It seems a bit heavy to keep plodding along this path of bondage. My heart wants to jump to the freedom portion. But I need to remember the reason for sharing my story is to boast in just how patient and just how good my Father is. Not at one point did He “throw in the towel” and tell me “have it your way.” He is good. He did not answer my cry for help the first time, nor was it the hundredth time. Maybe it was the thousandth prayer He answered. I’m not really sure. But what I do know is that He is the One who delivers. He is my Deliverer, and He is your deliverer.
As my second year as a bulimic came to a close, I become anxious to be one of those “quick-deliverance” stories. I knew they existed. I knew God could do it, and that He had done so in the lives of others. But I had to learn that the quick deliverance does not make the long-awaited deliverance any less of a real deliverance. Even if we carry bulimia to the grave, if we are crying out, “I believe; help my unbelief!” then our deliverance story finds its exclamation point as we finally fall before the feet of Jesus, face to face.
I was getting good at feeling good when I tried to hurt others with my words, and the only one on whom I released my masochistic form of coping was my husband. Before I go any further I need to tell some of Jeff’s story.
I tried my very best to do anything and everything to make Jeff angry or upset with me. But he never was. Not once. Not ever. And that infuriated me. Again and again my attempts to find Jeff’s Achilles heel fell short. But it didn’t keep me from trying. I almost hesitated in writing this next paragraph. I keep asking myself what the benefit of sharing all my attempts to hurt Jeff emotionally would be, and then I am reminded again that Jeff’s goodness and graciousness to me was but the goodness and grace of God.
So bare with me in this post. Look through squinted eyes if you must. It is hard for me to “watch” this part too.
I ripped to shreds and threw in the toilet a beautiful love letter that Jeff had written to me. He had cut a heart shape out of paper and had written a long note, in tiny words wrapped around and around, following the shape of the heart, so that the end of the letter ended in the middle of the heart. After watching him reemerge from the bathroom where I had blatantly thrown it, he simply walked upstairs, quietly shut the guest bedroom door and began playing his guitar and singing hymns to Jesus.
While staying at someone’s house for the night, not being able to handle Jeff’s love for other people and joy in being with others, I silently ripped up his Bible, the only English Bible he used, the Bible he had for seven years and where he made all of his notes, in many pieces. After making sure he saw what I had done, I rejoined the company with robust happiness and enthusiasm; again, all in the hope of cutting him to the heart. He just smiled at me and held the hand that I pretended wanted to hold his.
I rarely ate dinner with him. I’d often put it on the table and say I was going somewhere, never telling him where. I’d go days without saying one word to him or acknowledging his presence. When he said he loved my hair, I went and grabbed my desk scissors and cut off as much as I could. He said, with the greatest of sincerity and compassion, that he liked me with short hair. I tell you these things to paint a picture of the kindness of God towards me through Jeff. Jeff was for me a living message of God’s forgiveness and mercy. And while I made our first year of marriage as horrible as I could, I had never in my life before tasted such deep love as Jeff showed to me. Enjoying Jeff was like trying to hold sand with opened fingers. The gift that God had given to me in him, I had kicked to the wayside. And through it all, Jeff showed me the riches of Christ.
As I had mentioned in the post prior, I praise God for my work at the Christian School, during that time. It kept me praying and it kept me in His Word. In between class periods I would quickly text Jeff asking his forgiveness, and it was because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit through the prayers and studying the Bible with my students. While battles were being fought, the fact that I was not “getting beyond bulimia” played terrible tricks on my mind. If I battled bulimia, I needed to defeat it. But my bulimia was dragging on. There was no category in my mind for a believer who battled day after day without apparent progress. Once again, this belief kept me bound to pulling myself up by my own bootstraps. The tears that slid down my face at night were always over my unanswered question, and a question that I was too scared and too ashamed to ask anyone else. Was there such a thing as a believing bulimic? I was overwhelmed by a battle whose ending was nowhere in sight.
I did not understand that the battle to be fought was not “just stop it,” but rather, “See Jesus!” The battle that needed to be waged was not in white-knuckling my way through life without purging. It was rather being caught up in the power of a greater affection. My heart needed the gospel story. It needed to hear again the Words of my Deliverer, “Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’” (Luke 7:48)