The façade of perfection

It’s been a weird season. There have been countless blessings and transformative experiences that I would never have imagined for myself, while there have been definitive moments I’d rather sweep under the rug of avoidance. Nonetheless, I’m learning to handle the transition of changed; the key word is “learning”. I’m awkwardly stumbling over my feet, yet with great perseverance I keep getting back up and focusing on God’s promises and vision for my life. And it’s through the art of finding my way that I’m gracefully grasping that I’m not perfect, and I miss the mark countless times. In brutal honesty, I’m untangled, I have messy feelings that like to escape my “perfectly” coiffed demeanor and there are many situations where I cling to things that cause me more harm than good.

Yet through the tiresome striving I realize I’m not being called to be perfect, I’m being called to mature in my walk with Christ. If we delve into Matthew 5:48 it says we are called to be “ perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.” The Greek word for perfect is “telos” and translations of the word “telos” are “perfect, goal, end or purpose.” In this context, “telos” is used as a path towards an end. In later scripture, the word “telos” is used as a way to describe the mature Christian walk (1 Corinthians 14:20, Corinthians 4:12). Therefor, if this is the case then how can I grow in my walk? I can continue reading the Bible, versing scripture verbatim, writing in my journal, and this isn’t to disqualify the fact I don’t enjoy doing these things, yet on the same pendulum something is missing, I’m craving something more, I’m desiring a deeper relationship with the God of creation. In essence, I’ve hit a wall and I take full responsibility for that. I need to remove the lenses I’m reading the Bible through and exchange them with a new pair. A pair that can honestly only be provided by God. You see I’m yearning for truth; raw, illuminating truth. Therefor during this transition I plan to seek God in different avenues alongside the spiritual guidelines I already follow– for if you earnestly seek Him, you will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). Some options I have are to study the Bible following a specific theme (i.e.: the life of Jesus, identity in Christ, healing, etc.) delve broader into the meaning of the word and then let the meaning penetrate the calloused areas of my heart and establish a richer prayer life where it’s Christ-centered and not Brianna-centered (and it can so easily sway that way). This process for greater intimacy with God will be uncomfortable because growth is never painless, yet staying the same will leave me with the looming question, “What if I didn’t choose to grow?” My question for you is this: in the shifting season how do you delve deeper with God?

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“Do you think I’m fat?” The question effortlessly arouse from my lips. The person answered back with a patent, somewhat comforting answering of , ” No, stop worrying about it.” You see, this question was my way of finding stability in an unstable world littered with diets, restricting, getting rid of food and at times, excessive overeating. I found comfort knowing that those around me found me acceptable in regards to how I looked – it was a safety blanket for every emotion that seemed out of control or unbearable.
But then at the age of 21 I entered recovery for my eating disorder. The harm to others, the self-torture and obsessive thoughts became all-consuming. When I entered the treatment center in Chicago I felt ready to tackle this demon. Staff would escort me to the bathroom, they would patiently watch all the of us clients finish and complete our meals and we were encouraged to talk about our feelings, rather than just our bodies.
After close to four months I left the bubble of treatment and found solace at a sober-living in California. Yet, the war with food and my body didn’t stop – it was clinging for dear life. I still acted out, while claiming sobriety in other areas of my life. I felt like a fraud, and the internal confliction was eating away at my already low self-esteem.
I eventually moved back to Canada and with that move something shifted. I can’t pin-point it exactly, but after years spent in prayers for freedom I was beginning to experience it. I no longer got rid of my food everyday, I would leave my apartment regardless of who I felt about my body and I began the process of acceptance around who I am.
Most of life I was convinced that my weight and appearance lied as the foundation of my identity. But, after some time of spending time in God’s word things started to shifts. I started to internalize my worth, my value. This didn’t come without effort on my part though – I would walk around my apartment declaring His truth of who He is, who I am and His promises. I would wake early in the morning to spend time with Him – writing openly and honestly in my journal and praying for the deepest desires of my heart. I was enthralled by a God who I knew made all things possible.
In all honesty I can say I’m not fully free from my disordered thinking and there are some actions around food I’d rather not do. But, today I accept where I’m at and know that in my weakness, He is strong and can shine brighter in this situation then I could ever do on self-will alone.

Acceptance

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The Power of Honesty

I have been dishonest.

A fraud some would say.

For all those times where I carelessly and effortlessly pointed out your imperfections and labeled you, I possessed most of those qualities myself.

When I called you prideful, my heart was woven with stories of self-centered accomplishments waiting to be told.

When I called you judgmental, my brain wrote tales of your life filling in the blank spaces with hyperboles and misconceptions.

When I cast the first stone, I put on the robe of self-righteousness and disregarded my previous feeling of being ridiculed for my sin.

Some would say this is the human way.

But, I refuse to excuse my poor behavior and place blame on my generational lineage.

Instead I take full responsibility of my errors.

And, humbly say, “I’m sorry for not loving you the way Christ intended you to be loved.”

You were destined to be loved in such a way that removes walls, abolishes fears and suspends judgment.

You are called to experience ravishing love.

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“Be Still My Soul…”

I’ve been experiencing a new shift within my soul; the things that used to work in my faith, my relationships and my quirky behaviours are no longer satisfying me, and this terrifies me. I’m a person of habit, not a creature of change. There are some people who excite when things change, on the contrary I wallow in self-pity. I play the tapes of past and cling to unrealistic expectations of the future – I’m anything but present. In all honesty, being present scares me. To me being present means facing reality for what it is, not how I perceive it to be. It means acknowledging and expressing feelings in a healthy manner.

As I was praying about this God highlighted one of my favourite verses, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10, NIV). To me these words mean we can be deeply rooted in God’s word and presence and know that God is in control and that He ultimately knows what He’s doing. My favorite word in that whole sentence is “know”.   As I was doing my morning Saturday googling I looked up the definition of “know”. One of the definitions is to “…have developed a relationship through meeting and spending time with”. Therefor, it is imperative for me to develop a relationship with God. I need to spend intimate time with Him, not just know Him by association of others.   My friends, I encourage you regardless of what season you’re in to not run from it, stand firm, stand still and know who your God is, for He is always there.  He is stable, when we feel shakable. He is pure love, when we can be unlovely. And, He desires a relationship with you regardless of who you are and what you’ve done. Cling to Him, not your present circumstance.

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Healthy Surroundings

I love experiencing a relationship progress; there is something so miraculous about walking with someone through trials and victories. However, I’m noticing as I’m evolving, so are my ideas about relationships. I am currently in a season where I’m yearning for “healthy” and “safe” people.   There have been times where I was anything but drawn to them. Maybe it was because I liked a little chaos, a little disorder in my daily life, and plus I’m loyal person by nature. I couldn’t let someone go despite the blaring degrading comments, or constantly ditched plans. But, no more my friends, I’m throwing in the tattered towel. Today, I am  choosing to reevaluate what I think would be a “healthy” relationship:

     1. Integrity

Do what the say, think and do line up.

    2. Do they encourage one another by speaking the truth in love?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about highlighting an area in someone’s life in which they may be stuck, but there is a graceful,         tactful way to word a situation; our words hold so much power.

     3.  Do they gossip?

This brings me back to the whole “words hold power” thing. If talking about others is the basis of our conversations, then that speaks volumes of what they may be saying about me.

     4.   Do they value a person’s time–commit when they say they are going to do something?

This is my “weak” spot, and something I am continually working on. It is crucial to follow through on things. For it in the long run boosts one’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth.

     5.   Do they support and celebrate others’ success.

Jealousy and competitiveness will put an anchor in any friendship. I’ve noticed that when I can feel joy for another person’s accomplishment it moves me to a state of gratitude and appreciation for the things I have in my own life; the veil of selfishness is instantly removed in these situations.

    6.   When the going gets tough, they don’t leave.

If someone runs when if I have a vulnerable moment that’s an indicator they may not have  my best interest at hand.

Now this is just my list, and no one is the “ideal”, “healthy” person 100% of the time.   And if I’m yearning for healthy relationships I need to take full responsibility and live that list I previously listed; for like attracts like. However, it’s crucial to have safe relationships in our lives.   I believe everyone should have life-giving relationships in order to grow and mature as individuals.

My friends, I encourage you today to take a step back and evaluate what type of relationships you want in your life. You deserve to have edifying, gratifying, flourishing relationships. Don’t for a second ever doubt that.

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Mirror, Mirror…

How many of you reading this have made the resolution to become healthier in 2015? I think this is a great goal when practiced in a balanced manner. However, when we think that perfecting our image will result in stability in our identity as a person it can leave us empty and void.

Ever since I was young I thought I if I looked a certain way I would gain the attention of men.   I thought that if a man desired me that I must be somewhat loveable, or at least worthy.   This logic left me taking life into my own hands by “stumbling” into various eating disorders and other self-harming tactics. The more I tried to control my image, the worse my inner turmoil became.   The balancing act was no longer an act; it became my identity at that time. I was enmeshed in the image in the mirror, and how I looked defined every area of my life; this was no way to live. This past year with the help of God and many encouraging men and women, I’ve come to the realization that beauty does not equate to love; it’s vulnerable, authentic and messy love that actually make us more beautiful. Through my times of falling then getting back, I’ve come to this conclusion: it’s love that covers of our falls, not fear, not hate, nor condemnation.

I’ve also developed a deep understanding that when someone is authentically loved they are able to move past their past and into who they were destined to be – free. You see, perfection does not equate to beauty necessarily. At times it can be quite the contrary, for it’s a life of abundant freedom that allows us to stand out in crowd. You can tell a free person by the way they interact with others, by how they love and by the way they act in compassion.   My friends, by all means let’s be healthy and make wise choices, but let’s also know how loved, cherished and valuable we are. Let’s step away from the mirror and into who we’re destined to be – lights in a dark world, searching for meaning.

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Which Season Are You In?

There will be easy seasons and there will be hard seasons. There will be seasons where you feel joy flooding throughout your spirit and there will be a time where you will wrestle with your emotions. There will be seasons in life where you will have more questions than answers, and that’s ok. There will be seasons where the avenue of mistrust looks easier to slide into than the path of trusting. And, there will be seasons where turning to old habits seems easier and more inviting than doing what is in your best interest. I’ve been there; we’ve all been there. To have these desires and doubts does not make us bad people; it makes us people in the need of loving God who provides us strength to waver the storm. A God who meets us in the midst of whatever season we are in and walk with us providing compassion and comfort.

If you’re in a season that may seem dark and uncertain know that you are not alone. You have a God that loves you relentlessly, that sees you when you feel no one else does and is willing to beckon you with His glory.   As the saying goes, “let go and let God”, what do you have to lose?

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