Saturday, April 30, 2011

Redemption Comes in Strange Places

I'm heading into a new season of my life now, and it has caused a lot of reflection and self-examination. I've had many revelations about the way my mind works - and I'm not going to lie, I don't like it. It is a truly humbling experience to realize that I'm not perfect and that contrary to popular belief, I don't have it all together.

So, I'm a graduate of Mercy Ministries. I graduated on September 21, 2010. While I was in the program, God truly transformed my life. He breathed His life into me, and I was made new. Old things passed away, and all things became new. I'm so grateful that I had the opportunity to spend eight months of my life in the program.

The thing is...I graduated the program with unrealistic expectations of what life would be like "on the outside". I was convinced that as a Mercy graduate, I shouldn't struggle. I shouldn't have issues. I shouldn't need help. Now, keep in mind that that is not at all what we are taught as we are preparing to graduate. Quite the opposite actually. We are told that we have not seen our last problem. We are told that staying in community with others is essential, and that accountability is crucial.

Unfortunately (or fortunately...depending on how you look at it...), as I grew nearer to my graduation date I began to believe the lies that the enemy was speaking to me about how I can't mess up when I graduate or I'll be letting people down. I had overcome perfectionism when it came to the eating disorder when I was at Mercy. I realized that it was okay to struggle, and to admit that I wasn't all powerful. It was okay to not be okay - when I was at Mercy. Outside of Mercy though, I had to be in control at all times. That's what I believed.

Upon graduation, I was in for the biggest shock of my life. My aftercare plans completely disintegrated very shortly after I returned to Canada, and I quickly felt like my life was spinning out of control again. The thing is, I was so filled with shame that I wouldn't allow myself to be real with anyone. I HAD to be strong...I had to be stable, otherwise I was a failure and Mercy didn't work.

Those false beliefs kept me in bondage for about six months after graduation. I was so ashamed that I was struggling with eating and unhealthy thought patterns, but because I felt that I should have it all together, I had to keep it all a secret. I said all the right things, because I knew how to do that. I did that for years before I went to Mercy. I even believed most of the things I was saying - which was a major difference from before and after Mercy. I believed that God loved me, and I believed that I was beautiful. I believed that God had a great plan for my life, and I actually had an idea about what He was calling me to - yet there I was...believing the lie that I had to be perfect because I was a "Mercy grad".

I was desperate for someone who I could just be completely honest with, but I didn't feel comfortable letting my guard down even for a minute! I had all these people coming up to me and telling me how proud they were of me for overcoming my issues and facing them head on, but I felt like a complete hypocrite because I felt like I hadn't really overcome anything. I was active in the eating disorder behaviours again - to the point where my doctor was very concerned once again.

About a month ago, I took a trip down to Nashville. That trip was JUST what I needed. It felt so great to be back in the city where the Lord set me free. I took the Greyhound bus, and as we were driving into downtown Nashville, and I saw all these places that I recognized, I remembered the freedom that I received while I was there. Sitting there on that bus, I decided that for the entire time I was in Nashville, I was going to walk in that freedom again. It didn't matter what happened when I went home, but I wanted to have a glimpse of that freedom once again. Little did I know...God had other plans.

I was at a conference that the woman who's house I was staying at had organized, and I was just watching all these young teenage girls having fun with their friends, and up until that point, I had done really well in terms of walking in "freedom". (I'd only been in town for 12 hours.) As I was watching them though, my heart broke. The loneliness that I had been feeling for the past six months all came flooding to the surface, and I was overwhelmed with suicidal thoughts. I was literally being bombarded with shame and condemnation for everything that I had done, and thoughts that no one wanted me around. It wouldn't matter if I just...dropped off the face of the earth. I was terrified of the thoughts that were running through my mind, and I felt like I was on the verge of a breakdown.

I was so tempted to just stay silent about everything and figure it out on my own, because I didn't want to admit that I wasn't okay. However, I knew that if I wanted to make it through the weekend with any sort of sanity left, I needed to open up. I needed to tell someone what was going on inside my head. So I had a conversation with this woman who I was staying with. I wasn't planning on telling her everything - but it all just kind of spilled out. Once I started talking, it was like word vomit.

That conversation was the turning point for me. She pointed out how many lies I had been believing, and she reminded me that it was NOT all about me. I realized during that conversation how I had allowed pride to take over my entire life. Really, the root of everything that I had been dealing with for the past six months was pride. I was so prideful that I thought that I could take care of myself better than God could. I could meet my needs better than Him. I could do everything on my own, completely independent from God.

In case you didn't already know, those are LIES from the pit of Hell! I am not above God. I am not more powerful than God. Nope. As much as I hate to admit it, I am only human. I make mistakes. I am flawed. Thankfully, God's strength is made perfect in my weakness.

"Human wisdom is so tiny, so impotent, next to the seeming absurdity of God. Human strength can't begin to compete with God's "weakness."" (MSG)
"This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God's weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength." (NLT)
1 Corinthians 1:25

I've come to the conclusion it's time to lay down my pride and get real. When I try to do things on my own, I fail miserably. I need people around me who will call me out on my crap. I need people who aren't afraid to speak the truth, but I also need people who just love me for who I am and where I'm at at this very moment.

I recently dusted off my truth cards* and I'm starting to go through them again on a daily basis. Romans 12:2 says that we have to renew our minds to the truth of God's word, and I was obsessed with that at Mercy. I carried around my truth cards everywhere and I was reading them out loud everywhere I went. Part of the reason that I stopped when I graduated was the pride. I thought that I was done. I was good. But, I'm not...and I know that. Renewing my mind is going to be a lifelong process. It's not something that I can just stop because I think I'm good...

I'm beginning to allow God to search my heart and reveal those things that I need to deal with. It hurts. I'm not going to lie. It's not an easy, comfortable process, but in order for me to be made into His image, it's a necessary evil. I'm willing to undergo that temporary discomfort in order to achieve eternal glory. I want to be a living, breathing image of Jesus Christ to the people who don't know Him. That means that I have to die to myself on a daily basis.

I am so thankful that I'm learning - or rather, re-learning these essential truths. I'm thankful that we serve a God of grace...because He loves me even though I mess up.

I'm a work in progress, and I'm not afraid to admit that anymore.

There is no shame in that.

* For those of you who do not know what truth cards are:
Basically they consist of scriptures written on index cards. These are scriptures that combat lies that you have believed, scriptures that hold a lot of meaning for you, or scriptures that the Lord is speaking to you through. While I was at Mercy, I created about 250 of these cards. I carried them with me wherever I went, and committed to reading through them out loud twice per day. The Word of God is the sword of the Spirit, so every time you speak scripture out of your mouth, you are literally attacking the devil. (As I like to say, you are chopping him up, putting him in a blender, and feeding him to the polar bears!) If you have any questions about truth cards and what they are, please leave a comment and I'll be sure to respond as soon as possible!


  1. There is Life in His Light. Thanking Him for new mercies every day. We are all a work in progress, but He is faithful to complete that which He has begun. He never gives up on us; will never leave or forsake us. He loves us so much!

  2. I'm happy to see you've started a blog, Alexis. And it's good to see that you're opening up and letting people in. NO ONE has it all together, and those who would have you believe they do are putting up a smokescreen. It's really helped me to realize that. Seeing people's flaws typically makes me love them more. Blessings! I'm looking forward to reading more.

  3. I can totally relate to this
    This is very well-written! It's just what I needed to read, that his is grace is sufficient, we need not anything else.
    I also love the picture of your truth cards, it highlights the entire post :)


  4. These may be the healthiest, most God-honoring words I've ever heard from you. And yes, "There is no shame in that."

    Very dear friend of mine, little sister... I have great confidence in you. And what I have meant by that was never that you would be perfect- never even that you would be anywhere near that. :) But that I would see this day, when I would hear honest, beautiful words like this. And that I am still looking forward to "tomorrow" (aka years to come) as you grow with Jesus :).

  5. I'm so overjoyed by the work that God has done/is doing in your life. What a testimony! You have a powerful voice. Especially in your honesty, God is glorified. You are so relatable and precious and sweet and cherished. Keep writing! xoxo


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