I was so thankful my mom was able to arrive at Fort Bragg, NC just a couple days before I gave birth to Haddie. Though I had never brought up the topic of bulimia with my mom directly, I knew she knew, and I was ready and waiting for a good time to talk to her. I had no hope this time around that this birth would bring about my desired change. I knew I needed help. Within 24 hours of my mom’s arrival, we were in the hospital.
Pain like I had never known before was eclipsed by the words, “It’s a girl!” As I held my little girl, I wondered why God chose to give us another girl – girls that I prayed would never go down the paths I had. How could I keep them safe? How could I teach them to treasure Jesus? How could I make the idols of this world appear deaf and dumb? And how could I do this when my own life was preaching something different?
Right before my mom left to go back to Illinois, we were sitting in the living room. As she was smiling at her newest granddaughter, I took a deep breath and went for it.
“I don’t know what to do … I can’t stop.” That was all I had to say.
I remember the mixture of pain and relief that crossed my mom’s face – pain for my suffering and relief that I had spoken. I too was relieved and yet scared that this somehow meant I had failed as a Christian. Jeff’s deployment to Iraq was four months away, and I would be moving back near my mom and dad. She said she would love to find someone who could help me (counseling), and she would love to watch the girls during the sessions.
And so, while Jeff and I sought to enjoy our remaining four months together, my mom arranged things with a counselor, and I felt like help was on its way. Maybe, once helped, I could slip back unnoticed into being a “good” Christian. Maybe, after I was all fixed, Jesus and I could pick up where we left off last. Maybe it was all just a bad dream, and once this issue was taken care of, I would have what I had before with Jesus. But God’s purpose was never to take me back to where I was before bulimia. What He was getting me ready for was a vision of Himself that far surpassed anything I had before. Haddie’s birth story held the contrasts of going from the most excruciating pain of childbirth to the highest heights of bursting joy. That was a picture of what lay ahead. I had struggled, wrestled, and gnawed at my bulimic chain on my own for long enough. I tried bringing Jesus into an equation of my own making, and that having “failed,” I was now ready for someone else to help me. Ashamed and embarrassed, I thought it was without Jesus this time, but my freedom was never more so bound up in Him. Jesus was not interested in helping me get better; He wanted to save me. He wanted to save me from myself, and what I thought I had to offer. He is in the business of saving people who have nothing to give and nothing to prove. Jesus was faithfully bringing me to the end of my “just stop it” and “just try harder” mentality. Like Lucy (from the Chronicles of Narnia), groping in the darkness, certain she would find the back of the wardrobe, I thought I knew what the end would look like, the end of my bulimic story (that is, if the counselor stuff worked). It was something as normal and regular as the back of a wardrobe. But that was not the story He was writing. For a little while longer, I found myself heading further into the darkness, but soon, I would step deeper into a world of grace, kindness, and mercy that I never would have, had I not gone through the darkness.