This Is Not Forever.
Updated: May 14, 2020
Following Jesus is amazing.
He brings freedom that is greater than we can imagine and I believe that Christian’s in America today are often not living in the freedom he provides. There are hardships that come with or without following the Lord and there are messes and complications. But we have a God that walks with us, bears our burdens, and doesn’t get tired of hearing our cries. And in that, I think we spend a lot of time focusing on the God that is with us in the darkness and forget that he is also the God that brings joy and peace that surpasses all understanding.
I always want to preface these type of things by saying that I am never trying to be insensitive. I am the first to say that I have and sometimes continue to battle emotions, frustrations, insecurities, hopelessness, and exhaustion. I’ve seen the moments it has stolen from me. It is a day to day thing and sometimes I still battle random moments of melancholy, loneliness, fear, or insecurity. So I fully understand that life is not happy and flowery all the time. I don’t know why my mind can often default to sorrow, but it is something that I often have to take captive and choose joy instead.
While I understand that sometimes healing takes time, I never want to share something that is just reinforcing unhealthy patterns. I always want to come from a place of victory that we can claim.
I’ve been thinking about common lies. Lately I have seen more people open up about struggling with their body image, picking apart every little detail of themselves, and feeling like they’re controlled by what they see in the mirror.
Well that was me from the time I was eleven to about sixteen. I was dominated by the reflection. I lived in fear that someone would want to take a group photo and I’d get caught at an unflattering angle. I knew every blemish on my body, every single one. I could list off the things I hated about myself and I believed that if I could only be skinnier then I would be prettier and then I would be lovable. Looking back I see that my mind was playing tricks on me. I know now that what I saw in the mirror was not accurate. I look at pictures from that time and marvel because I remember seeing them completely different then. I literally saw a different person when I was in the midst of those struggles.
During this time, I remember reaching out to a couple women at my church who I had heard had struggled with similar things. I vividly remember standing in the sanctuary of the little church I grew up at talking to a woman I admired about it. She looked me in the face and said, “This will never go away. It will always be something you struggle with.” Those words hit me so hard. Here I was, eleven-years-old and a Christian woman I admired tells me that this will inevitably be a battle the rest of my life. That was the most disheartening thing to hear. In my head I thought, “So I’m destined for this?”
As I went through high school I found a couple strong female Christian influences. I remember one of those women praying with me one day, asking God to show me the root of this struggle so we could pray through it. I felt hope again, like maybe this didn’t have to be my forever. Maybe I didn’t have to be paralyzed by the mirror FOREVER. It was not long after when I remember working out one night. I laid down on my floor and thought about how I hadn’t really been working out much or watching what I was eating. But I was the happiest I had ever been. I knew my body and fitness could improve, but I had good relationships, I felt fulfilled in the Lord, and I was genuinely happy. And in that moment I realized that I was free. I wasn’t controlled by that anymore. It was no longer the most important thing to me.
I wanted to message those women and tell them that there was hope for them, that it didn’t have to be forever and that there is healing. I never did, but I think about it often. How dangerous are the things we tell each other? I’ve had friends who struggle with anxiety say that even doctors have told them the same thing, that this will just be the rest of their life. I really believe it doesn’t have to be that way. And I know it’s not always as easy as snapping your fingers and deciding to not struggle with something anymore. It definitely wasn’t that easy for me. Sometimes, more often than not, it takes a lot of processing and prayer to really work through something.
Whatever you struggle with does not have to be forever. If you told me at twelve or thirteen that by the time I was in my twenties I would feel completely free from the grip of the reflection, that I could look at my blemishes head on and still love myself, that I could eat a couple cookies and it wouldn’t ruin the rest of my day, and that I could be at peace with who I am and the way I look whether I like it that day or not, I probably wouldn’t believe you. I didn’t think it was possible and people’s words only reinforced it.
So today I am writing to the person who can’t look at themselves in the mirror and thinks that everyone sees the blemishes they try to hide. I am writing to the person who can barely make it through a day at work because they constantly feel anxiety they don’t know what to do with. I am writing to the one who fears the future and lives in exhaustion, questioning how they are going to live the rest of their years when they’re already so tired. I am writing to the one that feels lonely, rejected, and unlovable. And I am writing to myself, when I feel hopeless and run down for days at a time.
this is NOT forever.
There is freedom.
YOU CAN BE FREE.
Sometimes it is as easy as a choice, sometimes it is practical steps, and sometimes it is months or years of prayer and crying out to the Lord. But this is not your forever and don’t let anyone ever tell you that this will never go away.
I watch so many people live in bondage, and I watch as I often wake up and put on my chains. It is comfortable. And it is important to learn the way you function and what is healthy for you or not. But friends take this with you today.
This is not forever.