I don’t talk about anorexia very much anymore. And I don’t think about it as much, either. But this time of year, I cannot help but come to a freezing halt. In the midst of the holiday joy and peaceful silent nights, I feel a broken ache rise from deep within me, and an incredible gratitude for the daily moments I now enjoy. The frosty windowpanes, the dark nights, the warm tea by the fireplace; it gives me perspective, reminding me how far the Lord has brought me from Christmastimes before.
On December 26, 2014, I begrudgingly scraped off my car windows in the dark and headed to The Center for Balanced Living, to start the partial hospitalization program for anorexia nervosa. Even as I write this, I can feel my own terror– and shame– on that dark morning. I’d argued with my my parents about it, begged them to let me wait. But, thankfully, they hadn’t obliged. Thankfully, December 26 was the day I began to finally let go (RELATED: Let’s Talk About Eating Disorders).
It was all a blur at first: The names, the schedule, the skills. But by the second week, I was cautiously advancing, letting the Lord take over. And I remember New Year’s Day. After lunch, we all bundled up and went outside. We walked through the woods and into a clearing. We stood in the silence, and the reverberating beauty of nature muffled the fear in my heart. “This,” Dr. Hill said, “is the start of a new year for you. Let this be your best year yet.” In that moment, her words were far from cliché. They resonated with me, like flickering avenues of light in my heart. Before that Christmas, I had little hope that my life would ever be marked by freedom. I had faint recollections of such a reality, but I was merely a child. I hadn’t a clue how to function without an eating disorder, without the barriers of control.
So in that moment, I whispered what little hope I had, and I offered it to God. And I closed my eyes. I promised I’d never forget that moment. And I haven’t. In memory of that Hannah, I keep December 26 as my own little holiday. Like the Israelites claiming the Promised Land, I have set up this memorial stone so I do not forget the radical goodness of the Lord.
As soon as we wave goodbye to Christmas, conversations have already turned to losing weight and eating healthy and all kinds of resolutions for 2017. Frankly, I hate it. At the same time though: I get it. I understand that glimmer of hope that we can somehow reach these enormous goals with a little New Year’s magic. We get so focused on the future and its endless opportunities, that we forget to look back for perspective.
We have to look back to move forward. Otherwise, we get so doggedly focused on the next steps that we miss the memorial stones. We miss the chances to glorify the Lord for the steps we have already taken. This year, I challenge you to let God decide what resolutions and goals you should strive to reach. As I found out multiple years in a row- there’s little point in setting goals on your own. They turn out to be the wrong goals or too difficult to stick to without the Lord (RELATED: The timeline of God’s goodness in your life). So why not let Him direct you in the first place? When I finally surrendered my goals of control and seclusion, I heard His whisper of freedom on that chilly New Year’s Day.
I share my story with this encouragement: Remember what the Lord has done. Remember the pain and sorrow He has carried you through, the joy and blessing He has showered upon you. Remember the ways He has brought you nearer to His side. And with that in mind: Ask Him how He wants you to approach the new year. One year, one memorial stone at a time: We will grow in gratitude and godliness and we will be more awestruck than ever before.