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  • Writer's pictureSue Bowles

Honestly Speaking…

When I suggested the theme ‘Coming Out of the Dark’ last week I had something specific in mind as it was something I was struggling with. As tempting as it would be to make this post about anything else I am sticking to my original thought, because Francesca Battistelli says it best in her song ‘If We’re Honest’. There are so many other songs I could reference…and probably will. But that one’s a great starting point. It goes right with this verse that’s been on my mind:

“Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part you shall make me to know wisdom.” – Psalm 51:6

“If We’re Honest”

Truth is harder than a lie The dark seems safer than the light And everyone has a heart that loves to hide I’m a mess and so are you We’ve built walls nobody can get through Yeah, it may be hard, but the best thing we could ever do, ever do

[Chorus:] Bring your brokenness, and I’ll bring mine ‘Cause love can heal what hurt divides And mercy’s waiting on the other side If we’re honest

If we’re honest

Don’t pretend to be something that you’re not Living life afraid of getting caught There is freedom found when we lay Our secrets down at the cross, at the cross [Chorus]It would change our lives It would set us free It’s what we need to be

If there’s one thing I’ve learned – or am learning – the last 18 months since God started me on my Ragamuffin Adventure it’s the power of the story. Specifically, our stories. Your story. My story. That has not been an easy thing to wrap my heart around. When life has hit you so many times in so many ways a lot of false beliefs, fears, and coping mechanisms become ‘natural.’ Very hard to see how unhealthy they are….because….honestly speaking….you’re not sure what ‘healthy’ means no less what it looks like….and you CERTAINLY don’t believe it can be a reality in your own life!

My journey started with coming to grips with my story….having to face it….for some things admit them for what they are and not the watered down

‘it really didn’t bother me’ smoke screen that I portrayed. Other parts of my story were being revealed as I dug deeper. And the pain ravaged my heart at times. And then those pesky things called emotions started to make an entrance….and since part of my story involves how good I became at NOT feeling emotions, the process (OH how I used to ABHOR that word!) doubled in its intensity. Fighting through to the other side meant identifying things I had disguised most of my life. So my head and heart were spinning like I’ve never before known. It was everything I could do to keep going through it all and not revert back to the safety of my delusions….my lies. Once I started to think that it might be possible for me to hope that there might be a chance for relief from the internal hell that was erupting inside….something wouldn’t let go….something wanted more…..hope birthed energy….which birthed courage….which birthed more honesty….and more boldness….and more trust….and more belief…..and REAL hope worked its way through the crevices and my story was born. Or more accurately, I embraced my story and started to let God use it in my life and the lives of others.

That entire journey has been a wild one but one that has brought permanent change to me. Folks who haven’t seen me for a few months see the difference. I am told I look peaceful. I FEEL peaceful! There is a freedom I’ve not known until now. BUT….God’s not done. And it’s the next phase of the journey I need to share. And it’s not easy. I could EASILY make this about anything else than its original intent. But if I truly trust God….if I truly believe He is at work in me….if I truly believe He wants to recreate me and then use me….if I truly believe He’s writing this story for more than just me…..then I have no choice but to get up off the bench where I’ve been catching my breath, lace up the shoes I had kicked off to relax a bit, pick up the gear and start moving again.

I fight denial and downplaying. “It’s not that bad.” “I have it under control.” “I can handle it.” “It’s no big deal. I’ve made it this far in life….why change it now?” Sound familiar? Anyone who has known anyone with an addiction sees the red flags from the first 4 words. What am I having to face? I’m an addict. But it’s not in the way you typically think of addicts. I’m addicting to ‘avoiding’ something. I have a food addiction….an eating disorder….and I am addicted to avoiding food. Now I’m not starving. I get my yearly check ups and all my blood work is fine. I am a healthy weight. In fact to look at me you would never know. And that’s part of my problem. I buy into the lie of “I don’t look like I struggle with anorexia.” But I do. If you got to know me on a deeper level you would see it….or I would tell you. Because I’ve come to grips with the ‘mental ascent’ side of it. I know some things that trigger me and I know when it’s winning the war in the mind. Of particular struggle is looking in the fridge and being overwhelmed with having to make a choice of what to pack for lunch. So I shut the door, go to my ‘quick fix’ of buying pizza or a sub – or just snacking and not eating anything of consequence, spend more money and hurt the budget, and survive another day. My big issue is I just snack most of the time…it keeps me from feeling ‘too’ hungry and making me make a choice of what to eat. And of course that means junk food. Cha-ching goes the budget. Again. You get the picture.

So what I am having to face is the fact that I DON’T have it under control and that it again controls me. I had a period of YEARS when eating wasn’t an issue at all. And then in 2008 it decided to raise its ugly head again. A BUNCH of unresolved issues had found an escape hatch….much like my tooth infection finally found a way to show itself through the blister on my gum (and now I get to have a root canal reworked or a tooth extracted….whichever the docs decide). Somehow it always finds its way out.

You see up until now I’ve always associated my ‘weird eating patterns’ with other stuff I’ve had to deal with from my past. I’ve been known to tell others ‘it’s a weird, warped and wacked out world in the mind of a person with an eating disorder.’ I’ve even gone so far as to tell folks I have had ‘anorexic tendencies’ since college. But it ended there. Those who show their ignorance of ‘well just eat’ have little room on my patience scale. I’m having to face the eating disorder as a separate entity. Because it ‘went away’ (or in remission) for a number of years I just always thought it would settle down again when all the other stuff gets resolved. Until a few weeks ago when my counselor helped me see it as two separate entities. So I’m still wrapping my head around that.

It was ‘kind of okay’ for it be a ‘byproduct’ of the other stuff….that was understandable. But to be a separate entity means I have to pay more attention to it. I have to recognize it’s its own animal with a life of its own. And now I have to fight 2 things and not just thing 1 with a shadow.

And that is where I’m ‘coming out of the dark.’ I was heard to say recently ‘coming out as an addict is quite the challenge.’ That is what I liken it to. All the steps of AA or any other recovery based program come to life in this. And what is step 1? Acknowledged powerlessness. Yeah. About that. My pride likes to get in the way….but I’m further than I was before. I have struggled with the word ‘recovery’ and how I didn’t need to be in recovery. Still not sure where I am with that one. Still not sure where I am with a LOT of this. But I’m moving forward. “Right feelings follow right behavior” as a former pastor used to say.

What kicked all this was the recommendation to get a dietician involved to help get my eating back on track. Some more direct accountability is needed and better nutrition is needed. “Man cannot live on pizza and subs alone.” Or chips….Oreos….candy….and anything else that curbs the hunger but doesn’t give REAL nutrition. Getting to the point of contacting dieticians for information was hell in the brain for a week and what led to me suggesting this blog theme. I had shared with my trusted friends from the retreat who encouraged and prayed (they already knew – I told them before retreat because I feared eating in front of them). And God did His thing. So now I’m on the other side of ‘that’ wall and have made contact with some folks. And learned that fighting with insurance to get ‘excluded’ things included is more than a lesson in patience! No luck with getting it approved. Yet. Time to take it to the next level.

So I am in the ebb and flow of growth. Still a lot of fighting going on. Still a lot of resistance. Still a LOT of downplaying and denial. I had to ‘come out of the dark’ for many reasons….and all of them come back to me. God wants truth in the ‘innermost parts’ and that means the head and heart have to coincide. My heart knows there are issues and my heart is tired of playing the games and wants relief. My head has to get wrapped around the truth that there is ‘yet another’ area needing God’s touch. And my head has to remember that just as God got me through everything else the last 18 months He will be faithful to do the same with this. Because HE’S the one that started it anyway!

As I have been on the journey of embracing my story over the last 18 months I began writing a book about my story. And I am writing it with the mindset that ‘someone in Utah will read my book.’ It’s not for me. Well…it is, but with larger implications. Because one thing I’ve learned on this Ragamuffin Journey is that God doesn’t do anything to keep it under a bushel. He wants it to be used to glorify Him, to shine the light on Him, to encourage others and bring others the next step down the road to Him. Or as my church says ‘helping others take their next step toward Jesus Christ….together.’ And so it’s with THAT mentality that I come out of the dark. Yes I will benefit as it lowers the cloak of denial and downplaying and helps me face it all the more. There is much stigma to fight through. It’s not an easy journey. It’s not easy to lay bare my soul before the entire internet world. But I believe it’s what God wants to do. The title of this blog is ‘Following Christ through the good, the bad, and the ugly made beautiful.’ This blog is small chapters of my life’s journey. It’s for others and it’s for God. I believe God wants to use me – and my story – to reach others. And it starts now.

The message of this song has brought new meaning to me lately…’My Story’ by Big Daddy Weave. I want this to be my story….that you, me, we, us, them….would see His grace which is greater than all my sin. It is ONLY His fierce and tenacious love and belief in me that won’t let me give up on me. I pray as I walk this journey THAT is the story you hear and read on the pages of this blog. Thanks for helping me shine light in the darkness.

“My Story”

If I told you my story You would hear hope that wouldn’t let go If I told you my story You would hear love that never gave up If I told you my story You would hear life but it wasn’t mineIf I should speak then let it beOf the grace that is greater than all my sin Of when justice was served and where mercy wins Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in To tell you my story is to tell of HimIf I told you my story You would hear victory over the enemy If told you my story You would hear freedom that was won for me If I told you my story You would hear life overcome the graveIf I should speak then let it be

This is my story this is my song praising my Savior all the day long

Be sure to check out the thoughts of my fellow bloggers, Jenn and Leisa, at and respectively

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