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the REAL MEBeing the Girl Good Sees
By Natalie Grant
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2007 Natalie Grant
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDivine Awakening
Foolish heart, Looks like we're here again. Same old game of plastic smile- Don't let anybody in.
Something was wrong. This had never happened before. I was completely repulsed by the smell. Typically, throwing up was exhilarating. Purging was a natural high. Whenever I did it, I felt in control. But today was different. Why?
I had gone through my normal routine: Make sure no one in my family is anywhere near the bathroom-check. Faucet turned on to hide the retching noise-check. Toilet paper tucked around the collar of my shirt and sleeves to avoid the splash-check. With everything taken care of, I began the process of becoming "clean" again.
I must get rid of the food. ALL of it.
If you've never struggled with an eating disorder, this probably sounds totally bizarre to you. On the other hand, if you're locked in a several-times-a-day purging ritual, as I was, it all sounds painfully familiar, doesn't it?
As strange as it is, I actually enjoyed heaving, that gagging reflex that came right before I regurgitated. I don't know why I liked it so much. There is nothing pleasant about vomiting; still, the feeling was strangely comforting. I would usually gag a few times before the food came up. And knowing that once would never fully do the trick, I would put my finger down my throat for a second round and a third and so on until I felt completely emptied out. I was always fearful that I might not get rid of everything I had eaten.
But this time, after just one heave, I was disgusted by the stench and the appearance of my vomit. Normally (like there's anything normal about this behavior), I would close my eyes, thinking that if I couldn't see it, it was somehow less real. Maybe I was trying to pretend someone else was retching into the commode, not me. But on that day, I was so repelled by the pungent smell, I opened my eyes and stared into the toilet.
Suddenly I felt as though a huge spotlight had focused right on me, and I was seeing myself as an outsider would.
How did I get here? my mind seemed to ask. How could I end up like this, hovering over the toilet, knees numb to the pain of kneeling on a cold, hard tile floor?
The shame and humiliation I felt in that moment rose up from my heart into my throat, imagining what others would think if they could see me now. I'd always tried so hard to be the perfect girl. The life of the party. The leader. The person everyone else came to with his or her problems.
But I had a problem too, a huge, painful secret, and I couldn't hide it-or hide from it-any longer.
Vogue on the Outside, Vague on the Inside
I wish I could tell you in vivid detail what snapped in me that day. But to be perfectly honest, I don't know. It was a typical day. By all outward appearances, I was a happy, well-adjusted overachiever. But bulimia had become a way of life for me. I had become the queen of disguise, so much so that I had begun believing my own act.
What I called my "churchianity" was better than ever, Oscar-worthy, even. I could quote lots of Scripture verses to prove my Christian maturity. Everyone thought I was so spiritual, so perfect; but I wasn't. Somehow the twelve-inch span from my head to my heart had become the Grand Canyon, and there seemed to be no way to bridge the gap. I felt lost. I had been so busy being who everyone thought I was that I no longer had a sense of being real. And because I knew I was being dishonest, living a lie, I felt worthless. Everyone thought I was so brave, but I wasn't. I believed that if my family and friends knew the real me, they would be ashamed. They would despise me.
The truth was, I despised myself.
I desperately wanted to be accepted. I cared so intensely about what other people thought of me that pleasing everyone became my focal point, the driving force behind everything I did. The pressure was overwhelming and constant. Totally vogue on the outside but completely vague on the inside: that was me.
Having successfully fooled everyone around me into believing my mythical life of perfection, I never considered the cost of maintaining the charade.
Now, don't get me wrong. I knew Jesus loved me, and I believed it wholeheartedly. At least I thought I did.
I didn't suffer from the Jesus-could-never-love-somebody-as-pitiful-as-me syndrome. At least I thought I didn't.
Jesus became my Savior when I was a little girl, but I don't think I ever allowed him to become my Lord. A lord is the master, someone who has complete power, control, and authority.
Problem was, I was the lord of my life.
REAL GIRL, REAL LIFE
The Weight of Perfection
There are always people we secretly wish we could be or at least be like. We're certain our life would be better if we had their, well, fill in the blank: _________________________.
Jessica is one of those girls, the kind of striking standout who not only seems to have it all but also has it all together. She's a blonde, blue-eyed beauty, five feet six inches tall, who wears a size 2 and is superintelligent and artistically talented. She is also one of the leaders in her high school and has two wonderful parents and a sister who love her dearly.
So she's living happily ever after, right?
Sure she is-until you look deeper.
Although Jessica would probably admit that she's generally a happy person who is truly grateful for the blessings in her life, when asked what has been the hardest thing about being a teenage girl she doesn't hesitate a second.
"The weight issue," she replies. "This year has changed so much for me. I don't know if it's because I've got more responsibility, but I've just started to worry about things more-especially my weight. I don't skip meals too frequently, but sometimes I do because I'm so busy. I never look at calories, but there've been a couple of times when I've just eaten something and felt disgusting. And then I've thrown it up."
Her mother doesn't believe in having scales in the house, but Jessica still manages to keep a close eye on her weight by weighing herself at other homes during her frequent babysitting jobs. She says her concern about her weight, her body, and what she's eating is a continual source of noise in her head, which, she admits, is probably why she's made herself throw up.
But are her issues with food rooted completely in wanting to look a certain way?
"I don't feel like I'm overweight by a lot," she confesses, "but I feel like I could lose some weight. I guess if I had the right mind-set I wouldn't worry about the way I look. Part of it isn't even a weight issue. Sometimes I feel so frustrated and overwhelmed with stuff that the eating part of my life is the only thing I can grasp and control. Take grades, for instance. I can study really hard and not make a good grade, and I can't control that. Sometimes [monitoring my weight] feels like making sure that I have control of myself and my life."
Who's It Gonna Be? You or Me?
That day in the bathroom, a divine intervention began for me in the unlikeliest of places-as I lay curled around the base of the toilet. Suddenly I knew for certain I could no longer continue to live the way I was living. Bulimia was not the abundant life God intended me to live. I finally understood that I was trapped in a prison of my own making, and I knew Jesus was the only One who could set me free.
As I picked myself up off the floor, I remembered that God had promised he would make "all things work together for good" (Romans 8:28 NKJV), but I couldn't imagine what purpose he could create out of my pain. I was weak and confused, but hope had awakened inside me, and I wasn't turning back. That day, on the hard, cold floor, God made me wonderfully uncomfortable, beautifully tortured by the chaos of my condition. I had no idea who I was anymore, but on that day, with God's help, I set out in search of the real me.
But you see the real me Hiding in my skin Broken from within.
The Real You
Is there a secret in your life, something you've held on to for a long time, hoping nobody sees it? Something so painful, so far down in your heart, that you dare not even speak of it? If so, there's something you should know: you're not alone. I know you might not believe it now, but maybe soon you will. In the meantime, can you muster up enough courage to personalize those words and write "I'm not alone" in the space below?
Are You Ready for a Divine Awakening?
My poor self-esteem reared its ugly head as an eating disorder. What consequences are you struggling with as a result of a poor self-image? Do you have secrets that make you feel worthless? In your effort to exert control, are you inflicting damage on yourself physically or emotionally? If so, you're probably overdue for a moment of divine intervention. Please open your heart and your mind to God's presence and pray this prayer: "God, wake up my mind to the truth of who I am, who you created me to be, and to the truth of who you are. Gather the feelings and emotions in my head and give me the courage to be honest about myself. And most of all, give me faith to believe what you have to teach me as I study your Word and read Natalie's book. I want a divine awakening, Lord. I need to know you're here with me. Amen."
Be receptive to God's love for you, his gift of peace-watch for it, expect it-even in the unlikeliest places. He surrounded me with his comforting love and acceptance as I lay curled around the toilet on the floor of a bathroom. Where will you be when you finally give in to his extraordinary, healing grace?
Just Like You: Young Women Who Touched the World
Amelia Earhart: Courage Is the Price
When twenty-year-old Amelia Earhart attended a stunt-flying exhibition, a plane swooped overhead, and she was enthralled. "I did not understand it at the time," she said later, "but I believe that little red airplane said something to me as it swished by."
In December 1920, when she experienced her first airplane ride, Amelia knew she had to fly. Becoming an aviator was no easy feat for a woman during that era, but Amelia was no stranger to obstacles. She was the child of an alcoholic whose drinking often cost him his job, so Amelia and her family moved around a lot, and Amelia and her sister attended many different schools. Still, Amelia worked hard and excelled academically, and that determination helped her become a successful aviator.
By 1921, Amelia Earhart had saved up enough money to take flying lessons, and soon after she learned to fly she bought her own plane, which she called The Canary. In that plane she set a women's flying record by soaring to an altitude of fourteen thousand feet. She continued to set records throughout the rest of her aviation career and became a celebrity for being the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928. Although she presumably died (her body was never found) while trying to fly around the world in 1937, her feats are still celebrated as a part of American history.
It was the courage of Amelia Earhart that endeared her to so many. From the time she was a young girl, she took risks despite being afraid. She lived in a world where women often were told no when they wanted to try the things men could do. To this response-and to all of us today-she said, "Women must try to do things as men have tried. When they fail, their failure must be but a challenge to others."
Now thousands of women, following in the footsteps of this tomboy who was determined to fly, sit in the cockpits of commercial, military, and privately owned aircraft all over the world. Like Amelia Earhart, they have chosen to face their fears and take the risks necessary to achieve their goals, and today they are a living legacy of the woman who listened to her heart and said, "Courage is the price that life exacts for granting peace."
God says, "Let Me ..."
Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, you're true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but Lose yourself? (Matthew 16:24-26 MSG)
Excerpted from the REAL ME by Natalie Grant Copyright © 2007 by Natalie Grant. Excerpted by permission.
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