I was reminded today of an acutely transformative time in my life. Isn’t it funny how something can trigger a specific memory that can instantly take you back to a very specific place and time?
I stumbled upon today’s reading from Ezekiel 36.
“I will sprinkle clean water upon you
to cleanse you from all your impurities,
and from all your idols I will cleanse you.”
It then goes on…
“I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you…”
You see, this exact passage was one that I clung to when I was at inpatient treatment, recovering from anorexia. I had this beautiful leather bible, and sprinkled throughout, there were these magnificent photo inserts that highlighted particular verses, and this was one of them.
It had this beautiful woman with the biggest, most radiant smile I’ve ever seen, and she was in a sun shower. The rain was pouring down, and yet the sun was shining brilliantly. I saw that image — in my 78 pound state, without hope, feeling scared and powerless — and just the thought of being cleansed of all the horrible things I had done, and that I would be given a new heart and spirit…it filled me with so much comfort and peace. And HOPE!
I looked at that image of the woman every day, and in those words…new heart, new spirit, be cleansed…I found the strength to fight the literal battle of my life, for my life.
So today, having that passage pop up on my radar, it took me back to that place of transformation, where Jesus led me through a process of restoration – body, mind, and most importantly…spirit.
But it was interesting, today, reading that and revisiting that from a where I am now — from a place of wholeness, with that new heart and new spirit I was promised back then.
I read it with new eyes. And it really convicted me, and so I wanted to share it with you.
Yes, I was still moved by the hopeful promise of a new heart and a new spirit…because hello — that’s amazing. God is in the business of restoration. And He promises that to you and me, every morning, new.
But today, I was drawn to the line just before the “heavy-hitter.”
“…from all your idols I will cleanse you.”
This really convicted me. Because now, in 2020, with 20/20 hindsight…I am no longer focusing on the hope I desperately needed from the following sentence, but rather, the amazing mercy, grace and forgiveness that God was actually doing at that time….
He was cleansing me from my idol…
He was cleansing me from myself.
I think if I’m being brutally honest with myself, I was making myself an idol in my heart. I was making my body, my appearance, my thinness, my weight…those had become what I was worshipping. And it disgusts me to admit that, but I think sometimes it’s important to really examine the dirty, nitty gritty truth, thereby illuminating the immense saving power of God, and the powerful things He’s actually done.
With this in mind, I was looking around today, and just realizing that there are so many idols in our everyday lives — in my everyday life — that I don’t even realize. And I think the faster we can identify them, the faster Jesus can cleanse us from them, and give us that new heart and new spirit.
And sure, I could pause here and go into the obvious idols of money, success, material things, sex, alcohol, etc.
But I really want to focus on the idol of self. Because you don’t need to be suffering from an eating disorder to be worshipping at the altar of “self.”
The world today — which I am absolutely including myself in — we glorify individuality…sometimes to an extreme and unhealthy extent. We strive to be different, be admired or esteemed, we care deeply about what others think of us – or our social media feeds, – we strive to be seen as “woke,” and our own category of unique…and woe to the person who sees differently.
We raise up our own thoughts and thinking, and to anyone who contradicts, we are quick to strike back or lash out, all in the name of self-celebration.
These are all broken manifestations of how deeply we have come to idolize self.
We have taken a beautiful concept of self-love and recognizing our self-worth in Christ, and twisted it to be an idolization of self, individuality, and identification.
And so I wanted to just touch on that today.
It took God literally screeching my anorexia freight-train to a halt, and absolutely derailing my life (sending me to rehab for three months) in order to cleanse me of the self-idolization that had taken over my life. It was only then – through nearly destroying my life – that I finally recognized how severely delinquent was the state of my heart.
Thank you, Jesus, for that new heart and new spirit you gave me.
It’s available to you and me, every day. All we have to do is sincerely ask for it.
Oh the life that is waiting for us when we do.
Lord, today, please let us recognize any idols we may inadvertently have in our lives. May we be willing to do the difficult and humbling work to identify them, and then root them out by handing them over to You. Sprinkle us with Your cleansing water and give us a new heart and new spirit.
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
A huge shoutout to Reason Nutrition Beverage! Their all-natural, high calorie drink is not only delicious, but it has no “garbage” in it! Utilizing the wholesome goodness of coconut oil, it’s a phenomenal option for those needing to gain weight in recovery, or for those simply looking to supplement their diet with convenient and fast nutrition. Check them out!
A big thank you to my foundational sponsor, BetterHelp Online Therapy. I cannot begin to express how beneficial therapy was for my recovery from anorexia. Speak with an online therapist. Or check out content about eating disorders from BetterHelp.
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