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“For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble.  You surround me with songs of victory.”  Psalms 32:7 NLT

Do you ever want to just run away and hide from life?  I certainly do, and I have—many times.  

Not long after I wrote my first post on SISTER, STRONGER, I felt consumed by fear and insecurity.  I believed the voice in my head that insisted, “No one cares…Give up!  Your thoughts don’t matter.  YOU don’t matter.”  

That voice seems to scream at me most days.  

That’s not by accident.  There is a dark strategy at work in those moments when shouts of condemnation interrogate our souls.

A few weeks ago, I read Brené Brown’s “The Gifts of Imperfection,” and so much in that text hit me right between the eyes.  I’ve had the book for more than a year, but I hadn’t read it until now.  Its message came right on time.

I believed what I read – that our imperfections open us up to what Brené calls, “wholehearted living,” which she describes as a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.  I recognized my own need to work through what was still preventing me from living life in this way.

I decided to phone a friend.  I have only known Danya for a few months, but after meeting her, it didn’t take me long to see that she is someone who is both honest and compassionate in the sincerest of ways.

When she answered, I explained that I knew I needed to work through some thoughts in my head, but I didn’t know where to start.  After about a minute or two of rambling, I finally stumbled upon the conclusion that I was working hard to avoid – I was drowning in shame.

Shame for who I was.  Shame for who I wasn’t.  Shame that can’t be escaped, no matter how hard I tried.  Shame so deeply imbedded in me that I wasn’t even capable of identifying its origin.  It’s been there as long as I can remember.

Then she asked me a powerful question.  She said, “What would it take for you to look in the mirror and love what you see?”  

A lump instantly gathered in my throat and my eyes grew damp.  My first thought was, “Would that even be possible?”  My second thought was about my weight.  I shared with her my second thought.

Next, Danya asked me if I ever ate beyond feeling full.  I responded with a simple, “Yes.”  Then, almost as if she had a window into my subconscious mind, she asked me to consider how I am benefitting from overeating, because I wouldn’t continue to do it if I wasn’t somehow gaining something from it.

Then it hit me.  I have believed that staying overweight offers me protection from getting hurt.  It’s a survival tactic.  A way for my true, vulnerable self to stay hidden, even in plain sight.  

No one notices the girl who doesn’t even notice herself.

The lie of overeating (and other addictive behaviors) is that it will somehow relieve my suffering.  Instead, it becomes the source of even more hurt and self-loathing.  The self-loathing then feeds my desire to numb my emotions, and shame buries me deeper into despair—searching for an antidote for the pain.  The cycle can perpetuate for a lifetime.

When I choose to retreat, isolation continues to inflate the lie by breeding more toxic shame, encouraging fear, and eliminating the opportunity for meaningful, healing connection.

It’s nearly impossible to see the light of truth when you’re alone in the dark.  

However, there is hope despite our present circumstances.  There is a hand that beckons us out of the shadows and into the light.  It is the nail-scarred hand of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  He knows our faults.  He knows our pain.  Yet, He wants us, still.  We must simply accept the invitation.  This is the first step towards dismantling the power of the lie.

We must believe that there is another way, a better way…”You are my hiding place.”

One of true security…”You protect me from trouble.”

That does not require me to abandon my worthiness…”You surround me with songs of victory.”

In order to sincerely live out the values of COURAGE, CONNECTION, and PURPOSE as a SISTER, STRONGER, I must accept that I’ve been hiding in the wrong places and for the wrong reasons for far too long.  It’s time to let go.  It’s time to surrender.  

I must surrender the familiar land of rejection, fear, anxiety, and numbing, and trade it in for the acceptance, peace, joy, and love available only through the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ.  

Jesus endured the cross, not to prevent me from hiding, but because he knew I would.  Life-controlling issues like addiction are deeply rooted in our sinful human nature, and the process towards freedom is often a long and twisted road.  It’s no secret that change is hard, but restoration is made available to us through Christ.

So, if it is true and lasting victory over my personal self-loathing and addiction that I desire, I can no longer hide from love while repeating the lie that I am not worthy of it.  

Christ deemed me worthy of the ultimate sacrifice.  An act of perfect love.  

He deemed you worthy, too.  

Living as a SISTER, STRONGER does not mean I’m invincible.  Quite the opposite, actually.  It simply means I’m walking this road of life, willing to take unfamiliar paths, when necessary, to grow.  I’m not perfect, but I am honest.  I know I don’t have to chase other’s expectations or conditional validation, but I do have to allow Melissa to become who Melissa already is…not hidden, but seen.  

“Father, thank you for not giving up on us, even during those times when we have given up on ourselves.  Grant us peace where there is fear, and love where there is hurt.  Arm us with COURAGE to fight the lie that we are not enough.  Encourage us through genuine CONNECTION with our SISTERS.  Reveal to us the PURPOSE for which we have been created.  For it is by your Mighty Name that we overcome the dark and walk into the light of your truth.  Thank you for always being a safe hiding place – a refuge and a shield in times of trouble.  Thank you for deeming us worthy of your ultimate sacrifice.  Amen.”

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