I don’t know about you, but sometimes, I wish I could “un-know” things. You know what I mean?
Like, I wish I didn’t know some of the things I do. I wish I could un-learn them. Un-see them. Like Justin Timberlake with cornrows.
Or the girl from the movie, The Ring. That disturbing image will forever be seared into my brain. And, this is coming from the girl who was terrified of scary movies, and would “watch” those flicks from behind a pillow when my friends would insist on watching them.
Or if you walk in on your parents “doing it.”
Not that that’s ever happened to me. But so I’ve heard.
I did walk in on my friend’s dad pooping….that was pretty scarring.
Never went over to that house again, that’s for dang sure.
But all jokes aside, there are things that I just wish I didn’t have knowledge about.
I witnessed the little 7-year-old girl I nanny for “learn” one of those things today. We’ll call her Cindy.
I was with Cindy and her friend, and we were waiting in line for the ice cream truck.
And her friend goes, “Oh look, I’m fat!” as she pulled out her shirt away from her stomach and blew air into her cheeks.
And as her friend did this, I saw my little Cindy look down at her stomach and touch it, and assess her shirt-to-tummy ratio situation. It was the first time I ever saw her be self-conscious.
Now, to be clear, neither of these girls are anywhere near fat. They’re beanpoles. In fact, as with most children of well-off New Yorkers, they could stand to gain a few pounds. Living a Gwyneth Paltrow-GOOP-inspired lifestyle, as most rich NYC-kids do, leaves children lanky and hyped up on kale chips and fresh pressed juice. A far cry from Dunkaroos and Capri Suns. #nostalgic
And I have been careful to never talk about weight or body image or anything negative about my own appearance either. Those are things no child should have to worry about.
And seeing Cindy first realize that weight is something that people can and do make fun of, it broke my heart.
She learned something today she can never unlearn.
My time (three months) at inpatient, honestly, the biggest thing I took away from it were the things and the stories from other girls that I can never unlearn. I can’t unhear.
I’ve mentioned before, but I was 18 when I went into inpatient for anorexia, and technically an adult. And therefore, I was admitted into the adult program. I had just missed the cutoff for the adolescent program.
So I was the youngest one.
And the stories I heard from these women who were battling anorexia and other eating disorders…harrowing, to put it lightly. There was a woman there who has been battling anorexia for 40 years. And that’s a mild example.
But sometimes, I just get really pressed down for lack of a better explanation, when my mind takes a quick inventory of all those things. Not that I sit around and think about it, but seeing Cindy experience that today, it brought up a lot of mental images and thoughts for me.
We all have things we wish we could unsee or unknow.
Maybe it’s unknow-ing the pain of your parents getting a divorce as a child. Maybe it’s unknow-ing the taste of that first sip of alcohol. Or the rush of stealing or cheating. Or the taste of sugar. Or unsee painful moments where we’ve witnessed the loss of life or betrayal, or deceit.
I bet we all could come up with a laundry list of things.
And even though we might not think about them every day, they’re always there, lying dormant in the background. Things that we just carry around with us, day in, day out.
And tonight, I found myself having drudged up a lot of those things. I found myself with an armful of heavy and scary crap that was weighing me down and dominating my thoughts and feelings.
And it was in that moment that I remembered the song lyrics, “I lay it down at your feet.”
That’s the beauty of God: all those things that plague us with doubt and worry and fears of inadequacy and pain and regret – those things we wish we didn’t know – Jesus will take them all.
We just have to surrender them. Leave them at the foot of the cross.
Cindy may have learned something today that she can never “unknow” – about the harsh judgments people can pass.
But the good news is that there is something that we can also learn that is greater and more powerful than any of those things or images seared into our minds. And that is that God is greater.
His protection is greater than any fear.His love is greater than any hurtful comment or insecurity. His forgiveness is greater than any screwup in our past. His mercy is greater than any struggle or hardship.
He is greater.
Let’s re-learn that.
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