Well happy belated Valentine’s Day, everyone!
I’m writing this on Monday evening, after driving home from the Hamptons with seven of my best friends. We spent the long weekend at a cheap airbnb. We cooked a LOT of really tasty food, we took walks on the snowy beach, we played some pretty intensely competitive board games (Catan!!), sipped a cocktail or two, but mainly, just enjoyed spending quality time with one another.
It was an absolute blast. My heart feels like it is completely overflowing. The flood gates are open, and it is just so full of joy and love, I think I am actually literally floating. I have some really wonderful friends.
Today was our travel day, and my handsome gentleman drove us all home. And after dropping off the rental car, I went over to his apartment to have some lunch and attend virtual Mass together, since we missed it yesterday.
We watched Father Mike, as per usu, and I found myself getting choked up as he was reading the story of the man with leprosy.
It drew up emotions in me, that I had put to bed a long time ago, but were just close enough to the surface. And as I thought about it, I realized that three years ago, during this exact Mass: the Sunday before Valentine’s Day and the beginning of Lent, with the same readings about the man with leprosy…I had the exact same emotional response. I actually wrote about it in this blog post. And I was so emotionally moved that right then and there, I looked up that post, and reread it. And it hit my heart so much, I want to share a quick excerpt from it:
- “Sitting there, listening to the first reading about the man with leprosy, I realized that there were tears rolling down my cheek, and a lump had taken residence in my throat.
- “The one who bears the sore of leprosy…shall cry out, “Unclean, unclean!”…He shall declare himself unclean, since he is in fact unclean. He shall dwell apart, making his abode outside the camp.” — LV 13: 44-46
- Listening to that, I came to the stark realization, that is me.
- That is the lie I have been believing and living with: Living at arm’s length, because I do not believe I am worth loving.
- I try so hard to put on a brave face and do and say the right thing, but when it comes right down to it, I still carry my brokenness, leftover from the anorexia in my past.
- Listening to that reading, it was as though someone had taken the feelings I couldn’t put into words, and proclaimed them from the pulpit for all to hear.
- Recovery is journey, ever evolving. And there are times when you’re on mountain tops and times when you’re hanging on by your fingernails. And for those with anorexia in their past, you can attest that the largest and most difficult aspect of recovery is not the weight. It’s not the food. Not the exercise, or the body image – although that is definitely a bear too. But it is the self worth. It is believing that you are worth love. And that is what has flared up here recently.” – from “An Ashy Valentine’s Day” March 2018
Rereading those words today, with tears welling up in my eyes, sitting next to this incredible man who I love, and who loves me, I realized just how good of a Father we truly have, and how grateful I am for the work He has done on my heart.
It was one of those rare full circle moments that brings you to your knees at the power of God.
But that’s not where God decided to reveal His love for me tonight.
Because tonight, Father Mike ended his terrific homily with a quote from CS Lewis…perhaps you’ve heard it:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
If Lewis wasn’t talking exactly about my heart during (and post) my anorexia, I don’t know what was. I wasn’t locking my heart with “hobbies” or “little luxuries,” but rather, allowing the eating disorder to enclose my heart – withdrawing in isolation, believing the lies of unworthiness, and creating that impenetrable barrier to my heart, and to love in any and all forms: from friends, from family, from a significant other, from God, and from myself.
My heart felt safe with the eating disorder. Little did I know, like my deteriorating body, my heart was decaying too.
Friends, we have a God who loves to redeem. We have a Father who knows our deepest needs and deepest longings, and loves to hand deliver them to us, in beautiful ways that only He can orchestrate.
The vulnerability of love is something I have experienced in, truly, a life changing way.
It has made my life bloom. It is the key and secret to truly unlocking total and complete recovery, once and for all.
Because in the vulnerability of letting another person love you, and loving them in return, you are placing your heart in someone else’s hand, while holding theirs in yours. And in that moment, you realize that all the messed up, destructive ways you treated your body during the eating disorder are not how God intended us to live. The moment you hold someone else’s heart in your hand, you realize how you should have been treating yourself all along. And I’ve gotta tell you, that realization was the most beautifully tragic realization ever. Because you’re realizing how beautiful it is to live in the gentle and delicate care of love, and that, this is how you should have been caring for yourself all along.
I couldn’t be more thankful for the transformation God has facilitated in my heart. And I am so grateful that He brought this man into my life to show me that I am worth loving.
Tonight, I pray for all those girls trapped in the desolate darkness of an eating disorder, like I was so many years ago. May they have the courage to become vulnerable. May they have the courage to open their heart to the possibility of love — starting from themselves. May they see the beauty, hope and healing power that comes from being seen and known. It will change their lives. And they are worth it.
“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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