Yesterday Joel's brother, Matt, got married. It was absolutely beautiful! We had a wonderful time celebrating with our family, Matt, and his new wife, Jessica. I found myself throughout the day doing a lot of sitting, watching, and waiting (very unlike me, but I was supposed to be doing this). God reminded me of a lot of things while sitting. I'll mention the top two.
#1 The next time Joel and I get married (not that we're going to get unmarried, this is just hypothetical) we're going to elope.
Weddings are SO much work and SO many people get SO stressed out about them (I mean it is important, but not to the point where you can't think outside of yourself).
Note: This is not written to condemn anyone (yesterday was awesome), God just really allowed me to reflect on my own time to engagement/wedding planning.
Our wedding was 15 months ago and I think I've finally realized how stuck I got on a lot of silly things (lipstick, flowers, times, hair, my mom's dress, tablecloths, etc). Did I say how silly this was? I'm so thankful that God forgives me when I am ridiculous and lose sight of what really matters... Jesus. Not to mention the fact that I got to marry Joel... what a gift! I am SO grateful for such a WONDERFUL man! I am so thankful for His grace, even when my intentions seem good, but are thwarted by my sinfulness.
#2 The healing power of God through His Son Jesus.
When I was in high school/early college I struggled with an eating disorder. You can read the story below. Though the physical habits and most of the mental/emotional healing were finished during mid-college, the sins of comparison and jealously reared their ugly heads off and on.
Over the past 2 years (post-college) I rejoice in the grace gift of healing that Christ has given me in these ares. I can now find myself engaging in conversation with any given woman, not sizing myself up to her in beauty or character, but still feeling confident and beautiful in myself because of Christ. I can agree with another person about how great wonderful another woman's gifts, character, or accomplishments are and still love her to death, not feeling like if she is so wonderful in these areas then I must be scum. I can also realize when I am tempted to compare, be jealous, and to be insecure and to say "NO, I will NOT think such things!"
Romans 12:2. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."
I don't share any of this as an accomplishment of my own, but one of Christ. I have SO much joy in the power of Christ, his hand has touched me and sin has no hold on me.
Gal. 6:14-15. "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation."
Am I still a mess in other areas of life? OH YEAH! Do I enjoy spending $30 on a haircut, painting my nails or buying a new pair of jeans just because? HECK YES! But it is NOT the same. It is not so that I can become beautiful, it is because I am His, He created me, and it brings me joy to do these things every once in a while.
God has turned this wretched sinner from ugly, hateful thoughts against other women. I, in my mind, objectified them, but He has created them as they are with souls longing for love, for healing, for a Savior! Whatever has divided me from other women has been my own sin because I've added a "plus" to the gospel. I know that I now can LOVE them with all that I am because of just the gospel. I want them to KNOW, LOVE, and FOLLOW after Christ!
1 John 4:8 "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love."
My story from the "Renew" magazine our church put out.
One Pure and Holy Passion
“Everyone is obsessed with something, and I want that to be God.”
“I believed I wasn’t good enough for anyone to like me. I hated myself. I believed that if I was thin, I would be loved. I saw how people liked people with thin bodies, and I wanted that.”
These are the lies that Sarah Wood believed about herself throughout high school and her first years at Iowa State.
Sarah grew up in the church. She memorized Bible verses and went to camp each summer, but even in an environment conducive to learning and growing in Christ, she and those around her practiced a “two-faced faith.” Her eyes were fixed on earthly things, and in an attempt to somehow gain the standard of perfection set by the world, Sarah inadvertently walked down a path to destruction.
Hungry for the love and approval of others, she was starving herself.
“I began to desire to look just like these women. I lusted after their beauty because of the love they were shown, so I quit eating. I would go days without eating. I was sent to a counselor, but it didn’t change anything,” Sarah said.
But even as Sarah sought after something false, God’s sovereign hand of hope began to tug on her heart. She went to Texas to visit her brother, who was on staff at a Christian summer camp, and it was there that she realized how desperate she was for a living and loving God. She encountered true believers at the camp who “lived and breathed the life of Jesus,” and she wanted what they had.
Finally her face hit the bathroom floor as she cried out in need of a savior. Sarah received forgiveness.
She surrendered her life to Christ and began eating regularly again, but her struggle with self-image remained as a foothold for the next years of high school and her start at Iowa State.
“I knew he loved me, but I didn’t believe it enough to let it change me,” Sarah said.
So Sarah, still believing the same lies, gradually slipped back into overeating and compensating with excessive exercise, running at least six miles every day. But even that was not enough to satisfy the cravings of a sinful desire, so Sarah added laxatives to her routine.
Still wrapped in a life-style of bondage, she returned to Texas, and at last Sarah told someone about her struggle and was made aware of the chains she was living in. However, after the summer ended and she returned to ISU and the Salt Company, she remained a slave to sin.
“I knew that I struggled and wanted to give up, but the lust to be loved by the world was too great. I chose to sin,” Sarah said.
Having the misconception that Christian leaders don’t struggle, Sarah kept her battle a secret from those around her, allowing her fear and self-hate to continue to grow.
During Spring Break of her sophomore year of college, while running on her treadmill at home, Sarah broke down. She fell to her knees in tears. She couldn’t do it anymore.
“I was done. Exercising and purging did not love me, and the quick high of endorphins only lasted so long,” Sarah said.
She didn’t know what to do, but she knew that she was not going to waste another day of her life struggling with this sin. She hated it. Crying out to God daily, Sarah sought counsel. She was beginning to see the light, but still, she often relapsed.
It wasn’t until Sarah publicly confessed, and started to believe the truth of God’s word, that she was set free.
“I was dealing with it to some extent, but I never really took hold of it and said, ‘No! This is done.’ I wouldn’t let myself work out in a gym or look at nutrition labels. It was pretty extreme, but it had to happen,” Sarah said.
Sarah had the accountability of those closest to her and a practical application of scripture to guide her. She quit trying to win the battle on her own and gave it to God to carry, allowing him to sanctify her through and through.
“It took discipline on my part, but really, he did it,” she said.
Now Sarah has learned to eat as God designed her to. She has become passionate against the sin of a negative self-image and is currently being used to help other young women see their beauty in Christ.
Her body image is no longer her obsession. God is.
I am SO grateful for the love of Christ and where he has so graciously brought me in the past 5 years... all with so much patience.