Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Outside the sun is shining, heaven ain’t far away

”This is man! He is not transparent, not monumental, not simple. In fact he is poor.”
The Jeweler’s Shop, Karol Wojtyla

Remember way back when, when vulnerability was the word of the day?

Along those lines, I attended a talk last week discussing vulnerability in relation to eating disorders. One of the most prominent examples of vulnerability in our lives is food. Food is a physical symbol of vulnerability: we cannot self-generate it, and we cannot live without it. We depend on it to live, but we cannot depend on it always being there. Food is a daily reminder that we depend on others to live. How beautiful that Christ gave Himself to us as food--meeting us where we're most vulnerable.

That's a difficult truth to acknowledge, because a lot of the current treatment for eating disorders is all about taking control and being in control. But we aren't in control. The wonderful thing about life is that it's always beyond our control. And Faith means trusting that someone is in control, and will watch out for us. In a way, trying so hard to be in control is where we spiral out of control. And often that manifests itself in eating. There are those who are out of control in every other aspect of their lives, except their eating. And there are those who are in control of every other aspect of their lives, except their eating. 

The awful dieting catchphrase “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” is almost true, due to the addictive nature of an eating disorder. Feeling empty and hungry releases endorphins and becomes an addiction. Honestly, skinny feels good. 

Another issue that hinders recovery from an eating disorder is the private nature of the disease. It's something so secret and personal, but part of the healing process is being able to talk about it, and open up to those around you. But once you open up and confide in people, there's a pressure from others to heal. This pressure is definitely not helpful. Healing needs to take place in private, not under the pressure to “be better,” under pressure to meet others expectations of healing.

Vulnerability, said our speaker, is only beneficial when experienced in the care of God. In other words, being vulnerable without the support of a constant, unconditional Love is dangerous and potentially hurtful. In conquering an eating disorder, a person is constantly thinking about the issue, bombarded with the issue. Sometimes it can be hard to remember you have an identity beyond it. 
There are very few moments in life when we are allowed to feel small. There is a beautiful feeling of smallness that comes from being in held in an embrace, or looking at a landscape, or walking into St. Peter's. When you realize you're not in control, you can let go and allow yourself to be small.

""How does one become a butterfly?" she asked. "You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar."
Trina Paulus

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