For most of my life, I wouldn’t have said I had an eating disorder.
To me, “eating disorders” were things like anorexia and bulemia: big, life-altering struggles that required the intervention of doctors, therapists and pastors.
I never realized that every time I ran to the fridge for a snack when I felt sad, or cheated on my “vegetarian diet” (again), or couldn’t stop myself with just a few potato chips (cookies, cheese sticks, etc.) … I was essentially stuck in the same place as those women with “eating disorders” with more clinically acceptable eating disorders.
I was using food to cover up a craving inside that couldn’t actually be assuaged with sweets, salty, spicy or sour.
Today, many women comment to me that they wish they could eat vegan like I do now. “But I just can’t seem to give up the meat, eggs and dairy,” they quickly add. Others tell me they want to kick the sugar or the cola habit. Still others want to go gluten free, but the thought of no cookies or cinnamon rolls sends them running for cover.
If any of those describe you, I’m hear to hug you and say, “It’s okay.”
I was there, too.
The first biggest step I had to take to be free of my constant need for food, was to realize that I was in bondage in the first place.
After my powerful full-body opening in July 2017, at which time the Holy Spirit began to speak me more directly, I began to realize all the ways I was carrying trauma and hurt in body. I also began to see how that trauma was driving me to hold on to weight I no longer needed.
Because I needed to feel safe, my brain was keeping me overweight—essentially—“hiding” me under layers of fat. And the easiest way to do that was with an addiction to animal-based, processed and refined foods. Did the drive to eat every time I felt sad, or to overindulge at every opportunity, disappear overnight?
No, not in the least. Not by half.
But awareness is the beginning of freedom.
Once I knew what was going on, I could take steps to change my thinking, which changed my dominant emotional state and enabled me to finally change my behaviors around the fridge.
So if you’re reading this today, and you know that you eat according to your mood, not according to your nutritional need … first, you are not alone. And second, the fact that you have acknowledged this pattern is a HUGE step toward breaking free.
Because the truth is:
You CAN stop equating food with emotional comfort, in the deepest level of your mind.
You CAN come to a place where you no longer desire food except when your body is actually hungry.
You CAN adopt a vegetarian, vegan, raw foods or other alternative diet—once you are in a mental and emotional place where the first two points are already true.
And that’s the real issue here.
Most women I know who want to change their eating are trying to do so without first shifting their dominant thought patterns and their everyday emotions.
Adopting that new diet, losing weight or taking up more exercise simply won’t be successful if you try to “power through it” or make it “one more item on your to-do list.”
Heart change and mind change must happen first. You won’t be able to shift your thoughts or emotions overnight. It WILL require that you confess your addiction to God and ask Him to heal you. It WILL take work to discipline your mind and body. But when you learn how to do that, and learn how to relax into receiving a smaller body, fewer cravings, and healthier food … it can happen.
Many of my my friends and mentees have experienced shifts in their eating as a natural byproduct of clearing their thoughts and emotions.
That’s how it happened for me, ultimately, as well.
I didn’t totally set out to change my eating. My freedom from emotional eating patterns came as abyproduct of shift my thoughts to focus on God and His love, and learn how to live at the high, even emotional state that He desires for each of us.
Eating can be a FLOW, just like love, money and creativity.
NOTE: The following is a featured post from 2016 which first appeared on my former creative blog, Scrappy Storyteller. I’m sharing this as a way of embracing my past creative self and sharing ideas she had that, well, still matter today. Enjoy!
My well-loved collection of fencing manuals attest to my ongoing interest in martial history. Then there’s my multi-year, still-unfulfilled intention to take an actual historical fencing class. At least, this year I started yoga again, so I can at least get back in shape for this new level of martial commitment.
One might say my interest in fencing to date has been mostly intellectual. After all, reading a manual does not make one an actual fencer. Book knowledge alone will not win a bout. Nor does intending to take a class replace for actually taking one.
Until now, I’ve been okay with that.
Let’s face it: the armchair version of combat is pretty safe. The armchair is grounded on terra firma. My backside is flat on that seat. The stakes are low, the danger nonexistent. While it’s quite entertaining to speculate how I might parry a blow or wrestle an opponent to the ground, I do not really have to do these things.
I do not actually have to dance with Death.
In fencing, there’s a fine line between fighting and dancing. An even finer line between dancing and falling flat on your face (with a sword in your back). As long as I’m tied to the armchair, I don’t have to risk much of anything.
It’s combat, without the very thing that makes combat so exhilarating: risk.
Recently, I’ve realized that my approach to fencing is rather indicative of my general approach to life.
While some might call me a risk-taker, and I do have a history of unconventional choices, I know deep down that I manage my level of risk pretty heavily. I only take on projects I feel have a decent chance of succeeding, according to whatever standard I’ve set up. I don’t step out very often without a lot of pre-consideration. And whatever else I do, I make sure I’ve got good oldterra firmaunderneath my feet.
But that was before I read Pema Chödrön’s disarmingly bold little bookLiving Beautifully: With Uncertainty and Change. Chodron recasts the traditional Buddhist Three Commitments—known as the Warrior Tradition—for a modern audience.
In practical terms, she argues that uncertainty is actually the only certainty in human existence. The suffering we experience is tied to our resistancetothat uncertainty, not to the uncertainty itself. She renames uncertainty asgroundlessness, and invites us to welcome this sense of constant shift as a welcome sign we are truly alive.
“Our discomfort arises from all of our efforts to put ground under our feet,” Chödrön writes, “to realize our dream of constant okayness . . .”
I love this mental picture ofgroundlessness. For me in my current stage of life, groundless often feels not just like shifting ground, but like no ground at all. When things are uncertain in my life, I feel like I’m a fencer levitatingen gardeat 30,000 feet. All I can feel, see and sense is the sheer lack of anything between me and the pinprick landscape below.
This, Chodron says, is exactly how thingsshould be. And exactly how weresist them being.
She goes on to argue that groundlessness is our best training for the Warrior Tradition: the place where we really learn to live with courage, radical openness to all beings, and love that always says, “yes” to what life sends our way. In other words, for those fencing-inclined among us who are series about enlightenment, groundlessness is the perfect place to fight.
But what the heck does it really mean to fight well at 30,000 feet?
I don’t have a manual for that in my collection.
While I’m no guru on the subject, I have a few theories. To me, under these circumstances, fighting well means learning to walk on air and love the feeling. It means living each day as if you’re dancing through the clouds, knowing every lunge or pivot could break the nothingness you balance on and send you plunging to your death.
To me, fighting well at 30,00 feet means parrying with your own mortality—and enjoy the thrill.
We can choose to see this as terrifying, or we (like Kate Winslet inTitanic) can spread our arms wide and welcome the wind.
“If we can get in touch with the sensation as sensation and open ourselves to it without labeling it good or bad,” Chodron writes, “then even when we feel the urge to draw back, we can stay present and move forward into the feeling.”
The remedy, in other words, is to stop resisting the discomfort of life at 30,000 feet. To stop looking down, and to start sitting with our anxiety, erasing the thousand storylines our brain wants to concoct about why it is “good” and “bad,” in that moment.
The remedy, then, is to simplybe.
Like warriors, we must train ourselves to fight well in any circumstances. Instead of running from the pain of uncertainty, we actually advance into those wispy clouds, blades lifted confidently,feelingthe fact that we have absolutely no ground under our feet, delighting in it, and moving forward anyway.
The problem, then, is never our anxiety about uncertainty. It’s the fact thatwe think there’s something wrong with anxiety.
“But when we can completely let go and not struggle against it,”Chödrön says, “when we can embrace the groundlessness of our situation and relax into its dynamic quality, that’s called enlightenment, or awakening to our true nature . . .”
She promises a sense of rest and peace, of exhilaration even, that come with cultivating this practice of acceptance.
All this sounds wonderful enough between the pages of a book, of course. But what happens when life throws you a few curveballs, as it did to me just days long after I determined to start practicing my 30K-foot fencing skills?
I can’t say as I was thrilled to see huge challenges loom up in my face. But I was not surprised, either. This sort of thing always happens after you decide to try on a new way of being. Some of the challenges, predictably, were tied to recent life situations that are still very painful for me.
In that space, huge old fears loom large despite one’s own best efforts. It’s far easier to panic than keep a clear head.
But this time, instead of resisting the panic twisting in my chest, I decided to dance with it. I shut my eyes for 90 seconds and justsat with the feelingsin compassion. No judgement. No sweeping it under the emotional rug. No suppressing it. (Which, by the way, only makes the panic worse.)
I erased my mind of stories about whether these events were good, or bad, or anything at all, and justfelt the sensation of groundlessness moving through my body.
And that’s exactly what it did: movethrough.
To my surprise, each time the panic evaporated, after about 90 seconds of focused concentration, I was able to release it completely and feel calm again. Occasionally, I was even able to get to what Chödrön calls “blue sky”—the place where you can see beyond fear-based storylines completely to consider how the anxiety-inducing event might actually open up new horizons.
Most of all, I felt a curious tickling in my chest: an urge to throw back my head and laugh out loud in sheer joy at the insanity of it all. After all, if you’re going to dance with chaos, you’ve got be able to laugh.
When I did manage to truly laugh out loud, I felt a rush of freedom and a sense of exhilaration I don’t think I’ve ever felt in my life. I flung open my arms and said, “Bring me whatcha got, world. Bring me the biggest brand of crazy you have. ’Cause this time, we’re going todance.”
I cannot remember the last time I genuinely laughed in the face of my own uncertainty and pain. Not a laugh of derision, spite or anger . . . but a true laugh of joy that this beautiful, crazy groundlessnessmeans I am no longer asleep.
I am fully awake now. And to be awake, to me, means so much more than to be “not asleep.” It means to bealive.
In those precious moments,I knew everything would be okay. Because to laugh with joy, and welcome with open arms,the opponent you fear most, nothing to stand on, is the truest form of fighting well. It also the path to freedom.
At 30,000 feet, there may not be much ground. There’s no armchair to keep me safe, and we’re fencing on a landscape of clouds.
Recently while reading my Bible, I came across the story of a woman’s healing that really gripped me. I’ve read it before, many times, but I never saw it the way I did this time around. It gave me a brand-new way to understand emotional healing that freed me to a whole new level … and I hope it blesses you, too.
“As Jesus went, the people pressed around him. And there was a woman who had had a discharge of blood for twelve years, and though she had spent all her living on physicians, she could not be healed by anyone.” – Luke 8:42-42 (ESV)
If you’re read the Gospels, you may recognize this as the story of the woman who had “an issue of blood.” Basically, this means she was plagued with some kind of perpetual bleeding for twelve years that could not be treated effectively by the medical wisdom of that day.
This story appears in three of the four Gospels: Matthew 9:18-26, Mark 5:24-34, and Luke 8:42-48. Two of three of the writers note that this woman had spent every penny she had on physicians, but nothing seemed to help. In other words: she was desperate.
Immediately I recognized myself in this text—even though I don’t have that woman’s same physical problem, for many years, I was plagued by emotional challenges that never really seemed to improve. I also thought a lot of other women might share my discovery by recognizing themselves in this story, too.
The “issue of blood” doesn’t have to be physical. Think about it in terms of any ongoing physical or emotional condition you may be experiencing: migraines, fibromyalgia, gastrointestinal issues, eating disorders, negative self-talk, self-doubt, a tormenting lack of confidence: any condition that has robbed you of time, life and (of course) money going to rounds and rounds of doctors’ or therapists’ visits that never seem to heal to the real issue.
That’s what’s made this story suddenly so compelling for me: its complete hopelessness at the outset. This woman had gone out to experts, seeking solutions for a dozen years, and she’d never been able to get them.
And she’d bankrupted herself in the process.
There’s nothing more frustrating or disempowering than having a problem—any kind of physical or emotional pain—that turns into an endless prison you can never get free from. You go to “expert” after “expert,” walking away from each hopeful appointment with a progressively lighter wallet and heavier heart.
Can you relate? Does this resonate with you? It certainly does with me.
When I was struggling with the worst of my physical, emotional and spiritual pain following my divorce—which was really just the crescendo that woke me up to a lifetime of un-addressed trauma—I felt like all I did was try solutions that didn’t solve anything. I lost a ton of money in the process. And though I now walk now in total financial victory and freedom with God as my Provider, part of what He’s providing for right now is for me to pay off some residual debt associated with all those rounds of “treatment.”
In this state of poverty and hopelessness, the woman finally came to see Jesus.
“She came up behind [Jesus] and touched the fringe of his garment, and immediately her discharge of blood ceased.” – Luke 8:44 (ESV)
Such a simple recounting of a monumental event! The Mark version says, “She felt in her body that she was healed of the disease.” Our woman friend came to see Jesus. She touched nothing more than His garment. And instantly, she was whole.
Can you imagine? Actually sensing with your physical body the moment of release from your prison of pain?
Here we have this woman, who experienced the two-thousand-years-ago version of our modern treatment marathon. The text doesn’t say what her emotional state was, but she must have been desperate, because the Matthew version records her saying to herself, “If I can just get to Jesus, and touch the hem of his garment, I will be healed.”
If that’s not desperation, I don’t know what is. Other versions record that there was a huge crowd thronging Jesus the day He passed by the woman. She had to fight with the noise and the press of bodies. I doubt she was the strongest woman there that day, especially given her health issues, and yet, somehow, her desperation gave her determination. She strong-armed her way through the crowd and made it to the place where she could just touch the hem of Jesus’ garment as He passed by.
Think about that for a second.
She must have crouched down and reached between the ankles of people at the front of the crowd, just to touch a few threads of Jesus’ garment as he passed. Maybe it had a fringe, or tassels or some other kind of embroidery at the hem. Maybe that’s all her straining fingers could manage to brush.
Yet somehow, she made contact. And that single instant of contact changed her future.
Desperation also led her to take the most efficient action. She didn’t have money this time for more treatments. She wasn’t looking for a physical or psychological explanation for her pain. She just wanted the healing. Straight-up wellness, with no more hooplah, no more ten-step plans and no more excuses.
She just wanted to be well. And it shows … in the desperate measures she took to reach the last person she thought could help her.
I think that’s fascinating, actually, because I noticed in my own healing journey that there were times when I wasn’t really ready for 100% healing. I was ready for an explanation of my pain. I was ready for a treatment plan. I was ready to “do the work.” But I wasn’t really, truly, ready to be completely RELEASED of the weight I had been carrying around. Mostly because I had no idea what life would look like on the other side of my pain.
You might say, “Lisa, that’s crazy. I just want to be free of what I’m suffering in my body, mind and heart.”
I get that. But do you want it, really? Are you fully prepared for what your life will be like when you actually get free?
Sometimes the reason pain prolongs in our lives is because we’re holding on to it. We “get” something out of remaining in the situation we’re in. For me, I “got” a sense of comfort and identity from my pain. I got a twisted sense of safety. It was all I knew.
Inside my pain, somehow, I felt in control of my circumstances. The cage was comfortable and know-able. Everything on the other side was not.
The idea of living in total victory on the other side of anxiety, shame, low self-confidence, gastrointestinal disorders, weight fluctuation and everything else sounded good, yes. But in reality I was terribly afraid of a world where I didn’t face these things. It was the only world I knew.
The rounds and rounds and rounds of treatment—whether provided by a professional or undertaken by me in the form of self-help courses, support groups and hours of experimentation—kept me busy and feeling like I was moving forward. But in reality, they weren’t fixing the issue.
Can you relate?
“And Jesus said, ‘Who was it that touched me?’ When all denied it, Peter said, ‘Master, the crowds surround you and are pressing in on you!” But Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.’” – Luke 8:45-46 (ESV)
So our woman friend is desperate. She goes to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment and somehow succeeds. The text says, “And Jesus perceived that power had gone out of Him.” Some of the versions also say that He looked around and asked, “Who touched Me?”
His disciples thought He was crazy—because so many people were touching Him in the throng that day. How could it possibly be clear, who had touched the hem of His garment?
This desperate woman finally abandoned all the treatment plans and went straight to the Source of physical, emotional and spiritually healing. And Jesus, the Son of God, knew immediately when she had tapped into His power.
He was busy, but not too busy to notice her need and deliver the answer she sought.
Wow. That really hit me hard.
When we abandon our reliance on “treatment plans” and go straight to the Source of healing, He will know. Instantly. He’s not too busy to notice we’ve reached out to touch the hem of His garment. And today, with “instant access” to Jesus through prayer, we don’t have to push through a crowd to do it.
Please understand, I’m not saying you quit your doctor-approved treatment or stop going to your support group. I repeat: I am not encouraging you to go cold-turkey on your healing activities. I believe 100% in many healing practices, share them here and practice then myself.
But I am asking you to examine your heart and question whether, deep down, you truly believe that Jesus can free you from everything you’re facing, to the point that you will no longer need those healing practices or treatment plans in your life at some point? And whether you’re ready to let go of that pain so your hand is empty enough to reach out and touch Him?
So much of our physical pain has a root cause in our dis-ease of mind, emotions and spirit. As we allow Jesus to heal those root causes, many, many physical symptoms will ease or disappear completely. It happened to me, and it’s happened to many other women I know!
It might not happen instantly as it did for this woman. But by reaching out for the touch of Jesus, we ignite something powerful that will ultimately result in our healing if we submit to the process. And eventually we’ll feel the healing that’s happened deep inside.
That’s what happened to our friend, the woman. She felt that the disease (or dis-ease, as I prefer!) had gone out of her body.
Think about that.
Rarely in the Bible is it recorded that someone felt the healing. We hear that they got up and walked. Or that they could suddenly see. Or they could speak and praised God. But the feeling level is not often recorded. Not in the way it is here. As women we are so much more attuned to our feelings, and I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that this woman’s story is one of the few in Scripture where we read that she felt the healing.
Jesus felt the power go out of His body. The woman felt the healing come into hers. And it was that feeling, that sense, that encounter-from-a-distance that finally brought them face to face.
“And when the woman perceived that she was not hidden, she came trebling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And [Jesus] said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.’” – Luke 8 :47-48 (ESV)
The Scripture records that Jesus stopped and asked who had touched him. In this environment, the woman was quickly forced to come out of hiding in the crowd and fall down at Jesus’ feet and confess what she had done. To me, the way the text is written, it suggests that the woman wanted to remain hiddden. Perhaps she was ashamed of her condition, or she was fearful He might reprimand or punish her for “stealing” a bit of His power.
Ultimately, however, she could not remain hidden. She had to ‘fess up in front of everyone. And when she does, Jesus treats her with compassion and even honor. Instead of reprimanding or embarrassing her, He blesses her for her faith.
“Go in peace, Daughter, your faith has made you whole.”
Your faith has made you whole.
Interestingly, Jesus never says, “My power made you whole.” Or “Your faith and my power, working together, made you whole.” He says, “Your faith has made you whole.”
What if the only thing standing between us and the healing we seek—for our minds, our emotions, our spirits and our bodies—is the faith to believe it’s truly possible?
What if we’re going everywhere else for answer, because deep down, we don’t really believe Jesus can provide the healing that we seek? And direct us to the exact people and resources that can help us heal?
I didn’t truly believe that for a long time. I intellectually knew Jesus as Healer. But I ran everywhere else for the treatment I needed instead of going straight to Him. This is strange, because there’s no crowd between me and Jesus, as there was for the woman. I can go directly to Him. And yet I didn’t.
I let all the other “healing stuff” stand the way–not as tools to be used by Jesus in my life, but as substitutes for Him as the Source.
As I said, today I believe wholeheartedly in many different methods of healing, and I teach them here on my blog and in my private counseling and coaching. But if it isn’t all coming from Jesus as the Source … it’s just not going to have long-term transformative effective.
This spring, even as I’ve experienced a tremendous season of shedding in my life, I’ve also taken huge leaps forward. I’ve opened my heart back up to life and to really, truly, fully living in a place beyond fear. And this story means more than ever to me now.
Despite the continual uncertainties I live with as a single expat woman in an expensive Gulf country, where I’m dependent on my employer for my visa and have a lot of needs to meet with one paycheck each month, and a lot of other challenging circumstances in my life … I have total peace.
Why? Because Jesus is my Source. It’s touching His garment in faith that delivers everything I need …. physical, emotional and spiritual.
So ask yourself today, “Where is my dependence?”
Is it in the doctors and the treatment plan? Or the next ten-step healing program? Have you gotten so caught up in healing modalities and all the things you need to “do” to heal, that you’ve forgotten to go straight to the One Who wants to heal you from the inside-out, with complete victory and no residual “side effects?”
Perhaps at the most basic level, do you really, truly believe you can be healed at all?
That’s perhaps the most powerful thing about the woman’s story. Despite everything she had been through with doctors and treatment-induced poverty, she still believed it was possible to live completely free of the condition that was literally leeching her life source–her blood–out of her.
If she didn’t, she wouldn’t have gone through all that trouble to get to Jesus.
Healing from any condition only becomes possible on the day we take the limits off. And we do that by having faith in the Only One who truly Iives beyond the limits of this world.
When you do, you may not experience instaneous healing in your body, but you will begin an amazing process of healing that will lead you, step by step into a life beyond your “label” and a calling that overpowers your “condition.”
Touch the garment of Jesus. Let Him call out to you face-to-face, and you most certainly will find more freedom in your body, mind and emotions than you ever thought possible.
I know, because it happened to me.
When I let go of all he treatment plans, and decided I did really want to live beyond my condition, and that I believed Jesus could do it … things changed. Radically. My flow of pain became a flow of healing and power.
So can yours. The flow of blood …. or negative thoughts, or gastrointestinal pain, or emotional heartache … or whatever “issue” is robbing you of your life force today …. can become a flow of health, healing and purpose beyond your wildest dreams.
Jesus is passing by today, beautiful woman. Will you reach out to Him?
“Yes, God is more than ready to overwhelm you with every form of grace, so that you will have more than enough of everything–every moment and in every way. He will make you overflow with abundance in every good thing you do.” — 2 Corinthians 9:8 (Passion Translation)
Ever since I began intentionally cultivating my feminine energy, goal-setting has been difficult. It’s not that goals are bad, or that people (ie: women) strong in feminine energy can’t set them and knock them out. I know that’s absolutely not true. But there’s a discontentment in modern goal-setting that fuels a certain amount of pressure, and therefore, achievement.
Did you notice that every keyword in that sentence is more associated with masculine energy than feminine? Discontentment, fuel, pressure, achievement. Masculine energy pushes for something different. Feminine energy—properly channeled—has a deep, restful relationship with the present.
Masculine energy DOES. Feminine energy IS.
While you’re busy being present, it’s a whole lot harder to try to make something different in the future. Because when you’re happy and content in God now, living each moment to the fullest, the future takes care of itself. I have seen that over and over again.
Why is it that concept scares us so much? Even me, who’s done so much work to embrace “just being?”
I’m not sure, but I suspect our pursuit of what we think we lack has more to do with FOMO (fear of missing out) than it does of really wanting what we pursue.
Have you ever noticed that while FOMO may feel compelling, it doesn’t really feel very good?
I’ve been thinking a lot about that in relationship to marriage recently. Though I’ve embraced every other aspect of my life, singleness is still something I’ve worked hard to eliminate—though unsuccessfully to date. But if you look at my life, I actually spend a lot of time alone and am completely happy and totally renewed living this kind of life.
So why, exactly, am I so eager to change this estate that I’m in? Is it because I’m really called to be married—and I sense that deep down I’m supposed to contend for that gift—or is it because I’m 35, never experienced a happy marriage, and worry that if I don’t find it, I’ll miss out on one of life’s fundamental experiences.
The reality is, every woman of God I know well right now is experiencing deep trials in her marriage. I’m praying, counseling and contending with them all for breakthrough. All the while wondering where my Boaz is and all the while wondering, in addition, why on earth I would want the trials my friends are experiencing.
Because the visions of marriage I see in my head don’t include a spouse’s spiritual problems, radical shifts of perspective that happen after marriage, children with health problems or financial difficulties. And I’m sure they didn’t for my girlfriends, either, when they married the husband they have now, all of whom love God, but are deeply flawed human beings.
Funny how saying that changes see.
When I see marriage, I see victory and triumph—not the struggle that comes along with it. Which is what I already have in my single life, just in a different form. Yet when I think about being single, I fear that deep-down, I’m selfishly just passing time for myself and missing out on the “more” God might have for me.
We’re so terribly afraid of missing out on the more. So terribly afraid of settling. And so terribly afraid that our current reality is less than God intended for us.
Or is it just me who feels that way?
Last May, in the middle of a church service invitation, God spoke to me about Isaiah 43, in which He declares that He, the “God-of-Angel-Armies” as Isaiah often calls Him, is Israel’s husband and will care for them as such. The sermon was about the Book of Acts. It had absolutely nothing to do with God as a husband or the prophet Isaiah, yet God brought that passage to my mind and asked me a question so clear and startling, I looked around to see if anyone else might have heard it.
“Am I not Enough for you?”
He asked it several times, and in doing so, brought to mind all the ways He’s cared for me, cherished me and loved me as a good husband would. Does He have skin and a body, to hold me close and pleasure me in bed? No. But in almost every other way, He’s been a far superior husband than any human man would have been. (And I can say that as a woman who’s been in a deeply broken and unsatisfying marriage!)
Yesterday I was reminded of this again, as I pondered how much I love living alone, and wondering if, in embracing this path, I am closing myself off to the relationship God might still intend to send … which is not something I want to do.
But this blog is all about receiving God’s good gifts … so I want you to know, the struggle is real! I’m not always sure where contentment ends and settling begins, or where we’re so happy with what we have that we don’t contend and believe for more.
I can’t answer that question. But I do know last night as I was praying, I heard God say, “I AM ENOUGH.”
It was as clear and forceful as the day He asked, “Am I not Enough for you?” As if, nine months later, He had quit asking the question and was answering it for me, in case I hadn’t noticed.
Doug Addison, the noted Christian prophet, once said that prophecies often take nine months to birth, just like a human being. (I’ve always suspected that prophetic gifting, which flows and responds to the working of the Spirit in the moment, is heavily associated with feminine energy … but that’s another topic for another day.)
Anyway, if what Doug says is true, then this is the ninth-month birthing of that word God gave me nine months ago, even if it came in the form of a question. Interestingly, last August, a lady prophet in my church spoke the same over me before I left for Dubai, saying this would be the place I came to truly understand God as my husband.
She wrote the Scripture reference “Song of Solomon 2:8-17” on a coffee sleeve and handed it me before I left the church that night, the very last night I’d ever spend with my church family at Mercy Hill.
It’s hanging on my fridge right now. I look at it every day and ponder the meaning.
And yet I still secretly wonder if I’ve missed out on God’s best by “settling” for singleness.
Which leads me to suggest …. perhaps my focus is the problem. If the God-of-Angel-Armies is my Husband, and He is also Jehovah Jireh (Provider) and El Shaddai (sometimes translated “Enough,” could there ever be FOMO?
FOMO is me distrusting my own ability to know what’s best for me, and choose it.
What if I gave myself permission to enjoy my enjoyment of singleness, not fight it or stress about it, and trust that the God-of-Angel-Armies will change the situation when, and if, He chooses? After all, not much could possibly withstand an onslaught of Angels! 🙂
It’s important to caveat, of course, that a person can just be shut down and unreceptive to love—and this is at the root of many of our relationship problems and our sense of isolation or alienation. It’s important to suss out those blockages so we can allow God to clean them out and bless us with a flood of His love, peace and provision.
But happiness in your current estate is not a blockage to more happiness. And you’ll know when you’re truly contented in your estate—with a contentment from God—because there will be absolutely no anxiety around it.
FOMO is an awfully heavy burden to carry around everywhere. It’s fueled by fear, not by a healthy belief that God has more for me. And FOMO is not, by definition ENOUGH. In fact, it’s the very definition of lack. And lack is the enemy of feminine energy because when you live in a place of lack, you cannot, by definition, enjoy the present.
That’s not what I believe, or who I am.
If the God Who is called “ENOUGH” is my God, then the present is more than I need. And if that changes, He will change it for me.
That’s the essence of feminine energy. It’s the heartbeat of receptivity. And, unlike FOMO, it feels … good.
It takes a great deal of courage to tell your story.
In my old life, before Nothing, the suitcase and cross-continental moves, I used to do a lot of coaching for women. Telling your story was something I preached and taught. And to a certain extent, I lived it.
But I did not understand then what I have come to see since: that telling the story you have lived is so much easier than telling the story you are living.
When we start out on this journey, with God toward greater intimacy and vulnerability with others, it feels like a “big thing” to finally talk about the parts of our story we may have kept hidden for years.
I personally found it revolutionary to speak of the night God spoke to me in Tuscany, of my healing journey with sexual dysfunction and many other aspects of my story. Receiving love from others and knowing that they still cared for me despite what I had been through was revolutionary for me, given where I had come from.
Yes, vulnerability comes in layers. And telling the story of the past is one layer. If we are not willing to start there, we will never find any other form of intimacy in our lives.
There’s a leap that must be taken, and the leap from the past is perhaps the most accessible.
But telling the story of the present is another kind of leap entirely.
Intimacy with others—the healthy kind, where we feel truly seen and known and loved in spite of what has happened in our lives, and also because of it—is a such a rare gift. And it prepares us to get braver, say more and let others see more of us, too.
Though sharing the story of our past is indeed one powerful form of intimacy, it still allows us to stay hidden. We can craft a narrative of transformation and change which may be genuinely true … but enables us somehow to still avoid speaking about the mess we are currently facing.
The story of our past transformation, if we are not careful, can become a beautiful image that unlocks for us admiration, not connection.
There is a powerful difference between those two which I cannot overstate. But it’s taken me years to recognize it.
Admiration is an external quality. People stand beside or around us and gaze at us, loving the qualities which we have carefully put in front of them for their review. It’s a good healthy start to something more in a relationship … but it’s also just that. Only the start.
If our relationships never get past admiration—and that’s very easy, by the way, for those of us “good girls” who know how to placate everyone by doing what they want and need—they will perpetually leave us unsatisfied. Because admiration does not require true understanding, or a sense of empathy. It only requires awe.
Awe is so much easier to manufacture than understanding. Just ask any of the world’s dictators. Or celebrities…
Connection, on the other hand, is a much messier proposition. It requires a great deal more courage, because to speak of the mess that absorbed today, is a heck of a lot more challenging than to speak of the mess tha absorbed the last decade. Or even the last week.
As a writer, it’s easy for me to write about last week’s or last year’s or last decade’s mess. But to write about the tears I shed last night (yes, I actually did) over the love of my life I lost fifteen years ago? And the aching realization that I never …. really never …. got over that relationship?
And that at age 35, I have somehow only just realized I still desperately need the healing of Jesus for a huge mistake (which I could be so bold as to call it a “massive fuck-up”) that happened at age 20?
Dear God, save me from having to admit that to anyone.
And yet … I need to. And I did.
Because the story I lived is just my narrative. The story I am living now is my battleground. And wars are rarely won alone.
So maybe it’s time we stopped. Trying to win them alone, I mean.
Maybe it’s time that the story we lived becomes a platform for telling the story we are living. And that we recognize that all the wounds we drag ourselves back home with, and all the wounds that have never healed properly, whether from the actions of others or from all those “massive fuck-ups” of our own, are the very stuff of which real relationships are made.
When we refuse to share the story we are living, we cut ourselves off from having a warm hand in ours, and feeling the safety of a human hug, and the sweet relief of a voice that says, “Me too. I’m there also.”
At the end of the day, the only person who can deny us this sweet relief is … us.
The stories we choose to tell will determine how connected we feel. But perhaps the biggest mistake of all is not to realize that you can tell your story, and still stay completely hidden.
Maybe it’s time we came out from hiding behind our stories of triumph.
The unfinished, unedited next chapter is so much more powerful.