September 27, 2007

Follow Up

After my post, Songs of Time, I had the most incredible experience. Of course, there was no one awake, so there was no one to share it with, but I thought I'd e-mail Abbi... because I wanted to tell someone.

My E-Mail—"I just wrote a really long blog post about my recovery from self-injury, and where I am now in relation to that-- it talked about how every phase of my recovery drew a picture of who God would later become in my life. I've been healed from a lot of things lately... mostly things that were residue left over from self-injury... my hatred for BLANK, my barriers I've built between BLANK and me, my whole eating disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and so many other things. I have been completely healed, and I am so beyond rejoicing... I can't even describe it. Well... as I was writing this blog post, I was listening to Jars of Clay's song, Worlds Apart, and I was in a really worshipful mood. I decided that, since I hadn't done my quiet time, I would read at least a chapter. I remembered a verse in Isaiah 51 that God revealed to me when I was about 14, and right at the brink of my whole bout with self-harm. Until tonight, I thought it was just a cool, powerful verse, especially for someone struggling with an oppressive addiction. The verse is:

14. The cowering prisoners will soon be set free;
they will not die in their dungeon,
nor will they lack bread.

Of course, when I was 14, this was a comfort for me... and since tonight, I was sort of walking through things that helped me along in my recovery, I thought I would read the verse, but I ended up reading the entire chapter up until verse 16.

1 "Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the LORD : Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn;
2 look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many.
3 The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.
4 "Listen to me, my people; hear me, my nation: The law will go out from me; my justice will become a light to the nations.
5 My righteousness draws near speedily, my salvation is on the way, and my arm will bring justice to the nations. The islands will look to me and wait in hope for my arm.
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.
7 "Hear me, you who know what is right, you people who have my law in your hearts: Do not fear the reproach of men or be terrified by their insults.
8 For the moth will eat them up like a garment; the worm will devour them like wool. But my righteousness will last forever, my salvation through all generations."
9 Awake, awake! Clothe yourself with strength, O arm of the LORD; awake, as in days gone by, as in generations of old. Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces, who pierced that monster through?
10 Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made a road in the depths of the sea so that the redeemed might cross over?
11 The ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
12 "I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mortal men, the sons of men, who are but grass,
13 that you forget the LORD your Maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth, that you live in constant terror every day because of the wrath of the oppressor, who is bent on destruction? For where is the wrath of the oppressor?
14 The cowering prisoners will soon be set free; they will not die in their dungeon, nor will they lack bread.
15 For I am the LORD your God, who churns up the sea so that its waves roar— the LORD Almighty is his name.
16 I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand— I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, 'You are my people.' "

As I read the last verse, I realized that God didn't give me that verse to help me to recover, even if it was a comfort. He place the verse in my heart as a foreshadowing of the journey He would take me on. Every verse describes perfectly the story of my recovery... the entire passage echoes a promise of preservation that I always felt in my bones, even if I couldn't see it at times. I bawled as I read it... I mean... happy, smiling, sobbing, gut wrenching, bawling...

I don't know if this makes sense to you... but I have never felt so personally close to God.. like, He literally touched my heart with this passage, and rewound my memory to the first time I read it... when I was 14, sitting in the backyard of our house in Staunton, my Bible and sketchbook open.... scouring everything I could (my heart, nature, scripture...) for some shred of who God wanted me to be... Six years later, after refining me, reviving me, and restoring me, He brings up this passage again and reveals my exact identity... " I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand— I who set the heavens in place, who laid the foundations of the earth, and who say to Zion, 'You are my people.' " "

At church on Saturday, Isaiah was again placed before me, only this was a word of knowledge, given to me as a means of encouragement. It was a personalized mission for me, reminding me that I am the perfect example of how God heals an addiction, and that there are still many "cowering prisoners" who are dealing with such things as cutting and eating disorders who do not know the healing power of Christ.

"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair."

September 24, 2007

I now have an official website for my bookstore. The inventory is still small, but I thought I'd share a link with the world.

Shylock's Daughter Booksellers

September 21, 2007

Songs of time

A lot of times, it seems like I am living my life through song lyrics. Tonight, I decided to take a stroll down memory lane by listening to all of the music I listened to when I was still self-injuring, recovering from it, and even some of my modern music. By doing this, I realized how much music marked my life, and how much of a voice it gave me. Doing this also gave me a glimpse of something that I have been personally rejoicing lately-- healing... complete, beautiful, sing-at-the-top-of-your-lungs healing of everything in me.

In the past year or so, God has picked one thing after another to remove from me and cleanse out of my life. I have finally been freed of so many things-- self-hatred, grudges held against those who have hurt me in the past, my compulsiveness, my obsessiveness, my pretentiousness, my disordered eating, living under deception, the fear of not being good enough....

All of these things and more have disappeared from my life, and it never felt like a gradual thing. It was more like.... one morning, I woke up and I felt no resentment toward a certain person, and I felt no bitterness or pain when I thought of another. Another morning, I woke up and had no desire to control my food intake, nor did I care if other people saw me eating, nor did I care if other people looked at me and said "how'd she get to be THAT big??". And another morning, I woke up knowing that despite who I am, who God is never changes, so I will always be good enough to do His will. And still another morning, I woke up and realized that I didn't have to be afraid of holding a conversation with another person, because my mind worked coherently and I was lucid... no problems with my memory or with expressing myself verbally.

I was healed. I am healed.

And now, as I sit here listening to the music of my past, I realize that God brought me through every phase of my addiction in perfect order, so as not to leave out any experience that I would later rejoice in having because it gives an inexplicable portrait of who God has become in my life.

Even in the stage where I could not find words for my pain or emotions, God drew out my emotions with words in the form of lyrics or poetry. This was the phase where you just have to take every emotion as it is, and force yourself to feel it... and if you can't do that, to have to at least describe what it looks like to you. The line "Time doesn't always heal, it just breathes and swallows memories" describe perfectly the feeling of hopelessness, or the feeling of helplessness of the phase. Where you have the emotions, but no where to put them, so they sit with you, on you, in you, and you just sit and wait for release as time breathes and swallows memories, cradling you with its rise and fall of breath.

The next phase is the beginning of recovery, though it never really feels like it. It's the time where you find a healthy release of emotions. My release (the only true release) was found in God. I was a mess... it felt like I was metaphorically bleeding out all of my emotions that I had pent up or never recognized as valid. Completely, wholeheartedly bleeding myself dry of emotions. I would cry out to God, "You're all I want, You're all I need, You're everything, everything", and plead for Him to "usher me down". I would sit alone in a room, trying to stay perfectly still so as to restrain myself from self injuring, the lights out, music blaring, and my body shaking... feeling "the weight of loving all the things you hate", and praying that somewhere beyond the mess I was in, God was going to restore me into something He could use.

And He did restore me, but not until after I felt the dryness of the next phase. After all of my emotions had run up, and I knew that I was beyond the habit of literal self-harm, I had a deep feeling of inadequacy. This is not the sort that everyone should rightly feel in light of who God is, it is a lie... it is the feeling that something YOU have done will eternally and irreparably hinder God's use of you. So often, I'd find myself singing to God-- "Daddy, daddy do you miss me-- The way I crawled upon your knee? Those childish games of hide and seek seem a million miles away. Am I lost in some illusion, or am I what you thought I'd be? Now it seems I've found myself in need to be forgiven. Is there still room upon that knee?", and wanting more than anything the child-like relationship I had once shared with my Holy Father. Instead, I felt as though my sorrow's absence left my life with no meaning, and more than anything, with no feeling.

After two or three years of the third phase... the dry spell, if you will, God finally gave me the restoration I had so longed for. He provided me with a true Church family. He revealed to me multiple passions that I had so longed to see, and more than anything, He revived my heart and is continually romancing me and drawing me to love and want Him more. The only lyrics I can think of to describe this glorious phase even in the least bit are as follows:

"Free from the worry,
Free from the dark that lives in me.
Free to embark on the passion
You've favorably fashioned in me."
And now, as I stand here, completely incomplete, but completely assured in the fact that my sins have been cast as far as the east is from the west, I can find no words to express my gratitude and love for my rescuer, but I daily repeat the prayer, " More and more, I need You now. I owe You more each passing hour. The battle between grace and pride, I gave up not so long ago. So steal my heart and take the pain, wash my feet and cleanse my pride. Take the selfish, take the weak, and all the things I cannot hide. take the beauty, take my tears... the sin-soaked heart and make it Yours take my world all apart. take it now, take it now and serve the ones that I despise, speak the words I can't deny, watch the world I used to love fall to dust and thrown away."

September 14, 2007

Reasons Why

Where am I today? I wish that I knew
'Cause looking around there's no sign of You
I don't remember one jump or one leap
Just quiet steps away from Your lead
I'm holding my heart out but clutching it too
Feeling this short of a love that we once knew
I'm calling this home when it's not even close
Playing the role with nerves left exposed
Standing on a darkened stage, stumbling through the lines
Others have excuses, but I have my reasons why
We get distracted by dreams of our own
But nobody's happy while feeling alone
And knowing how hard it hurts when we fall
We lean another ladder against the wrong wall
And climb high to the highest rung, to shake fists at the sky
While others have excuses, I have my reasons why
With so much deception it's hard not to wander away
It's hard not to wander away It's hard not to wander away
nickel creek
"To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen."
Jude 1:24&25

September 04, 2007

I don't really have a lot to say after my trip, except that... when you decide to stop reading George Orwell somewhere between Chicago, Illinois and Holland, Michigan, and you pray to God that He removes your short-sightedness, He'll back up your memory until the time that you're 12 years-old, signing up for an online e-mail pen-pal website and planting a seed that will turn out to be a life-changing experience.

God grows some beautiful things, truly.

... and I finally got to give her a real hug. :)

On Aprils

Ten years ago, I sat in the dining hall of a Christian camp. A man my father's age sat with me. It was April, and I had no idea... I had...