Sunday, March 18, 2018

Building a House

Rest Instead

Knowledge and Wisdom

The Trophy: Addicted To Achievement?

We can get addicted to anything.

I say that to spotlight the trophy’s importance. This was recently brought to my attention as I came across a humorous social media post:

“Ironic that every trophy store looks massively unsuccessful…”

The power, the lure, the snare of the trophy…

“For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”

James 3:16

With all of the disordered beliefs and actions I have been mired in, an underlying common denominator existed. It was achievement.

As a child, I was driven to acquire and win. I was encouraged to earn as many badges, ribbons and trophies as possible. My first actual trophy was when I was in 4-H. My landscape painting snagged the prize in the organization’s art category.

And, as my name was announced from the makeshift county fair award stage, I felt the exhilaration of being chosen and special. I had achieved something significant. And so, it was not too long before I entertained other thoughts:

Am I significant?

If I am as this winner, will I lose this significance if I don’t keep winning?

Unconditional versus performance- based has been at the core of everything I experienced. It has covered love, value and acceptance.

Likewise, it also extends to the spiritual matters of faith, salvation, damnation and Divine grace. So, yes, there was more attached to the trophy than just the beauty of its gold-plated metal.

They became all-important to me. As long as I kept winning and earning, I was acceptable and pleasing. I just had to reach that “enough” marker of achievement: enough badges, first place ribbons and shelves of gold trophies.

And I racked up quite a number of them. For, in that moment of winning, I experienced the high of my value and the relief of being “okay” which came with it. It drove me to win more.

But, like all highs, it did not last. And it demanded another “hit” of accomplishment.

And the achievements of the past?

Well, they lost their luster and became a weird combination of disappointment and failure. After all, they could not deliver on some vague, affirming, but, nevertheless, unrealistic promise; they left me feeling hollow.

Further complicating things, I internalized their incapability to solve and heal as my personal failure.

If I were a better person, only then could these awards truly be something, meet my needs and make me whole.

“I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.”

Ecclesiastes 1:14

“So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is futility and striving after wind.”

Ecclesiastes 2:17

And, not surprisingly, this perspective soon contaminated my faith.

I lumped the All-loving Father and Creator of everything into the same oppressive, task-oriented category. And, of course, I felt nothing but disappointment and schemes to punish me from my Maker.

In this mode of thinking, Philippians 2:12 became yet another pressure point, demanding I earn everything, my lovability and salvation included.

 “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

And grace? Well, that only existed for me if I could perfectly understand, accept and apply its reality.

Maybe everyone else could absorb it into their lives while still being horribly messy, but I couldn’t. I had to “get it right.” I had to qualify for it.

But there is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11). Ephesians 2:8-9 further reiterates that...

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

“...Lest any man...” covers anyone and everyone: regardless of what they do or do not do.

That may sound like a “no brainer.” Yet its realization in our lives is more complex than we realize.

For, if we subscribe to the theory of “earning” anything for ourselves, we are not that far away from addiction.

Trophies are anything which makes things-or us- “okay.” The sentiment rejects grace because the trophy, in all its glory, promises to be the “bigger, better deal.” It’s the willful, rebellious assertion we don’t need the Almighty to be our Source. It declares how, only through our own merits, the prize of grace, love, salvation and worth is achieved.

But this belief unravels at its uncertainty. Grace extends beyond our finite reasoning; it covers in spite of us.

 “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”

Romans 11:6

Grace doesn’t make sense; it’s unfair. It covers everyone- and everything- they do.

So, for any of to assume we could do a far better job, replacing it with our achievements, is not only arrogant, it is insecure.

For, in our trophy pursuit and collection, we have operated in a delusional thinking which soothes us with tangibility. We can, after all, reach out and touch this trophy of our desire. It is three-dimensional proof. It lies not only in a gold award, but in the comfort and/or high we experience as we drink, eat, inject or indulge physically in any representative craving. It promises us love, meaning, happiness, freedom from fear, escape, courage and some vague form of “the answer.”

Trophies are all about getting what we think we need. They can become an impenetrable barrier, convincing us we are worthwhile and safeguarded from pain.

Take those things away from us, and what are we left with?

Our fears scream, “Nothing!”

But the Most High God reassures us otherwise.

“... ‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.’”

            Jeremiah 31:3

Nothing need be added to that Truth. It is. It is.

“Ironic that every trophy store looks massively unsuccessful…”

That’s because every trophy is a pathetic version of the one true prize: Him.

And we have already won Him.

Let’s revel in THAT Prize!

Copyright © 2018 by Sheryle Cruse

The “Right Weight” Issue


As a writer and a speaker, words are my tools. I write them, speak them, pray with them, study them and yes, occasionally, I probably annoy others with them. But I cannot deny their importance in my life. They are communication and often, life itself.

Scripture tells us words are simply not neutral.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

Proverbs 18:21

And two words, in particular, which have been particularly powerful for me since childhood are “right weight.”

Mom introduced this phrase to me as a young girl. It was a promised land goal as we both struggled to cope with the abuse we endured in our home. We fluctuated from being “food buddies” to “diet buddies,” on again, off again, on again, off again, for years. It became a matter of life and death.

 “Our buzz phrase was, ‘When we get down to our right weight…’ Of course, that must mean we were at our wrong weight... I was becoming so very aware of exactly how unacceptable I was... It was frequently pointed out to me. Diets were first. Then came the insults, the jokes, the strategies… Comments like, ‘You’re looking a little pudgy lately,’ and ‘Be careful, honey, you don’t want to get much fatter now’ came from my family and neighbors... I hated one comment most of all... In a patronizing, sickly sweet voice, someone would say to me, ‘You have such a pretty face, if you’d just lose some weight…’ There! So my body was what was wrong with me after all! It hurt even more because this comment dangled the hope of beauty, and yet placed the blame on me, a little girl, for not achieving it. It was my fault...”

(Excerpt taken from Cruse’s book, “Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder”)

So, what was set in motion was my eating disorder road of anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, self-hatred and a spiritual crisis, all hinging upon the following lie:

“I am not acceptable- by anyone, God included.”

“Right weight…”


Death and life…

I risked my life, health and spiritual connection with God, all due to the negative gravity of those words.

And, even though my mother never was anorexic or bulimic herself, she still, however, has spent the entirety of her life (at least what I’ve seen and known of her) grappling with her disordered over-promise/under-delivery of “right weight” to be her ultimate answer.

By medical standards, she’s been classified as “morbidly obese” for well over thirty years now.

And she has not been unscathed by chasing that dangled carrot of “right weight.”

She has now been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes. She has high blood pressure and has suffered at least two strokes. Those strokes have left her unable to walk. She spends most of her time in her wheelchair.

Yet, even to this day, when I attend her doctor’s appointments or care conferences, she still talks about reaching her “right weight.”

I am challenged by feelings of frustration, hurt and defeat whenever I hear her speak that way.

Old habits, I guess, die hard.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”

Proverbs 18:21

There’s no denying it. We believe words. It’s just a matter of which words capture our minds and our mouths.

Disturbing… Provoking… But still, not completely hopeless.

Because, after all, we still have God…

 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go: I will guide you with My eye.”

Psalm 32:8

 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Jeremiah 29:11

“The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, ‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.’”

Jeremiah 31:3

What would happen if we believed, spoke and lived these words instead of the more limited words like “right weight?”

What To Say To Someone Struggling With Disordered Food Or Body Image Issues...

1)      Don’t diet as a “buddy project.” If there is a legitimate health concern, seek professional help.

2)      Don’t participate in “fat talk” or body shaming of any kind.

3)      Be aware of both what her opinions and feelings on beauty, weight and personal worth are; likewise, be aware of and differentiate your own for yourself as well. Don’t belittle her on the basis of her differences.

4)      Don’t compare and comment on any other female’s looks in a critical, negative manner.

5)      Don’t equate terms like “right weight,” “perfect weight” or a specific dress size or number on the scale as being the solution to a happy life or sense of self. Instead, emphasize health: mind, body and spirit, incorporating a lifestyle of healthier foods and moderate, not punishing, exercise.

Let’s be AWARE of what we say- to ourselves, to our daughters, to our mothers, to our sisters and to our friends. Words DO have power. Let’s use them wisely.

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue...”

Proverbs 18:21

Copyright © 2018 by Sheryle Cruse

The Still, Silent Challenge: Do We Sit With Our Hearts?

I admit it. I have a difficult time being still.

I like background noise, action and movement. This probably explains why I am pathetic at relaxation exercises, Tai Chi and yoga. I just can’t seem to settle down. The room may be completely quiet, yet my thoughts, “to do” lists and anxieties are often at record-setting decibel levels.

And this noise is often a part of the addiction package. Why? Because it’s distracting. And anything that promises to provide escape from reality is tantalizing.

So, bring on the vices, the noise, the social media, the cell phone apps, the adrenaline rush and the frenetic pace of distraction. We don’t want to face unpleasant situations.

“Social networking already accounts for 28 percent of all media time spent online... on average using platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

18 percent of social media users can’t go a few hours without checking Facebook, and 28 percent of iPhone users check their Twitter feed before getting up in the morning.”

“Social Media Addiction: Statistics & Trends,” Shea Bennett,

Yet, often, instead of finding relief, let alone, solutions, to our less than ideal realities, we find ourselves even more anxious.

And so, like any true junkie, we need our “fix” faster, more furious and in larger quantities than when we started our great escape plan.

But we are no closer to health and blessing. And that result often points to the fact we do not want to get searched.

"The unexamined life is not worth living.”


Let’s go back to the junkie for a moment. Imagine there he is, caught red-handed, with paraphernalia and substances right in his pockets. Now, did that junkie voluntarily desire to get caught and searched? Of course not. He does not want all of the truth, hidden from view, brought into the unflinching light. He doesn’t want quiet, stillness and self-reflection. He wants to be distracted by using.

But the benefits which can arise from getting quiet and honest, from voluntarily granting spiritual search warrants, are profound.

  • Heart rate, respiration, blood pressure and oxygen consumption are all decreased.
  • Meditators are less anxious and nervous.
  • Meditators were more independent and self-confident
  • People who deliberated daily were less fearful of death.
  • 75% of insomniacs who started a daily meditation program were able to fall asleep within 20 minutes of going to bed.
  • Production of the stress hormone Cortisol is greatly decreased, thus making it possible for those people to deal with stress better when it occurs.
  • Women with PMS showed symptom improvements after 5 months of steady daily rumination and reflection.
  • Thickness of the artery walls decreased which effectively lowers the risk of heart attack or stroke by 8% to 15%.
  • Relaxation therapy was helpful in chronic pain patients.
  • 60% of anxiety prone people showed marked improvements in anxiety levels after 6-9 months.

“Statistics on People who Meditate,” Joel Sparks,

This comes from allowing the Divine complete access to our hearts.

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Psalms 139:23-24

 “Yeah, yeah, yeah. But that’s meditation.” I hear that response murmured from some of you.

What about those of us who pray instead of meditate?

What about those findings?

Again, there are astounding benefits.

“For the past 30 years, Harvard scientist Herbert Benson, MD, has conducted his own studies on prayer... ‘All forms of prayer,’ he says, ‘evoke a relaxation response that quells stress, quiets the body, and promotes healing. Prayer involves repetition -- of sounds, words -- and therein lies its healing effects.’ ...”

“Can Prayer Heal?” By Jeanie Lerche Davis

Whether it is prayer or meditation, it goes beyond mere semantics. Spiritual power is found in the real, raw, honest assessment and heart connection with a Force greater than ourselves.

“ ...‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’”

Psalm 46:10

That often cannot happen in noise and distraction. It originates from silence, stillness and a spirit of true yearning. It exists in the moments of probing questions...

What am I wanting right now?

Why am I wanting it?

Where’s my heart?

Often, it’s not in the spectacle of a morning church service. It’s not in the right speech repeated in a many a religious context.

“‘...This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.’”

Mark 7:6

Instead, many times, it occurs when everyone has gone home, when all activities and business are finished. It happens when everything is quiet and it is just the individual and the Most High, intermingling. It is a sacred, intimate experience, should we dare to tap into it.

We cannot escape this reality; life issues are heart issues. And, applying God’s Word to them is the ongoing work we need to engage in. It speaks to the power and meaning of relationship over religion.

Therefore, addiction, often, is a substitute for our Divine connection with the Most High. Addiction wants to circumvent intimacy with a failed, temporary substitute which short circuits our spiritual selves; it interferes with our physical, mental and emotional recovery processes.

Indeed, at any given moment, we are in a position to ask ourselves...

Am I facing my truth or am I running away from it?

How close is my heart to the Most High God?

Am I dealing with who I am?

Are we truly sitting down with our honest answers to those questions?

Copyright © 2018 by Sheryle Cruse