Five months ago I packed up life as I knew it and moved across the country in pursuit of the work God was doing in my life. Confident of the victory I had sustained, I gave my eating disorder no second thought.
“I’m free,” I told myself. “There’s no need to worry about that anymore.” So I made the journey unprepared, unarmed, and blind to the trials about to come my way. The moment I convinced myself that I was invincible was the moment I positioned myself back into the prison of my own creation.
Finding myself with way too much time and too many emotions, I fell back into the familiar patterns of bulimia. The adventure I had so passionately followed God on suddenly became a nightmare of my own creation. Addiction became real in my life once again, and I could not figure out how to break the cycle that made its daily rounds. Everyday I promised myself that I would not give in, and everyday I found myself breaking that promise. It was a vicious and disappointing cycle for someone who had already “found freedom”.
During this time, I gave up on God. I was angry that He would let me fall back. I was disappointed that He hadn’t warned me of the temptation to come. I had no desire left for Him, and I didn’t believe in His freedom. If He truly freed me, I often asked myself, then why was I struggling again? Either God was not who He said He was, or I was the problem that started the sinking ship.
I couldn’t bear to think I was the one to blame, so I blamed God.
It was quite ironic really- this place I found myself. I was working for a church and telling people about God, yet my own faith was in shambles. I was so desperate to keep silent about my struggles that I lived in constant terror that someone would find out. Fear latched onto everything I did, and I hid behind the cloak of aloofness instead of living authentically. I felt like a lie because I was living a lie. I felt like a failure because I was missing the standards I had set in my own life. I felt defeated because I had let the sin in my life walk through my front door and take me captive.
In a word, I felt hopeless.
It’s an odd place to be, this state of hopelessness. It’s a state bordering on the brink of despair and denial. Despair of what I’ve made of my life, and denial that life will ever get better. It’s a state that literally leaves you without hope, hence the name. It’s a state shunned by common day Christianity, for the Bible says that Christ is our hope and if Christ isn’t your hope, then you do not know Christ.
I was in despair over my loss of hope not just because my life felt so out-of-control, but also because I felt as if my identity in Christ had been a lie. “If I can get to this point of hopelessness,” I would ask myself. “Then was I even a Christian in the first place?”
This question pestered my thoughts day-in and day-out. It tormented me. Christ had been my everything before utter chaos moved back into my life. How could THAT have been a lie?
It took a call from one of my friends to open my eyes to the reality of my own life. This particular friend is what one would call “guy crazy”. As in, I can never keep track of her crushes because they change according to mood, location, and day of the week. She started talking about a guy who was perfect for her; he had everything she’s been looking for except one thing: he already had a girlfriend. She sighed in defeat, admitting that nothing would ever happen. That’s the last I heard from her.
Then, a week later, she called me again. “I’ve done something stupid”, she told me as soon as I picked up the phone. I knew what she was about to say, but I continued listening anyway. She proceeded to tell me how this guy (who still has a girlfriend) told her she was unlike any girl he had ever known. He said he could talk to her in a way he couldn’t talk to anyone else. He promised to break up with his girlfriend when the time was right.
So she slept with him… and called me crying when she hadn’t heard from him for a week.
As I hung up the phone, I wondered how someone so smart could be so blind when it came to guys. She didn’t see that by still being with his girlfriend, he wasn’t expressing the truth. She didn’t see how double-sided he was; all she saw was what she wanted to see.
My talk with my friend made me think about my own life. How many times do I put on the blinders in my own life? How many times do I see a situation for what it is, but instead of turning away and dealing with reality, I put on the blinders to block out what I do not wish to see?
What I found was this: I like to live with the blinds pulled down. When I moved to Fort Collins, I put on the blinders. Instead of acknowledging the temptations and dealing with them, I pretended they weren’t there. Instead of facing the mess I had made, I pretended that everything was fine. Instead of trusting that God was still there, I put on the blinders and missed every appearance He made in my life. I was blind to the person I had become and the life I was living.
It took me taking off those blinders to finally find my way back to freedom. I had to roll up the shades in order to see that God was still active in my life. When the blinders came off, the hopelessness subsided. The sun was allowed to shine once again.
What area in your life do you seem to pull the blinders over most often? If you are anything like me, you pull them down over many areas. I challenge you to pull those shades up one by one and look at life as it really is. You will find more often than not that it’s not the situation that is hopeless, but the perception in which you’ve been looking at it.
And when you can look at a situation for what it really is, you can start to move forward in a positive direction.