One of the greatest hurdles to my recovery from anorexia, if I’m being totally and completely honest, has been letting people “in” to my past. Sharing it with people, and letting people get close enough to me to really “go there.”
And I know that sounds preposterous, given the fact that…hello…I literally have this very blog where I share about incredibly personal things on the reg. But for whatever reason, it’s much easier to share with 43,000 people about my messy history, than to sit down one-on-one and tell my story to someone over a glass of wine.
The idea of that, frankly, gives me anxiety sweats.
But it’s something that I’m really working on. Because, RealTalk: I still carry a lot of shame about the fact that I battled anorexia. I still struggle with separating who I am now, with who I was then. And even though I know conceptually, that both have the same worth, and same value as a child of God, and are worthy of love — the fact is, I am ashamed. I feel it somehow discredits me from love, today. I feel it makes me damaged goods that no man will ever want to “risk” getting close to.
But anyway — all that to say….I went to confession yesterday.
Which, let me just set the record straight — I am a bad Catholic, because, let’s be real — it’s not my favorite.
We’re talking — I once drove to inner city Chicago to confess all the sins and baggage around my eating disorder to a priest that barely spoke english just so I would never have to see that man again!
I mean, I don’t think I’ve ever gone to confession at a church I actually attended just because I didn’t want to know the priest, or have him know me.
And…I’m not proud of that.
But — here we are. Confession is a beautiful gift — one that, I need to learn to set my pride aside, and embrace more.
But yesterday — I went to confession at my own parish in New York. Face to face with the priest I see every Sunday.
Why? Well — it was kind of an emergency situation. I missed mass on Sunday (sorry mom and dad!) First time, ever — by the way. Minus when I was on bedrest, and that time I was in Iceland where there was literally no church within a 4 hour drive.
So anyway – it was an emergency. And so, I went to confession at my own parish.
And afterwards, I stayed for daily mass in this tiny little chapel. I mean, there are only five rows, and I could literally reach out and touch the pulpit if I wanted to. It’s that intimate a space.
During mass, I made eye contact with the priest — the one who I just confessed to — and he just smiled at me, like a loving father. And in my heart, there was this moment of peace — and dare I say, joy — that this man knew my baggage, and still loved me and saw me as a child of God.
He had said something to me in the confessional, that really resonated with me in that moment. After I had just spilled all this horrible crap that had built up over a year — so you know there’s a lot!! — he said to me, “God is so happy that you’re here. And He’s so pleased to have His daughter bringing these things to Him, so He can take them from you.“
God was happy that I brought my baggage to Him. The things that I carried in shame, in guilt, in self-disgust — God was pleased to take them from me.
And the priest, even after hearing them, didn’t see me as a monster!
For the rest of that mass, for whatever reason, my mind was brought back to my time on the El Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, last summer in Spain with my mom. If you’re new here, my mom and I walked 80 miles along the coast of Spain and Portugal in thanksgiving for her recovery from a stroke.
And I shared about my anorexia. And much to my relief, I received nothing but love and acceptance. And in fact, it strengthened the bond with these people I now consider family.
But it just reinforced to me that, my story is nothing to be ashamed of.
And then God reminded me that just the day before, I shared my story with these two lovely ladies I met at a blogging event in the city!
God, in that teeny little chapel, was showing me, over and over that my past does not make me too broken.
Yes, I went through a terrible season with anorexia, and have that in my past — but I am not defined by that. It gave me the opportunity to grow, and learn about myself, and solidify my relationship with Jesus, and honestly, become the person I am today.
But the anorexia in my past is not who I am. It is not what defines my worth as a person, or the determining factor as to whether I am deserving of love.
Because God took it. God released me from that shackle. And He redeemed me: mind, body, spirit.
I don’t know, but I’m feeling this ground-swell beneath me, as I’m feeling more and more emboldened to share my story, in “offline” life.
Maybe this is God gearing me up to have the courage to share my past with the man He has planned for me.
All I know is that there is no shame with Jesus. He clears our name and sets us free. I experienced that yesterday with confession.
And in fact, those scars from our past only point to the glory and victory of Christ.
Jesus, in His post-resurrection ministry actually led with His scars.
So the question is…what will we do with ours?
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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