I remember the feeling like it was yesterday. I was terrified. Absolutely scared to death. I had no idea what to expect, I had no idea what God was going to do. I knew that I had to show up. I had to share my heart. I had to say the words “I was scared when I was little,” and I had to trust that no matter what the response was, I would be safe, emotionally and physically.
I spent 45 days in Chandler, Arizona that summer. I had finally decided, after struggling for years with anorexia, that I couldn’t go another day with my finger down my throat and my head in a toilet. I flew to Arizona fully knowing that I would have to be brave and face some demons while there. The thing about eating disorders is that it’s a family problem, not an individual problem. Rarely, does a person have anorexia and there is not some level of dysfunction in their family. As a result, many treatment centers have a week where families come and sit in on therapy with the patient.
At Remuda Ranch, this week includes a time called “Truth in Love.” It’s a time to share, honestly, openly, and wholly all of the events that went into forming the patient’s distorted reality. Sometimes the patients reveal past traumas that were completely secret, sometimes the traumas were well known but never talked about. Mine was the latter.
I grew up in a house that was chaotic, difficult, and anxiety producing. My dad was an angry man, my mom was trying to survive, there were four children, and the expectation was that we all be “good” in order to appease whoever might be upset or angry at the moment. I remember the distinct feeling of fear that would wash over me when something happened that might cause anger, whether it was the wrong order at the drive thru, a broken household appliance, or a sibling not eating breakfast fast enough.
I hated it. I hated feeling like I had to control everything and make sure everyone was good or things went the right way so there was no bad reaction. That’s a lot for a little girl to handle, and as I grew up, the anxiety worsened, and I found relief in vomiting and starving myself.
Everyone knew our home was like that, we all knew, even after the divorce and both parents remarried, that the past was traumatic. But we never spoke of it. It wasn’t safe to speak about it, it wasn’t a place any of us wanted to go, because we feared the result of confrontation would be further damage. And that fear kept my family from healing for too long.
Through three intense weeks of counseling, I finally formed the words to share my heart with my family. I had a list of things I wanted to share, and I knew that I had to face danger and show up. I met with my counselor and the family counselor in a room and we talked over the game plan. I knew my family was in the next room, and I was drowning in the tension.
The family counselor slid open the door, and I repeated to myself, for the billionth time that day, the verse, “Have I not commanded you be strong and courageous? Do not be terrified. Do not be discouraged, for the Lord you God will go with you wherever you go.” And I walked through the door and stepped off the cliff, praying to God that He would catch me.
My family was sitting in a circle, the family counselor explained how things were going to happen, and I drew in a deep breath. “Dad, I was scared growing up. I remember the anger and the anxiety and I was scared to death. I took it on. I owned your feelings and tried so hard to be good enough so that they wouldn’t happen again”.
No one had ever spoken these words aloud, even though we all felt them.
Tears filled my father’s eyes. And in that moment, God mended a wound in my family and sealed us together. In that moment, I knew that I could show up, I could share my heart, and I could be heard. In that moment, I knew I was safe with God.
Sometimes danger isn’t a war or being faced with death. Sometimes the scariest danger we face is the fear of showing up and not being loved.
It’s scary to be who we are in this world. It’s frightening, at times, to share the deep hurts, the deep scars, and the emotions that we’ve hidden for years. Especially when we have to share our hurts with the one who caused them. But, in the danger, that’s where we learn that if we leap, God will catch us.
He won’t let us fall, and even if our true selves are met with disdain, we will be okay because God is the one who holds us. Let’s not be scared of danger, let’s not let ourselves hide who God made us because we have a God who has commanded us to be courageous, because He goes with us, wherever we go. Let’s face the danger knowing that the God who already won the war is on our side.
Kacy Davis lives in Fort Worth, Texas with her husband, Collin. She is a special education teacher and advocate of those with special needs and loves her job. She spends her time riding bikes with her husband, running, reading, and enjoying those she loves. Kacy believes in reinventing what it means to be a woman and wife who loves the Lord and longs to help others learn to love the Lord with abandon, freedom, and a greater understanding of grace. She writes here.