Waiting on my Promise

As I posted Monday, Sunday was a hard day regarding self perception and body image. Sadly for my tired mind, the struggle has continued all week. It has left me a bit worn to be honest. It leaves me quite exhausted as I battle the thoughts every minute, trying to avoid any reflection, distracting with whatever I can. No matter how hard I try to let the thoughts go, they somehow manage to come right back like a boomerang. I am even sitting here writing this all too aware of my skin, feeling too present in my body, scared to look down and see myself.

With these struggles, my mind begins to wander. There is a train of thought that is still habitual in days like these. It begins as a criticism that turns into a goal for change that turns into a plan that ends in defeat and frustration and destruction. When you know the way out and you know what would bring results, it can be extremely difficult when you are at your most vulnerable to avoid taking a step onto that path. When you stand before yourself in front of a mirror with nothing or nobody to hide you, the temptation is hard to resist. Your brain and body seem to forget the torture you walked out of that was created by that one decision to change what you saw. They seem to forget what brought you to this place where hate is programmed. Nothing matters except waking up tomorrow to see a different result.

I was not even five minutes into my day today and I already had my demise planned. It happens so quickly, so forcefully, and yet also so passively because somehow in the midst of engaging in life and finding happiness, the thoughts snuck in and kept accumulating to this day when I could not stand to be who I was. I know one choice could change it all, but I know I have come way too far to succumb to making it.

This past weekend on two different days in two different churches by two different speakers, I was reminded of the story of Ishmael and Isaac. The story in brief is as follows; God promised Abraham a son and that his descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth. However, under the current circumstances, it does not seem plausible. His wife, Sarah, having not borne him any children yet and now 75, offered for him to sleep with her slave, Hagar, so perhaps he could build a family with her. Abraham could not wait for God’s promise so he decided to go and help God out in the process, thinking for himself and what we wanted, and agreed to Sarah’s offer. Hagar bore a son who would be named Ishmael. What we discover though is the promise of God would not go through Ishmael because the covenant had already been made with Abraham, with a yet unborn Isaac the designated heir, before Ishmael was conceived or born. Although Ishmael was Abraham’s first born, he was not the plan of God’s promise being fulfilled. Ishmael was the idea of Abraham, the result of man taking control. God’s promise rested in Isaac who would be born fourteen years later in what seemed an impossible situation which could only be done supernaturally. Isaac’s birth came out of a miracle. He, the divine promise, inherited the promises of God. Ishmael is a perfect example of happens when we take God’s promises and make them happen in our own way and time, when impatience dictates our decisions, and we begin to believe that we know best.

So why am I telling you this? I asked myself the same question this weekend. Why was God speaking through two different people the same message I would hear? I could apply this message to numerous areas of life, but why was I hearing it this week? What made this week be when these words needed to seep into my heart? I thought about it a lot the beginning of the week, spending time with God in prayer. But the past couple of days when self perception increased greatly, my focus shifted and my thinking became more earthly than spiritually.

However this morning I was redirected quite unexpectedly. After a debacle with the mirror, I went back to my bed and just rested for a bit, hoping the feelings and the thoughts of negative self worth would subside. I reached for my phone to see a text from a friend telling me extremely exciting news about something she has dreamt for a long time. And my response to her was “it is so amazing to watch God fulfill His promises to us.” And as I reread it, the word promise brought me back to Sunday and to the trials of this week. God opened my eyes.

In the midst of the pain and the frustration, I seemed to have forgotten the promises God has made me. I forgot He told me that one day I am going to adore and appreciate this body. One day I am going to fall madly in love with who I am, stare into the mirror and smile at that reflection. One day this body will have no flaws in my eyes, no imperfections I need to fix, nothing on it I need to hide. One day I will not wake up, scared of what I will see and crying out of the fact I am bound to this skin. One day I am going to be more than okay to be who I am. But even more than the promise of accepting my body is the promise God has given me about what this body will do. In the tears and the screams, I seemed to have forgotten that God promised me one day this body is going to help me change lives, speak truth into the world, and to see people free. One day this body is going to walk me through every dream, every purpose, and through every single door God opens. One day this body is going to carry me around the world and share what it means to walk in the glory of God. One day this body is going to be an inextinguishable light in the darkest places of the world and in people’s hurting hearts. One day this body is going to run to callings and chase after dreams and fly to its destiny. This journey is not about the vessel I am in but about the message the vessel holds. It is about being built so I am ready for when God says go and God has promised one day He and I are going to take off.

God has promised me an Isaac. But in the hard times, I plan for Ishmael. I think of what I can do to make my promises come quicker. I put God’s promises in my own hands. I want them to be fulfilled in my own way. I have my own vision for them and how to bring them to life. I know, however, what God has promised will not happen on my terms, in my own means, in own my plan. Just like the promise of God did not go through Ishmael because the covenant had already been made with Isaac as the fulfillment, my promise of love for this body and what it will do will not go through reshaping myself and shrinking away because God has already made it through recovery being the end. God’s promises are tied up with whatever is impossible. People wrote off me ever getting better. I believed I would not make it to the light and I deemed this feat of overcoming the anorexia to be completely not doable. But it is in what we say can never be done that God pours out His love and grace. We must learn to be patient, to be willing to trust God’s timing and His plan. No promise has ever been broken by Him. I am no exception.

No matter what I do or have done and no matter how many Ishmaels I have created, God is not going to take away my Isaac. His promise is based off of what He does and not what I do. I may try to make my promise happen now and make things more difficult, but God is not deterred by that. God does not fear what it will do to the plan because regardless of how I try to control it, it will always be in His hands. His purpose is unshakable. Nothing will stop the plans He made and nothing will take His love away. He will always find a way for me to see my Isaac.

No matter what happens. No matter the darkness I will face and what awaits me in the days to come. No matter what I feel and how scared I may be. For my Isaac, I am willing to wait…

Hope, love, and blessings,

J.L.