As I was preparing my talk for the Brave On Conference, I was searching for clues as to why March 22, 1990, was the day that changed my life. It was a pivotal day that ended my 25 years struggle of an eating disorder addiction. I know this day well because I marked it with a check mark in my journal. It became my daily code that reminded me, “My addiction stops today!”
As a part of my preparation for the conference, I decided to read about my days prior to March 22 along with the ones immediately after. I was sure I would discover something insightful leading up to the 22nd that would answer my question, “Why today?” Ironically, I did not discover anything profound about the 22nd, nor myself. Instead, I read about the busy days of balancing being a wife, a mother, and a homemaker who was attending a weekly bible study. Everything seemed routine, considering what the 22nd held for me. Yet, in remembering that day, I have seen how bravery has grown in my heart.
Initially, I would not have necessarily considered myself to be a brave person. I kept secrets, avoided conflict, and cultivated people-pleasing as part of my daily regimen. These behaviors are not components of bravery even though I have spoken publicly about my addiction and written about my secrets along with finding myself in the midst of warring conflict. All of these behaviors wreaked havoc on my heart.
Where is bravery if my heart is torn and suffering?
Where is bravery if I am in a heap of shame stalled out in regret?
Where is bravery if I am guilt ridden?
The only way I can answer these questions is to confess that many of those events, starting with March 22,1990, were followed with seeing myself through the harsh lens of NOT ENOUGH. I pushed myself to try harder, do more, and be more.
I didn’t know that bravery started in that quiet moment when I sat in my car alone, asking God to take away my eating disorder.
I didn’t know I had a choice to offer kindness to myself and to live differently.
Others may have perceived me as brave, but the courage to name my behavior was at a high cost to my heart, longing for rest and to be known. Those first few years were ones that left me wondering if I would ever get over the heaviness of the violence I had inflicted on myself. Did I even deserve kindness after how I’d lived those 27 years?
My first step with bravery unexpectedly took me on a path of nurturing kindness for myself. Kindness with self is foreign to me. Bravery with self carries a whole new perspective of kindness that fits in with embracing my identity as a beloved daughter of God. Bravery with self allows me to know God in the still and quiet moments of life. Bravery with self grows love for my body and others. Bravery with self sees a bigger picture of the goodness that resides in my heart. Bravery with self is kindness and it has no room for shame and guilt. The Bravest One has covered them all for me and He is kind.
It has been good for me to remember March 22nd, 1990. It was an ordinary day. Yet God orchestrated the timing for me to do business with Him. It was a day of bravery that has led to kindness. I’m hoping that you, too, will ponder a day in your life that causes you to stop and remember that quiet moment when God spoke to your heart and it changed everything for you from that day forward.
Mary Jane Hamilton loves her life living on Lake Michigan with her husband of 47+ years. It is her family that brings her the greatest joy especially her 6 grandchildren. MJ readily admits that she adores her dachshunds and rests in the comfort they provide. She smiles at life and “rolls with the punches” that are thrown her way. MJ loves Jesus and beauty, MJ loves wind, waves and thunder, MJ loves fashion and good wine, MJ loves…&n