December at my annual visit, the nurse instructs, please step on the scale. I’d not weighed in about year; quite a feat from once weighing myself 2 to 3 times day.
She says, “110.”
I’m fine with the news; I didn’t freak out but nodded; not thrilled, yet not devastated.
I’d spent almost a decade seeking to control my inner chaos by regulating my weight. Gaining a pound resulted in punishment, restricting eating and upping exercise. No days would pass without stepping onto the scale 2 to 3 times. I’d psych myself out with an internal pep talk, seeking to convince my body to not step onto the scale and I always failed.
Stabilizing my weight at 101 and under caused a profound sensation of power. Since 12 years of age I’d trained my body to function on deprivation. Perfecting the formula at 22, I was an expert, shattering the 100 mark, got my weight down to 96 pounds; I was dying inside.
My deficiency of body echoed intensely of similar sounds, pinging the family dynamic I’d ascended from. To eat meant to die and yet to not eat resulted in utterly limitless shame. Consumption lost its goodness; it was only a temptation, a gateway to disorder. I repeatedly maintained these disarrays amid my body crevices.
Staying alive, preserving power prompted a complete loss in desire but a temporal success in controlling the pandemonium. I never got better, only worse. The chaos only arose higher, fuming the aroma of each day filling my heart space with lassitude and anxiety. Sedating my spirit, listening for the needle to find a number, placing the choice of life or death on weight was every day’s pace.
I’d breathe power or plight at the mercy of weight. Stumbling back all humane wishes, I’d denied again a choice at life and succumbing to the damning power that only capped chaos but never fully tamed it.
Totally letting go of my control was a doomed decision to enter into the commotion, taking off the cap and confronting the beast head on.
This happened winter last year, I threw my scale in the trash, a choice that took chaos off the leash and into the party. Havoc and chaos run together, dismantling norms and throwing ungodly tantrums. My life felt as such for many months to come.
More than body image, the deeper issue is my friendship with controlling chaos and it’s relationship to my life story.
Though my norm, regulating mayhem killed each craving for the goodness and life. Yet denying these methods of control took me on a journey of death, for the beast I faced was not pant size or a number on a scale but the disaster of my childhood and my story of sexual harm. Though painstaking, this disarray once confronted did not defeat me, nor overtake any drop of goodness Jesus promised me. In fact, I’d gained more life letting go of control than holding onto it with my bruised and bloody hands.
My gain is not just 10 pounds, a craving for warm chocolate chip cookies or Moses’ puppy kisses, it is a newfound desire to live, a sweetness that is more authentic and satisfying than words can put on a page. I am alive and it is good. Of course patterns controlling the embodiment of chaos do tip at my window but when they come I simply take their advances as a flatter, for Jesus told us to expect trials and temptations but He promised, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it, and if you let your life go, you will save it.” Luke 17:33
Letting go and letting life in, opens the heart to a wellspring of healing that sets stage for us to live with hunger and zest. My desire is that you will live fully, intentionally and wholeheartedly, choosing never to settle for mundane ambiguities but craving more goodness from heaven.
For to live is so worth the battle, choose life today.
Anna Smith is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Restore One, where she works diligently on their chief project, The Anchor House. The Anchor House will be the first shelter in the nation designed to meet the needs of sex trafficked and sexually exploited American boys. Anna has a resilient passion to see sex trafficking victims experience true healing and restoration. In her spare time, Anna enjoys biking with her husband Chris, reading, cooking, throwing pottery, running and yoga. Learn more about Restore One here.