A Kiss on the Forehead

Encountering Heaven in Every Day Life

Choices Part 1

Earlier this month, I spent a lot of time on my Facebook page raising awareness about Eating Disorders. After all, it was Eating Disorder awareness week. This week has a special place in my heart because, as I’ve already alluded to, I struggled for several years of my late teens and early twenties with severe anorexia that landed me for many months in inpatient treatment in a psychiatric facility. Before you write me off as being completely crazy for having spent so much time in a psych hospital, let me suggest to you…

Maybe we’re ALL just a little crazy.

Huh?

Yeah, I said it. And I don’t mean in just a “sometimes-I-dance-around-my-living-room-singing-into-a-spatula-as-my-microphone-pretending-to-be-on-American-Idol” crazy.

…aaaaaaand then again, you probably do that, too…

May I propose to you a different definition of crazy…

Crazy is choosing to believe that which is not true, or choosing to remain blind to the truth.

Let’s back up a second and think about an example of someone who the world would REALLY consider to be “crazy”…

Let’s look at my favorite movie “A Beautiful Mind.” Have you seen it?

*gasp!* You HAVEN’T?!?!  This must change, my friend. And although this post is a total spoiler, read on (and then go see the movie… cause you have to)…

In any case, the central character in the movie, John Nash, battles schizophrenia. He sees “delusions” – he sees things that aren’t really there. He believes a lie. And his belief in these lies causes him to live in ways that directly contradict reality. He chases “Russian spies” in the middle of the night… he sneaks around behind his wife’s back in order to participate in “secret missions”… and he nearly lets his infant son drown in the bathtub based on the message of these delusions.

To him, the delusions are not delusions at all, but are very real, all-consuming, and, in a sense, have become a part of who he is and the way he lives.

They are his best friends.

His security.

His reality.

Oh friend, we are ALL just like John Nash…

Sure, the lies we believe may not come in the form of schizophrenic delusions or hallucinations, but clearly, we are all just a bit crazy

We all believe things that aren’t true. We have mental tapes that aren’t based on truth at all, but are rather based on lies… they are based on false messages about ourselves, about God, and about others that we’ve heard from the time we were very young, and we’ve heard them so much we have chosen to accept them as reality. Perhaps we were abused or experienced some trauma which fed into these lies. Perhaps we grew up being taught that being a Christian means being “good” all the time.  Perhaps our experiences in this world have taught us to believe things that seem very real and true to us. Perhaps we believe it’s true that…

I must be perfect to be loved. I don’t deserve to be loved, not even by God, because I’ve messed up again and again…

If I forgive those who hurt me, I am letting them off the hook. I must remain angry to protect myself from harm.

Because I am a Christian, I will be protected from pain and suffering. 

I am fat, ugly, and awkward. No one could love me like this.

This situation is overwhelming. Drugs, alcohol, food, or relationships are the perfect way to relax and to escape.

If you believe any of these things to be true, I have no doubt that they seem very, very real to you. I also have no doubt that these beliefs have a very strong influence, whether you realize it or not, on the way you live from day to day. You may want to argue, “if you knew everything about me, my life, and my situation, you would KNOW these things are true.”

I remember feeling very much the same way. I remember a day when I was sitting across from a therapist in a psychiatric hospital and she was asking me to look in a mirror and tell myself that “I like myself.” She told me I was severely underweight and dying. I looked in the mirror and I still saw a fat blob. Inside, I was screaming, “I CAN SAY IT, BUT I DON’T BELIEVE IT! I STILL BELIEVE I’M UGLY, STUPID, FAT AND AWKWARD! I am unlovable! WHY should I tell myself something I don’t BELIEVE to be TRUE!?!?”

I was irritated and discouraged by people who told me my eating disorder was an “illness” I would be battling for the rest of my life. What kind of hope did that give me?

I was so frustrated with people who didn’t know SQUAT about what I was experiencing trying to talk me out of my own sense of reality.

I was also so frustrated with people who told me to pray more, read my Bible moretrust God more, and I would be healed. That God would make the thoughts would go away.

If it was as easy as all that, I would’ve been healed a long time ago. Duh. Who wouldn’t want that?

What was so frustrating to me is that I could look at the facts and I could see what was “true”… I knew on the one hand that I was dangerously underweight and in danger of a heart attack or starving to death.  But the “voices” in my own mind continually told me “You’re FAT. You’re UGLY. You’re AWKWARD. You’re UNLOVABLE.” And let me tell you, those voices were LOUD. And I had prayed, asking God to take the “voices” away… asking Him to “heal” me from this eating disorder. And yet, the voices were still there. So maybe the “experts” were right. Maybe this was an awful disease I would be plagued with for the rest of my life. I was SO discouraged. So what was I supposed to do but give in and believe the lies?

Not long after that, I was allowed to go on a pass and spend a few hours out of the hospital in the “real world.” A friend and I decided to go to the movies. We saw “A Beautiful Mind.”

I remember the first time I saw the movie so distinctly. When you watch this movie, the delusions Nash saw seem so real at first – the producers don’t reveal to you what or who the delusions are, nor the fact that Nash is, in fact, schizophrenic. When it is finally revealed that the roommate, the little girl, and the even the secret agent are all just figments of John Nash’s imagination, you feel so dumb, like the film-makers have tricked you. When people first start pointing out to Nash that the delusions aren’t real, that they aren’t TRUTH, you aren’t sure who to believe.

As I watched the film, finally coming to terms with the fact that Nash’s delusions were NOT real, for the first time in my life, I started to question my OWN view of reality.

I jokingly turned to my friend and poked her saying, “Are you real?”

Though I was externally joking, as I turned inward God began to do a work on my heart through this box-office hit, and he spoke softly to me, “Have you considered that everything you believe to be so real… may not actually be TRUE?”

About halfway through the movie, I went to use the restroom, and as I washed my hands I glanced up and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. I was suddenly caught off-guard with the reality that maybe the way I saw myself wasn’t based on reality at all.

Maybe the way I was thinking was based on lies, just like John Nash.

I was frustrated. Okay, so maybe what I believed wasn’t true. But how on earth could I change the way I was thinking? The tapes playing in my mind again and again were so loud and seemed so real.

And nothing seemed to shut them up.

I went back into the movie theater and was shocked as God spoke again, so clearly, through John Nash…

See, at the end of the film, he’s been through treatment. He’s on medication. He’s doing quite well as a professor and he’s about to be awarded the Nobel Prize. Big stuff for a crazy guy! He is, by all accounts and purposes, doing really well and not only functioning, but thriving in every day life.

But I don’t really think that’s the point of the movie. Click the link below, watch the clip, and see if you catch it….

http://www.veoh.com/watch/v33093279pTtBM6dR

Did you catch it…?

There are words in that clip that make me jump up and scream “Hallelujah!” every time I hear them. They changed my life forever.

When Nash’s friend asks him if the delusions are gone, what is Nash’s response? He stops. He thinks. He turns and sees his delusions still following him. And then he states, ever so matter-of-factly…

“No, they’re not gone. And maybe they never will be. But I’ve gotten used to ignoring them and I think as a result they’ve kind of… given up on me. I think that’s what it’s like with all our dreams and nightmares, Martin. We’ve got to keep feeding them for them to stay alive.”

Oh, the TRUTH of that sentiment resounds ever-so strongly in my heart, even 12 years later!!

In that moment, sitting in that tiny movie theater, my life changed. And I suddenly realized I didn’t have to be a victim of the thoughts that plagued me.

I had a choice.

choose truth

 

I realized, for the first time ever, that maybe being “healed” from my battle with Anorexia didn’t mean I would never hear another negative thought about myself again. It didn’t mean I wouldn’t struggle with feeling beautiful or lovable.

Maybe being healed means CHOOSING to believe the truth instead of giving in to the lies. 

And maybe, like John Nash, if I chose the truth enough, the lies would give up on me?

I was willing to try.

And it changed my life forever.

Won’t you try, too?

Friend, what lies are you allowing to speak so strongly to your heart and mind?  How do you see this impacting your every day life? Maybe you don’t struggle with an eating disorder, but are they preventing you from living the abundant life God wants to give you through Christ?

Deciding it’s time to CHOOSE TRUTH is the first step toward victory over the battle in the mind. No matter what your battle might look like.

Stay tuned for part 2… 

In the mean time, if you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, download this free e-book<https://secure3.convio.net/mmoa/site/Ecommerce?VIEW_PRODUCT=true&product_id=1308&store_id=1661> from Mercy Ministries.

Ebook Starved

 

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