Monday, October 21, 2013

The Unplanned Blog

This is not the blog I intended to write.

Saturday afternoon, I wrote out this long blog about the staggering transformation that has taken place in my life over the last year since my husband and I have been married. It’s been a year that has taken my world from black and white to Technicolor. It’s been a year that has reintroduced me to my long lost friends Peace and Joy. It’s been a year that has filled my dark world with light. It’s been a year in which I’ve experienced the pain and pleasure of surrender to Christ. It’s been a year that has brought me back to life.

Yesterday I almost forgot it all.

One of the most difficult parts emotionally of recovering from an eating disorder is the daily battle with the closet. None of my old clothes fit me anymore, and it’s hard to believe anything but defeat and failure whenever I try to put on something that doesn’t fit my new body. Yes, I get to go shopping to find new things, but even that is a battleground as I select bigger sizes and wrestle to believe and tell myself the truth that it’s a healthier size.

So, yesterday morning I had a small breakdown. None of my fall clothes fit, and I had to resort to wearing the only shirt I’d bought so far this season, which I’d worn the past two times I’d been to church. I cried for a while and made us late for church, but thankfully my husband gets me and has tremendous patience. He hugged me and held me as I stood in the closet and even offered to help me pick out an outfit. (lol…ololol.)
Church was great as always, but my mind wasn’t there. It was focused on my body and my size. All I wanted to do was go home and put on a big sweatshirt to cover up and hide.

Then came the bomb.

After service, my husband struck up a conversation with a guy he’d never seen at church before. We stood around talking for a few minutes with him and learned that he’d been coming off and on for a few months. He had a loud personality and odd sense of humor, so the conversation wasn’t dull by any means.
Just before we were getting ready to part ways, the man looks at me and says with a sly grin, “And when is your baby due?”

Oh, no.

On the top 10 list of things never to say to a woman, that has to be number 1.

At first I didn’t get what he was saying. Once I realized what had just happened, I felt myself stiffen and my body temperature rise. I quickly dismissed his comment by telling him I wasn’t pregnant and that I hoped his words would come true someday. He was visibly embarrassed too, and we didn’t remain in that conversation much longer. My husband closed it down, and I excused myself to the restroom.
I could tell I was shutting down. Sinking. I didn’t immediately burst out crying. I just slid into numbness. Shock.

As we walked out of church, my husband asked me if I was ok. I just shook my head no. Once we got to the car, the tears started.

I was humiliated. Ashamed of my body. Ashamed of the weight I’d put on. Embarrassed that I was no longer the emaciated stick figure I once was able to be. No one would have mistook me for pregnant then. Oh, what had I done? Where had my perfect body gone?

The clouds set in, and I let it rain.

After my husband and I got home, I curled up on the bed and wept. He was so tender. He said all the right words and responded like a hero. I love him. But I was down, and I just couldn’t surface.

That evening, we were supposed to go to a worship event that my brother-in-law leads. Normally I love those times, and since he and the band hadn’t done one in a while, this was going to be special. This time, all I wanted to do was stay home in bed.

My husband came upstairs a few minutes before we had to leave, and told me it was time to get ready to go. I nodded and walked to the closet to grab some big sweatshirt.

I just love my husband. He saw what I was doing and basically told me to knock it off. “You’re a beautiful woman—more beautiful than you’ve ever been. I’m not going to let you wallow in this anymore. You’re going to put on some nice clothes and we’re going to go.”

I nodded, did as he told, redid my makeup and we left.

In the car, I tried to apologize. “I don’t know why I can’t just brush this off,” I said. He understood and encouraged me to give myself grace. It was a tough thing to experience, and it was understandable that I would react so severely.

When we got to the church, I put on a smile and chatted with friends. Some I hadn’t seen in months barely recognized me with a fuller face and curves, but once they did, they told me how amazing I looked and how happy they were that I was getting healthy.

The worship started, and I was still just not with it. I wanted to just crawl into the arms of Jesus and let Him speak to me, but I couldn’t. I was surrounded by people and on the arm of the pastor who was giving the devotional message during the service. The songs played, I held back tears, and I just stood there moving my mouth to match the lyrics.

About halfway through, my husband moved to the front row and asked me to join him. “I’m about to do something unplanned,” he said.

When the band finished their song, he took the stage and started talking about God’s power to deliver people from sin, captivity, bondage and destruction, and he invited anyone who had a story of deliverance to come to the front and share a few words about what Christ had done for them.

Seriously? I thought.

I know when the Lord wants me to speak in public and testify, and the Holy Spirit was tugging at my arm.

A spark of life.

“Remember where you’ve been,” the Lord said to my heart. “Tell them. Tell yourself. Tell Me.”

I told my husband I would share, and he squeezed my hand. As I sat there waiting for my turn, I had no idea what I was going to say. I was still shaking off the numbness. I didn’t pray or talk to the Lord in response, I just chose to trust that He knew what He was doing and would give me the words.

When it was my turn, I stepped onto the stage and took the mic from my husband. He stepped to the side and I looked back at him. He smiled. And I shared.

A year ago I’d been a skeleton. Isolated. Weak. Depressed. Controlled by a disorder that claims more lives than any other mental disorder. Now I was standing on a stage filled with energy and hope. I had a marvelous husband. I had my family again. I had friends and relationships. I had a fun, high-energy job. I had been brought back to life. What the enemy had tried to destroy, God had redeemed. I was living, walking, breathing proof of the power of Christ to liberate captives and heal the broken.

I cried as I shared, but I didn’t care. The Lord deserved such praise and honor for where He’d brought me, and I desperately needed to speak about it. If nothing more than just to drive it home in my own heart.
I was free. I was alive. I was saved, quite literally, from death. My God, my God. Where You have brought me. Through the valley of the shadow of death.

Do you know what it’s like to laugh again after not experiencing that sensation for years? Do you know what it’s like to fall asleep on your own after relying on medication for help? Do you know what it’s like to enjoy a hug or an embrace after fighting everyone away? Do you know what it’s like not to be enslaved to the endless demands of a consuming way of life that involves rigid restriction, starvation and exercise?
It’s like rising to the surface and breathing your first breath of air after almost suffocating at the bottom of an ocean. It’s like being hoisted out of a deep pit and allowed to run free through a green pasture. And I’m not going back. Whether I look pregnant or not.

Liberty in Christ is too sweet. Life is too full. There’s no purpose in worshipping any idol that will crush you when it falls. For me that was body perfection and performance. I’m not falling for that anymore. It’s fleeting. It’s superficial. It’s hollow. It’s draining. I’m living now. I’m surrendering to Christ and living in His love, which is THE ONLY ETERNAL thing we can cling to.

Bodies change. People leave. Relationships end. We get old. Jobs come and go. But Christ does not change. His love is with us regardless of anything that changes here on earth. That’s it. That’s why we MUST cling to Him above all else. If we don’t, we’ll get devastated repeatedly when our circumstances change.

My body has changed. Thank God that my focus has, too. It’s not on size or appearance nearly to the degree that it was. Now it’s on Jesus. He’s called the Rock for a reason. He won’t leave, change or shift. My body can change however it will, but Jesus won’t. And that is reason for celebration.

Today I’m still battling, but I’m so grateful for His timing and what He called me to do yesterday. I needed to be reminded of His grace and power. Maybe you do too. If so, I’m praying you can hear His voice and listen to what He says. Maybe He’s calling you out of your own darkness. If He is, let me tell you that it’s more than worth it to follow Him. Whatever you have to give up is NOTHING compared to what you will gain: joy, peace and life in abundance.

Love you all.

- Jill


  1. Oh my goodness, Jill..I'm wiping away tears. First, thank you for sharing. You ARE beautiful..inside and out. I'm SO proud of you and for letting God use you in such a powerful way. Secondly, you are an incredibly gifted writer. Beautifully you lots, sister!

  2. You are a brave, amazing woman, Jill. And I can only imagine how difficult that man's comment must have been for you. But consider this: pregnant women glow. As a happy, healthy woman, you also glow. So chalk it up to the joy and rebirth you're experiencing in this new season of your life. :-)

  3. Wow... Thank you so much for sharing this! What an amazing testimony! Thank you for trusting God and fighting against the eating disorder! I had to watch my sister die from anorexia when she was just 18 years old... it was terrifying... I wish she could have heard this testimony... please keep sharing!

  4. Amazing Jill. Your honesty is so powerful. And to see you be open about how it's not a one-and-done thing ... but an ongoing battle ... is encouraging and inspiring. Thanks for sharing and I am so glad you're healthy. :)

  5. Beautifully written! Thanks so much for the encouraging words and reminding
    us again just how great our God is!

  6. JE this is freakin awesome. What a tremendous encouragement this is! Praise God for all that he is doing and continues to do in your life

  7. Jill,
    Thanks for being so open in your sharing...I think we would all be surprised to really know how many of us struggle with weight and body issues. I haven't struggled to the extent as you, but have struggled with obsessing about exercise, my body image, and food. What I looked like, ruled my life. Over the past couple months, I feel that God has shown me that I have put this above an effort to put him first I have decreased my workout time and I am using my left over time to study more of His word and be apart of an online bible study. I have not found that sense of peace of where I am at with my body...but I also have been reading a book by Lysa Terkeurst called "Made to Crave"...and it has been amazing in teaching me about craving the Lord, not food. It has changed my way of it just needs to filter into my food choices, workouts, etc... Anyways, wanted you to know you are not alone and how much I appreciate your honesty.
    Your friend,

  8. I also thought you write beautifully and loved your testimony/ The words of encouragement at the end were a blessing to me. I have just started my recovery process from anorexia and I hope someday I will feel the way you do about your new body and weight. I daily try to surrender my weight and the battle in my mind of how I feel about gaining weight to the Lord. Some days I am victorious. Most days I feel that I failed in the thought process anyway. I will continue to re-read this blog and hopefully receive the wisdom and encouragement of it! Thank you so much for sharing!

    1. Cindy, you are a brave woman. The road you/we are on is not easy! At every moment, just remember that Jesus will never leave you. Choose daily to follow Him despite your feelings. I'm proud of you! It all starts and ends in the mind. Learn the truth and then take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. Praying for you!!

  9. So proud of you friend. The Lord is using you in ways you will never know!

    The Lord has been using this verse in my life in multiple ways lately, I think it applies here too: "But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light." -Eph. 5:13-14.

    Sin no longer has power when it is exposed. Keep preaching sister! Keep sharing the transformational power through Jesus. His Kingdom is growing because of your faithfulness... even when it is hard.

    I love you friend! You are truly an inspiration! And one of the most beautiful women I know!

  10. Thanks for being brave in sharing, Jill. God is using you to break down walls and impact lives for the kingdom.