I think I’ve mentioned before about how I go about writing my blog posts. Because spoiler alert…it’s unconventional.
I literally sit down, and ask the Holy Spirit to write my post for me.
And then, it’s like the words just kinda flow.
But recently, there’s been a topic that has been put on my heart to write about: The Image of the Divine Mercy.
And quite honestly, I have been resisting. I was afraid it was too “churchy” or could be seen as too “religious,” so I have been kind of side stepping it.
But since I teased it a bit with this picture from last Thursday’s Chicago post, it’s as though God has been throwing every flashing sign in my path, saying…WRITE THE POST!
But last night was the kicker. I went to a church I don’t normally go to. I was out with friends and I needed to go to mass, so I went to one in the area. And wouldn’t you know, not only was I sitting in a pew that was right next to this painting….
But right smack dab on the wall was a huge mural painting, depicting the scene of the Divine Mercy. It’s when Saint Maria Faustina received the vision of Jesus’s Divine Mercy.
I could no longer ignore the prompting put on my heart.
So here it goes.
As you know, my battle with anorexia was grave. My junior and senior years of high school were tumultuous. I had managed to manipulate everyone in my life into believing that my drastic weight loss (I had wasted away to 78 pounds) was due to my ulcerative colitis. Which, initially, some of it was. I had a severe flare up at the beginning of my Junior year. But when I developed anorexia later that year, I would use my UC to my “advantage” and long story short, I had everyone believing that I had some horrific complications that were making me unable to gain weight.
Everyone, that is, except my mother.
She knew the truth.
Call it a mother’s intuition. Call it a gut feeling. But from the very onset, my mother knew that I was suffering from an eating disorder.
But here’s where things get hairy. By the time things got dire, I was 18, and legally an adult. So my parents could not force me to go to inpatient treatment.
And I might just be one of the most strong willed individuals you’ll ever come across.
Enter an intervention. Etc. Etc. Etc.
Back to my mom.
Sitting here, now, as a healed and healthy young woman, I often think about my mom, and what she must have gone through, watching her daughter waste away. Being the only one who could see through my manipulation and see the truth of the situation.
I remember talking with her years later, and she said something to me that I think will haunt me for the rest of my life. She said, “I had to prepare myself that you may die.”
Gosh. The pain I put this woman through. Even though I know she has forgiven me and loves me and we have moved on and healed together, my heart still sinks every time I remember that.
But the thing about my mom, which I have written about before, is that she never gossiped about me to her friends. Not even disguised as a “prayer request.” I mean, clearly, everyone could see what I was going through – my emaciated, skeletal body was a walking billboard. But people believed that it was my Ulcerative Colitis. Not anorexia.
But my mom knew that – if God-willing – I survived, that the only way our relationship would ever be able to heal were if our trust remained intact. Which, I know, seems like a glaring oxymoron – as I was literally manipulating and lying to her. But despite my deception, she knew that I needed to be able to trust her. And so she never talked to anyone about what I was battling.
Except our priest.
She spent every night in the Adoration Chapel at our church, praying for me. Pleading to God to save me and rescue me from the grips of the devil.
And she would confide in our priest.
And there was one day, during her confession, that he told her to adopt a devotion to the Divine Mercy, and gave her a little prayer card and booklet about it.
(And if you want to read more about it, you can get a book here.)
But it talked about how this image of Jesus was given to Saint Maria Faustina, and it shows the mercy of Christ pouring from His heart in a red and white ray. And underneath the image is the phrase, “Jesus, I trust in You.”
So my mom, desperate to do anything she can to save me, decided to read up on it, and went to our local Christian bookstore to pick up a few books. And wouldn’t you know, that right as she arrived, they were unloading from this big truck, a beautiful, nearly lifesize, framed painting of the image of the Divine Mercy.
It was the only one they had ordered, and my mom, recognizing this as a reassuring hug from God, bought the painting on the spot, and it has had a prominent place in our home ever since.
But the Divine Mercy is what got my mom through that incredibly trying season.
You see, the devotion to it, is all about the mercy of Jesus. And how we can completely trust in Him.
Saint Faustina heard these words from Jesus during the vision: “Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus, I trust in You. I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish…I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy.”
I recently asked my mom about it, and here’s what she had to say…
I think that just about says it all.
My mother’s faith is something I will always be in awe of. So much power is packed into that petite woman. (She’s in the 5’2″ club!)
But I’ve said it before, I think so many times when we feel the most abandoned by God in a dire situation where we feel oppressed and unable to go on — it is in those moments that God is actually sustaining us. Carrying us through, moment to moment. And we can completely trust in that.
Last night, sitting in church getting stared down by the mural of the Divine Mercy, and feeling the giant weight of the post I was going to have to write…God came in with the final 1-2 punch.
The gospel was John 15:1-8. “I am the Vine, you are the branches.” We’ve all heard it 1000 times and can recite it in our sleep.
I am ten years strong in my recovery from anorexia. But if there’s one thing that I know, is that I cannot do this on my own. My recovery depends on the Vine.
“Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own
unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in Me.
I am the Vine, you are the branches.
Whoever remains in Me and I in him will bear much fruit,
because without Me you can do nothing.”
That is the “secret” to a long and lasting recovery. It’s not body positivity. It’s not positive mantras, adult coloring books, mindfulness or self-affirmations. It’s Jesus. Plain and simple: Remaining connected to the Vine, and showing up every single day to the fountain of Divine Mercy with open hands and an open heart.
Thank you to those who have bought my book, Bloom. It is my prayer that it can help keep you connected to the Vine, and help you open your heart to receive His love and mercy that were so transformative to my recovery.
Hope you have a great week, and I’ll see you Wednesday.
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