After our honeymoon we began to set up our lives in a chicken coop. The principal of the Christian school where both of us were teaching (Jeff, part-time and I, full-time) was gracious enough to let us live for free in their chicken coop. It was a tiny, endearing, whitewashed building. We like to joke about our humble beginnings.
Just prior to our wedding, I remember the principal of the school asking me into her office, wondering how I was managing taking care of myself in light of the stresses of first year teaching and planning a wedding. I knew it had to do with my weight loss. I kindly made the usual excuses of “being so excited” that I lost some of my appetite and so forth. I loved her for reaching out to me, but I softly closed the door of help she so kindly opened up to me.
It was one of God’s most gracious gifts to me to be a junior high Bible teacher at that time. Ironically, I often thought of how horrified I would be as a parent, if I learned that my daughter’s junior high Bible teacher was a bulimic. In any case, I tasted His goodness daily as I opened up the Bible with those precious kids, memorized passages of Scripture with them, and prayed my come-to-be signature long prayers at the beginning of class. Little did they know it, but I needed my students far more than they needed me. For their sakes, I kept studying the Word daily, and it was the prayers I prayed at the beginning of each class that were the only prayers in my life where I still tasted His love and forgiveness for me. I remember frantically trying to text my husband as fast as I could in between classes, asking his forgiveness for whatever I had done the night before. The only time I had with the Lord was the time I had with those kids. While preaching the sweet gospel to those students, I longed to feel worthy enough myself to embrace my own words. But the seeming hypocrisy of my own life kept me weak and frightened. How was it that I could speak of the glories of Christ during one class period and run to the bathroom during the next! I was tortured by the question of whether the finger of mine that pointed to Christ was, at the same time, the very finger that was my one-way ticket to hell. For the finger that pointed to Christ in the classroom pointed down my throat in the secret places.
I was painfully tormented by what a horrible message I was living out before my students, especially during lunch period. And so I did my best to hide it. I tried to hide what I was or wasn’t eating in a large thermos, and if I were feeling particularly brave, I would force myself to eat a whole 60-calorie yogurt. Why, you might ask, do I go into all these small details? The reason, for me, is significant. The reason for detailing the details is because God wants to be in and over the details of our lives, and I excruciatingly felt the shame of God not being in mine.
I hardly dared to believe the gospel that I spoke to my students could be for a “self-inducing vomit-er” like me. But, only because of His mercy, did I dare to dare. I dared to hope. I dared to believe as I heard the words spoken from the pulpit on Sundays week after week. I dared to believe as I led my junior highers in prayer every morning. I dared to believe as I sung at church the rich truths of the gospel. I dared to believe, all the while crying, “Help my unbelief!”
If you find yourself trapped, if you find yourself in a seemingly endless cycle of addiction, if you find yourself day after day head in the toilet … dare to believe. Dare to believe the gospel. Dare to call God, “Father.” Dare to run to Jesus, puke-stained face and all. Don’t wait till you are “doing better.” Don’t wait till you have gone a length of time “without.” Dare to believe when you have nothing.
I will continue my story soon. Until then, believe in the One who is perfect for you. His name is Jesus.
***This post is dedicated to all my dear students. I enjoyed almost every moment with you ;0) You were God’s gift to me during that time. I pray this post finds each of you, and encourages you to keep on believing through whatever battles you are going through.