Thursday, April 18, 2013

Mirror, Mirror

As I’ve sat here on my bed brainstorming ideas for this week’s blog topics, I keep finding myself pausing and staring off in thought, only to then find myself fixating on the full length, double- mirrored closet doors across the room in front of me with the reflection of myself staring right back at me as if obviously, but silently saying, “You already know what you need to write about!”  And of course my reflection's right - I do.  The topic becomes more and more obvious to my mind every time the reflection in those darn mirrors becomes clearer and clearer to my eyes.  The unfortunate thing here is that, what’s also become clearer and clearer, is an anxiousness that is rising in my chest and threatening to overwhelm me with the possibility of sharing this topic so publicly. 
With this anxiousness, the question then arises, should I address a topic for the “Stressed-Less Living” study/book, when doing so causes me to stress?  Again, unfortunately for me, the un-refutable answer to that question is yes because before I started writing I’d prayed for God to lead my pen and not let it go astray, and as many times as I’ve attempted to write on other topics, my mind and gaze keep finding their way back to that mirror and my pen back to that topic…that topic who’s truth looms before me in those mirrors...that topic which is blaringly obvious in the reflection that lies there…that topic in which I’ve continually denied, but can no longer hide…the truth that I’ve had a difficult time admitting openly, though I’ve already admitted it to myself long ago…alright, out with it already! – I am a stress-eater and as a result I’m over weight.  There.  I said it.
It hasn’t always been this way – me eating in response to the stress in my life.  In fact, it used to be the opposite.  In my college years there was a point that I'd became as thin as a rail as a result of not wanting to eat when stressed, but that’s all definitely changed now.  The question is why?  What changed, and when?  Well, as Tracie says on page 49 of “Stressed-Less Living,” “In order to embark on the journey of turning our stressors over to God and letting him replace them with peace, we must first figure out exactly what those stressors really are.”  Which is exactly what reading this book and participating in this study is doing for me and, as it turns out, it's leading to having to take a hard look into a mirror from my past – one from four years and nine months ago to be exact – the time in which I became pregnant with my daughter.
During that time, there just so happened to be many stressors in my life.  Just a few months before, we had made the major decision to pack everything up and leave sunny San Diego to return to our home area in North Idaho.  This was something we’d felt led by God to do, but it also meant a lot of emotional stress by forcing me to come face to face with the past I’d been running from for so long.  In moving, we also found ourselves faced with an uncertain financial picture, as my husband went from being a regularly paid employee to self-employed in what turned out to be a fast dying market.  It also left us with no health insurance (not at all stressful when pregnant with your first baby), and required my husband to have to travel out of state (which meant being gone for weeks at a time) to get enough work to stay afloat. 
Then there was an old neck injury I had acquired years before in a car accident, which conveniently and suddenly flared up just weeks before becoming pregnant, and with it came the unwanted and equally inconvenient advice of my chiropractor to cease all exercise until he could get things back in check – problem being, pregnancy doesn’t really lend itself to fixing spinal injuries.  It’s actually pretty good at the opposite!  And here I am still, almost five years later, and I have yet to be freed from that flare up and have since been told that a lot of the exercise restriction will remain for life (the injuries from giving birth are a contributing factor).

In addition to all of that, I felt really lonely.  Not only was I left alone due to my husband working out of state most of the time, but our move across states had left us with little to no support system.  We hadn’t fully plugged into a new church or made any new and ever-so-important Godly relationships yet.  And then when you add in all those pregnancy hormones on top of it all, I was left with one big recipe for stress-eating!
All-in-all, there was certainly cause for me to become stressed, but what I’m learning from the “Stressed-Less Living” study/book is: “it is not the stressful situations in and of themselves that cause our stress but the way we process and handle those stressful situations.” (pg. 37), and I definitely didn’t handle them positively.  The way I processed it was by trying to ignore it all together and by trying to mask it by seeking out my needed security and comfort through food...I processed my stress with processed foods!  Does anyone else find this ironically funny?!



Anyway, those of you who are somewhat familiar with my story probably already know that, #1, my daughter was 11lbs 2ounces when she was born, and no – I did not have a C-section!  What most do not know however, is that, #2, I gained approximately seventy pounds while pregnant!  Yikes!  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that shared fact #2 was likely the cause of shared fact #1, and that shared fact #1 was also likely a contributing factor to all the complications that occurred in labor and all the injuries that resulted in birth.  As I've said in a previous post, I'm not going to get into the details of the labor/birth complications and injuries because I’ve replayed those enough in my head already, what I will say though is that they've led to what has easily been the hardest 4 years of my life thus far.

Even though I did end up losing all the weight I'd gained in pregnancy (after about a year), I then quickly gained about thirty of it back by continuing with my newly acquired stress-eating habit.  When my injuries flare up causing me sometimes nearly unbearable pain – I eat.  When the realization that I can no longer do certain activities that I love, slaps me in the face yet again – I eat.  When reminders of my mom find their way into my day – I eat.  All of these things and more have been reason time and time again to send me on a spiraling downward junk food binge that leaves me decidedly over-weight, and definitely not happy! 
Eating has been my response to pretty much every stressor that’s come my way for the last five years, but I didn’t even realize it when it first started.  I really didn’t have a clue.  Eventually, however, I did begin to notice and question it, and when I did, I started to notice a pattern - that my insatiable cravings always seemed to follow a strong negative emotion.  Unfortunately, that realization hasn’t been enough to stop it, and though I’ve wanted and tried to get back in shape, my story has been one of "try again, fail again," for the last three years...
But as dire as all this may sound, and certainly has felt to me all too often, I know there is still hope to be had, because God’s word reads in Psalm 107:19-20: "Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.  He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave."  How awesome is that?!  We too can experience God at work in our lives like this, but take notice here that they first had to cry to him, then he took action in their struggles..."Cried to the LORD" - exactly the problem that needs to change in my life!
When I set off on my first OBS journey, “Let. It. Go,” it was then that the serenity prayer caught my attention for the first time in my life, and now it has done so again with “Stressed-Less Living.”   You all probably know it by heart, but I most definitely did not, as it was most definitely not my favorite.  I would even go so far as to say that it annoyed me – being everywhere and on everything – it just wasn’t that good in my eyes.  Clearly I just wasn't getting it before though, because, instead of hearing the blah, blah, blah that I used to (like whenever adults would talk in a Charlie Brown cartoon), now new insights and truths are being breathed into my life every time I read it, and instead of finding it annoying, I find it refreshing!  What’s the difference, you might be finding yourself wondering right about now?  Well, I’ve finally seen the truth that needing and seeking to be in control of my life and everything in it has kept me from truly crying out to God and is also the true root of a large majority of my self-induced stress.
As Tracie has written on page 35, “When we finally surrender to God instead of stress – jump off the merry-go-round with one huge leap of faith – the vicious cycle comes to a screeching halt, and God can finally begin to do his work.”  I am definitely looking forward to His work in me through this “Stressed-Less” study, as I continue to learn to surrender full control to Him.  I wait with hopeful anticipation for the day I can say, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, this girl has overcome her stress-eating once and for all!”  


“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
 and wisdom to know the difference.”

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart.  And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.  So don’t be troubled or afraid.”  ~John 14:27

23 comments:

  1. Thank you for your post today, encouraging!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for taking the time to read my post and leave a comment! It is always a good feeling to hear when the Lord uses our struggles to encourage others :-)

      Delete
  2. I can so relate to stress-eating. I did the same thing at a previous job. My comfort food was Big Macs and french fries...3-4 times a week. I very seldom eat that anymore, but I still see the results of it when I look in the mirror. I'm standing in agreement with you that real soon you will be saying, "Mirror, Mirror on the wall, this girl has overcome her stress-eating once and for all!” Lori (OBS Group Leader)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Lori! Knowing I'm not alone in this struggle is encouraging. I know what you mean when you say, "I still see the results of it when I look in the mirror." Unfortunately, the consequences of poor food choices stay with us long after the little joy we find in eating them is gone. Looking in the mirror can sometimes be a continual painful remider of all our mistakes. It is then that it's so important to cling to the word of God, his truth's, and his love for us! Will pray for your full release of your stress-eating.

      Delete
  3. D'Edra JeffersonApril 18, 2013 at 7:17 AM

    Girl--I can so relate. I am currently on an eating program to help me deal with weight issues. I will not say it is easy but admitting and allowing God to work is the first step and you have done that. He will help you get through this. I also must say that the quote "God grant me" is my favorite and say it to myself often. May God bless you as you work through this study.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your encouragement. One of the best things about participating in these studies is how God uses each woman to speak light into other's darkness and to let eachother know we are not alone. May God bless your journey as well!

      Delete
  4. I can relate also, especially the part about your physical problems keeping you exercising. I have arthritis all over my body and alot of bulging discs in my back and neck. I am no longer able to do alot of things I once enjoyed, like walking and certain other exercises that would keep my weight down. Right now I am getting shots in my back and neck to see if it will help. I have lost some weight but right now I am not eating as healthy as I need to. I know this but I just keep doing it anyway. So I will cry out to the Lord and ask Him to save me from my distress.
    Thanks for the encouragement to keep on trying and not to give up. God Bless!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Polly, thanks for sharing some of your struggle with me. I'm greatful and humbled to hear that the Lord is using my story for encouragement. Not being able to be as active as we'd like or need to be can be so discouraging at times. I too, find that I often don't stick to eating healthy as a result. I find myself thinking, "What's the point?" I know this isn't the right attitude and need to remember to let go of what I can't control - not being able to be active enough, and then control what I can - what I put in my mouth. Will be praying for your journey through this study to help you work through your struggles as well.

      Delete
  5. Thank you for sharing your story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and comment Denise!

      Delete
  6. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Penny, Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment :-)

      Delete
  7. Katrina, Continue to hold onto our Lord, He will bless you with His peace. I have struggled with the same thing for many years and I have decided in the last couple of months being laid up that I must give it along with the other stresses over to God and then have Faith that He will answer. It may not be the answer I want, but I know and have faith He will answer. We must be willing to hear His voice and then listen and obey. For me the listening and obeying is the hardest. I have found that is the very reason He puts me down in a way that I have no choice but to listen. Then when He lets me back up and I obey there is always, always a wonderful blessing if not a miracle from Him. We must always give Him all the praise and glory of answered prayer.
    love and prayers
    terrie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Terrie, Thank you for your encouragement and uplifting words. I hear you when you say, "I have found that is the very reason He puts me down in a way that I have no choice but to listen." I can relate and definately feel that my failure to listen and obey has played a large role in the lingering injuries that keep me down. There's things He's definately trying to teach me through all of this, and I know this struggle will not come to an end until the lessons are learned and applied. Thanks for the reminder and prayers. I've been praying for you too in your time of illness.

      Delete
  8. Thank you so much for sharing your story!! I am a stress eater, and stress baker:) my husband knows something is bothering me when I am in the kitchen making cookies at 10 pm..:)
    When you talk about needing to control things and that being a stumbling block, I SO relate!!very encouraging message and verses..I too am finding a new found appreciation for the Serenity Prayer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aubrey, I thankfully know very little about baking, but it's something I've always wanted to learn...perhaps I should wait until this whole stress-eating thing doesn't have such a strong grip on me :) Thanks for taking the time to read my blog and share with me. I will be praying for your "Stressed-Less" journey to help you overcome your stress-eating as well!

      Delete
  9. Katrina lots of us stress eaters here and God has been working on me through chapter 2. Got stuff underlined and really enjoyed the part she wrote about shrapnel. Thanks so much for sharing. Debbie W. (OBS Group Leader)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Debbie, realizing how many stress-eaters there are here is partially comforting, but it's also making me realize just how much we all really need this study and need more of God in our lives! I know that part of Satan's goal is to keep us all feeling like we're alone in our struggles and shameful, causing the light of Christ in us to be dimmed to the world. I know he has done so with me. But that's what's so great about OBS - it connects us to thousands of woman all over the world, many of whom we can relate too. God is using this wonderful ministry and group of woman to thwart Satan's attempts, and re-ignite the light of Christ is His people! It's truly a beautiful thing! Thanks for being part of that leadership and for your continued support!

      Delete
  10. All of your comments have been so uplifting and encouraging to me today! This was a tough topic for me to post so the response has really helped me to continue to be obedient to the Lord's promptings. If sharing my struggles can help even one other person, than pushing through the discomfort of sharing is worth it! It's awesome to see how God truly uses all things for good!

    ReplyDelete
  11. This was amazing...oddly enough words you wrote were exactly what I've been thinking, although I am not a stress eater...I tend to not want to eat when I'm stressed. But man oh man...health issues seem to be the root of all of my issues and in ways I've called out to God and even had my entire worship team pray over me, but I guess God needs me to go through these hardships for some reason or another and maybe that reason just won't ever be clear to me. It was a blessing to hear someone else type out what my fingers were too scared to type. You are clearly an amazing woman and I loved reading it (totally book worthy!!) Thank you for sharing :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. Ashley, my heart goes out to you! One of the things I've realized through my health struggles is how much I'd taken so many things for granted. You truly don't realize all the little things, which often are really the big things, that can be taken from you in an instant with an injury or illness. This is a difficult thing to face, but I'm begining to see that true healing can't occur until I'm willing to let go of what was and instead, cling to God. I'm praying for God to give you the answers you are seeking in your personal health struggle. I truly believe there will be answers, but in His perfect timing, when you're ready. Just keep crying out to Him and seeking Him. Thank you for all your encouragement and high compliments. They truly are a blessing to me. All the praise goes to God, because without Him, this post truly could've never been. He is so good!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Kat - Thank you for opening your heart to us. I will be praying for you on your journey my friend. God is good, seek Him in your times of trouble.
    Erin Cuomo, OBS Group Leader

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Erin, as always, your support and prayers mean a lot! Thank you and God bless.

      Delete