The Heartbeat of My Story

Have you ever been to a doctors appointment that makes you just want to run away? I had to go for an appointment with a cardiologist today after I’d been having some strange heart palpitations the past few weeks. I hadn’t met the doctor the first time I went in, only the Nurse Practitioner, so he began with the usual questions. What brought me in, what is my health history, etc.

Shame washes over me as a doctor asks me about my health history. Do I always have to start with the fact that I dealt with an eating disorder for 15+ years? They always ask why and when did I no longer deal with it?

Why?

How do you answer why to something that you don’t know the answer to yourself? I don’t know why I spent all my teenage years and 20’s fighting this battle? Why that now, in my mid 30’s it still rears its ugly head in so many different ways. I wish I had a good answer for you, but I don’t. There’s no date, no year I can say that it ended. It ends sometimes and then before I know it I’m back into disordered eating behavior again. I don’t choose to go back there, truthfully I never even realize I’m there until something triggers me to stop and go, whoa…how did that happen?

Nobody chooses this or wants to struggle. Struggling with an invisible illness is a whole different ball game. I don’t have a broken arm or something else with an obvious outward sign that something is wrong, it’s inside and more often than not, no one knows. The stigma of mental illness is heartbreaking because it’s just as much of a sickness, yet most suffer in silence and alone.

I sit in the chair facing the doctor and try to explain to my health history, all the while my cheeks are burning as I know he’s not understanding why I would “choose” to do this to myself. So as he’s asking me questions, and in the midst of our talking, I remembered back to how far I have come. Finally I said to him, “I really have come a long way, I never would have thought in the thick of struggling with my bulimia that I would be alive to sit here today. God has been so gracious to me to allow me the days He has given to me and I just want to make sure everything with my heart is good so I can continue to tell the story that He has for me.”

As I said it out loud, I remembered. I remembered the days I thanked Him for the suffering and the softened heart it has given me. I thanked Him for His mercy of each breath and remember that this is my story to tell, nobody else’s. I have come to peace with my past, there are days I let the negative voices in my head take over for a bit and I forget, but then God reminds me again of who I am in Him. He doesn’t see my mess, He sees me…totally separate from my past and forgiven a thousand times over. I get the opportunity each breath I have to take the mess and weave it into a message about who I am in Him. To show hope to others who might not see a light anywhere else. I choose to be joyful, even in my struggles because my joy isn’t found in something tangible, its found in Jesus alone.

I’ll never have it all together. Like I have said before, this is a place for the real and the messy. If you have it all together, I am so glad for you, but the rest of us are just trying each day to make it as best we know how. For today, I need to be reminded of who I am in Him. I am not my past, it simply serves to be a part of my story today.

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