I love games. I am a competitive person, and I will admit, it sometimes gets the best of me.
If we’re playing SceneIt, you’re getting mowed over when a scene of my favorite movie comes on. If we’re playing Twister, you’re falling first. If we are playing Risk, I actually don’t know what will happen seeing as I have never played before, but I will try to win. I like to think of my competitive tendency as the whimsical side of my stubborn-as-a-mule nature. (I only call it whimsical because they’re games. It’s actually quite terrifying.) I know it’s bad, but I am human. Just a whimsical human being.
But as much as I love competition and excitement, I hate one type of game.
The one I despise most fervently is the most relaxed of them all: “Describe yourself in three words.”
I dislike it so much because when you ask a group of teenagers that are complete strangers to describe themselves in three words, it doesn’t matter how old they are, whether or not they attended Harvard at age eight and are now developing a cure for cancer, or if they have the charisma of a panda cub in a room full of fourteen-year-old girls and one Catherine Miller. IT’S GOING TO BE AWKWARD.
There’s no way around it. It gets ugly, painful even, because here’s what comes out:
“Uhhh…love, Jesus, and four.”
“Ummm…great and fine.”
“That was two.”
“Oh, and I’d say I’m four!”
We aren’t Jesus or four! Leader of the group, we are just thinking of the most generic answers possible to avoid being awkward, to avoid embarrassing ourselves. I’d say we’re doing a pretty jam-up job if I am being honest.
But no matter how much I despise the glacial pace of that ice-breaker, I’m going to be a hypocrite and go for it myself.
Surprised, Elated, and Humbled.
When I posted “[Thigh Gap]se in Judgment,” I had no idea that it would receive the response that it did. That was huge. That was fantastic. That was love, Jesus, and four.
I had originally thought that maybe five people would read it, and I might get a like or two on Facebook from my parents. But no. Once again, my thoughts were not God’s, and He said, “Watch this.”
As I watched the response pour in on Wednesday afternoon, I was a puddle of tears. Absolutely confounded. I cannot thank y’all enough for the support and the love that you have poured out not only to me, but to each other. It’s one of the most beautiful things that I have ever experienced, and it is only a testament to God and the good that He continuously pours out over the world.
That post was all God. The details of my story involved in that post were some of my most hidden secrets, so I can attest to the fact that the internet was probably the last place I wanted my story to be posted. But it was what God wanted, and it has been such a blessing. The man upstairs knows what He’s doing, y’all.
One of the most overwhelming responses that the blog has received is a “thank-you” for the reminder that we are all beautiful, and another is a statement that the particular reader is impressed that I learned those things at my age. But I am here telling y’all that post was also a reminder to myself, that God knew I needed to hear those things, too.
Despite the overwhelming positive response, I did receive a few negative comments. Some of them, I posted and sent a reply because I thought that some things needed to be cleared up or said, but others that were just too vile to even stand to read once didn’t quite make the cut. Let me explain that I am not trying to sound like a brat that cannot take criticism. I’m an architecture major. My entire education right now is based on criticism. Criticism is great because it challenges your views–and in some cases, your spirit–and makes you reevaluate your opinion or think about what has been said. And as a result, you grow; you learn. Criticism, when given and taken correctly, never breeds complacency.
Please excuse me when I say this because I really mean the best. I honestly do. But this past week, while being joyful and fruitful and awe-inspiring, has been rough. People say that one of the worst feelings in the world is being judged by someone before they know anything about you, but after this week, I disagree. What’s worse than that is posting your deepest and darkest secret–one of which your own mother, who paid for therapy after learning, only knew bits and pieces–for the entire world to see and THEN getting judged. I told my mother it’s like a double-sided mirror at a Ripley’s museum. I could see myself, and that other person could see me. But I could not see them.
I honestly struggled with it. A few things that were said cut deep despite all of the positivity that was coming at me ninety miles per hour. But, my mother pointed out to me that just as God works in strange ways, so does Satan, and he was using the hurtful words said by certain people with hearts that weren’t in the right place to shake me and my faith. He knew that those words would leave me thinking that if I had never posted that blog for the entire world to see, I would not have ever been nearly reduced to tears by someone that I will never even meet. First of all, that was ridiculous on my part because I knew from word one that God had a plan, and I realized that not everyone is going to love everything all the time. And just as some people felt compelled to tell me that they liked it, others felt the opposite. That’s okay. I’m closer to God because of both sides, so thank y’all.
But I do have to say that hope is not bred where negativity is spread.
That’s right, I just threw it back to pre-school.
So, after thinking about some of the things that were said for a while, I’ve decided to share what I’ve learned–both spiritual and health-oriented.
I’ll start off with this one. It didn’t hurt. It just made me laugh.
1) Q: Are you single?
This one puzzled me.
2) To the reader that made a remark about how while I was starving myself, kids in Africa are praying to God for water, I realize that. I am sorry, I really, really am–as a human. It’s horrible, and I want to help change that now and in the future. I am not completely positive about what you meant by that comment, but I am going to assume–please forgive me if I’m assuming incorrectly–that you meant that it was selfish of me to deny my body food when I’m fortunate enough have an abundance of it in my pantry while others don’t have a crumb to eat. If you wish, classify eating disorders as first-world problems. Throw a hashtag in front of it on Twitter for all I care. But before you do that, please understand a few things. While it may be a “first-world problem” in your eyes, that doesn’t make it any less of a problem. It’s a huge problem. Eating disorders take lives of men and women–young and old–every single day. Here’s the thing: EATING DISORDERS ARE NOT LIFESTYLE CHOICES. They are mental diseases. Anorexia Nervosa and bulimia are both mental conditions, and most eating disorders stem from a need for control. My own, we found out through therapy, was a result of my personality. I am a perfectionist, I have an obsessive personality, and I am an extremely anxious person. That’s where God comes in. That’s why I sought Him as my refuge. I couldn’t help it. And so many people can’t either.
I don’t think I am special. I was fortunate enough to have a relatively mild form. I never went to the hospital, and while my habits were slowly killing my body, I never almost died in ICU with my parents sobbing over my emaciated body. When you have an eating disorder, your body is a prison. It’s the enemy. So many people’s bodies are the enemy. I wasn’t parading my experience to throw a pity party. God was letting others who were going through the same struggles know that they are not alone. Living with an ED is a beast all by itself because not only are you looked down on by society for being “selfish” and “vain,” but you are also in total isolation from the human race because you are denying your own body of its most basic need–sustenance. It might sound trivial to y’all. Heck, I even thought it was ridiculous before I experienced it myself, but I have never felt more alone in my life as I did then despite having the most loving, supportive friends and family in the world and a beautiful life on top of it. It’s the hardest thing to admit, not only to others, but to oneself. I personally could not have changed without God, the same God that loves the children in Africa. God doesn’t care how we hurt; He only cares that we hurt. And He’s there to love all of us through any of our struggles.
So please, before you pass judgment on me or anyone else that looks a certain way or acts a certain way about food, try to understand how hopeless it feels, and try to understand that I was just trying to let people know that God is our strength and that none of us is alone.
This one cut deep.
3) I was told by a reader to “grow up” and stop acting like I was “better” than her by “hiding behind God” because she could see right through me. This particular reader told me that her mother’s life had been ruined in her late forties due to an eating disorder and that I needed to stop eating like a bird and working out every day. To this woman, I am truly sorry that your mother went through that and that it has hurt you. I cannot imagine watching my mother, who is my hero, go through that. It broke my heart to hear that. But just because your mother struggled with it, that doesn’t mean that I didn’t, too. Just because she was older when it took over her life does not make me naïve or shallow. Just because the people in my life didn’t show their hurt while it was happening, that doesn’t mean that they didn’t show it when they found out. It’s because of this experience–both struggling and getting better–that I have grown up. I have grown up in my self respect, I have grown in my respect for others, and I have grown in my faith. It wasn’t a prima-donna teenage phase. It was definitely real, and it is still definitely real. I struggle with it every day. Every single day. It doesn’t go away. I try to eat healthfully and exercise because it’s still real. If I don’t watch what I eat, I’ll get thrown back into the vicious cycle again. Just as an alcoholic can easily slip back into drinking, I can slip back into harming myself. I don’t want to do that. Please don’t judge me for it because the comments like that are the ones that make people with these problems shut down. Comments like that are the ones that made me shut my parents and my sister and my best friends and even God out of my life. And they are the ones that made some of my closest friends do the same thing. I had no idea about them, and they had no idea about me. Does that mean it didn’t happen? Absolutely not. We are all unwell without our God.
That was what hurt me. God is my refuge, and you claimed that He was not. That remark was like cutting a runner’s legs off while he is running a marathon. If you want to assume things about me, I can handle it, but do not think for a second that I don’t believe with all my heart that He is the one who is carrying me through. It may sound dramatic, but that’s because it is dramatic. I am not hiding behind God. He is shielding me and keeping me and protecting me, so I am STANDING behind Him. He is doing the same for every single person. And while that reader was looking right through me, I hope she saw a broken, sinning soul that needs God, a heart that loves God, a mind that wants to do His will, a strength that is given by God and God alone, and a spirit that is fighting for God.
I don’t intend to sound mean or offensive, but I wasn’t crying for help from anyone who read that post. I’ve already cried for help, and God has already answered.
My intentions were to let that be known and to let it be known that He will do the same for any that seek Him. I’ll leave y’all with these verses that I hope reflect the message I wished to convey through this post. Thank you all so much for all of your support. I am truly humbled by God’s work through all of your beautiful hearts!
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
All the best,