One of the most common pieces of feedback I receive about my blog is that people resonate with my voice.
Which, is such a wonderfully affirming note that I am very grateful for. But honestly, hearing that, it brings me to my knees when I think of the journey I’ve taken thus far.
Eating disorders, and anorexia in particular, are so misunderstood. Seen as a “diet gone wrong” for vain, suburban upper-middle class white teenage girls, people get the wrong ideas. Especially when it comes to “fixing” her — believing that she can merely “snap out of it.”
Which, is such harmful thinking for so many reasons.
But tonight, I wanted to just touch on something that we all have in common: our voice.
Growing up, I was one of those vibrant, happy-go-lucky kids.
I was constantly talking in goofy accents and playing dress up like a gal’dang professional, and at the age of five, begged my parents to put me into acting classes.
And there began my lifelong love of the performing arts.
But my voice was always something that was a defining part of who I was. I loved singing, and I began doing musical theater professionally in the city from the age of 7 on, even starring in a television pilot that was a spinoff of Barney.
But my voice was an integral part of me. My mom jokes that when I was a kid, we’d go to the park, and I would sing to all the old ladies sitting on the park benches. I loved to share my voice with whomever would listen.
But my anorexia stole that.
During my disease, I’ve already shared with you about how I chose to isolate myself from my friends and loved ones. Years went by where I would never return a text or pick up the phone. I wanted to be alone with my eating disorder, ashamed of who I’d become, and unwilling to relinquish the death grip I had on my destructive behaviors.
I wanted to be alone. And I didn’t care who I hurt in the process.
But in addition to the isolation, my anorexia was destructive in another way:
It silenced me.
I became a meek, unsure shadow of myself, without a shred of self confidence, or self worth.
And my voice reflected that.
Aside from the, nearly daily, blow ups or standoffs that I would have with my parents — outbursts of rage over food, or weight, or doctors appointments — my voice was non-existent. I didn’t speak. I bottled up all the emotions and thoughts and fears and cries for help, and never uttered a word. I was screaming on the inside, but all anyone could see was a shrinking girl, desperately trying to disappear from the world, cowering away from prying eyes behind baggy clothes and hardened, vacant eyes.
I remember so vividly that day at inpatient where I finally used my voice for the first time in probably close to 2 years.
We were at chapel, and I had one of those knee-buckling experiences. I was overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit, and Jesus’ love and forgiveness finally broke through the fortress I had built around my heart. And He broke through. And I genuinely smiled and laughed and cried and just felt this soul-level joy that I can only attribute to Jesus.
And the next thing I knew, I was singing. I was on the ground, this heaping pile of snotty tears, and laughing jubilation, and I was singing.
I finally felt that freedom I had longed for for so long. I had let Jesus in, and opened up my heart – even just a crack – for Him to whoosh in and heal my broken spirit.
My voice came back. As though, overnight. I began laughing and cracking jokes. I began to speak with a volume and command, as a young woman who had reclaimed what was rightfully hers all along. I looked people in the eye. Became engaging and lively again.
Because ED could no longer silence me.
Psalm 40:3 “He put a new song in my mouth. A hymn of praise to our God.“
Our voices are one of the most powerful tools we have in this world.
A word can build someone up, or tear them down. It can inspire change in the world. It can heal wounds. It can pacify tensions, and create unity in divisive times.
And when you couple your voice with your story, you become a force to be reckoned with.
Because our stories matter. Each one reveals a glimpse to the heart of the Father, and the depths of His love for His children.
I know my story isn’t extraordinary. I know that each and every one of us battle adversity and walk through challenges.
But this is my opportunity, to use that which has been reclaimed. To share my story, in celebration of His victory over the darkness in my life.
Lastly, the really powerful thing about voices is that yes, one is strong, and powerful and important. But when we all bring our voices together, we can create a symphony. Harmonies and melodies that are as intricate and beautiful as each individual contributing voice.
A compilation of life-affirming sound that can drown out the negative noise in this life.
Our voices matter. And whatever silencing force we may be up against in life, is no match for His restorative and redemptive power.
Our voice is our power. Let’s use it for good.
Ps 59:17 I will lift my voice to sing Your praise, O my Strength—
for You came to my defense.
O God, You have shown me Your loving mercy.
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