Christian Life

Craving For Love

Blog_Craving for Love-2In her book, Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis writes about a conference she attended that impacted her life in a profound way. The insight she had about herself was realized when a speaker asked the audience two questions, “Which parent did you crave love from more?” and “Who did you have to be for them?” Upon reading that second question, my chest began to tighten, emotions began to well up, and I sat silently, thinking about my childhood. Growing up, I lived with my mother and two older sisters. I craved my mother’s love on a daily basis and tried to get her attention by misbehaving. Subconsciously I thought, maybe if I was mean to the dog, talked frequently, was overly expressive, or an all-star athlete she would pay attention to me. Then my mind wandered to my father. I never lived with him yet I always longed for his love and attention, on the rare occasion when I was able to visit.

As I continued to sit in silence, pondering my answers, these questions gripped my heart. Without a doubt, I knew I longed for my father’s love more than my mother’s. I knew this because of a memory that came to my mind of a time when I visited my father sometime during middle school. Shortly before this trip, I was in a production of Beauty and the Beast in a theater outside of Boston, Massachusetts. I wasn’t just a part of the production, I starred as Belle in this theater’s academy program. In my 12-year-old mind, this role made me special… it made me important… it made me somebody. I was so excited to show my dad the VHS recording of the performance so he could share in my glory and affirm that I was talented and special. However, after my father watched that tape, he remarked that it would be a “bigger deal” if I starred in a musical at a real theater. It did not matter that he was wrong about it not being a theater production. What mattered to me was his lack of affirmation. All I really wanted was a daddy who loved and affirmed me. I don’t think he intentionally tried to hurt me with that comment but the damage was done.

That was the last extended stay visit I would ever have at my father’s home during my childhood years. I was done trying to become the daughter he would be proud of. I was done trying to earn my parents love. The next few years would be spent searching for love through dating relationships that left me feeling empty and hurt. The only thing that could mend my broken and hardened heart was the love of Father God. This realization began when I was 15 and has continued to strengthen over the last 18 years. Therapy, pastors, mentors, books, and relationships have been instrumental in my growth but what transformed me the most was when I stopped believing the lies I told myself; lies that I was worthless, unlovable, damaged, and unintelligent. Ultimately, I could not have done this without replacing those lies with the truth. The real truth is, the word of God is the most powerful source of truth that speaks value and worth to each and every person. God’s love is unconditional and no amount of performing could make him love us more. Scriptures tell us that we are created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), greater than all other created beings (Genesis 1:28), adopted as his children (Ephesians 4:1-5), created with a purpose (Jeremiah 29:11), gifted (1 Corinthians 12:8-11), and the list goes on.

When you read those two questions, what came to your mind? Whose love did you crave as a child? Do you have a story like mine? Whose love do you still crave? Who are you trying to be in order to be loved? I encourage you to take some time to ponder these questions and think about lies you have been believing about yourself: lies that say you are less than; lies that say you will never amount to anything; lies that say you need to be someone else in order to be loved and accepted.

Christian Life, Mental Health

Six Biblical Principles for Eating Disorders & Unhealthy Food Relationships

vectorstock_3710686We live in a nation that is obsessed with image. Unless you live in a remote area without television, internet or places to shop, you are bombarded every day with images of photoshopped people that society pressures you to look like. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental health disorder in the United States and every 62 minutes one person dies as a direct result of an eating disorder (ANAD). Even those of us without a diagnosed eating disorder struggle with an unhealthy view of food and our bodies. I honestly cannot think of a time when I did not think about losing weight before taking a beach vacation…okay, maybe when I was pregnant.

There are many excellent therapies for eating disorders but I believe true success cannot happen without spiritual integration. Many people with eating disorders struggle with poor self-image and a negative view of God. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder or a poor relationship with food and self-image, here are some helpful biblical principles to help transform thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

  1. Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (NIV). The word of God has the ability to create positive thoughts and a healthy identity, which is countercultural to a world that stresses the importance of perfection.
  2. Romans 10:17 says, “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (NIV). Having faith in God and hope that life can be different is an important part of creating change. Scripture has the ability to develop one’s faith and provide hope for the future.
  3. 1 John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are” (NIV). This is a difficult concept for many people who have felt rejected by their parents. Joshua 1:5 says, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (NIV). God is a loving father who will never reject us or abandon us like people do.
  4. Isaiah 55:8-9 teaches that people’s thoughts are not God’s thoughts and that his thoughts are higher than ours. People with an unhealthy relationship with food always have poor views of themselves. God’s thoughts of us are opposite of the lies we believe about ourselves. In fact, each day that God created something in the universe, he used the words “it was good” or “it was so” to describe that particular creation (Genesis 1:3-25). It wasn’t until God created mankind that he used the words “it was VERY good” to describe his creation (Genesis 1:31). We are God’s delight and were specifically made so that he could love us.
  5. Feelings of shame and dishonest behavior are common in those with eating disorders. Both of these are displayed in the book of Genesis when Adam and Eve sinned for the first time (Genesis 3). The first thing Adam and Eve felt was shame. This feeling caused them to cover their bodies and fear God. When God asked what they did, both were dishonest and shifted blame to someone else. Knowing that people in the bible had the same struggles we do can help normalize the feelings and behaviors of those with eating disorders.
  6. Lastly, recovery from eating disorders should involve recognizing one’s gravity of sin and the need for atonement (McRay et al., 2016). Psalm 103:12 says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (NIV). This truth allows people to understand that when they acknowledge their sin, God removes it and brings them back into relationship with him. When people begin to see themselves as forgiven and accepted, they can let go of shame and be confident in their spiritual connection to the Father. That loving connection is essential for true recovery.

References

ANAD Your Future is Worth Fighting For. National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders. Retrieved from http://anad.org

McRay, B.W., Yarhouse, M.A. & Butman, R. (2016). Modern psychologies: A comprehensive Christian appraisal(2ndEd.). Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press.

Christian Life

Valentine’s Day Idea: Married, Single, and Dating

BlogPic_LoveFinger

image © Sherri Robbins

It’s February… the month of love.

While so many people focus on plans and gifts for Valentine’s Day, I can’t help but think about learning how to have healthy relationships and to love my family unconditionally. Unfortunately, from early childhood, I was taught that love is conditional.

From the time I was a young child and into adulthood, both my parents withdrew from me when I did not meet their expectations. Yes, my mother threatened to sue me when I let her down and I have gotten hate mail from my father, but I understand why they did it. Their dysfunctional childhood years taught them how to push people away when things don’t go the way they envision.

We are all narcissistic by nature and many of us don’t know how to change. Broken relationships all over our world are evidence of this. Our presuppositions of others and tendencies toward making things about ourselves originate from our past relational wounds. Because we don’t learn unconditional love as children, it affects the way we love as adults. I wasn’t shown how to love my husband and kids, but I’m determined to learn how. Do I fail? Yes I do, but I continue to come back to the one who can show me how, God.

So my challenge this month is for each of us to focus on our relationships. What past hurts are preventing us from having healthy relationships now? Who do we need to forgive? What behaviors and thought patterns do we need to change in ourselves? Have we strayed from the One who is our example of unconditional love?

Work on your relationships, seek counseling if you need it, and this just might be the best Valentine’s Day ever!

“Loving God includes loving people. You’ve got to do both.”
( 1 John 4:21b MSG)