What’s Your “Why?”

First things first, happy new year! I don’t think any of us will be missing 2020, so here’s to the hope and redemption that we have in Christ. [Can I get an ‘amen’???]

Over the course of (the insanity that was) the past year, God taught me a lot of the importance of slowing down, staying present, and trusting in the process. [I’ve been sharing more about these topics in my monthly newsletter. If you aren’t already signed up, you can do so here.] I’ve learned that it’s important to keep my focus on the present moment, rather than getting wrapped up in fears about the future, because those anxieties only serve to distract me from what my goals and purpose are in life. Throughout my recovery, I’ve really settled into a clear direction for my life, and I don’t want to lose sight of that. Here’s to a focused 2021, with our eyes on a steady God rather than the endless uncertainties of life.

Lately, I’ve really sought to align everything I do with what I believe to be my mission in life. That includes my relationships, my career, the way I spend my free time, this blog…and since I have strong convictions about my mission and purpose with writing here on this little corner of the internet, I wanted to share with you all how I tie my purpose, my recovery, and my writing all together.

I think it’s part of our human nature to wrestle with questions like, “What is my purpose?” or “What’s the meaning of life?” or “What do I want my experience of life to be?” In fact, I think it’s really important that we figure out what our answers to those questions would be, because we only get one shot at doing life ‘right’ and we ultimately are the ones who will suffer if we don’t live in a way that is consistent with those values. Maybe you’re feeling the tension of that disconnect right now…the disparity between how you’d like to live and how you’re actually living. The key to overcoming that tension and moving in the right direction is identifying the barriers in your life to living with purpose and meaning. 

For me, the biggest barrier to living a purpose-driven life, with a clear meaning and positive experience was my relationship with food and my body. When I was struggling with an eating disorder, I didn’t necessarily have the mental clarity to recognize the bigger implications of my struggles. But now that I’m past that season (glory to God) I’m able to see how profoundly my obsessions with food and exercise were interrupting my ability to live a fulfilling life. 

Circling back to those questions I posed at the beginning, the way I’d answer them today would go something like this:

  • What is my purpose? To worship God and revel in his love, and equip others to do the same.
  • What is the meaning of life? My life is defined primarily by the fact that I am dearly loved by the One who made me.
  • What do I want my experience of life to be? To contribute to the world in meaningful ways, and to feel peaceful and content when I’m not ‘doing.’
[Mission work is something I never did (or had the mental/emotional margin to care about) until I recovered from my eating disorder.]

Here’s how my eating disorder Got in the way of those things:

  • Purpose: When my mind was distracted by thoughts of food and exercise, I couldn’t focus on anything else. I was too preoccupied with myself and my desire to become smaller (my #1 goal at the time) to care about God or other people.
  • Meaning: I used to feel like my life was meaningless unless I was as thin as I wanted to be. (I never actually was the size/shape I desired…) Because I was constantly falling short of the standards I’d set for myself, I was overwhelmed a soul-crushing sense of shame.
  • Experience: My life was anything but peaceful. My spirit was constantly troubled, constantly worrying, constantly preoccupied. I felt like nothing I did was ever enough, and in moments of stillness, my soul was anything but. I actually feared quiet moments because I was left alone with my troubled thoughts, unable to find respite in distraction.

It wasn’t necessarily a logical thought process that led me out of my eating disorder and into a fulfilling life; I didn’t have the wherewithal to think clearly at all. But in a moment of desperation, I surrendered the idol that I’d held of a “perfect” body and a sense of control, and that served as the launchpad for different living. Experiencing what life could like apart from my eating disorder is what keeps me going in recovery today. The last thing I’d ever want is to fall back into the hell that was brought on by disordered eating.

What’s your why?

How do you want to live (in 2021 and beyond), and how is your relationship with food or your body getting in the way of your ability to do that?

I share more about my journey of healing my relationship with food in my new book, Fulfilled. In addition to my own experiences, I explain exactly how I walk my clients through the process of surrendering a life of dieting and cultivating a a fulfilling life that is focused on bigger things than food, exercise, and your body. Fulfilled is available for pre-order at AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBound, my publisher’s website, or any online or retail shops where you usually buy books!

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