The Your Stories blogs are a place where women can bravely and authentically tell their story as it really is. We invite women to collide with Jesus and share how He is meeting them, transforming them and redeeming them. Kara Eckardt bravely shared at a recent Collide event and we hope her story meets you in yours…
There is a difference between being ready for something to happen and having everything all together. I have come to believe that in order to be ready to share my story I have to be out on the other side of it, speaking in hindsight, and communicating in past tense. This is not an expectation that Jesus ever asks of us. Did Mary have it all together when she was informed that she was going to give birth to the Son of God? God’s standards of readiness and our standards of readiness are usually different. I did not feel ready to communicate the reality of my eating disorder to the masses at a recent Collide event, but I took the microphone anyway (well two of them actually, the first one didn’t work) and spoke from the heart.
The most courageous truth-telling happens when we are still sitting in our reality, in the mud puddle. Bravery doesn’t have to look like pulling yourself out, cleaning yourself off, then saying I used to be in the mud. I used to think ‘bravery’ and ‘strength’ were words reserved for people who could stand alone and do things by themselves. However, strong and brave women are also the ones still sitting in the mud puddle with the vulnerability to ask someone to sit with them.
My mud puddle is my eating disorder, and I’ve been sitting in it for 12 years. Some years it has been more severe than others or it’s looked different, but the need for control never changed. The shame surrounding food and my body never changed. The OCD obsessions that are relieved by eating disorder compulsions never changed. Believing I am unworthy of love because of the body I’m in never changed. But you don’t get out of a mud puddle by pretending you aren’t in it. I made excuses for myself to get out of going back to counseling. I can figure this out on my own, it’s not really that bad, no one has to know, it’s not affecting anyone, it’s not bad enough, I’ve already tried counseling and it didn’t work.
In the book of Mark, there’s a woman who has been getting her period, continuously, for 12 years. She heard about the healing power of Jesus, but she had also been burned by numerous doctors, spent all her money, and only got worse. I bet she made excuses, too. I can figure this out on my own, it’s not really that bad, no one cares either way, it’s not affecting anyone, it’s not bad enough, I’ve already tried all the doctors and it didn’t work. Under the excuses was probably a lot of fear. We fear disappointment, getting worse, getting shot down, being shamed again, and that’s why vulnerability requires bravery. Because it takes courage raise your white flag. When the bleeding woman surrendered and made her way towards Jesus, she had to get out of the mud puddle.
But when you spend 12 years in the mud, you’ve probably found safety there. Our pain and suffering can become safe because we expect them and if we’re honest with ourselves, they can bring us comfort.
Underneath the excuses and fear there is a deep desire to want wholeness. Sometimes we hold our fear and excuses and pain in one hand, and we hold our desire for wholeness in the other and that’s okay. You can hold your doubt while you walk to Jesus, that’s what makes vulnerability require bravery. Bravery is not knowing the outcome, and that’s what makes faith in Jesus so scary. I believe that Jesus wants healing for me as much as I do, and I believe that He has the power to do it. And there are still days when I’m leaning over the toilet asking God if I’ve gotten any better or arguing with Him because I’m not ready to give this up.
Then there are days like today. When I’m on a walk and it’s quiet on the trail. When I can say out loud, “I love my body and it is beautiful. I love my hips. I love my thighs. I love my arms. I love my hair.” There are days like today that I can be brave to say that I love my stretch marks that feel like they’re growing every day. I can say I love my tongue that has cuts from my mouth expander as a kid. I love my knees, even though they don’t allow me to run like they used to. Don’t get me wrong, it is uncomfortable saying those things out loud. I hesitate every time and I still doubt that they’re true. But it’s still a step.
Even your smallest, most reluctant steps of bravery are big acts of faith in Jesus. You are ready for healing because God is ready for you. You are ready to go to Him because He is also with you the whole way, and He calls you daughter every step. No matter how long it takes or how many times you find yourself in the mud again, Jesus will always wash you clean.