Last night, I was given a behind-the-scenes look into my life.
Just over a year ago, I had reached my rock bottom. Not only was I at the lowest point of my existence, I had gotten there as if I were an anchor hoisted into the water. I plummeted straight down until I hit the rocky surface. After a lifetime of struggling with my weight, I had finally worked off close to 100 pounds only for the weight to come back with a vengeance the instant life got difficult.
When my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, I comforted myself the only way I knew how. It wasn’t long before I was sobbing on my bathroom floor in a Grey’s Anatomy-inspired meltdown after weighing myself and seeing I had, in fact, gained all of the weight back in only a matter of months.
Within the next week, I signed myself up for counseling with someone who specializes in eating disorders. I was placed in a therapy group of 6 girls who had similar stories to mine. One evening during art therapy, my counselor asked us to paint a before and after picture: where we were at the moment and where we hoped to someday be.
Lacking inspiration, I painted a picture of an ocean. My “before” picture depicted intense, angry waves crashing against the rocks. The proverbial beating-my-head-against-a-brick-wall. It was the depiction of my evident frustration for ending up right back where I had begun. The “after” picture, however, had been painted with the brightest of blues. It was calm, still, peaceful. All of the things I desperately desired to feel in my soul, yet felt far beyond my reach. Last night, I recalled this painting for the first time since I had placed it on the top shelf of my closet a year ago. When I got home, I went to my closet and turned it over to find the date on the back: 3/30/11.
As soon as I saw it, the date reminded me of something else. I pulled out my phone and scrolled through my deleted emails until I found what I was looking for: an email that I sent to a group leader at a church I hadn’t yet attended. In it, I thanked her for helping to make my first visit to her small group a wonderful experience. The date on the email? 3/30/11.
I had no way of knowing then that throughout the next year, this group would become a vessel used to navigate me through my journey towards healing. At a time when I was most broken, damaged by the storms in my life, I hadn’t noticed that He was already moving the pieces in place and piloting me towards the clearing skies. The people in this group knew nothing of my hurting heart. They probably would never have guessed I was carrying around wounds that had not even begun to heal.
But in the moment of my life when I felt most irreparable, they welcomed me with open arms and became Godly instruments used to help guide me toward becoming the person I am today. He strategically placed me in the direct path of these encouraging people who continually offer me a safe place to slowly get up from my knees, dust myself off, and continue running the race.
Author Ginger Garrett wrote, “Please don’t underestimate the power of community. When we reach out to others, we open our arms to healing.” I guess I didn’t know then just how much I needed these people in my life. But God knew. And the best part is, He didn’t surround me with people who would just stand on the sidelines and cheer for me. He brought people into my life who would lace up their athletic shoes and run the race with me.
I think the Holy Spirit sent me on last night’s scavenger hunt to show me just how far I’ve traveled this past year. I think He wanted to remind me that He really does orchestrate our days. He is in the details, even those of the tiniest variety.
Because of this, I am able to say with confidence that I have now become my “after” picture.
Don’t miss out on an opportunity for healing because you’ve written yourself off as beyond repair. Give others the chance to love you and let the healing begin.
An ESL teacher for the past 6 years, Sara Anderson feels it is her duty to rid the world of the words “supposably” and “moist.” She once had an unfortunate incident involving a glass of milk and a hairy spider so now she must blow into a glass before pouring a beverage in it. She loves Dave Barnes, Hillsong Live, and Kari Jobe, and when she needs her soul stirred she reads Brennan Manning. In fourth grade, she received an autographed picture of Billy Ray Cyrus, but don’t ask her to show it to you because her friend stole it and Sara never got it back.
*Photo credit: crabchick