Since I was a girl, I have struggled with food, my weight, and various eating disorders. Over the years, I have tried and failed dozens of diets, started up and canceled gym memberships, gotten personal trainers, seen doctors with medical programs, and tried various pills and shakes a hundred other crazy things to get this weight off of me. I have been through countless sessions of therapy to process through every facet of why I am the way that I am. Nevertheless, I have been scarily obese for a long time.
My body has been incredibly sick. Last year, I gained more weight than I had in a while and I was nearly at the point of no longer being able to find clothes in a store in my size. My blood pressure and Rheumatoid Arthritis were becoming increasingly problematic. I felt like a ticking time-bomb and was living with this great, unspoken fear that I could die from a stroke or heart attack because of the severity of both my weight and inflammation due to my RA. I remember teaching my son how to dial 911 on my cell phone and how to give them our address in case anything happened to me or Todd. I taught him this mostly because I was scared something could happen to me. I felt stuck in a body that I didn't know how to care for and in desperate, desperate need for help.
I have cried out to God about this for most of my life. I have prayed, confessed, prayed some more, and tried to do whatever it was that I thought He was leading me to do. But to be honest, I have always felt like God turned a blind eye to me in this place. I felt abandoned by Him, left to figure it out on my own. He has felt silent and quiet and all the years that I would cry out to Him - even for the strength to do anything in Christ like we read in Philippians 4:13 - it felt like He wasn't there or wouldn't give me whatever it was I needed to have to stick to a healthy way of living.
Last year as my fear over my body, my RA and my overall health began to mount, I began begging God to rescue me. I asked Him to heal my body, to do something and get some of this weight off of me somehow. These words are in my prayer journal:
Please God, I need Your rescue. I don't know what else to pray about this anymore. Just please step in and rescue me! Do something. Intervene. Save me! I beg you, please! I need You. I am so scared. Please, rescue me?
And months later, He did.
It started on December 20th when I was hosting a Christmas party for some friends. I was having some abdominal discomfort and began running a fever. Two days later, my pain was so intense I decided to go to the hospital. I was diagnosed with diverticulitis and sent home with medication. However, my particular case turned out to be an infection of epic proportions. Several ER visits later and a transfer to a different facility, I ended up in the hospital for 27 days to treat my infection and an abscess that had formed. Once I was finally sent home, I was still ill and was treated with IV antibiotics and a liquid diet. I then awaited a second surgery to remove the bad part of my colon that had been the most infected.
These five months have been both awful and wonderful all at the same time. It seems as though when we go through something difficult, that there is joy and beauty to be found from the people that come to love on you and be the hands and feet of Jesus.
I have been in intense pain and have experienced an equal amount of comfort from family and friends. I have been out of work and our finances could have been in shambles. But God provided all we have needed and we haven't gone without a single thing. I went 27 nights without kissing my boys good night and tucking them in to bed, but they were loved and cared for in my absence. My mother-in-law did my laundry and washed my dishes and vacuumed my floors and kept my home running when I couldn't. I cried a thousand tears for all I knew my husband had to shoulder, and was blown away by his ability to hold and handle all of this with strength and grace. Friends brought meals, watched our children, took down my Christmas decorations, came to pray, brought gifts and wrote cards of encouragement. I have never been more humbled in my entire life by the love and support I was given during this time.
It is now the end of April. I have now had the second surgery and I am almost back to normal and routine and work and ministry and doing the things I enjoy. But, it was at the end of February when I was home sick when I finally realized what was happening. This was the rescue I had prayed for. He was doing what I had begged of Him. It was happening and it had come through this awful bout with diverticulitis.
I feel as though I've been given new eyes to see. My perspective has shifted on my body, on food, and on self-care. My taste buds have changed because I have had to go so long without solid food. My thought process behind eating is different because I want to nourish my body and care for my insides by what I put into them. I realized that all of the time I dieted and felt as though I was missing out on something, I really wasn't. Missing out is when you're bed-ridden and can't do anything for yourself. When you can't live, and love and work or play with your kids - that is missing out.
So far, I've lost 75 pounds. While that loss has come with great cost and it's been the worst way in the world to lose weight ever - it is evidence of the rescue that I so desperately prayed for. For the first time, I finally feel like I can keep going and lose the rest of what I need to be at a healthier weight. My surgeon who went above and beyond to repair my broken body, offered to monitor my weight loss and continue to see me for maintenance. She has been such a gift to know and has made me feel safe, comfortable and confident in her care.
Over the weekend, Todd and I took a day trip to the coast with the boys. It was our first really fun outing since before I got sick with the boys and we all needed it. The beach is my most favorite place in the world. I've always felt like I could almost reach out and touch God with my fingertips because it feels as if He's just past the edge of the horizon. As I sat there on the shoreline watching my boys play, basking in glorious sunshine and listening to the waves crash one on top of the other, I began to cry.
Thank you. Thank you for all of it. Every blown IV. Every morsel of food I couldn't eat. Every pain, every tear, every night I spent alone in the hospital. Every face and friend and loved one that held me up. I am so grateful. You rescued me. You've changed me. You did this thing and I don't know what else to say but thank you. Thank you! I praise your name!
And because I hear God speak to my heart.....
I love you. I worked all of this together for your good. I am with you and I am for you - I have ALWAYS been. I make all things beautiful in My time. I love you. I AM.
I don't know why it took so long to get here. I don't know why God felt silent for so many years in this place. Perhaps He was waiting for me to come to this place of utter desperation. I don't know why He chose to rescue me with diverticulitis or to answer this specific prayer in the way that He did. But, I do know that this was His doing. I do know that He showed up and rescued me here.
My heart, my faith, my body, my life is forever changed by it. Oh, may it ever be so.