from the very source of hope, truth and light. When we allow our unstable and undependable feelings to guide us, we will live in a state of confusion and overwhelm.
But when we do what is right, pure and loving despite circumstances, conditions or feelings, then we will start to experience the outpouring of positive feelings as a result. Feelings should not drive our actions, but rather feelings are derived from our actions. This is a game changer for those of you are blocking your breakthrough because you keep telling yourself that you need to feel like doing it. Nope. You don’t have to feel like doing it. If you know it to be right, then you do it. Period. What would shift in your life if you let go of your feelings around something and just did the thing that deep down you know is the right thing to do?
- Bring it to the light
Here is some truth for those of you living in the grips of fear. Whatever we bring to the light loses the power it had in the darkness. I don’t know your situation, but I do know this. The day that I decided to expose what shame and guilt told me to hide, was the day the power of the torment of the addiction was broken by the light of Christ. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind (or self-control).” 2 Timothy 1:7
For the first time in 30 years, I prayed a prayer that wasn’t out of obligation or from a script. This prayer welled up from a deep place inside my starved and tired soul. I didn’t even utter words, it was just sobs and sounds that came from deep inside of me as years of allowing something that I wasn’t designed to carry was unleashed. As my small group surrounded me, I felt the love, hope, peace and compassion - not the judgement and rejection I had feared. I let go of something that day that I realized only had the power to occupy space within me because I gave it access.
- Allow God access to your wounds
I didn’t just surrender the struggle with bulimia to God that day. Often we think that getting over a habit or addiction is about conquering the habit or addiction. It’s not. In surrendering the bulimia, I had to also be willing to allow God to have access to the gaping wound that the bulimia was covering up. The bulimia served a purpose - all of our destructive behaviors do. They serve as a scapegoat to dealing with what needs to be dealt with. Bulimia had allowed me (at a high cost) to separate myself from my past pain of my mom’s death, rejection of many past loves, anger at God for allowing any of this to happen and feelings of being unlovable, unworthy and not enough. As long as I held onto bulimia, I could poorly manage the pain of the past. As long as I held onto bulimia as the place I ran to when life got to be too much, it would rule my life as a god and I would be a slave to it.
I don’t know about you, but I didn’t realize there was an alternative to the pattern I was living in because fear blinds us. Fear makes us feel like we have no other options. Fear keeps us in the dark. But Jesus has come as a light in the darkness. This is not Sunday school stuff peeps, this is pure power and hope. In this truth is the power of transformation.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28 - 29
“He gives power to the weak
And strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
- Replace your cheap substitutes for the Great I Am.
Cheap substitutes. I realized on my adult walk with the Lord, that my whole life has been filled with cheap substitutes of the real thing offered to me as a daughter of the Most High. It is simply part of my inheritance to be loved, accepted, worthy and free from the power of sin. God doesn’t need anything from us, but He wants to be everything to us. This unshakeable truth is what I want to leave you with. If you allow it to go deeper than simply reading the words on this screen, it will transform everything. God is. “Nothing is more basic and nothing is more ultimate than the fact that God is.” (Quote by John Piper) God described himself as “I am”. “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:13-15)
Every day I remind myself of who God is so I don’t have to seek out the things of the world to be fill my real, human needs. God is…
- My comforter
- My protector
- My redeemer
- My husband
- My friend
- My provider
- My teacher
- My guide
- My treasure
- My hope
- My peace
- My joy
- My refuge
- My rock
- My Father
- My Creator
- My rest
- My nourishment
- My source
- My refreshing
Every day God reveals more of who He is - often through the disappointments, rejections and other tough stuff of life that makes no sense. It is a misrepresentation that life will be kinder or easier upon accepting and dedicating our lives to God through faith in Jesus. Being a disciple of Jesus does not make you immune to the tough stuff of life. But with Jesus, the fire will not consume us but rather refine and purify us. The greatest gifts of the growth of my character, faith, perseverance and purpose have been wrapped in the tough stuff of life. It’s in the stuff no one signs up for. The stuff that challenges us to choose between the truth of what we are going through and the truth of Who is standing next to us in the fire. It’s in the tough stuff that we wrestle with what is truth and what is a lie. It’s in the tough stuff that we see what we really trust. Without these tests of faith, many of us would live a mediocre, comfortable yet lukewarm life and never grab ahold of the power, peace and promise of our salvation putting everything into eternal perspective.
Today, I pray for a breaking off of addictions and strongholds in the name of Jesus as you surrender humbly to the God who is, who was, and who is to come - the Almighty (Revelation 1:8b).