Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT) “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. 24 Though they may stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.”
Every day I feels like I am stumbling through recovery. It is imperfect and I feel imperfect. I try to be okay as I embrace my imperfection, but on the days, I fall back into the eating disorder’s behaviors, I am not okay with it.
Stumbling is scary, but falling hurts! I was reminded of this as I tied my shoelaces and headed out onto the streets of Belize for a quick run before serving as the hands’ and feet of Christ to the Belizean people. I was a mile and a half into my run when I stumbled and, in what felt like slow motion, fell to the sand covered pavement on the side of the road. I took a quick inventory of my potential injuries before I lifted myself back onto my feet; two scraped knees, gravel in the lacerations on my hands, and a fractured pride. “Thank you Lord,” I whispered as I realized this could have been much worse. I was on the soft sandy berm of the road instead of the concrete sidewalk I had stepped off moments before my stumble. Although abrasive, the sand softened the blow.
I stood slowly and was more shaken up than hurt, but my fearful heart pounded and I walked gingerly, wondering if I would be able to run. Before attempting to hit my full stride once again, I faced the waves of Corozal Bay allowing the wind to sweep away the fine layer of dust now covering my body, while allowing the spray of the sea to refresh and calm my soul.
I was astonished that I had somehow fallen on a flat surface just as I was feeling euphoric running along the sea wall, delighted that I was back in Belize and no longer too sick to serve as part of the medical mission team.
As God so often does in my life, he is now using this fall to remind me that even in the moments when I stumble and fall in my recovery, he is there to hold my hand and lift me back to my feet. He wants me to fix my eyes on him so I don’t stumble, but in my perfect imperfection, I am often become more immersed in my surroundings than Jesus. So, I stumble and fall, first to the ground and then right back into His loving arms.
It is never God’s plan for me to fall, but I (we) live in this fallen world where we gaze at everything but his eyes, consequently we do stumble and fall. I believe he wants to soften the fall and use it to draw us near to him. He softened my fall on the street, and he continues to soften the blow of falling back into the eating disorder behaviors as I call out to him.
Sometimes, in my recovery, my stumbles become not just a fall, but total wipeout. I fall into complacency and take my God and my recovery for granted, forgetting to praise God and worship his mighty name, forgetting a simple thank you. I fall out of true communion with Jesus allowing room for Satan to trip me up. I forget to call out to Jesus who strengthens me and gives me the courage to eat as well as the resolution to keep the nourishment in my gut.
I obviously took my eye of the road for a split second, causing me to stumble and fall. I took my eyes of Jesus and his plans for my recovery, so once again I stumbled and fell back into the eating disorder behavior. I was cruising along in my work and not thinking about my recovery, I took my eye off the path of recovery the Lord has placed before me and I fell. I fell a lot harder than I have in recent memory, and it hurt me to the core. It is often the unseen wounds that are the most tender.
I took my eyes off Jesus, and like Peter sinking in the waves, I sank into three days of purging. Waves of fear and anxiety swept me off my feet, but it was the waves of regret, shame, and self-loathing for regressing that pulled me under. I was sinking quickly. “Jesus!” I called out,” I can’t do this by myself. I feel like I am drowning.” “Reach out for my hand, and take hold of it. Hold onto my promises and receive my grace.”
Then he imparted to me a loving admonishment/reminder John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” I knew I hadn’t remained in him. I was grateful for this reminder. Although I am not great at memorizing scripture and sighting it, he nudges me with words and then I search for them. (I like to think this is all part of my journey). It reassured me that I have hidden his words in my heart.
This is what can happen to me in my recovery , or to any of us facing a trial, illness, or addiction. We can all get lulled into this rhythm of complacency and forget that we still need to pay attention to our surroundings and remain in The Lord. We need to remain in communion with the father or just like our friend Peter, chances are we will sink, or at the very least get knocked down. It doesn’t have to be something dramatic to cause me to stumble and fall, but something innocuous , like loose gravel under my feet.