In the book “Divergent,” the main character—a teenage girl named Tris—has to endure what is called a Fear Landscape as part of her training. In a giant simulation room, her biggest fears come to life one by one around her, and she has to either conquer each one or calm herself down before she can advance to the next one and eventually exit the simulation.
Enter my own fear landscape. Not all of my fears are manifesting back-to-back, but I feel like I’m getting a good dose of them at the moment. In the book, fears that you didn’t even know you had come to life and make you confront your emotions and stand in the face of them. For the past week, I’ve been standing in the room with a bum ankle watching my fears surface and the emotions rise.
There for a while I was doing pretty good. I was celebrating a year’s worth of recovery, feeling pretty strong in where I was regarding food and body. But this week I’ve realized that there is still a long way to go.
During the whole process so far—eating more, living, working, re-emerging—I’ve maintain a high level of exercise. Nothing could hurt me too badly if I kept running, right? The risks seemed much less severe when I could torch 800 calories six mornings a week. But they seemed challenging at the time. Brutal even. But I was always safe and somewhat in control.
Now that control is gone. I’m alone in the arena with no defense against my fears of gaining weight, being imperfect, not living up to expectations, being a failure, being rejected, being weak and simply not being the best. I’m crumbling. I’m cowering. I’m losing.
Last Friday I hurt my ankle so badly that I wound up in the ER on Saturday morning, unable to walk. I was literally crawling around our house in tears, unable to put any weight at all on my left foot. The hospital took X-Rays and found that nothing was broken. And in the course of the last week I’ve discerned that it’s posterior tibial tendonitis. Unable to get an appointment with my orthopedic doctor until Friday (tomorrow), I’ve had to sit, lay or limp on a crutch all day for the last five. My bedroom feels more like a prison cell at the moment. Forget about working out. It’s hard enough to get to the bathroom.
Tuesday night (two days ago) was a particularly low point. I simply couldn’t see a way out of my destiny to get fat, which is to me, apparently, the worst possible thing that could happen to me…still. “I can’t run, therefore, I can’t burn off what I eat. I will be in this condition forever, gain tons of weight, not be pretty, not be valuable, lose all my fitness and have to start over at square-one with running again.”
Further fueling the discussion in my brain is the voice that tells me I can’t eat, either. “You aren’t burning anything at all. You can’t eat. You should only consume vegetables and lean protein. You must go hungry.”
Yesterday morning, I had a small breakthrough. I must surrender. I have to give up and totally give my fears to God.
I don’t know about you, but I never really know what that means until I’m experiencing it. But what I envisioned was myself trapped in a net or a snare, thrashing about trying to get free and then suddenly realizing that it wasn’t doing any good. And then finally stopping. Settling down. “God, there is nothing I can do here. I’m only making it worse by mentally thrashing around. I’m giving up the fight and letting You take it.”
It’s not that I resign to just laying on the bed for all eternity until the inflammation and pain in my ankle goes away, but it does mean surrendering my fears and emotional upheaval to Him and trusting Him to make the situation right in His time and in His way.
So that was good.
Then today I experienced another step forward by reading Philippians 1. In this chapter, Paul is writing a letter from his prison cell talking about how he’s in a win-win situation. He says that for him to live is Christ (the opportunity to share Him) and to die is gain (he gets to be with Him). Paul isn’t scared. He’s not emotionally distraught. He’s fulfilling God’s plan for him in the middle of adverse circumstances, and he’s not afraid. I guess when you’ve been shipwrecked, flogged, starved and beaten within an inch of your life, fewer things tend to rattle you.
What am I really afraid of? What can possibly hurt me? If God is for me and is working all things together for my good (Romans 8:31 and 8:28), what is there to be upset about?
Courage. That’s what’s manifesting. I’m at my weakest point in a very long time, and this is where the Word of God is coming to life. When I am weak, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). I’m strongest when I’m weak. Because when I have no strength of my own, that’s when His is most clear. When I operate out of the Holy Spirit and maintain peace, joy and courage in the face of fear and uncertainty, it can only be attributed to Him. He comes alive. He shows through. He is glorified. And I am renewed.
I. Will. Not. Fear.
If the worst things I possibly imagine come true, I know God will still love me. My value is not based on my performance. It is based on the fact that I’m His child. And whatever physical state I’m in, that will never change.
Tomorrow I will find out more about the situation and hopefully find some answers and get a plan of action. But I know the healing is already taking place. It’s in my heart, soul and mind. And I believe the body will follow.