It’s fairly custom to use the New Year holiday to reflect and set goals for the following year — with most of the goals revolving around the purpose of becoming a better person.
For me this type of reflection occurs everyday, multiple times a day in fact, and not in the most self-loving way. I make one mistake, and I turn into a bloated bottle of rage and negative energy. Usually these types of mistakes center around food (as someone with an eating disorder, this isn’t much of a surprise). The other day I found myself continuing to eat a lunch even though it didn’t taste good, so I kept putting various condiments on it to try to help. After I ate, I went through a series of thoughts — ranging from why didn’t you just throw it out altogether to think of how many extra calories you added from all the condiments??!!
Later that afternoon, I sat down on my yoga mat, clawing at my stomach, and feeling tears of frustration pool up in my eyes. I was miserable because I couldn’t let go of events that had happened hours earlier. Midway through the yoga session, I took a deep breath in and a long breath out, and I whispered I FORGIVE MYSELF. It seems silly, a small, trivial thing, but I can’t describe the relief that came over me.
If you have an eating disorder, this won’t seem like a silly thing. And if you don’t have an eating disorder, this is a small peek into what the constant mind battle it is to have one.
Most of the time I give myself a 24-hour reset allowance, which means that if I make a “mistake” mid-morning that my whole day is “ruined.” This is obviously not a healthy way of thinking, so I suppose my big picture resolution is to be more forgiving of myself and my complicated relationship with food and work on replacing the lingering negative thoughts with positive ones, like this one:
God forgives me for every single one of my sins I have committed and will commit in the future — both big and small — and he extends his grace and mercy to me every single moment of the day. I, too, will give myself more grace, and less perfection.
If you have a story about mental illness—whether personal or concerning a loved one—please consider sharing your experience, either by writing a guest post, or doing an interview with me. Even if you aren’t at a place yet where you feel comfortable disclosing your name, the church body needs your voice. Let’s shine a light on the darkness, together.