The Shape of Recovery

Recovery, at least in my experience, is not like in the movies. No running, arms outstretched, into the sunset. More of an embarrassed  and painful shuffling –  forwards (and sometimes backwards, too).     An event – but also a process.

First, the event:

a moment, when everything changed and Christ broke into my world.

A miracle, at least to me.

When I was at my lowest weight,  it was like being behind a thick perspex screen: I could see people mouthing and pointing, but they were a long, long way off.  No amount of pleading or threatening or waving could break the glass. My hair fell out, my fingers turned black, I was covered in fine body hair and my organs were eating themselves. But I didn’t care. It’s funny: look in the mirror for long enough and you stop seeing yourself. What I needed was someone bigger and more beautiful than anorexia to break in.  Which is exactly what Jesus did.’You’re mine’ He said.  ‘I love you.  But I won’t leave you like this’.

An event.  A miracle.  But a quiet one, with no special effects.  No thunderclap, no car chases and no soft-focus lighting. If you listened, very very carefully, you might have heard a tiny click, as something  fell into place. But even that might have been my imagination.

But I’m finding that recovery is more than just an event.  It’s a process as well. A rejection of old patterns of thinking – self-hatred, perfectionism, moralism – as well as old behaviours. And this takes time.

God is not Paul Daniels.  And getting better is not magic – ‘shazzam! All fixed.    When things break, my instinct is to chuck ’em out and get a better model.  But people aren’t vacuum cleaners.  And God works with what’s already there.  I’d like a shiny new airbrushed Emma.  But instead, he’s redeeming the limping, snot-nosed girl I’ve always been. He’s taking the bits I hate about myself and making them into something he can use. Something I can’t keep despising – even though that’s the easy option.

So.  Recovery –  process And event.  But the power behind both is not mine.  It’s His.  And that’s what makes it all worthwhile.




5 thoughts on “The Shape of Recovery

  1. Thanks so much for this post – I think it’s really helpful to see recovery as a process as well as an event.

    I often think similarly about forgiveness. When we forgive someone, it is a one-off action, but it can also be a process. It’s the re-choosing to forgive when memories are triggered afresh and old pains resurface. Sometimes it takes more work than just a one-off decision.

    What do you think? :-)

  2. Hi Tanya – yes, I think the forgiveness analogy is a good one. And in fact, it’s the whole Christian life: we’re changed and saved and righteous and justified – but that works out on a daily basis too.

  3. Hi Emma,

    I love what you say about recovery. I have been seeking freedom from my compulsive overeating for a good number of years now. I did a course called New ID which is a 6 week Christian course on eating disorders. It gave me the hope of complete freedom. Its taken years but finally I have allowed Jesus to touch me in the area of my eating.

    I was set free from over eating about 6 weeks ago. The emotional link to food, and bingeing has been broken and I am losing weight naturally without trying.

    I totally get what you mean about event and process. The overeating has been broken but I am in a process of learning to deal with my emotions without eating. I have all this pain I need to learn how to deal with. I am learning and 6 weeks later I am much calmer. Jesus is helping me to deal with my emotions differently and more wisely!

    Great post.

  4. Hi Lynda – well done for letting Jesus into your eating: that’s an enormous and very brave step. It’s a great encouragement to me too: thank you!

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