Counselor, heal thy self

 “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27

The room is fairly spacious, with big bay windows and two doors, one leads to the nurses station, one leads to the backyard which is now overrun by smokers on break from group.  However, I feel cramped as I sit on the floor, cross-legged with seven other young women.  We range in ages, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status.  We have two things in common, we all suffer with an eating disorder and now we are all in this group.  We sit, staring at the life-size roll of butcher paper lying on the floor in front of us.  The therapist has given us an assignment and we are all hesitating to begin.  “draw me a picture of how you see yourself, physically.”  She says with what appears to be a sadistic smirk.  I stare at the paper outstretched before me, and trembling I pick up a black permanent marker.  How do I see myself?  I close my eyes and an image forms. I am no artist, however, I think I came pretty close to drawing the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man from Ghostbusters.  The face was round and had a double chin, no neck and the remainder of the body depicted layer upon layer of fat.  I remember thinking, “yup, that’s pretty accurate.”  Although, I hadn’t really seen my reflection from the neck down for approximately a week. I was said to be a danger to myself and therefore “strongly encouraged” to admit myself as an in-patient.   The mirrors in the bedrooms were small and narrow so you really only saw yourself from the neck up.  Therapists and medical professionals felt this helped to begin to alleviate some of the obsession with our already unrealistic body-image.  Yeah….ok….whatever you say doc!  

The therapist then tells us to take our drawings and place them on the wall at “our height.”  We all comply and pretty soon we are all gazing at each other’s self-portrait. I remember thinking to myself, “she doesn’t look anything like that, she’s so skinny.”  Then came the icing on the body-image cake…we stood with our backs pressed against our drawings, and a person of our choosing would take a marker of a different color and trace our body onto the drawing.  This would help us “really see ourselves.”  I remember stepping away from the completed project and turning around to face “myself.”  What I saw amazed me.  I HAD CURVES, I WAS THIN, I WAS NO LONGER FAT!  I stood in stunned silence and so did others.  This was when my healing began.  To this day I remember that feeling of relief and utter disbelief.  I promised myself I would never lose sight of myself again.

That was over 20 years ago, that I starved myself, exercised myself almost to death, and used various over-the-counter remedies to keep myself thin.  I have grown, I have struggled, I have doubted, I have regressed, I have overcome.  I go through stages where the reflection is unrealistic and stages where I like what I see staring back at me. I have recently lost a considerable amount of weight and did so in a very healthy way, with family and friends watching over me. Even though I have lost 30 pounds, and have reduced my clothing size by 4 sizes,  I admit to you I am stuck in the “unrealistic stage”.  I have voiced my struggles to those amazing women, my accountability partners, who walk through this life with me and they have recommended I seek counsel before this “gets out of hand.”  

Who does a counselor turn to for counsel?  Friends…accountability partners…family? These are all good, positive supports, however, there is One that is better.  How about turning to THE COUNSELOR.  The Counselor spoken of in scripture…the Holy Spirit.  When His disciples were freaking out over His leaving them Jesus basically told them don’t be afraid, I’m going to send a counselor, my spirit to guide you and be with you.  God still speaks, still comforts, still guides, and still has His Hand on us.  We may not be able to see him physically, but He’s here and He cares.

Whatever you are going through…whatever your past, your present or your future, God is there with you, right beside you, holding you.  Don’t lose sight of that.

You’re an overcomer
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round
You’re not going under
‘Cause God is holding you right now
You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it’s hopeless
That’s when He reminds You
That you’re an overcomer
You’re an overcomer ~ Mandisa (Overcomer)

True Healing

Years ago I remember standing in my fuzzy teddy bear robe, my Michigan, wool-lined slippers and a hot cup of coffee in my hands waving goodbye to my precious children as the morning carpool drives slowly off into the early morning sunrise.  I close the door.

Ahhhhh! A few rare moments alone before the daily hustle and bustle kick in.  I put my feet up and start flipping through the channels on our television trying to find out what’s been happening in the world while I was asleep.

Well, before I even made it to CNN my remote skidded to a halt on an HBO special about the so-called faith healers.   The cathedral was breathtaking; the attendees jumping, clapping, weeping and dancing in the aisles; the choir regally dressed in purple and gold; the orchestra vehemently bringing the music to a heart-pounding crescendo.  Then he makes his entrance, dressed in white, silver hair gleaming under the stage lights, the conductor of this great performance.  Leaping, jumping around on stage, yelling to be heard over the throng of the thousands of witnesses to this symphony.  He asks “do you want to be healed?!?”  “Yes!!!!” cry thousands of people looking for the external healing that this man claims he can bring.  He cries, “I feel a presence in this room tonight, a healing presence!”  Hundreds are hand-picked by the conductor’s apprentices and they make their way to the stage.  In wheelchairs, on crutches, limping, some even on stretchers they come, believing in this man.  The conductor says “rise” and they rise.  “Walk” and they walk.

Sounds good doesn’t it?  Too good to be true.  Well….it is!  I suppose I should tell you that while this man was leaping around on stage “healing” people, a scientist was talking in the background.  He was saying how he has been able to recreate all of this in the laboratory.  He was able to take people and put them in a sensory deprivation chamber, hook up electrodes to certain areas of the brain and recreate that feeling of euphoria, that sense of a “presence” in the room, even that feeling of healing.   The music rising and falling at certain intervals: the colors of the choir robes: the size of the cathedral: and thousands of people suffering from emotional struggles, physical pain, mood disorders, and the belief that they will be healed: all of this can cause certain chemicals to be released into the brain thus giving those in the wheelchairs, and on the crutches that momentary ability to get up and walk (i.e. the placebo effect).  Notice the word “momentary.”  The people who were “healed” at this man’s performances did not achieve any lasting effect.  In fact, most of them were back in the wheelchairs and on the crutches in only hours after this event.

People continually look for the external “feel goods” and external sources to make their lives better, to find happiness, security, healing or inner peace.  We look to crystals, aromatherapy, new age, cults, psychics, and astrology to find peace and tranquillity.  All of it is pure nonsense and it is only temporary.

God, Our Father is the author of permanent inner peace, of permanent healing, how to make our lives better.   He is our only hope of finding true happiness and security.  Peace can be yours for the asking.  Why look for something that only lasts a moment, that only feels good temporarily, when Jesus longs to give you the ultimate peace, and tranquillity that will last eternally? He loves you just as you are and He died for you just as you are: flaws and all.  Come to Him.  Surrender yourself to the One who died for you on Calvary.  He’s waiting with open arms.

Focusing on the Smaller Picture

The longer I am a Christian and the longer I allow God to take control, the more I am convinced that He has an amazing sense of humor.  I believe He thoroughly enjoys talking to us when we least expect it. I remember not too long ago actually getting up the energy to get down on my hands and knees to scrub my floor.  So you can get a complete picture, I’m on my hands and knees with a scrub brush, I’m wearing kneepads and I’m singing several choruses of the Cinderella song.  You know the one, “Cinderelly, Cinderelly all I hear is Cinderelly.”  Anyway, so with sweat trickling from my brow and my fingers all pruny-looking from the water, this is when God chooses to speak to me.  I’m thinking about entire floor I have to scrub and I’m not very happy.  Well, God says to me: “look at the small square of tile in front of you, don’t think about the entire floor.”

That’s when it hits me.  WHAM, right upside the head:

Matthew 6:34 says “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

As Christians we have assurance from the One and Only God that He has a plan for us.  There is a reason He put us here on His earth and why He keeps us here.  However, even firm assurance from God the Almighty, doesn’t keep us from questioning, seeking and desiring the foreknowledge that He has.  We want to see what lies ahead.  But you know what, I don’t know if I’d want to see what lies ahead of me before it’s time.  What lies ahead might be the deepest, darkest, longest, most treacherous trial of my entire life.  Now, if I saw that in my future would I still eagerly walk down the path, that God has chosen for me, if I knew that it was going to lead me there?  God tells us in His Word that we will have trials, we will have pain.  As Christians we will be persecuted for our faith.  Some Christians today are being persecuted, tortured, and even martyred for their faith.  However, we have assurance from God that He knows what lies ahead, He has been there, and will be there with us.

Deuteronomy 31:8 “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;’ he will never leave you nor forsake you.  Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” 

What a statement of unconditional love from the Father! No matter what happens in this life, we have His promise that He has seen what lies ahead and He will be there with us.  We need to stop relying on ourselves and surrender to Him.

Don’t obsess about the past (He has seen you through it); stop worrying about tomorrow (He is already there); surrender today to Him (He is here with you now).