Friday, February 15, 2019

On grace and love and hope and forgiving pants

If I were to ask you to name One Thing that you struggle with, what would it be?

It's like at work when I have to ask a new customer for their birth month so they can receive a special offer, and they not only give me the month but also the day and year. And I'm like, too much information! I don't need it all!

I'm not asking you to tell me...or write me...or post it on Facebook. I'm simply giving you a chance to name it and claim it.

Why are you doing this? you may ask. Why are you disturbing my well-ordered and tightly contained life?

Because what we bring into the Light can no longer hold us hostage in the darkness.

Here, let me go first...

Hi. My name is Arlene. And I struggle with food.

I know that's not that exciting, but it's the best I can do. Believe me, it's not my only struggle. But it is the one that's always in my face...swirling around my thoughts...poking and prodding me to always take note of ever-present ghost.

Anne Lamott, my new heroine, opened the bag of worms this morning with her confessions of struggling all her life to be healthy and balanced and sane. Which got me to thinking...

When did my struggle with food start? 

And since first first guesses...are usually correct, mine was when I got my driver's license...when I realized I could take myself anywhere I wanted and do anything I wanted and no one would be the wiser. I'm sure I had a conscience back then but it was crusty. It would be about ten years until Christ entered the picture with a pickaxe to set it free.

Anyway, my growing up years were a struggle as are most people's. Some do drugs, some do liquor, some do cutting, some do food. Some do none of the above and escape whole and healthy. But that was not me.

When the hurt was too great or the issue too sharp, I would eat.

I wish I knew then what I know now...that I was setting the stage for a lifetime of struggle...feeding the monster who, at that time, appeared no bigger than a mouse but which, over the years, took on proportions that would rival the Hulk.

Like so many addictions, it starts out with us thinking we can control them. But in the end, we are the captives.

So here I am...50 years later...still in the throes of captivity...still fighting to break free.

Unfortunately food, unlike cutting or drugs or alcohol, is something we need on a daily basis to survive. And this makes it all the harder.  Not that breaking free of anything that controls us is easy...don't misunderstand me! But food? There's just no getting away from it.

To liven things up a bit, God has allowed me to struggle with Autoimmune issues and Epstein Barr and Hashimoto's which all sound exotic but are nothing more than life-impacting health issues that food can help or hurt.

So I have to spend a lot of my time working with My Captive in an attempt to lessen its grip on me so that I can have good days and energetic days and thoughts that don't trip over themselves.

This blog grew out of the opening sentences of Anne's chapter on 'Food' in her book, Almost Everything- Notes on Hope:

"Try to do a little better. Try to be nicer to yourself and to your body. That's all."

She went on to talk about how we can spend our lives hating our bodies...hating ourselves...trying everything we can find to make it all better. And God knows the internet allows us to find a lot!

But in the end?

It all boils down to Grace and Love and Hope. And Forgiving Pants.

Grace...that allows us to live with the fact that we are occupying fallen bodies- prone to breaking down and being stubborn and never, ever, being what those fairy tale princesses owned. Grace to make baby-step changes as God leads us. How many times have we gotten a good intention and plowing forward in the flesh, watched it leak slowly out over time?

Love...for ourselves that grows out of God's love for us...embracing the truth that we are unique and beautiful and beloved...worthy of self-care and respect. No matter what. God's love for us is not based on a checklist. So why do we hold ourselves up to impossible standards? If God considers us fearfully and wonderfully made, why can't we? Being kind to ourselves is such a life-changer!

Hope...because Christ lives in us. And day by day He is conforming us into His image. Someday we will be the proud owners of redeemed bodies...not because of following the right diets or the right exercise program or as she says, eating yak butter in our coffee, but because that's the way it's going to be. Hope because He has promised.

And Forgiving Pants? That's the choice we make everyday to let go and not be so hard on ourselves...a visual of the Grace, Love and Hope part we just talked about.

I am ever so slowly realizing that I am never going to get it all right...or do it all right...this side of the Pearly Gates.

I will always struggle. You will always struggle. All mankind is struggling.

In the meantime I can wear forgiving pants as I become more compassionate with myself and others...

Not missing the joy of the life I have for the life that I think I should have.

We're each only given one life...we live it or we lose it.

Like I heard the other night in the movie, The Croods, as the daughter confronted her fearful father with the truth that they weren't living...they just weren't dying. 

Here's to a life based on grace, love and hope.

And to forgiving pants...that make the journey so much more comfortable.


I always struggle with the reality that one short blog can never do justice to the depths and heights of any topic I cover...

It can't.

But if it helps me...and hopefully be encouraged in some small way, it will be counted as successful.

You are dearly loved!


  1. Love this Arlene...thank you for sharing❤️

  2. "worthy of self-care and respect" -- that one is hard to remember for me sometimes. Especially when the externals and peripherals all make me look sort of lame... But I will have to slowly transform over time to take my self-worth as a given and trust God with the results.

    Thank you for sharing.


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