Part 2: His glorious not-quick-fix, resolution, redemption
As the end of the 30 days came around, I asked and the Lord confirmed I was able to start moving again. “This is it! My obedience has unlocked my chains! Those well-worn pathways have been smoothed over and the thoughts will now be gone!” I thought. LOL. WRONG. As I took up exercise again, my teammates kept me accountable which was working out well but the I was still struggling with disordered thoughts. It was the first time I realized just how many I’d have a day…I told my teammate and she reacted strongly. “What?! Leah, that’s crazy.”
They’d been so normal for me for over seven years that I just believed I’d never be free of them. I talked to my squad leader, Allina on January 16th about how I still felt trapped in the web of my thoughts. She brought up control, among other things. “But I’m focused on not controlling!” I bemoaned. Turns out I was just controlling my control — a little Inception-ish if you ask me.
Then on January 18th, I got to talk to my Squad Mentor, Ashley. She broke the news to me: there will never be a quick fix and the more you search for it, the harder and harder you look at the problem itself, the more trials you try, the more errors you find, the deeper you get in the muck. There is no quick fix. I felt stuck. Stuck in my self-awareness, stuck in my old mind, stuck in darkness, just stuck. And then she said something that got my wheels turning and my spirit stiring: what if you stopped looking at the hard thing and started looking at Jesus.
Huh. We’ll I don’t know because I’ve never not looked at Him without keeping one eye on it.
AND THEN the Lord moved in a really profound, yet incredibly simple way (that’s how you know it’s Him…when it’s so simple and yet so, SO profound).
On January 20th, I stood at a bubble milk tea cafe in Vietnam, casually talking with my teammate and leader, Reece. Whenever we chat, it undoubtable revolves around Jesus, just one of the reasons I highly value our friendship. Through our conversation, Jesus moved. Reece ended up telling me he prays these four prayers almost every morning:
1. That he’d fix his eyes on Jesus every second of every day. That his eyes wouldn’t wander but that they’d look up to He who gives life.
2. That by way of fixing His eyes on the Author and Perfecter of his faith, God would give him His perspective when looking at every situation, person and himself.
3. That all his motivations — including those of his reason for living, reason for acting and all those that fill his heart would actually be Jesus’ motivations.
4. That he would look more and more like Jesus every single day.
**Side note: He wrote a blog about how God *just* taught him this as recently as the end of January. So cool to see how he teaches us so that He can use us to teach each other.
When he told me all that, I realized I’ve never prayed those prayers but I knew I needed to for they spoke directly into my soul. Straight from my journal on Sunday, January 21: “We [Reece and I] talked about perspective on life…that it’s not a quick fix (which I feel like I’ve been hoping for) because God is a God of seasons and patience and yet it’s a fast fix at the same time because with God’s perspective, life’s seasons have purpose and beauty all the same. We talked about the difference between mercy and grace, as well as having a pure motive - and praying for pure motive. The whole conversation was incredible and encouraging. The Spirit moved between us and we both felt it plainly and beautifully. I have so much to pray about surrounding it.”
And boy did I! From that day - January 21 - I started praying those four prayers. I painted myself a nifty little reminder card and start my quiet time each morning for praying for one or two (or all five if I’m feeling extra — ha!). I added one more: discernment and wisdom…cause, you know, that’s important too.
And friends, I am here to give glory to God and testify,
my life has completely changed.
We left Vietnam that day and headed to Cambodia where we got to participate in an Awakening (an AMAZING two conference with three other squads where we got to learn, practice, rest and fellowship). On our way we had a 15 hour bus ride where God and I had a long chat. (We tend to talk on buses…good thing the Race is FULL of them). I told Him I had so many thoughts buzzing around in my head…like I knew He was at work but I couldn’t keep all the things straight to see the tapestry He was weaving. Then He asked me to do something really strange. If it’s strange, you can almost always bet He’s got something in store.
“Let’s start from the beginning.” He suggested.
I obliged. “Okay, like from where?”
“The third grade.” He instructed.
“Are you kidding?”
He wasn’t. He took me through 14 pages in my journal. 314 memories to be exact. Memories I hadn’t thought of years…others that were uncomfortably close to the surface. His desire: To show me HIS perspective...on all of it because He was there for all of it. Ya’ll, that took me two days to get through. From January 23rd to the 24th, I recalled and examined everything from my childhood to romantic relationships, memories made with my folks to times I spent utterly alone fostering darkness, all while He whispered HIS truth into my spirit.
His perspective became mine about my own life.
And you know what He said to me after it was said and finished on that afternoon?
“Sweet girl, look where I’ve brought you from. Look what I’ve brought you through. And I was always there. I was there when you binged. I was there when you threw up and when you chose to fill yourself with men. I was there in your sadness, fear and heartbreak. I saw it all. I was there for it all. Look at it from my perspective — I remember it all and redeem it all. Nothing you’ve done weighs you down — you can have no shame because I’ve said so. I am conforming you. I am replacing your motivations with mine. Leah, I love you. You’re my daughter and nothing could ever change my love and adoration for you. I was there — I have perspective on it. Keep your eyes on me — I am all powerful and know all the things. Trust me, hope in me and you’ll never be disappointed. Let me satisfy you. Take my perspective and don’t worry about fixing. Only I can redeem — take heart and have faith that I am doing just that.”
AND GUESS WHAT! It was on that afternoon, January 24th, I realized, I had no disordered thoughts! NONE! The Lord exchanged them for His outlook that day and I have only had *maybe* ten total since! HALLE-FREAKING-LUJAH! And with the few that I have had, there’s no shame! It’s simply a warning sign that my flesh perspective has crept, that my eyes have fallen from Him — from He who is freedom and life abundant. From He, who is perspective. It’s a cue to lift my eyes so I may have life.
Like many people — all people? — I’ve spent a better chunk of time seaching high and low for ‘the answer’. A quick fix to the habits and thoughts that plague and ensnare. The thing that would take it all away and just set me free. But THAT is how good our Father is. He doesn’t want just for me or YOU. He wants the BEST and the best isn’t a quick fix but a relationship where our proximity to His heart effects our perspective. Where when we keep our eyes fixed on Him and start walking, we eventually end up standing so close to Him that we look on things from HIS vantage point — that is Truth. When we see things like Jesus, by Jesus, for Jesus, we’ll see how magnificent and glorious He is, truly worthy of praise and with our new motivations, all we’ll want is to bring Him glory and be closer and closer to Him.
That’s what I want. This is a testimony of faith. I could say I am “fine”…that “I am a woman set free from her eating disorder” but that would be so far from the truth. The truth is, I am daughter of the King who fixes her eyes on Jesus, asks for His perspective and motives and HE is faithful to give because of His great love. I now look at Jesus and He is better looking than anything else.
Thanks and all the glory be to God.
Should you have any questions about my testimony, mental health/eating disorders or the gospel, I am an open book. I’m praying that you’d ask.