Okay, it's been a minute (read: a long time) since I last blogged , and admittedly that's because I had to take some time off to enter a treatment facility last fall, as most of you know, and just never got back into the swing of things other than an occasional post here or there. However, instead of updating on what has gone on in my life and recovery the past several months (which has been a roller coaster ride, up and down and up and down, as I'm sure others can relate), I just wanted to touch on and share with y'all some things that have really spoken to my heart the past few weeks, and as a result of these things, the type of focus I put on recovery has completely shifted. Whereas I used to tend to see the worst-case scenario of every situation (and I'm not saying I still don't at times), I have become increasingly more positive just within like the past month and a half. And I will say this, those of you who know me even as just an acquaintance know I don't have any trouble openly discussing my Christian faith, because I believe that is the very reason I am still alive and fighting today, nine years after I started battling Ed.
Well, that opening paragraph was a little longer than I anticipated, but it is what it is. Now, on to the REAL purpose and focus of this blog post. And it will be a little lengthy, because I am just overflowing with positive, Ed-fighting energy right now, so bear with me. But if you are pressed for time and don't feel like you can finish the whole post, there's nothing wrong with skimming or just not reading altogether (although I would prefer you not do the latter simply because I have a feeling others may be able to resonate with what I'm saying in the following paragraphs. ALSO, just a heads-up, you may read for a while and think, "Okay, this is all well and good, but it really has NOTHING to do with Ed." If you start thinking that, I promise, if you see it through to the end, you will realize that it is completely related to recovery and different feelings and emotions we may feel as we try each day to become more and more empowered against Ed.
I don't know how many, if any, of y'all are familiar with Beth Moore. I would assume several of you who see this link on my facebook page are somewhat familiar, but there may be others who have no clue because they haven't yet been fortunate enough to witness her zeal. The amount of positive things I could say about her are endless, so instead of that, for those of you who are thinking, "Who the heck is Beth Moore??" I will just give you a quick recap of who she is and to what she has devoted her life.
I guess the best way to describe Beth would be to say that she is first and foremost a Christian. But she takes it to an entirely new level. She has written I want to say over a dozen bible studies (possibly more) geared specifically for women to study together. The studies range in title and subject matter. The first study I completed was called "Stepping Up" which covered and dissected the Psalms of Ascent. I completed that study a couple of years ago, and it was amazing. One of her most well-known studies is entitled "Breaking Free" and while I have not had the opportunity to participate in that study as of yet, I truly hope I have the chance to do so someday.
But I digress. My husband, Rog, and I recently went "church-shopping" because we felt like we weren't quite being spiritually fed in the particular way we yearned to be at the church in which I, my parents, and my grandparents have attended essentially "forever". I want to make it clear that our decision to "church-shop" is not a reflection on the leadership of the church we have always attended, not is it a reflection of the wonderful people who are devoted members (because I have excellent memories with more people in that church than I can count). We just wanted to explore a little and see what church "felt right" for us at this point in our lives. And I will tell you this -- Once we first visited the church we now attend, there was no doubt in our minds that this church is exactly where God wants us to be. The fact that the second Sunday we had attended this new church they announced they were going to sponsor a Beth Moore study for women who were interested just made the church all that more appealing.
But again, as is my nature, I digress. Last night (Wednesday) was the fourth session of the 8-week study. We complete 5 days of "homework" in the workbook each week for the study in preparation for the actual meeting, video viewing, and discussion. The study we are doing is entitled, "James: Mercy Triumphs." Now, there is so incredibly much I could tell you just from the first 4 weeks of the study, but that would literally take me hours to write (I was an English major, so not only do I enjoy writing....a LOT....but I am a super-compulsive note-taker. I honestly think that by the end of each weekly meeting, I have written down more notes than Beth Moore herself wrote down when she was composing the study.)
In case you haven't caught on, digressing is kind of my thing....because here I've done it again.
I really just wanted to share a couple verses with you all that have truly not just TOUCHED me, but have truly CHANGED me throughout the first half of this study. The first of the verse selections comes from the book of James, Chapter 1, Verses 2-3. The verses say: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance." Now, I don't know about y'all, girlfriends (and guys as well), but when I first read that verse and truly SAW it, I was, for lack of a better word, unsettled. James (half-brother of JESUS CHRIST) is telling us that we should consider it not just JOY, but PURE JOY, when we face trials of any kinds. I'll be honest, this is something I struggle with on a daily basis. The trials that I face are not the exact same every day--one day Ed might be the loudest he's been in months, and then maybe the next day, or even in the same day, someone does something that really sets me off, like abruptly switching my schedule at work, forcing me to completely overhaul my previous plans (merely a hypothetical situation, I assure you). So if there are some of you who are thinking, "Nope, sorry, not me. My trials are NEVER going to cause me to consider them PURE JOY. Are you crazy??" My answer for that is, well, maybe. But take into account the rest of the verse:"because you know that the testing of your faith produces PERSEVERANCE."
What do you think of THAT?? Anyone who has registered on this website, and certainly anyone who has stuck with this blog post and is still reading, is familiar with perseverance. Now, ol' Eddie likes to hide, from us, the fact that we persevere every day, and grow stronger every day. After all, if we start to see that we are persevering (which is somewhat akin to truly TRYING and is the complete opposite of *saying* you're trying without REALLY trying), Ed immediately has lost part of his foothold in our lives. So I'm telling you, rather, I'm imploring you to please, the next time you feel like you have been beaten down on the path of life or recovery, just say ALOUD (whether you're by yourself or around other people....remember, what other people think of you in NONE of your business), "I AM PERSEVERING. I AM GETTING STRONGER. YOU (ED) ARE GETTING WEAKER." Just try it. I dare you. I can guarantee you (based on my personal experience) that when you audibly speak against Ed, it makes you feel FAR more powerful than if you were just saying it in your head.
Oh my stars....this ended up being a really long post, and I know if you're read this far you're probably ready to skip the rest of this, or maybe skim it to get the general idea, and I don't blame you if you don't have time to completely read every single word, but I absolutely HAVE to share the second verse that has truly changed me and impacted me in a way that I can honestly say I have never been changed previous to my in-depth study and meditation on this verse.
This verse come again from James, Chapter 1, and is Verse 19. It says, "My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry." Wow. Wow wow wow wow. I don't know about you, but when I came across this verse in my workbook and realized I was essentially going to HAVE to study it in-depth (instead of skimming over it like I have countless times in my life because I didn't want to truly hear what it had to tell me, I was less than thrilled. But alas, a good chunk of a day's homework lesson was spent on this very verse. I will say, I am generally an introvert. So the whole "being quick to listen" aspect is something I do without even having to make a conscious effort....MOST of the time. The next two guidelines set forth in the verse, however....well, they're a little harder for me to reconcile. I don't know about you, but although I professed my introverted personality above, and let me tell you that is COMPLETELY accurate, I'm one of those people who you could describe as embodying 2 diametrically opposed character traits at the same time. Meaning, yes, I am very quick to listen, because when it comes to others, I am a very compassionate, patient, empathetic person (these things others have told me, I'm not bragging on myself). HOWEVER, on the flip side, I absolutely LOVE TO TALK. And what's more than that--I don't particularly like talking to people with whom I am the closest (family, friends, etc.), but if you put me on a plane, for instance, and I'm flying alone, and I sit next to a 60 year-old lady, I can GUARANTEE you we will be chatting it up before we even leave the runway, and by the time we land I will be able to tell you about this wonderful lady I met named Erma, who has 2 sons, one of whom is gay and the other of whom has been married for 10 years and has 7 kids, 6 girls and one boy, and the boy is the youngest and also struggles with severe ADHD which causes his sisters to try to coerce him into misbehaving and then he gets in trouble and has to use one of those compression machines like Temple Grandin, played by Claire Danes, used in the movie of the same name, Temple Grandin, that is, and how the eldest daughter who is 9 has an IQ that is off the charts so she is already taking high school classes. I use this as an example of the plane scenario because it's happened more than once, although admittedly this particular story of Erma and kin is completely fabricated. :-) So, quick to listen --> I've got that down. Slow to speak --> Not nearly as good at that as listening, but generally do an okay job of remembering to take my time and think before I speak.
So here we are at the last guideline/condition set forth by James, half-brother of Jesus Christ, explaining how Jesus instructed us to handle our anger. I will be the first to step forward and say, "Hi, my name is Becca, and I have a really, REALLY hard time sitting with my anger and not lashing out every time I get angry or feel negative emotions about something or someone." Everyone in my family knows that is true, as well. Rog has more than once been sitting in the living room while I was in our bedroom desperately searching for something to wear. More often than not, I go through five, six, seven, I've even been known to go upwards of ten outfits and then get so frustrated because I don't think they look "just right." I will scream, slam our bedroom door, push and pull the drawers in my chest in and out very loudly. So the fact that we are instructed to be "slow to anger" is something I really had to wrestle with before I moved on in my lesson. And then I came to the following conclusion.
I was having a hard time with the "slow to anger" phrase because Ed was having trouble with it.
Once I realized that, the entire concept made sense to me as it applies to recovery. The day of homework that centered around the verse with the three aforementioned provisions asked a question and left room for me to answer in the book. The question, or I guess really more of a prompt, was something like, "Think of the last several times you have felt what you believed, or what you really felt, was true, intense anger. Write down the cause of the anger. Don't limit yourself to one if you have more than one answer, but be as specific as you can." I started writing, and writing and my list ended up looking something like this:
1.) Trying on every outfit in my closet, and even though Rog tells me they look good I hate the way I look in them. (which caused the door and drawer slamming I mentioned above)
2.) Having a dream that people in my family were on my case about my eating habits and how they didn't think I was doing well enough. (Which was random because I've been doing really well with that stuff for the past month and a half or so, which means there was no logical explanation for the dream. However, when I awoke, my blood was boiling (metaphorically speaking) because I was so incredibly angry. It actually took me a while to talk myself down and write it off as just a dream, and dreams by nature are not always (possibly not ever) logical.
3.) People I am around who constantly talk about dieting and weight loss and "how far they've come" or "how far they have to go" and constantly making statements about their own appearances or others' appearances.
4.) A store in our mall (I work in the mall at a different store) and their stupid new robot scale sitting in the doorway of the store so every time you enter or exit you hear a *DING* "Have you checked your weight today??"
There were a few more answers I scribbled down in my workbook, but I don't remember exactly what they were. I do know that once I had written a grand total of 7 or 8 responses, I went over them and only ONE was completely unrelated to food/weight/clothes/appearance/other miscellaneous thoughts Ed put in my head.
Which is when my realization TRULY started to kick in -- the instances where I am very QUICK to anger are instances where I, BECCA, am not getting angry at all. Or at least not in the ways I thought I was. In fact, the quick anger upon which I had been acting was SOLELY ED MANIPULATING MY EMOTIONS so that I would only focus on the anger that had to do with the things I listed above, therefore leaving me with no time to a.) Focus on things that would make Becca (SANS Ed) angry b.) Sit with my anger and formulate the best way to respond to it, taking into account every aspect of the situation and c.) Examine whether my anger was stemming from me thinking someone or something had offended ME (which rarely calls for anger, to be honest, but more often calls for rationalization and conversation) or if I was angry because someone or something was offending or disrespecting God, which is the thing about which we should get the most angry, even though we are still called not to lash out but instead ruminate over the exact cause of our anger and try to find peaceful solutions to the situations that are anger-inducing.
Does that make any sense to anyone else but me?? Because the truth is GLARINGLY OBVIOUS to me. Ed (whose name I often use interchangeably with Satan), wants to pull our focus away from our real issues and situations and desperately wants us to channel all of our energy into getting angry and frustrated over things that make Ed mad, and since Ed is the ultimate deceiver it is natural and quite easy for him to be able to convince you the anger you feel about food/appearance/weight/etc issue "X" stems from YOU, from ME, from Becca, for instance, and uses every trick in the "How to manipulate the minds of vulnerable individuals: for dummies" handbook to keep our focus off the fact that who we should REALLY be angry at is Ed.
Just some thoughts for you to do with whatever you please.