Thursday, January 29, 2015

If Only You Could See

By Mercy Graduate Brittany

Brittany wrote the below letter to all of her Sisters in Christ who needed a little reminder of who they are! We hope it blesses you today as well. There is something powerful about hearing and speaking these words over yourself.

My Dearest Sister,
You are beautiful.  If only you could see.
See the flawless features of your face.  Your captivating personality.  Your laugh.  Oh, how seldom you laugh.  But when you do, it’s glorious.  It fills a room.  Like your smile.  Your real smile.  Not the one you put on for the world, but the one that comes from a peace.  A peace that’s so elusive.  I see the way you strain.  You twist and turn and grasp and cry.  If only you could see how close it was.  A state of rest.  The one you so deeply crave.  The one you deserve, despite your doubts.  If only you could see.
See that you are not alone.  That even as I speak to you, there are 3 others doing the same.  Expressing their state of brokenness.  Their shame.  Their hopelessness.  Their disappointment in what they’ve become.  You are not alone in your desperation.  In your struggle.  See the anger in my eyes.  The fire in my heart that burns with rage at the evil one who crushes your spirit and those of the ones I love.  If only you could see the lies.  That you have been deceived.  Oh how my heart breaks for you.  For us.  If only you could see.
See that the world is more than a shadow.  That you are more than skin and bones and blood coursing through your veins.  You have a heart.  A beautifully intricate heart filled with unique passion.  Talent beyond your comprehension.  You are an all-consuming radiant being.  Carefully crafted by an Almighty God.  If only you could see that “complicated” meant complex, not tormented.  Intricate in the most compelling way.  If only you could see.
See the light that is your life.  The darkness that would fill the world if you were not in it.  The richness you bring to the lives of those who love you.  See that you are loved.  Not for what you do.  For who you are.  See that perfection is a myth.  One that torments lovely women like you.  The trap.  Oh, the trap that leads to death.  Darkness.  See that grace covers everything.  That you are enough.  Now.  In this moment.  If only you could see.
See that you are where you’re supposed to be.  That you are fulfilling God’s will for your life in the present.  I see your yearning.  The way you punish yourself and wonder.  Oh, your restless heart.  It searches and searches and searches for answers.  The fear.  The fear that you are not where you’re supposed to be.  That you made a wrong choice.  That you’re on the right path.  See, sister.  See!  That every choice was a right one.  That you are always in God’s presence.  Even in this season.  If only you could see.
See the end of the story.  The one that culminates in the ultimate victory.  The crown upon your head.  See that you are a princess; a daughter of the King.  Oh, the beauty of your character.  The loveliness of your heart.  The purity of your spirit.  That it’s okay to yearn for more.  That you were never meant to be satisfied here.  That you were created for a different world.  A better one.  If only you could see.
See, my sister.  We are blind to the truth of our identities, yet we see it so clearly in others.  Believe, my sister.  That these words are true for you.  That you are beautiful.  Brilliant.  Radiant.  Unique.  Priceless.  That you are not alone.  Oh, if only you could see.  That the stories you hear are rare.  Embellished.  Edited and revised to convince you that you are not enough.  If only you could see my heart behind this letter.  That your story…your doubts…your loneliness…your shame…your restlessness…it is universal in a way that is devastating.  If only you could see.
See yourself in the mirror.  See the glow.  See yourself surrounded by your sisters.  Feel the love you have for one another and…for a moment…have compassion on yourself.  Let your love for others reflect in your own eyes.  See the truth and not the lies.  See the beauty within yourself.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Broken Places

By Mercy Counselor Stephanie Peveler, MSW 

Broken.  It can describe the areas in our lives where “our world” has crashed down around us, a place where darkness has engulfed our mind, will, and our emotions.  A point where there is no further place to fall.  It is in this place that our heart shrills a desperate cry to be rescued, to be found, to be pulled up out of that pit.  Yet does anyone hear? Does anyone see?

We scramble to fill the void, to numb the pain, to feel powerful, to see just a glimmer of light amidst the darkness.  Thoughts pound our minds....Why don’t people like me?  Why me? Why don’t they see, or do they see and yet turn a blind eye? Will this ever change? Can this darkness be dispelled?  

We grasp at anything and anyone that will make us feel alive, to feel seen, to feel loved, even for just a moment, to feel special or just plain wanted by someone. 

In the depths of the blackness, our hearts cry out for someone to come to our rescue. Yet, is there someone strong enough to fulfill the cries of our hearts? Can things change? Is there a reason why breath still fills our lungs?  In this black place, will there ever be a glimmer of hope? 

With a loud and resounding voice, the answer to these questions is YES! Don’t you find it ironic that darkness brings us to the realization that we need the light? With light, darkness is quickly dispelled and sight is given to the reality that lurked around us.  Some despise darkness, yet it is in the darkest of places where light shines the brightest. In John 8:8, Jesus states, “I am the light of the world; whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

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The Light, Jesus Christ, is the only answer to our brokenness and our darkness. In Psalms 34:18 it states that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalms 147: 3 declares, “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Therefore, His promise is to heal and to save as we cry out to Him.

That moment, we choose to take the outstretched hand of God, He gently wraps His arms around us and our brokenness, and His Light permeates the walls that have kept us captive.  He gently takes our hand and gives us the strength to take that first step. His voice is tender as He lovingly speaks our names and surprisingly His voice is filled with adornment rather than judgment, disappointment, anger, or irritation. His eyes are gentle and kind, infused with a sparkle that stirs hope within us as we look into His face.

It is in those broken places, when we choose to invite Jesus into our brokenness, the lies of the enemy are exposed, God’s true heart and character are revealed, and the healing oil of His presence begins to saturate our brokenness to bring healing to the wounds of our hearts. 

If we are honest with ourselves, we all have broken places in our heart. We are often terrified to look at those places. We pretend they are not there. We pretend they are healed, yet they are oozing with infection from the wounding. They are the sources of our negative reactions and unhealthy cycles that keep us stuck in the past, in the abuse, in the fear, and in the self-protective cycles. We believe the lie that God ordained the breaking, yet the brokenness of others is the real author of our pain. If we look even further, we find the enemy hiding and watching us, with a smirk on his face, thinking he has made the final blow to our hearts. Yet, Christ stands ready and willing to bring His healing to the scene of our wounds.  With Christ, the enemy is a defeated foe. With Christ, we are Victors and no longer victims! Are you willing to invite Him into those broken places of shame, fear, rejection, disappointment, abuse, or anger?  Will you look up and allow Him to reveal His light to you? He will not cross your free will, so He awaits your invitation.

One last thought as you ponder the above... don’t ever forget that throughout the entire Bible, the Lord’s name Emmanuel: God With Us is proclaimed. In Isaiah 43: 2 God says, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”

In the darkest moments of our lives, the Lord God, the Creator of the universe, God, Emmanuel is with us, with His hands wrapped around us. Will you invite Him in today?

Friday, January 16, 2015

One Minute Health and Fitness Tip from a Mercy Graduate

by 2010 Mercy Graduate Caitlin

Caitlin is currently working on her Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Fitness and Nutrition. She gets to use her passion for fitness and the tools she learned at Mercy Ministries to bring hope to others! She leads a class at her church for women struggling with addictions to food, dealing with the roots of addiction and bringing hope in Christ. Caitlin’s passion has also provided her the opportunity to give one minute health and fitness tips, like the one below, on a local radio show program. She says, “The Lord taught me at Mercy that in order to walk in abundance, it is vital to be whole in all areas—mind, body, soul, and spirit!” 

Turning Fear into Victory!

Fear, intimidation, and uncertainty, we have all felt these feelings, especially when fitness and weight loss are involved. Maybe it’s the fear of taking the first step of signing up for a gym membership, or feeling intimidated in the weight room. Whatever the case, know that every single person faces these feelings. How you respond to these feelings makes all the difference.

In order to reach new levels in life and fitness, it’s essential we all learn how to face our fears head on, instead of allowing those emotions to control us. We can’t be people who are bound by fear, but instead people who make war with anything standing in the way of our goals. Feelings will come and go, but we all have a choice to make: Are we going to run every time we face tough emotions, or are we going to be people who overcome and refuse to settle for complacency? The choice is up to you!

So the next time your feelings tell you it’s just too hard, you’re too old, or it’s not for you, tell them to take the back seat. Choose to step into uncharted territory and watch as those areas where you once felt intimidation become areas of strength and victory. You are worth making the right choice despite tough emotions.

Choose to do the hard thing and watch it become an area of victory!

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Continuous Journey of Healing

By 2011 Mercy Graduate Samantha

When I graduated Mercy Ministries in August of 2011 I fought so hard to convince my family that I was different; better. All of my effort was put towards holding up an unattainable image of myself, that eventually all the tools I had learned while at Mercy had no room in my hands. I desperately wanted to be healed, but healing was a continuous journey meant to be walked out, NOT proved. About a year later I relapsed into old behavior of an eating disorder: bulimia. Shame washed over me, and the eating disorder quickly began to obliterate who I was and all I had learned.
As I lay in the hospital bed with low vital signs, I was reminded of the popular Deuteronomy 30:19 verse spoken at Mercy by the staff, “Choose Life, not death.” God reminded me that I had a choice, and that it was never too late for healing! I knew He would not only heal me, but He would transform me once I surrendered it all to Him. And He quickly began the work within me. Instead of me trying to fix myself, He took over. I learned that failing is inevitable, and that is what makes His mercy so valuable!

In January 2014 I unexpectedly met my husband. God had been working on healing my mind and restoring relationships that had been damaged by the eating disorder, and as soon as He brought Noah into my life, He began another level of healing in my heart. He was teaching me, through Noah, what a relationship with God looks like. A relationship with Him is meant to be a passionate love story with never ending communication, excitement, joy, thrill of being in each other’s presence, and unconditional love.

In August of 2014 (three years after graduating Mercy Ministries) I married the man God had hand-delivered to me! And God has not ceased to bless us. He is our Provider, our Defender, our Healer, and our Savior. Not only has God restored all that the enemy came to kill, steal and destroy, but He has given beyond abundant blessings. Daily I put on my armor and pick up my sword, and those tools I learned while at Mercy Ministries remain in hand. My passion for God is a beautiful love story that I enjoy sharing with others!