Self Care: Taking Care of God’s Temple

As I work through some recovery issues around my weight loss, I’m forced to think about how I take care of my body or, really, how I don’t take care of it.  For the last week I’ve been doing a “cleanse” and I’m walking through it like a “fast” (which I’ve never done). It’s been amazing to see what God is doing in my life, and I’ll share more on that later.

As a new member in Celebrate Recovery I’ve connected with so many fellow believers who are working such an awesome program.  I’ve even found a sponsor and she’s challenged me to put the “fears” and “what if” away as I walk this journey…it’s scary…it’s vulnerable…but it feels so right.

My sponsor recommended I watch a few videos from Gateway Church. I’d never heard of this church, but I’ve been impressed with what I’ve learned so far.  She recommended that I listen to the sermon entitled,  Taking Care of the Temple.  WOW!  It was POWERFUL for me!!!  NOTE: There is also a “worksheet” to go along with this one– you’ll find it here:  Taking Care of the Temple (discussion guide).

This video helped me so much and I’d recommend it for anyone who has ever struggled with self-perception, for anyone who has ever looked at a body part and felt any sort of ‘dislike’, or for anyone who is going through any medical situation. Powerful stuff!

I’ve often had issues with ‘loving’ my body and realizing that I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14) in Christ’s likeness. I know that in my head, but in my heart, it’s hard to ‘believe and own.  Through Christ, I’m being healed.

I discovered many of my “hangups” are from the hurts during childhood (living with an alcoholic father, living with foster families and in group homes).  Through this video I also learned  that if there is an area where I struggle and I have a way of thinking that is contrary to God’s way of thinking, I’ve left an open door for the enemy. The big lesson for me  is that my lack of self-confidence and lack of self-care is an open door for the enemy where he is able to create a stronghold in me. WOW!  I’m realizing that I’ve personally opened this door of weight struggles and allowed Satan to use them to keep me stuck in ‘victim land’.

This was powerfully moving for me and I am excited share it. I’m excited about this new way of thinking and I know it will help me grow stronger in my recovery and in trusting Christ for HIS power, strength and will!

If you want to, watch the video.  Then, will you please share your thoughts?  I’d love to hear about your experience, strength and hope.

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Christ-Centered Recovery

It’s no secret that I struggle with my weight — and have all my life.  It’s no wonder with all the abandonment, abuse, and confidence issues in my life.   Even with all the healing I’ve had from therapy, I feel like I’ve reached a “stand off” and I’m stuck – I can’t seem to get to the root of why I don’t work harder to lose weight.  Many times through my therapy, it was suggested that I attend a 12-step program.  I tried it, but I always had a difficult time keeping my higher power “anonymous”.  It just didn’t feel legitimate to me if I couldn’t own Him.  After all, my faith in Christ was the main catalyst for my healing so far.

A year ago our church began a Celebrate Recovery ministry and I was curious.  I learned that it wasn’t just for addicts and alcoholics, but it was for anyone with any kind of hurt, habit or hangup.  Could this be the right avenue for me?  I hesitated.  I dragged my feet.  I wondered.  I always meant to make it to the meeting.

About a month ago, I decided to make the commitment.  I finally found “the something” I’ve been missing…a Christ-centered program based on the 12 steps.  This is a program where I’ll learn to work the steps and turn over my will to Christ.  I’ll get (and give) some true accountability, I’ll learn how to make amends and grow my personal relationship with Christ.  This last month has been one of vulnerability, realizations and connections, but I am now “unstuck” and God is moving in my life.

I’m sharing my story because I’m convinced I’m in the right place.  Right now, I’m sharing from a place of weakness, not from a place of victory.  I’ve been trying to do this work on my own without turning over my will to Christ…without accountability partners and without like-minded recovery friends.  As I’ve begun to work the program I realize I’m here for more than a food addiction.  I’m also working on control and anger issues as well as co-dependency and over-commitment.  I’m turning my will over to Christ and I’m excited about my journey.

Do you have experience with a recovery program?  I’d love to hear about it and learn from you.

Life After Foster Care

I was 13 when I left the very conservative Christian children’s home where I was safely living for four and a half years. We lived by strict rules and I felt very naive as I entered ninth grade at a public high school.  For any rising ninth grader, it’s already nerve-wracking enough worrying about fitting in, finding friends and looking good, but for me, I was coming from a place where we didn’t wear pants, didn’t listen to popular music or watch the hip shows.   I had been secluded and was SO out of the “know”.  I KNEW I was different.  I was nervous in my own skin, I was insecure about my secret home-life  and wanted desperately to seem normal — to just start over with a fresh start.

During the last six years of my life, I’d been grounded with a great faith in Christ…although I think this is where I learned how “legalistic” religion can be at times.  When I returned home I was abruptly told my mother was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and I’d now be studying the faith, too.  YIKES!  Instantly, I  became more confused about religion, I questioned my faith, I questioned what I had learned for the six years.  All of it felt very weird to me, and I was bombarded with more “legal” rules of religion.  We weren’t allowed to celebrate holidays, no blood transfusions — thankfully I’ve never been faced with that!  I learned we couldn’t associate with the “worldly”, so I wasn’t allowed to “hang” with kids at school and as a result had no friends.   I was told I couldn’t go to college for fear of “falling away”.  They believe that Christ didn’t die on a cross–he died on a stake.  My favorite rule was that we weren’t allowed to celebrate birthdays because there are only three mentioned in the Bible and at all of the parties there was a murder.  I still don’t understand that one.  Anyway..I learned about these and many other of their “interpretations”.  Nonetheless, it never felt right to me.

From then on I didn’t trust anyone about religion, but one thing I did gather and still believe today about the Jehovah’s Witnesses is that they believe Christ is the Messiah/our Savior, they believe he died and rose again, they believe there will be a second coming and a judgement day.  They do believe that some Christians will go to heaven.  Anyway, these are just some of the interpretations I learned between the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the the “average” Christian denomination.  Don’t we all have our quirks and crazy interpretations?  I know I don’t have all the answers.  In essence, I think they have the basic underlying truths of Christianity.  I only talk about that because it was an integral picture into what our home-life looked like.  My mom was studying and my step-father was not, which put another weird twist on it all. For the first few months, it all felt like things might be “normal” until…

It was New Years Eve of 1981 and the sexual abuse started over again, my brother was always “in trouble” and the abuse was abundant again. Here we go with the secrets again.  I tried to go to school and be “normal”.  At home, I was doing what I had to do what I had to do to be the “perfect” child and not rock the boat.  When I was 15, my parents said they didn’t have enough money to make ends meet.  My brother and I both were “homeschooled” – we really quit school and went to work full time to give our money to the family.  I didn’t like school only because I wasn’t allowed to associate with any of the kids and I felt out of place, so I *thought* this would be a good idea.  Afterall, I already felt “grown up” why not go out into the world and work to prove I’m responsible.

Not long after working on my own, at age 16, I finagled my way out of the house and moved out (another story for another day).  I felt it was an escape.  I didn’t get along with my mom because of the religion, my step-father was still abusing me and I knew if I could get out it may feel “fresh”.  Off I went, to rent a room from someone. My mentor got wind that I had moved out and immediately contacted me and helped me get back into school.  Soon, I found myself riding my bike to school, working full time, going to school full time and studying in my spare time.  I still didn’t feel normal.  I was estranged from my family after the “elders” of the witnesses came to my home and “disassociated” me from the Witnesses.  Now, my mom was forbidden to speak with me.  I was all alone, no family and no real friends.

Many children that age out of the foster care find themselves in this very same situation.  They are thrown into the big world right out of a foster home that no longer received funding for them. They are told they need to survive.  Many times, there are no benefits or assistance to help them transition, and if they do receive help, it’s temporary.  Any young adult going to college or the work world needs motivation, encouragement, love and empowerment from family and friends.  If anything, they need a home, family, or place to return for holiday, when life gets tough.

Here’s how one girl explains her story of emancipation: ”

The day I graduated from high school my foster mom told me, “You’ve been
emancipated. You can’t live here anymore.” My social worker showed up—I
was still in my little graduation dress and heels, my flowers, my cap on. My
social worker had never talked with me. [She just] told me, “I’ve called around
and found a shelter for you. You have a bed for four months.”
—Karen D., San Francisco

This is just one of many stories.  I was fortunate that I had God on my side – although I had turned my back on organized religion since I was so confused, he was ever-present and protecting me.  I was resilient.  I had the will to succeed in my heart.  I had had many great role models and examples of what a “normal home” *might* look like and I wanted it.  I had drive, I had passion.  I was “clingy” and shared my story frequently.  I think that helped others know what I was going through and willing to help me and invite me in on holidays.  I’ve made some special and compassionate friends over the years.  I was fortunate that I was blessed with a personality that has a “go-get-it” attitude attached.  I lived the saying, “Where there is a will, there is a way” and found ways to apply it at all cost.  I graduated at the top of my high school class, received scholarships to college and made my way.  No, it wasn’t easy…there were lots of troubles, dark lonely paths where I dabbled.  Somehow, I never lost sight of my goal and I finished.  Many of these foster kids haven’t been given the gift of great mentors, the gift of drive and tenacity or the ability to focus intently on a goal.  Those are the ones that need others to be intuitive and reach out to help them.  They need mentors.  They need us to come along side them and let them know there is good in this world.  They need someone to love unconditionally.

I hope as I share my story and the stories of others that you find a way to reach out in your local area and help someone in need.  I hope you can find a sweet spot where you can help the ‘least of these’.  They are God’s children; they are society’s children!

Until next time:
Matthew 25:40 …Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.