I had quite the adventure this morning.
So I’m attending an in-person baptism this coming weekend! And I am so excited. (Remember that time not too long ago, when these things were over Zoom?? That’ll be something wild we reminisce about with a chuckle down the road.)
But anywho – it’s at Mass this Sunday, and I wanted to get a gift! (After all, it is my special gentleman’s baby nephew who will be in the “Font of Honor.”)
So I decided that I was going to get up bright and early and bike to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. They have a really wonderful gift shop with trinkets and things for every Catholic occasion. And so at 9am, I was browsing the shelves at, not only the largest Gothic-style Church in the United States, but arguably the center of Catholic life in America.
And to my surprise, it was poppin! There were eight people in the store, which — for before 10 am in New York, and at a church gift shop no less — was pretty impressive.
I ended up getting a lovely baptismal cross, and a few holy cards.
But as I was perusing the shelves, I came across a beautiful painting of Jesus with the “Footprints” prayer on the back.
And looking at it, my eyes welled up a little bit, because this prayer has been so meaningful in my life, and particularly my recovery.
For those who may have never heard it, or need a quick refresher, the prayer goes like this:
“One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene, he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand; one belonging to him, and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it. “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you’d walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why when I needed you most, you would leave me?
The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child. I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
This prayer was so instrumental to my healing from anorexia. Because for so long during that destructive season, I felt like I was in a vacuum, a vortex, a sound-proof room where I was trapped with the walls closing in.
I was suffocating in my own skin, feeling completely alone, clinging to the safety and security I believed I had with my eating disorder.
I was desperately clinging to that “control,” while in the meantime, destroying not only my health and body, but my relationships, my future, my faith life and my spirit.
I remember the first time I read this at inpatient, truly feeling the most alone, terrified and abandoned in my entire life. It was one of the first nights, and I was on my cot that they had set up at the nurses’ station, so they could monitor my vitals, for fear I would go into cardiac arrest overnight.
I remember reading that, and just silently crying, realizing that God had been carrying me that entire time. All those sleepless nights, frantic days, that petrified day-in-day-out existence that was my anorexia: God was the only reason I got through it.
I remember my heart just breaking, realizing what I had been doing to my Father in Heaven who loved me so much. I pictured Him carrying my gaunt, skeletal, lifeless 78-pound body along the beach with the waves crashing, trudging through that terrible season of pain and strife.
All the while, sustaining me, while I was actively pushing Him out of my life, to make room for my new savior: my eating disorder.
Praise God He broke through that stone fortress around my heart, and loved me back to life.
This episode was one of great significance to my ultimate healing and recovery. And today, 13 years strong in that dedication to a new life, I still will think about this Footprints prayer, and remember the degree to which God loves me and you.
So I got that Footprints prayer from the gift shop for my special gentleman. I wanted to share with him what was so meaningful and instrumental to my recovery, and becoming the woman I am today.
And I also wanted to share it with you tonight, too.
Sending so much love and hugs.
“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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