Looking back at painful times can be…well…painful.
Reflecting on times where you were put through trials and suffering can make you feel numb or depressed, and it can open up wounds that you thought had healed.
Being in recovery, looking back on the harrowing time when I was in my disease could be very desolate. Looking back and reflecting on the darkness and deception and agony that was my life for so long could be a one way ticket to depression. Thinking about all the missed opportunities and experiences and all the time that I can no longer get back could be enough to make me not want to get out of bed in the morning.
But here’s the thing. I could reflect on my past like that. I could dwell on all the negatives. I could wallow in self-pity at what could have been had it not been for my anorexia. I could do all those things.
But I have to choose not to.
My past — yes, it is dark. Yes, it is painful. Yes, it is not something that I am proud of. But it is part of who I am. It has shaped me into who I am today.
My anorexia is a wound. It wounded my body and left a scar. Maybe not a physical scar that you can see — although, there are many of those too — no boobs, no period, dry skin, weakened bones, etc. But the greatest scar that it left was on my heart.
And scars are funny things, because you can look at them in one of two ways: You can look at them and remember the pain that made that scar. Or, you can look at the scar, and see the healing that took place where that wound once was. It can be a reminder of suffering, or it can be a sign of triumph: of strength.
My loved ones, when talking with me about the book I’m writing, often ask me how I am able to go back to that period of darkness and write about it without becoming one big bundle of depression? Are you just torturing yourself? What’s going on here?
And that’s how. I look back at the scars left by my anorexia, and I have chosen not to see them as a reminder of the darkness, or of the pain. I’ve chosen to look at the scars as a reminder of the healing — of how far I’ve come. A reminder of overcoming this disease. As a reminder of rising up from the pit of hell and reclaiming my life, and claiming victory over ED.
And let me just pause for a second here. That sounds like I’m just sitting here tooting my own horn. Oh look at how strong I am. Look what I did.
Nope. The reason I can say those things is because it wasn’t me.
I can 100% say that those things — that victory over ED — had nothing to do with me or my personal strength. It had everything to do with Jesus. He was the one who did all those things. He is why I can claim all those things and claim victory. All because of His love for me and His forgiveness and strength.
While we’re on the topic of Jesus, think about His scars.
Jesus underwent one of the most horrific deaths ever. Scratch that. It was the most horrific death ever. He was beaten. Scourged. Whipped. Humiliated. And crucified. #RealTalk: They drove nails through His hands and feet and then hung Him from those nails. Spoiler alert: Those wounds left scars — holes — where the nails were. You think gauging your earlobe is dramatic? — Think of the hole left through a hand or foot by a huge metal nail.
But here’s the thing about the holes in Jesus’ hands and feet: they’re beautiful. They’re a reminder of how much He loves us. They remind us that He loves each of us so much that He would literally die for us. That He would take the nails so that our sins are forgiven — so that all the shit we’ve done in the past and will do in the future is forgiven: our lying, manipulating, gossiping, vanity, anger — our eating disorder — all of those things were forgiven the minute He was nailed to that Cross. His scars are beautiful. And they’re a sign of victory. Of forgiveness. Of love. They’re a sign that He overcame death and rose from the dead.
After the resurrection, when Jesus came back on the third day, He went around and showed people the holes in His hands. That’s why He came back and walked around. They were His “proof” that it really was Him, and that He really did die and rise from the dead. He showed them to people. He had people touch the holes so that they could come to believe.
His scars are a “both/and.” They both remind us of the pain: of His crucifixion and tragic death. But they also remind us of what the scars signify: that He triumphed. That He was victorious.
So, using Him as an example, I try to look back at my past in a “both/and” kind of way. That, yes, my history is painful, with all of my deception and darkness, and all the shit that accompanies anorexia. But my past also reminds me of how I am not in that darkness anymore. It reminds me how far I’ve come and how Jesus and I, together, triumphed over ED.
And here’s the last thing: the holes in Jesus’ hands emitted glory. They were tangible evidence of the glory and greatness of God. They were proof that Jesus rose from the dead. Physical evidence of His love for us. Light and glory shined out of those holes. And that’s why He went around and showed people His wounds. Because they spoke of His love and the greatness of God.
And that’s the long and short of it: I am sharing my wounds – my past and all the darkness that accompanies it – so that I can speak to the immense love that Jesus has for me. And for you.
You see, I’m not special. I didn’t find the golden ticket in a Wonka Bar, and all of a sudden I’m the “special one” that gets to receive God’s love and forgiveness. Nope.
And I didn’t do anything extra special to earn that love either. Nope. I didn’t get that love by going to church 24 hours a day, or rescuing stray, blind dogs, or cleaning up graffiti, or housing homeless people. Nope. I’m just a regular girl that has a lot of “dirt on my hands.” There was nothing I did that made me earn or deserve that love. I didn’t do anything.
And also, nothing I’ve done in my past can disqualify me from that love. It’s not like, “Oh, she did that? Ohhhh, well, sorry. The people who did that horrible thing are actually exempt from my love. Tough luck.” Nope. Not that either. And believe me, I’ve got quite the “checkered past.” If I can be loved, then they’re letting the riffraff in. 🙂
He loves us no matter what. No matter what we’ve done or said, or didn’t do or didn’t say. He just is freaking crazy about us. Enough to die on a cross for you and me.
That’s how I look at my past. I have to choose to not look back and see the pain, but rather, I have to look back and see that, with Jesus, we’ve claimed victory over that darkness. Look back and see that His love for me is so great that He rescued me from that pit of hell. See that He has forgiven me of that and loves me anyway.
My scars are beautiful. Because they signify God’s glory. And I want to share that. He delivered me from my anorexia. And He wants to deliver you too. All you have to do is ask.