I had lots of random thoughts and emotions and fears and a weird but awesome sense of peace and trust as I was sitting on a bench enjoying my Kilwins cake batter and marshmallow s’mores ice cream flavors on the small main street of Frankfort, Michigan where my family has been going every summer from the time my great grandmother started coming up back in the good ol’ days.
What were you thinking about Janie? Well friends, I’m glad you asked. This is going to take quite a bit of humbling vulnerability for me to share this because it has to do with my current mental health and where I’ve been recently.
After 12 months, I am still dealing with a mysterious hip injury that has not gotten better yet and has caused me to be very restrictive on many exercises and fitness activities over the past year, among other daily activities. It has been anything BUT easy. Why am I having to go through this? What did I do to deserve this hip problem that has made me unable to do some of my favorite activities, like running and other fun fitness classes I used to enjoy so much? Why did God pick me to do this? Where are the answers? Why am I not healing? What do I have to do to get myself back to where I was before this injury happened? Where are the wise doctors who will correctly diagnose my physical pain and help treat me? Why is this still going on after 12 longs months especially not going a day without worrying about it since the day before my freshman year in college started? Did I really need to have an injury like this stressing me out every single day on top of my first year of all the unknowns that college holds? What is God doing here? What on earth can I do? God, please take this away. PLEASE.
These are just some of the endless questions that have been flooding my head and heart over the past year, but even more so over this summer going into yet another school year with no obvious physical progress with my hip. I have seen chiropractors, doctors, hip specialists, doctors at children’s hospital, etc. I have gotten x-rays and MRIs with no visible issues. I have been in physical therapy for 9 months. I am scheduling appointments now with more doctors, chiropractors, and other specialists. God, I don’t need this right now. I don’t need this physical pain that restricts me from doing so much.
Something hit me tonight though: Maybe I do. Maybe I do need this.
Maybe God is doing something in me through these hip issues and the pain I’ve gone through. This is a thorn in my flesh that God has put in me just like he put in Paul to keep him from becoming conceited. God says to Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
The Bible says that Paul pleaded with God to have this thorn taken out of his flesh. But God had a purpose for that. He used that thorn to teach Paul something lasting. Something that will intensify Paul’s trust in God, and to fully put his hope and faith in a God whose grace for his people is overflowing and incomprehensible and chock FULL of love. This is everlasting grace in an everlasting God. This is what gives life — this is who gives life — this is who gives eternal life.
This is what God is showing me. This is what he is teaching me about. This is what he preaching me to do — to rely on him, not partially, not every other day, not once a month, not only on Thursdays, not only in the mornings during my Bible reading time. Not when I feel like it. No. God is preaching to me to rely on him and put all the faith I’ve got into him fully, every single day, every single hour, every single moment when I feel sad or happy or angry or hopeless with my hip problems (which comes along more often than not). Maybe this sounds like a minor thing to some of you, but this hip stuff has rocked my world and shaken it up quite a bit. Through this long suffering of physical pain, God has been and is continuing to reveal to me that although I am physically healthy and recovered from an eating disorder (putting aside the thorn in my side with these hip issues), my mental health is still sub-par and I have a long way to go. This something that I have avoided telling anyone for quite some time, but I have finally come to terms with it and need Jesus more than ever to help me move in a direction pleasing to him. More than just healing the physical body, the mental part of recovery is by far the most challenging and difficult to overcome. It takes so much time and does not happen overnight or when one finally reaches their “goal weight” or healthy BMI or whatever. No, this healing of the mind takes far more time and energy and struggle than it does to gain all the body weight back. I’ve come a long way from where I started no doubt, but there’s still so many more steps to take to keep healing my mind in the days ahead of me. I don’t know if this struggle will ever fully end. I hear different things from different people about “fully” recovering, but man it is a hard road. I know this topic probably doesn’t make sense to many who have never gone through something like an eating disorder and the mental disorder that accompanies this or walked alongside of someone who’s struggled with this, but let me tell you, it is a real thing. It is no joke and it tries to take over your entire life mostly emotionally, mentally, and socially. Honestly I don’t like bringing this topic up with people because I either think they won’t understand (which happens a lot) or they won’t have any compassion about it or whatever it is.
I want to get to the point of complete mental healing. I also want to grow so much and be an active follower of Jesus in this broken world. However, my mental health, dealing with this debilitating hip injury, has put some sort of blockade in the path in front of me it seems like. And honestly, I’m just not quite sure how to get over it and/or knock it down.
As I was eating my Kilwin’s ice cream (AKA the best ice cream ever to exist on this earth…yeah I went there.) on a bench on the side of Frankfort mainstreet, it hit me. I need to let go. I was enjoying the heck out of that ice cream and something flooded over me with this feeling of peace — a peace and urgency and almost this competitive feeling inside of me to knock this blockade down that has been looming over me and in front of me for so long. I need to move. I can’t just keep sitting here waiting for it to just crumble on its own without changing and growing and fighting more.
This absolutely scares the crap out of me though. I do not know what the next steps to take are. I do not know what will happen next in my path to move forward and to knock this huge thing down in my life that is in front of me. I do not know what God is going to do with this thorn in my flesh. I do not know how God is going to restore my mental health. Ultimately I know Jesus will restore all things when I get to live eternally with him and when he comes again to make a new heaven and earth, but what about while I am on this earth though? What’s he going to do now and in my days ahead? Knowing that the whole world and all that happens within it is out of my hands is both incredibly, crazily comforting and incredibly, crazily uncomfortable as well because we don’t know what’s going to happen or what God will do in our lives. But the one thing I do know, the single thing I put 100% of my faith and trust in, is that I know that God is using this to show me more of who he is, pointing me to himself, and that his grace and his love for me are all that I ever have needed in the past, all that I ever need now, and all that I ever will need in the future. His grace is sufficient for me. This is what he is teaching me.
The road in front of me is incredibly uncomfortable, and I can’t do it on my own. I am scared for so many reasons, like am I ever going to get healed?, am I ever going to find a doctor that will correctly diagnose me?, will I ever be able to run again?, will my mind that still has lingering disordered thoughts ever really heal?, will my body keep changing in ways that I don’t particularly like if I have to quit doing almost all activities while I figure out and deal with my injury?, will I ever stop hating on my body and my personality and truly love myself just the perfect way that God made me?, will this constant comparing myself to other people stoppit ever? These thoughts exhaust my head every single day. These are just a handful of the things I find myself idolizing and falling in the traps of putting my identity into. These are the debilitating thoughts that make up this blockade in front of me. And I want to and need to get over it. Badly. Jealousy and comparison storm my mind. I get jealous over other people’s natural academic abilities, people’s bodies, people who get to lace up their shoes and go on a run to destress or get some exercise, people at the gym who are pain-free and can do any exercises and machines they want, and sometimes even personalities. I compare myself to people constantly as well all having to do with these same things above. And I get triggered by all these things including being around people who are constantly exercising, talking about their diets, bodies, not eating, skipping meals, etc. These are just some of the sins and struggles that I keep going back to no matter what and I absolutely want it to STOPPPPP. Like for reals man! It is frustrating beyond belief and takes over my mind and so often spirals me down very very quickly. These are the areas where Satan latches onto in my life and wants me to keep spiraling down even further. He loves it. I despise it.
There is nothing I want more than to put all of my trust in Jesus. And HOLY MOLY!!! I need Him to help me and to get over this giant obstacle/rock climbing wall in front of me. I have no idea if I am even making any sense, but it was time to get out some of what’s been going on in my noggin’ for the past 12 months dealing with this injury. I want to grow so stinking badly. I want to give up control and so many struggles and sins that I deal with on a daily basis. I am sick of it. I just don’t know exactly what to do and or how to fight more and more. All that I know right now is that I have this incredible, trustworthy, loving, sovereign Father who I can come to with all of my thoughts, all of my questions, all of my worries, all of my victories, all of my hopelessness, all of my sadness, and all of my anger. I have prayer. I have a God and King and Friend who will always hear me and guide me along the exact paths that I need. He knows me better than I know me. And his is something to be remembered.
My prayer tonight after enjoying my Kilwins ice cream as I lay in bed in my family’s cozy cottage in the woods of Frankfort, Michigan: God, what you are doing with this thorn in my flesh, what you are doing with my mental health struggles, what you are doing with my idolatry of looks, and my jealously and constant comparison of others, please God PLEASE bring me closer and closer to you. Take these things away. Help me to see you shining through and you’re greatness above these things. I pray that the spirit of Jesus inside of my heart, which you placed there from the beginning of time, please I pray that you will help me knock this wall down in front of me and reveal yourself more and more to me. I am so scared to give so many thing up in my life and give control and complete trust to you going through this physical and mental battle, but it is what needs to be done to move forward and to grow in my faith. God teach and reveal to me more and more everyday of your deep, unfathomable love. You did not screw my life up, you did not screw my body or personality up when you created me, you did not screw anything about me up. I was created in your perfect image, and am a beautiful perfectly imperfect girl who is loved so incredibly much. Make these truths real and bold in my heart and help me to understand and be able to say and believe them genuinely and confidently. Teach me your love that I may pour that love out onto the people around me wherever I am at — whether that’s in my house, at church, in my college apartment, in my classes at SLU, the girls in my small group, or people anywhere in the world. I pray that you will make this love of Jesus clearer and clearer to me because I know it is a saving love that brings freedom and life. Jesus, make your love so big in my heart that I want to keep laying this love - your love - onto others. Open my eyes to see your world, this broken and beautiful world that you made, and to watch how you work in so many different ways and to see where I can be an active follower of you, pouring out this love of Jesus onto so many friends, families, and strangers. Help me to love like your son did and take my eyes off of myself. Open my ears to hear when you want me to move and to stop when I am trying to go down my own paths. If it will bring glory to your name and make you more known, God make me uncomfortable and use my life in ways that I may not understand right now. Use this hip injury to bring me to yourself and to grow me into a woman who trusts fully in you. Not partially, not every other day, but always for the rest of my life. I am broken and I need you more than ever. Your will is perfect. This life is so hard and frustrating and painful and confusing, but you never leave my side, and for that I thank and praise you! Hold my hand as I journey into the unknowns of another school year. Let’s do it together Jesus. Please hold my hand tightly as I learn to let go of control and let you take my life and do with it as you may. I have my wants, wishes, ideal plans and visions. But I know your plan is better. You know better than I. You know what I and others need. Jesus, please guide us all down your path and lift your powerful name up. Jesus? you and me. Let’s do this life-thing together and start chipping away this mental blockade in front of me that has been holding me back. I love you Jesus. Please keep doing your good good work in the all the lives of the people in this world.