For a book I am writing about my own life, I have been reading my own journals. What a mine of evidence there is in those that I have taken steps forward!
That is good news for some days it can feel as if I am traversing the same lessons again and again. Can you relate?
I have also found pictures of how fraught with struggle my life has been at times. Struggle shared by many. For this reason, I am publishing this experience.
Twenty-eight years ago, when I wrote this entry in October 1993, I used food as a drug of choice to deaden the pain I felt emotionally. Eating is an intimate action and and be used to numb pain. I used it that way for a very long time, before I became brave enough to face the pain I felt. Here’s what I wrote:
“Today I am feeling wiped out because of eating sweets late last night. I was hurting emotionally, feeling loss and hopelessness. I ate late at night, rather than going to bed. I felt like a drug addict trying to get a rush! Anyway, I feel bad this morning – physically and spiritually. My assignment in my devotional plan is to write a psalm. This morning, I write this lament:
O God, my God-
How far have I fallen?
How far have I escaped from your shelter and love!
I am alone—
Pain is my companion
Heart pain. Head pain. Body pain.
God I need you—
I desire to be near you,
I hurt to know you,
I feel bereft, far from your love.
Help me, O Lord.
God, I turn and turn to food for my salvation and comfort.
I turn to sweets to deaden pain.
My stomach becomes my god.
I flee your truth and believe a lie.
I run from the Real to take part in the False.
I turn away from you.
I scoff at your Word.
I become like a beast—
Senseless, hurting, blind, hopeless, driven, instinctual.
Like an instinctual beast I scour the refrigerator,
and seek out my prey.
God, Oh my God I long for you.
I am a sinner.
I am an empty shell.
My feelings are all confused.
My heart is bent.
My life is stripped.
I look to you from this pit,
From the dark, I look up, toward the light.
From hell, I stare, longing for heaven.
Turn my head to you.
Open my eyes.
Lord, I lift your praise up, Holy King.
I lift up this: In You is my hope and might, Lord.
You alone are holy. I honor you, O Pure One.
You are the only Wise God,
Who sees my sin and despair.
Change me, search me, know me.10/4/1993 B. Shimer
I was so low that day, under water, hopeless. I turned to God that morning, seeking hope. The lament ended with the best prayer requesting God to change, search and know me. God has been faithfully answering this prayer through the years. I’ve definitely been a work in process. In many ways, we all are such works.
I’m also a man in recovery on so many levels, from food addiction, from sexual brokenness, from addictive cycles, from sin. On the most basic level, I’ve been seeking to recover what it means to be human. This is the most basic recovery for us all. To move from being as I described above,
“…a beast— Senseless, hurting, blind, hopeless, driven, instinctual. Like an instinctual beast I scour the refrigerator, and seek out my prey.”
To become a whole person, a person alive, dynamic, and filled with hope– this takes time. Perhaps, this is the major recovery. This has been the work of my life’s camino, I believe, to become fully human.
Often, people use the words, “Well, I’m only human,” to excuse some misstep or sin.
When, actually, to be human, truly human is to be the most like Jesus possible. True humanity was demonstrated and measured by the life of the One who was one with the Father, raised the dead, cast out demons, cleansed lepers, gave sight to the blind, set the captive free and brought near the Kingdom. To be human looks like not unlike Jesus. Anything less, well, that’s what we grow out of.
I look back and see all kinds of evidences of my “less than human” moments and seasons. Yet, through them all it helped me to be vulnerable, to capture anguished thoughts on paper, and release my inadequacies into the hand of the One who cared the most.
Thankfully, in the some 9,980 days since that journal entry, God has continued to meet me as I am in order to welcome into fullness my true humanity.
He is doing the same for you.
Keep being your vulnerable self before God and others. We are in a long stretching season. It can feel wearying. Bring your honesty before God. Write your own lament and listen for the God of the heavens and the earth to bring life, hope and your true humanity to your beating heart.