Friday, October 29, 2010

Joy ride!

Last week, I did something just for me!  Like, for the first time ever! (Ok, maybe not ever, but it's been a long time...)  I hopped in the car and drove to my favourite place in the entire world - Cavendish, PEI!  Just me, all by myself, nobody else...get the picture? :)  I rented a little cottage for 2 nights, thus procuring for myself one glorious day of doing exactly what I wanted to do!  And what did I want to do?  I spent the entire day outside, first at the beach, then on the hiking trails, then returned to the beach for sunset and moonrise.  In the evenings, I ate pizza, read Anne of Green Gables, watched Evan Almighty and Dan in Real Life, and went to bed early.  Did I mention that it was glorious? 

I decided/discovered a few things on my little retreat: 1) it's absolutely ok for me to take a break when I need to; 2) not every break needs to include deep soul searching or fasting or extended times of wrestling in prayer, sometimes it's ok to just do something fun; 3) God speaks volumes through the wind and the waves, the trees and the stars; 4) I hope Heaven is just like PEI in October... :)

My old habit was to feel intensely guilty and worried the entire time I was away, thus negating the whole purpose of any break I may have allowed myself to take.  You know, I have lived almost my whole life feeling as if the proverbial ax were about to drop; as if at any moment, I'd get into "trouble" of some sort and be sent to the principal's office to face the music. (Oh dear, what a terrible mix of metaphors - apologies to my English cronies!)  It's a terrible way to exist - it sucks the joy out of everything!  I'm not going to live like that anymore!  God made a couple of promises (more than a couple, really, but a couple that really fit here) and I intend to believe that they apply to me! ('Cause they do!)  The first is the promise of abundant life, life to the full (John 10:10, KJV, NIV).  This is the reason He came, says Jesus!  The reason He came...  There are other reasons, obviously (forgiveness of sin, promise of eternal life, defeating of death and hell, to name a few), but Jesus ranks this right up there with His other reasons for coming! I want to live this abundant life, this life to the full!  And God wants me to live it - it's part of His plan for me! The other is in Romans, and it's my new mantra: "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (Rom. 8:1 - my favourite chapter in the whole Bible, by the way...)  No condemnation!  How freeing is that?  Especially for one who was constantly condemning herself, so much so that she didn't even realize that's what she was doing...

I think one of the first steps toward loving ourselves is knowing we are free to do so, free from all the guilt and shame and fear and deception of the past, free from the lies Satan feeds us about ourselves, so subtly that we fail to see them for what they are and believe them for truth.  One of my goals over the next weeks and months is to identify every one of those lies and replace them with the Truth.  Today, I'm loving this journey - it certainly has its' ups and downs!  And may I say "thanks" to all those who have taken the time to read, and especially to those who have followed and commented and sent messages.  Your support is already overwhelming!  Looking forward to the next step in the journey!  May you know real joy today!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

(the) Real Joy

Welcome to my new blog!  I must admit, this is not a blog that I'm very anxious to write - at this point, it's an act of obedience.  I have a story to share, a journey really, and it occurred to me that others may be in need of embarking upon a similar journey.  I share the story of my journey for 2 reasons: 1) to be real, authentic, genuine and 2) to encourage anyone who might be where I am/was. 

I'm not really sure how the world sees me.  Or how my family/friends see me.  Or how strangers see me.  Until very recently, this has consumed me, this wondering how people see me.  I was desperate to present to the world a certain kind of life.  A life in which I had it all together, in which everything was good.  Essentially, a living lie, because everything was not good.  (Man, this is a hard post to write, harder than I thought it would be...)  While doing my very best for years to appear cheerful, happy, positive, upbeat, I was hiding the truth.  And here it is, in print, for the whole world to see (or the few who trickle in to read this blog, anyway...):  I hated myself.  Hated isn't a strong enough word. Loathed, detested, despised...that's more like it.  And I was actively seeking to destroy myself, sabotage myself, through the consumption of food. 

I'm not sure how to communicate just what it means to me to have made this confession, to know that people I know will read it...  All my life, I have avoided this kind of honesty, soul-level revelation.  It has seriously affected my ability to enter into meaningful relationships.  Because, I think, it is impossible to really love other people if you don't love yourself.  Having been raised as a good Baptist girl, it was somehow, very unobtrusively, ingrained into my thinking from an early age that to focus on oneself was wrong, selfish, indulgent.  And I somehow translated that into believing that to think positively about oneself was also wrong, selfish, indulgent.  And so that's the way I lived - trying hard to be/appear perfect while hating myself for failing so consistently.  And that's where the eating came in; I started eating to quiet those condemning voices in my head.  Soon I was turning to food for every event, every emotion.  If I was sick, I ate.  If I was tired, I ate.  If I was lonely, I ate.  If I was sad, I ate.  If I was angry, I ate.  And if I was happy or celebrating, I would eat then, too!  Food has been my drug.  (Ugh, how I hate to admit that!) 

There, the gory details from the past...  Now, to the present!  It all started with the simple little verse, "Love your neighbour as yourself".  How in the world can I truly love my neighbour when I hate myself so deeply?  Simple answer: I can't.  And since, according to Jesus, this is the second most important commandment, I'd better figure out a way to really love myself so that I can love my neighbour.  Now, I've been a follower of Christ since I was six years old, I know my Bible, I know what it says about God loving me and sending Jesus to die for me, etc...  And I believed all that, I really did!  But for some strange reason, I could never really believe that it applied to me.  But it has recently come to my attention that to continue to hate myself when I know what God says about me is the equivalent to calling God either crazy or a liar.  And I really don't want to do that.  So I'm starting on this journey of discovering (the) real j/Joy.  And learning to love her, accept her, let her be who she is meant to be...  I (sort of) hope you'll join me - I want to let people see the real me.  Or I want to want to, at least...Hey, it's a start! 

I'd love to hear from you, about where you are on this journey, what has helped, what has hindered, whatever you'd care to share.  Feel free to comment below, or you can reach me at thejoyofthelord(at)hotmail(dot)com.  May you know real joy today!