Aubrey’s Story #12: Bulimia and Sheep

Happy Easter, friends!!! I could not put up today’s post without shouting out “Christ is risen!” May your Easter be filled with adoration for the One who has finished our race perfectly! It is finished. Our race has been won. And so we run, not as those without hope, but as those who are more than conquerors in Christ! Our race has found its completion in Him, and we find ourselves partakers in His victory lap. Halleluiah, what a Savior!

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Throughout high school I had the opportunity to take care of my family’s little herd of sheep, located in the rolling hills of Elizabeth, Il. Regardless of weather, every evening you would find me strolling down from our house (that sits up high on a large wooded hill), belting out a song. Hearing my song, they would lift their heads up from grazing, come lolloping up the pasture, and head into the safety of the pen. I sang that same song every night for five years. “Come, Ye Sinners, Poor and Needy.” It seemed fitting. “If you tarry till you’re better, you will never come at all.” On occasion we would have a sheep that could physically not make it into the pen. My heart would ache as I walked down to them, knowing it was never a good sign if they couldn’t get up…

“If you tarry till you’re better, you will never come at all.” Recently in church a few weeks ago, my husband and I exchanged knowing glances as we sang those words. THAT is my story. That is my song…(oh dear, I feel myself drifting into another hymn…). We’ve sung that song in our churches for years. I sung it hundreds of times to my sheep. And yet, rewinding back to my believing-bulimic self, sitting in the pew, there was something that held me back, something that kept me “tarrying.”

After Jeff’s return from Haiti, I continued to seek his help in very roundabout ways. My desire for outside help intensified as I found out I was pregnant, because I no longer had hope that pregnancy would change anything. I remember my cheeks burning as I found a pamphlet lying on the kitchen table labeled “Eating Disorders.” It was put out by CCEF and was one of the many pamphlets with which Jeff stocked his bookshelf for his soldiers outside his office. I eagerly took it and hid it in my top dresser drawer, waiting to read it later.

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***Aubrey’s family in NC after Haiti***

During my pregnancy with Haddie (at this point I had been bulimic for about three ½ years), I was invited to join a Bible study with three other women. They were strong, beautiful, Christian women, all struggling with different battles of their own. I drew strength and courage from their willingness to share their own “thorn in the flesh.” And it was with them, for the first time, I officially shared my struggle and asked for prayer. And so they prayed for me. After a week passed, we got back together, and I was naturally asked how it went that week. People-pleaser that I was, I quickly said, “It has gone a little better.” And maybe it had, I rationalized in my mind. I mean, they were praying for me. Some progress had to be made, right? The same scene played out each time we met. And as the weeks of our Bible study went by, I began to realize that their prayers were praying someone out of the bondage of bulimia, and that someone wasn’t me. I felt pressured (not by them!!!) to prove that “prayer changes things.” Would they be disappointed in me? Would they be disappointed in God???

I came out of that Bible study tasting the bitter dust of defeat. My “before and after measurements” for Christian growth had not budged. There was no improvement. No progress. It was almost the same feeling one can have after a failed diet. I went into the Bible study thinking it would be a success if I came out bulimia-free. I took the word “success” and infused it with my own meaning. The equation for success looked something like this.

Bible Study + Prayers = Success (Not purging)

I was continually trying to “give Jesus a chance” to prove Himself victor through either the new circumstances or new motivational opportunities I provided. On paper, my various formulas for “success” looked good. But slowly, Jesus was showing me the equation had EVERYTHING to do with HIM, and Him alone.

Jesus + Nothing= Everything

Sharing with those Bible study women was a huge first step for me, but I kept waiting to get better. And the waiting was killing me, in more ways than one. Once I was better, I would go to Jesus. This seems to be one of Satan’s most powerful tactics to keep us from enjoying a relationship with Christ. As the hymnist wrote, I would indeed never come at all if I “tarried” till I was “better.”

But, what I failed to see was that Jesus is better. He is all the ‘better” I need. That was the message that came pounding down on me in the moment God delivered me a couple years later. I could come in the midst of my darkest day of bulimia…because Jesus. I could come with my cheeks that were beginning to be “chimpmunk-ish” from all of the times my hand had gone into my mouth. I could come with my hair starting to fall out from malnutrition. I could come with the tooth-scarred knuckle on my right ring finger from all the times my tooth had rubbed against it. I could come, because Jesus. “Jesus, ready stands to save you, full of pity, love, and power.” But because I wasn’t getting better, I continued to tarry. And slowly, steadily, like the days that I used to walk down towards a motionless sheep in the pasture below, my Jesus was coming.

One thought on “Aubrey’s Story #12: Bulimia and Sheep

  1. We all have our ‘demons’ that we fight with. Rationalizing and bargaining with ourselves and God. It’s a fine line and hard for all of us to let God take hold. Some of us still struggle.
    Love you!

    Liked by 1 person

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