CORErecovery: Out of the Valley– Who am I? Who are YOU?

”See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.” 1 John 3:1

For many of us, recovery is a time of REdiscovery.  I know I felt that way.  I had to recover a sense of who was without the eating disorder in order to feel confident in letting it go. I identified myself as the skinny one, others also referred to me that way.  I felt it was an expectation that I stay “the skinny one”.  During my time in treatment, I began to examine all of the other labels that I had been given, or had placed on myself:

Child from a broken home, Cry baby, The girl with asthma, allergies—the “sick” one, The grandchild of important people, The daughter of a sick woman, The victim of abuse, The smart one, The singer, The actress, The tomboy, The teacher, wife, mother, The diva, The drama queen….I could go on and on.

Even before my eating disorder became my primary way of identifying myself, I had struggled to fit into whatever label I was given—sometimes a positive one, sometimes a negative.  The problems that occurred as a result of me playing the victim or of pretending to be perfect, always left me wanting. I didn’t want the negative labels, so I tried my hardest to “fit into” the positive ones.  But I couldn’t—I believe this is where my eating disorder took hold.  I might not be able to be the perfect wife or mother, but I could be the skinniest.  However, this label was like the rest…it didn’t fit…I wasn’t comfortable in it.  What I had hoped to clothe myself in—my thin persona—became less like a garment and more like a straight jacket.

In order for us to break out of the eating disorder, we must learn WHO we are…or as the saying goes, WHOSE we are.  The things that we do, the roles that we fill in our families and communities, are just that…things and roles.  They do not define who we are or how valuable we are as people.  In my treatment, I began to ask myself, “What if?”—“What if I am not the skinniest, the best housewife, the completely with-it mother?  What if I am not the perfect daughter and friend?  What if I admit I still have feelings that sometimes make me want to cry?  What if I am not liked by everyone I meet?”

If all these things were true, what would that say about me?  NOTHING.  There is a song by Tenth Avenue North called “You are More” that describes what I came to understand:

“You are more than the choices that you’ve made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You’ve been remade.”

I have made some bad choices, mistakes, and definitely have created problems in my own life and the lives of those around me (still do sometimes), but that doesn’t say anything about WHO I am.  I am MORE than all of that.

I began to understand more about WHO I am when I started to see WHOSE I am.  Today’s verse tells us that God loved us so much that we are called “children of God”…AND SO WE ARE!  The Message paraphrase says it like this:

“What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are.

We are children of God!  When we remember this first, everything else starts to “fit”!  I am no longer a wife, daughter, mother, friend…I am a child of God who loves her husband, who cares for her mother, who mothers her children, and who encourages her friends—because I am being brought up by my Father to do so.  My value is not in the things I do, but for whom I am doing them.

This was a major turning point for me in my recovery.  As I began to search for who I really was, I was careful to not just reach out for other labels.  At church, I began to volunteer and immediately began to be labeled by the other members as “The Drama Ministry Girl”.  I felt like God had called me to this ministry and was loving all that I was doing.  Notice what I said… I was loving what I was doing, focusing on my work instead of focusing on WHOSE work I was doing.  I had to give up my “role” because I had just replaced one label with another.  In my life now, I constantly have to ask myself…What if I didn’t have that job, that ministry, that role…who would I be?  The answer is always the same, “I am a child of God.”  Not just me, but YOU TOO!  Don’t keep trying to fit into labels that were created by this world.  Instead, allow your Maker to cover you with His grace, mercy and love…it is always just the right fit.

”You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5

Breathing In (Bible Study)

Look up these Verses about who YOU are in CHRIST:

Ephesians 4:22-24

Romans 8: 14-15

  1.  What would it mean for you to put off your old self and put on your new self (as a Child of God)?  How does your eating disorder corrupt and deceive your way of life?  How can you practice being “renewed in the spirit of your mind?”  Is this hard for you?  What would it take for this to happen (for your mind to be renewed?)
  2.  Often fear is what is keeping us from leaving our life with the eating disorder behind.  What are some of the fears that keep you stuck?  Ask yourself “What if?”…  Now, consider that you as a child of God you are NOT given a spirit of fear.  Now look at your “fears” and say,
    “Even if (insert fear here)….I am a child of God.” for each fear.

Breathing Out (Prayer)

Abba Father,

We cry out to you today!  We are afraid to walk away from what we know.  Although there are so many uncertainties away from the life we know in our old selves, there is one thing we do know…we are your children.  You created us, formed us, follow us, and hold us.  You send your spirit to strengthen us and give us courage.  We thank you for your love, your grace, and your mercy.  We ask that you continue to renew our minds so that we can be transformed into your likeness.  Amen.

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