by Abby Kelly
My parents threw a party last month. It was a special event to show off their grandkids who live out of state and to celebrate the publication of my first book. When they chose the date, no one realized that it would land neatly on top of the same weekend they began moving from the house they’ve lived in for seventeen years.
It was a bit maddening for my mother! Half of her life had already migrated to new address, while she was expecting up to 80 guests at the old house! But, the dynamics created by the convoluted schedule were magical; it was in the chaos that I found redemption.
Part of moving is inevitably going through piles of old “stuff”—letters buried at the back of the desk and forgotten five years before, stuffed animals loved right out of their fur, photo albums lovingly created and abandoned on book shelves, paperbacks enjoyed once but not worth reading again, dusty silk flower arrangements, school year books, gymnastics trophies… But, among the mundane, we found precious things like blankets crocheted by Grandma and handmade baby dresses.
I plucked a photo album from the stack and flipped through the first several pages. My own face, barely recognizable stared back at me. There I was, sitting in this same room, ten Christmases past, a shell of myself, a skeleton of a woman. My eyes were haunted by dark gray shadows and ringed with fatigue. Though I must have been watching someone open a gift, there was no light in my eyes. I remember now, calculating how many calories were in that cinnamon roll my mother made me eat and wondering if anyone would notice if I left and went for a run.
God says He is the same yesterday, today and forever. Praise Him that I am not so! Because He is, my was, is not my is. And my will be is even better.
One reason for last month’s party was to celebrate the publication of my new book, The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story. As I wrote the book, I effectively closed my was chapter, and stepped bravely into is. That weekend, plowing through my parents’ closets brought the differences between was and is into distinct contrast. I can see clearly what God has done to redeem my past.
Some things that marked this final stay in my parents’ old home as the dawning of a glorious is:
Every morning, I sat and sipped coffee with my Dad instead of leaving the house to go for a 20 mile run.
I took cat naps with my mother instead of fearing how many pounds I would accumulate while resting.
I looked at my baby pictures and thought, “I was adorable!” instead of despising my appearance.
I walked my mom’s dog and stopped to smell her neighbor’s flowers instead of trying to turn it into a power walk.
I ate some of my grandmother’s chocolate chip cookies.
I didn’t fall asleep in church because my brain was starved for energy. Instead I relished the pastor’s sermon and lifted my hands in worship.
I didn’t overhear my parents discussing my illness in anxious, hushed tones.
All of these observances culminated on the Saturday afternoon of the party. Almost 80 of parents’ friends poured through the house. These were people who had prayed for me and held my parents’ hands when I went to college, and when they received worried phone calls from my dorm supervisor. These people prayed for me even though they didn’t know me. These people knew my story, knew my family’s pain in the middle of my eating disorder and held us before the throne. These people are part of the reason I am here today.
Today is new. I am fuller, happier. I am free from fear of food and compulsory exercise. Today, I see the world as so much bigger than myself. Thank God that I am not the same as I was.
And even more glorious? I’m the not same as I will be. God has promised that I cannot conceive of the good things He has planned for me. He has promised that one day I will behold the face of my Savior and I will be like Him (2 Corinthians 3:18). He has promised me a future and hope.
Last month, I recognized redemption. One weekend was a microcosm of the span of my life and I can see clearly how God redeemed me. It is in that context that I am more excited than ever, more grateful than ever that God has redeemed my soul. I love is and new, I am joyful now, but I am ever so excited about what will be.
What is one evidence that Christ has made your life new? How is your is different than your was? Can you use this to share the Gospel with others?
Abby Kelly is a freelance writer and the author of the new book, The Predatory Lies of Anorexia: A Survivor’s Story. You can follow Abby’s blog at www.predatory-lies.com. As she enjoys the newness of life God has given her, she uses writing and pet therapy with her dog, Brave, to help reach out to others who are hurting or struggling.