On Christmas morning, my family left while it was still dark outside and flew somewhere much warmer. We came to Naples, Florida to stay at our favorite hotel and dine at our favorite restaurants and shop at our favorite stores. After years of vacationing here, we know this place well.
What I didn’t expect to happen was my meltdown.
Things were going so smoothly. It had been a long time since my last binge, I was finally beginning to accept my body, and my soul felt at peace. When we checked into our hotel rooms, I slipped on my suit, ready to relax.
Maybe it was the fact that I felt bloated, or maybe I was comparing myself to the other girls’ bodies at the pool, or maybe I simply didn’t think I was attractive.
My heart sunk.
That night, after a four-course Christmas dinner by the ocean, I gave in to my old routine. Determined, I raced up to the hotel room I was sharing with my brothers. Someone had delivered giant cookies to us hours before, and at that moment, all I could think about was that plate of decadence. I devoured it.
It’s difficult to cover up a binge while on a family vacation. The next day, I had to feign illness – I knew my parents and brothers would feel sorry for me and leave me alone if I was “sick”. For a day and a half, I stayed in bed, crying and feeling sorry for myself. And when I eventually confessed to my mom, the pain in my chest deepened.
Pulling myself out of that hole was nearly impossible. I understood how silly it was to waste an expensive trip by hiding out by myself, but my negative thoughts took control: I’m never going to get past this. I’m a failure. I can’t go back to college now. I will never learn. I’m disgusting.
Eventually, I peeled myself out of bed and opened the curtains. Sunlight poured in.
I felt hollow.
I went for a walk with my parents yesterday, beneath towering palm trees and down roads lined with mansions and condos.
“Melly, imagine what would have happened if you renewed your mind before the binge,” my mom said. “If you laid your issues down before God and asked Him to give you a fresh perspective. If you opened your Bible and flooded your brain with truth. If you allowed Him to change your self-obsessed thoughts.”
My dad agreed.
“You’ve got to stop leaning on other people during these times,” he said. “Mom and I will always be there for you, but you need to learn to let Jesus be your counselor.”
I soaked in their words as they encouraged me. And slowly, my heart began to fill up again. It was as if I had forgotten and then remembered this powerful engine under the hood – Jesus Christ. He is living in me, available 24/7 to pull me up from my lowest lows. This is a revolutionary concept; it is one that I cannot neglect.
Tonight, we’re flying back to Chicago, back to normalcy. At this point, I feel renewed. I’ve accepted the slip-up. I binged, but so what? At least it was tame in comparison to previous ones, and at least it didn't destroy our vacation. In fact, there were so many moments I loved about this past week: laughing with my brothers in our room, taking morning spin classes, rejuvenating at the spa, writing late at night in the lobby, listening to live music, sitting around dinner tables with all five of us, spending the afternoon with my parents yesterday... The list goes on.
I am not perfect, nor will I ever be. My fleshy desires will always be there. Last week, I fell prey to selfish habits and reaped the consequences.
The healing process is all about turning away from those temptations and abiding in Christ, controlled by His love. It means saying "no" to sin and "yes" to God's plan. This is where we find true contentment - in His will. In the months following my withdrawal, I found that place.
Unfortunately, I made a mistake and lost sight of it all for a few days. But I am moving on. I am choosing to walk in the Spirit, trusting the One who lives in me to guide me every step of the way.
This, then, is my prayer for 2013:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God - this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will. - Romans 12:1-2