Monday, March 21, 2011

my story, part 5

isn't it interesting how your memory works? how you can recall some instances with vivid detail, the scents and the sounds, while there are some that even when your memory is jogged by people describing specific scenarios, and you KNOW you were there, but you simply CANNOT, for the life of you, remember it?? sometimes i feel like my brain is a black hole for information to be sucked in and die a slow death. i'm convinced that pregnancy converts brain cells to fat cells, never to return to their original state. :/ so here i am, attempting to piece together the play-by-play for this season in life and there are some things i can recall quite easily and some that have just been lost forever :) welcome to my world... lol

my hubby left for training on may 30, 2000. i know that was the exact date because it was also my father's 50th birthday and we had a party for him at my parents' house. yayyyyy. don't get me wrong - i love my dad - just wasn't in the mood for celebrating. graciously, little-one decided to start sleeping through the night just days before his departure so i was beginning to feel some return to "normalcy" (really? what is that? sheesh...) i have been trying to recall how exactly my hubby got to the airport for his flight out to georgia... but i can't remember. he was going to be in georgia (FLETC) for 3 months and then be home for a week and then continue his training outside of washington, d.c. with his graduation in november. i stayed a couple of nights at my parents' house and then went back to a lonely little 2 bedroom apartment with my 7 week old baby. we were living about 45 mins from my parents at the time which was a blessing and a curse :) being the fiercely independent first-born child i was (and am!) i wanted to do it all by myself. i didn't need any help! i got this thing! :) yeah right...

the thing i most remember from this time of my life was the loneliness and all the things i tried unsuccessfully to fill it up. i had joined a mom's group at my home church, "houston's first baptist church", and had the support of several amazing Godly women available to me. but the strength that i had gained through my prayer times and meeting times with them seemed completely sapped by the time i got home and was faced with the silence and reality of being left with myself, my emotions, and my insecurities... one of my main comforts was food. seeing as how it was just me and my little baby, there was no one to whom i was accountable. no one to share anything with. no one to hide anything from. it was scary and exhilarating all at the same time. i had the freedom to inhale whatever i wanted, at any time i wanted, and so i did. i dare say the drive-in staff at the "jack in the box", mcdonalds, and dairy queen were all too familiar with me :/ but who was gonna stop me? my daughter was not yet old enough to know what was going on in the front seat while her mother stuffed french fry after french fry in her mouth while driving one-handed back to the apartment, only to settle in on the living room couch, burger in hand, pseudo-peace in heart, quiet voice in head silenced by the incessant chewing. i knew it wasn't right. i KNEW it wasn't healthy - for my body, my heart OR my mind. all those post-pregnancy clothes i bought to wear "until i got my pre-pregnancy body back" were growing tighter and tighter. elastic was my friend and my greatest enemy. it allowed me to rationalize away the fact that i was nowhere near where i wanted to be. i remember getting a call from my now sis-in-law's wedding planner asking for my dress size for my brother's wedding, in which i was a bridesmaid (bridesmatron?) and i say laughingly "well, i'll say X, just to be safe, but i'll be smaller by then so we can have it taken in if we need to, right?" wouldn't you know, it was tight. :/ in a desperate attempt to feel better about myself, i decided, right before a visit to go see david in georgia, to get my hair done. i went to the salon and told her i wanted something fun, short, and funky. when she asked about color i said "something sassy - maybe red?" oh my word. when she got done i looked like a cross between bozo the clown and his chunky side-kick, cookie. it was like i went in there and said "i'd like you to give me a short cut that makes me look like a big fat clown and a color that really accentuates my nice, round face." it was TERRIBLE. and it made me feel yuckier. and so i ate more. i tried to camouflage it all with baggy clothes and overalls (because with overalls, you never know what lies underneath. i COULD have a ripped-to-shreds 6-pack and i'm simply trying not to show it off. you NEVER know.). i'll never forget my sweet paternal grandparents coming to visit that summer, to meet makenna for the first time and upon seeing me my grandfather says "jeni! looks like you've been doing a little too much of this!" (making fork from plate to mouth motions) and i say "grandpa! i just had a baby!" to which he replied "three months ago!" i laughed. he laughed. we all laughed. but you know what the saddest part was? he was right. HE WAS RIGHT. there was no denying that. i was out of control and my sweet grandpa, albeit demeaning and humiliating at the time, called me out on it.

food has always been a stronghold for me. it can comfort you instantly, simultaneously satisfy your taste buds and your loneliness, make you feel good. but as with all sin, the effects are short-lived and the consequences far-reaching. the guilt, shame, and disgust that followed were nearly unbearable. so it led me to eat again. and the vicious, vicious cycle continues on...

"when i want to do good, evil is right there with me. for in my inner being i delight in God's law; but i see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. what a wretched woman i am! who will rescue me from this body of death? thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!" romans 8:21-25
(again, i added woman instead of man. just so you know.)

i really could go on and on about the food issue. i still struggle but i am MUCH better. first and foremost, because it has forced me to seek God's face and whenever we do that, faithfully and wholeheartedly, He will ALWAYS show up. i have matured since then, but that's not to say i don't still struggle on a daily basis. but i don't give in nearly as often as i used to. i make the choice every day to pursue righteousness, fidelity, and HEALTH. not to be perfect. but to love myself and my Jesus and to want BETTER for me and my sweet family. to NOT pass on to my girls the generational sins of eating disorders and self-loathing due to unmet expectations placed on us by loved ones and ourselves. the realization that i am loved by the holy God of Israel, and we are "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God" (1 peter 2:9) that we may declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His wonderful light. and above all to "be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in ALL circumstances, FOR THIS IS GOD'S WILL FOR YOU in Christ Jesus" (1 thess. 5:16-18, emphasis mine) we were not created to live a life of bondage and defeat!! claim VICTORY in Him!! i am praying for you, sweet sisters. just lay it all at His feet and be honest and real with Him. He sees it all anyway - there is nothing hidden from Him. Christ's death on the cross was just for this purpose - to provide a way for us to His Father in Heaven and to overcome this world and all the filth in it. let's stop wallowing in guilt and heavy shame and start living as those in the light.

two books i LOVE, that have made a tremendous impact on me and my relationship with food are "Weigh Down Diet" by gwen shamblin and "Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food" by lysa terkeurst. in addition to the Holy Scriptures, these books will help motivate and encourage your mind, so much more so than that box of twinkies hollering your name from the pantry shelf. believe me, they're calling my name, too. just talk back to them. i'm serious! it's a little psychotic sounding, and i recommend doing it when it's just you and the offending mouthy snack food, but tell it back "you have done NOTHING for me but make me unhappy and fat and sad and miserable. you're going in the trash right now, mister!!" :) do it! you will feel so much better :)

love you girls - will continue with my story and the other struggles i had to wrestle in my desert of loneliness on another day. together, let's try today, whenever we feel the weakness of heart and strength of temptation, to drop to our knees (literally or figuratively) and place it all at the foot of the cross. it's all part of the pruning process. let's get rid of some of that dead weight. (yep, i fully intended that pun.) :)



  1. My sweet Jen. Why is it that us first borns are such people pleasers and perfectionists? Ah well...God is able!!! I still struggle with the effects of food but now have learned to tell items "No way, Mister" when they're still on the shelf at the store...not out loud, of course. Fight the good fight, Jenifer and know you're covered daily by prayer. I Love You!!

  2. Oh my dear girl.....I have struggled with my adulterous affair with food for years! Oh the favorites try to lure and seduce me...but most days I do better and the days I don't, I am better at NOT letting it suck me back into the pit! The times alone....the lack of accountability...the hiding the eating...EEEEK! I relate so well I hate to admit it! To be honest, I am not sure of the where or when or why, as my Mom said she would find me hiding cookies and snacks behind my curtains in my room which started around age 3-4. So in the end, I guess that just means I've been really screwed up for a really long time!!! Thank goodness for a God that has a plan for good for the least, most broken, messed up bunch of us! What I have embraced is that being a New Creation in Christ isn't a single moment when you accepted him in your heart or got baptized. It is a new daily re-creation of yourself by the Master's hand. We are continually being molded and's a journey and process...and by the time we go to heaven we ourselves will be and will be surrounded by endless, amazing, unique, beautiful works of art!

  3. Thanks so much for sharing Jen! Most of us will inevitably engage in some self-destructive or unhealthy behavior at some point in our lives to try and soothe ourselves or numb out from stress/difficult emotions. Food is a necessity, easily accessible, immediately gratifying, and flashed in front of our faces about every 30 seconds on TV. Its not surprising many people use it to soothe themselves eh? Yet, the soothing is oh so short lived and with multiple consequences as you described! You are a warrior in Christ. HE is the ultimate healer. HE can do so much more than I can as a therapist/physician, but so many people don't know HIM like you do! You are an inspiration and reminder to those of us who are believers to run like heck towards him during these difficult times.

    As for pregnancy and mommyhood frying our brains! My brain has not been the same since I got pregnant! Cognitive fogginess was actually my first pregnancy symptom. I call it "MOMMY BRAIN!" We are juggling way too much and something has got to give eh?

    I have to comment on your red hair incident! Oh Jen, I can only imagine! Yet, you can laugh about it now!

    Stay Strong!