“He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.”
Telling my story is incredibly scary and humbling. Only a select few have ever really heard it in its entirety; but, I felt the Lord impress on my heart a need to write it out. My husband was the one who encouraged me to share. Through it, I’m hoping you will understand my passion for Jesus, and maybe share with a friend or family member who is struggling with the same things. On the flip side, it has been incredibly freeing to share the things that have once held me in bondage and to remember just where I’ve come from because for the longest time, I said I just wanted to forget! In writing this, it makes me fall in love with my God all over again, because of who He is and what He’s saved me from. Sometimes we forget how far we’ve come….
For as long as I can remember, I have been a people-pleaser and a self-pleaser if that’s even a thing. I remember being very young, sitting in mass with my parents and trying so hard to behave because I knew people were watching. I would make my brother and sister behave too, because I knew if we were well behaved people would praise my parents for our good behavior. The same went for restaurants or anywhere else we would go. Starting as early as elementary school and continuing through high school I remember wanting so badly to fit in with the “right” crowd because I cared so much about what others thought. With everything, clothes, grades, athletics, student offices… I cared so much about the way people perceived me. I remember in high school when I learned the power of controlling what I ate, along with running and exercise. I became addicted to it because I cared how people viewed me, and if my body wasn’t the “right size,” I wouldn’t fit in with the “right” friends. (Crazy, I know!)
During my first year of college, this turned into a fast downward spiral. My desire for perfectionism and the impossible standards I placed on myself, led to an even worse eating disorder and a dark pit of depression. I was filling an empty void with boyfriends, partying, spending money, too much exercise and unfortunately bulimia. I remember so many times standing in the hottest shower wanting to scrub my skin off because I was so disgusted with my poor choices, my performance in school, my body and just myself. I loathed who I was, and I didn’t want to live anymore. I thought the world would be a much better place without ‘Erin’ in it.
During this extremely dark year (which by the way, I hid extremely well), God was slowly revealing himself to me. It sounds ridiculous, but I had no idea that I was attending a Christian University until my first full week there. I couldn’t believe people actually read the bible. Through chapel service which I was required to attend once a week, church with my friends and bible studies, God was slowly pursuing me.
Sometime near the end of my freshman year, I was up really late at night looking at some websites created by girls with eating disorders. That’s how I learned tips and tricks on how to “get skinny,” and my one yogurt a day and two hour run were currently not working. I remember looking at a picture of the face of an anorexic, and it horrified me. I remember thinking two things, “I am looking at a demon.” and “What am I doing to myself?” At that moment, I was genuinely afraid of who I was becoming, and made the decision to stop. I think I decided I was going to try the “God way,” but I really don’t remember. After that, I don’t even think I made it a week, and like normal, I had eaten too much and decided I needed to throw up. Whenever I did this, I would go into the basement of my dorm (into the pit as I like to think of it now). There was a bathroom, but no one was ever there. I had been doing this all year, but that one particular day, the doors were locked. They had never been locked. Without a doubt, I know this was God. I felt the Lord’s voice tell me loud and clear in that moment, “STOP RUNNING.” That was it! That’s when my absolute dependency on my Savior began.
I can’t say my disordered thoughts on eating or my desire for perfectionism disappeared in that moment, but I have only made myself throw up one time in the 11 years since. That is a miracle and testament to the power of God! The verse at the beginning of the post is one of my favorites, because the Lord definitely rescued me from the darkest pit and set me on solid ground with a new song in my mouth. I had put myself in the pit. It was Satan feeding me terrible lies about who I was, and I believed EVERY SINGLE ONE. I truly believe he wanted to keep me in bondage because he knew how passionate I would be if I ever became free. My passion for loving Him, knowing Him and helping others know Him seems to get stronger with each passing year. I know my God is real, and I will be forever grateful for the freedom, love, grace and new life He has given me.
This past year, the Lord has revealed to me that you can come from the most perfect upbringing or the most broken, but we are all created with the same longing to need the love of our Savior. “God has set eternity in the human heart.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Nothing can fill that void we have in us. Yes, we can mask it temporarily or maybe even squelch it down for a long time, but sooner or later it will come back up. I grew up in the most stable, loving, and supportive home. Based on the world’s standards it was pretty perfect, but it wasn’t enough.
One of my favorite stories in the bible is The Valley of Dry Bones in Ezekiel 37. I’m not going to retell it, but I encourage you to read it yourself. In it, God’s spirit breathes new life into “dry bones.” He can bring life back from the dead. No one is too far gone and no situation unrepairable for our God. Satan had taken all life out of me, but the Lord breathed new life into me and remade me into a “new creation.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I turned to Jesus and life was perfect. Even after all these years, the same destructive thoughts will rear their ugly head… some days worse than others. But, I’m a lot wiser now. I know the one who’s speaking to me, and I know my God is greater than he who is in the world! (1 John 4:4, paraphrased) God is constantly working in me to make me more like Him, and I want Him to show me the things in my life that need to be crucified. Just because he rescued me 11 years ago, didn’t mean He was finished with me.
Today, we celebrated the beginning of Advent which is the period of waiting for the coming of Jesus into this messy, flawed world. I pray that this Advent season you would know Him who dwells “with us” in our messy lives bringing newness and wholeness, and we praise Him for it! (Matthew 1:23)