A few months ago, depression settled over me like a cloud, coloring my world gray and dreary. The first few days, I chalked it up to hormones and waited for it to pass. The days stretched into a week, then two. Still I smiled and laughed and went about my day, hoping no one would notice, that no one would see I was shattering into a million pieces. Before long, I had mostly forgotten what it felt like to be happy, but I kept the mask plastered on my face, baring my soul to no one but God, in silent cries during the nights that began to stretch on and on interminably. But soon the pain threatened to come out of hiding and destroy me altogether, and so out of fear and with fear, I reached out. And in reaching out, I found light and love and compassion–things that of course had been there all along but to which I had been blinded.
With the help of professionals and loved ones, I’m working on finding a way out of the gray and back into a life lived in color, and for the first time in a long time, I have hope that one day I will smile and really mean it once again. Last night I read the words above from Lamentations and wept with how aptly the pain I feel is captured in this ancient text, and with how badly I want to also feel its certain hope. God knows my pain and heartache and despair, for He sent His Son here to feel it all and to one day put it all to death. God speed the day, but until He comes, I cling to the promise of His steadfast love holding me close, lighting up the darkness and putting an end to the night.
I caught a glimpse of myself today as I was opening a set of glass doors, and I was caught off guard by how large I looked. Even though I have gained back 75 of the 90 pounds I lost many years ago, I think part of me sometimes still imagines that there’s a thinner version of myself walking around, even though I know what the numbers on the scale and on my clothes say. I live with this absurd fantasy in my head, despite reality literally staring me in the face every time I look in the mirror in the morning, and despite the way the fabric of my clothes pulls in places where it once hung loosely. I want so desperately to be the size I once was that I think I have convinced myself that I’m not THAT fat, that my weight isn’t THAT big of a problem. But when I feel the skin on my thighs rubbing painfully when I wear a skirt or dress, when I feel that same skin stretching uncomfortably taut when I cross my legs, when I feel the sides of a chair digging into my backside, when all I can think about when swimming at a public pool with my daughter is how many people are disgusted by me–those are signs of a problem. I am uncomfortable with my body and uncomfortable in my body.
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All of this makes me feel like “too much”–both in the literal and figurative sense of the word. I feel as though I quite literally take up too much space in the world, but I also feel like my ongoing struggle with my weight and food obsession make me too much for people. If people knew how many times a day I thought about eating junk, would they still be my friends? If I ballooned up to 400 pounds, would I be loved? Am I even loved now? Is there a point at which even God Himself will say, “Whoa there, Erin, I think I’m going to need to take a break from this relationship until you get your issues settled”? In my darkest moments (and there have been plenty of those), I ask all of these questions and more. And in my more rational moments, I know that the love of people I care about is not contingent upon how much I weigh. I know that I am loved deeply by my husband and family. I know that God loves me with a love I can’t even fully fathom and that it is nothing but pride and vanity that causes me to question His design. But somehow, sometimes, knowledge of this love isn’t enough. I haven’t believed it completely. If I did completely and utterly believe in God’s love for me, I wouldn’t choose other things above Him. I wouldn’t turn to food for comfort instead of to His Word. I wouldn’t chase after temporal pleasures instead of chasing after Him.
In a way I am in fact too much; I think too much of myself, too often. I spend too much time dwelling on my problems and not enough time dwelling on the Lord and His goodness. I trust too much in my own sufficiency rather than recognizing that I am completely needy. I waste too much energy on worthless pursuits and not enough energy working for the Lord and not for man. I fritter away too much time in front of a mirror, applying makeup and fixing my hair in the hopes that my face will be pretty enough that people won’t notice the rest of me, instead of cultivating the inward beauty of a heart that hungers and thirsts for God.
Since I am too much, I must pray as John does in John 3:30, “He must become greater, I must become less.” The important thing about my life ultimately isn’t how much weight I lose or don’t lose. The important thing about my life is that it points to Another altogether–Jesus Christ. He lived the perfect, sinless life I cannot live and gave me the redemption I could never hope to earn. May I live a life that brings honor to the One who can never get too much of my praise or receive too much glory.
Every Friday, I get the gift of not having to prepare dinner. Instead, my family loads up in the van and journeys 10 minutes away to Stephen’s parents’ house. They moved to Jackson this past spring, and it has been such a blessing having them here. They lived in Illinois before this, and we only saw them a few times a year. Now we see them every week, and I’m so glad that my daughters have such great access to both sets of grandparents (my parents live an hour from us). Plus, having dinner with them on Friday nights makes me feel a little like a Gilmore Girl, except without all the dysfunction. 🙂
Books are tasty.
As I’ve mentioned previously, Ava is not the greatest of sleepers. For example, I think today she took 3 naps of about 30 minutes each, which is definitely better than nothing, but it does make it hard to accomplish any sort of prolonged task. However, what Ava lacks in the sleep department, she more than makes up for it in the smile department. I may be biased, but her smile is radiant and completely infectious. Just look:
Even if I am exhausted and undone by the events of the day, seeing her smile makes me smile. There is nothing better than seeing that open-mouthed grin first thing in the morning and last thing at night. So while she may not be overly fond of sleeping, I’m forever thankful that smiling is her favorite.