Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Soup du’jour (Tears of our enemies)

When I was a child, I had my share of bully experiences. Whether it was because of my body size, my hair or my awkwardness, I was picked on. Thus, I felt I had enemies. Nothing amplified that more than adolescence. “But mine enemies are lively, and they are strong: and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied.” Psalms 38:19 And then I became an adult and encountered some different enemies; they changed with the seasons. So, when I rededicated myself as a Christian, I thought God would instantly wipe out every person who ever dared to pick on me. Wrong. Yes, I’d love to get my revenge if I had my druthers. It’s not loving and dripping with Jesus. It’s me being human. Yay team. Indeed, it can feel disappointing to hear how God wants us to respond concerning our enemies. Just check out some highlights: “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:20-21 “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for He maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Matthew 5:43-48 Yeah. Not exactly thrilling, is it? But there’s a better reason, beyond our feelings. I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, “Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.” We often roll our eyes and don’t feel those words. But God knows better: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 Perhaps, part of God’s reason for this approach is a personal one, one worthy of a reality check. Get ready. Perhaps God is so “lenient” because every last one of us, left to our own devices, is an enemy of God. “For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Romans 5:10 I told you to get ready. Let us not forget, before we entertain our revenge fantasies against our treacherous enemies, we’re not exactly perfect angels. We’ve done some stuff; we’ve sinned against God. We’ve been enemies. Yet, God is loving and merciful. Who do we think we are? But, but, but… What about our oppressive, bullied situation with whatever corresponding enemy? What is God doing about that? “Thou prepares a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” Psalms 23:5 God hasn’t forgotten about our situations; He knows. And, if we stay out of His way, love, hear and obey Him, we’ll be positioned for a better life. Don’t worry about your enemy “getting his.” Scripture tells us: “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Romans 14:12 “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” Matthew 12:36 Sobering. Reality check. Noteworthy. And life-worthy. Let’s try to live our lives beyond the enemy issue! God created us; He has it planned out! “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 Enjoy your life, in spite of all enemies, today!!! Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Advice From Don Nielson...

Advice… (As answered by Don Nielson, Co-Founder and Chair-Elect of The National Eating Disorders Association, Seattle, Washington) 1) What eating disorder(s) have you personally experienced in your life? My daughter was sick for 14 years from age 11-24, but has recovered and is now married and a mother of two. 2) What was your lowest point concerning it/them? We had an intervention with her at age 21, after we had run out of options and were losing our other two children because of our constant worry about our daughter. 3) How has God brought you through it/them? We prayed a lot during all those years. Our prayers were eventually answered. 4) In what ways does God specifically help you in day-to-day living? God constantly supports us and is a strength to lean on, even when things seem hopeless. 5) What advice, spiritually, would you give a female or male currently afflicted with eating disorders, food, weight and body issues? Pray for the strength to overcome the illness. Pray for the ability to re-connect to your family and friends. 6) What advice, physically, would you give a female or male currently afflicted with eating disorders, food, weight and body issues? ED’s are killers. Don’t focus on weight or appearance, focus on nurturing your body with healthy food that will support your living a healthy life. 7) What advice, emotionally/mentally, would you give a female or male currently afflicted with eating disorders, food, weight and body issues? ED’s are a manifestation of some other problem or problems. You will need help to be able to understand those and to treat those. 8) What has/have been a scripture(s) that has/have helped you through, giving you hope and peace? All things work together for good through our Lord Jesus Christ. 9) What advice can you give someone afflicted with eating disorders when it concerns food? Food is not the issue, it is something else. You must find out what that something else is, before you can recover. 10) What advice can you give someone afflicted with eating disorders when it concerns food holidays (i.e. Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.)? These are stressful times and a time when you must show your strength. Dish up your own plate and don’t worry about what others do. 11) What advice can you give someone afflicted with eating disorders when it concerns stress? People afflicted with ED’s are constantly in a state of stress. That won’t change until the root cause of the problem is identified and treated. 12) What advice can you give someone afflicted with eating disorders when it concerns swimsuit (summer) season? Probably something to avoid as it will just add stress. 13) What advice can you give someone afflicted with eating disorders when it concerns exercise? That’s part of the illness and don’t worry about it. However, don’t use it as a way to lose weight, but as a way to stay physically healthy. There is a big difference. 14) What advice can you give someone afflicted with eating disorders when it concerns family/relationships? These are tough. In the family, it is important for family members to study information about the illness and recognize that eating/food is not the problem. They, therefore, need to not focus on that issue alone. Family will always want you to eat enough to live and that is to be expected. 15) What advice can you give someone afflicted with eating disorders when it concerns personal issues? Don’t know what to say here. 16) What advice can you give someone afflicted with eating disorders when it concerns therapy? You will need therapy to get better. Find someone you really like and who has the capacity to understand you. 20) Any other comments, advice? ED’s are not anything to play with. You need to take the issue seriously and you will need help to recover.

There's more to you than your past

It does.

Careful how you talk...

Friday, May 24, 2013

Tree Pose...

Cruse’s article, “Tree Pose: Heart and Mind Balance” appears in the May issue of Christians in Recovery magazine, discussing the importance of balance in the recovery process.

Question Mark

But God... “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalms 46:1


(As Answered by Dr. Gregory L. Jantz, Ph.D. Certified Eating Disorder Professional, Founder and Director, The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, Inc.) 1) What advice, spiritually, would you give someone, male or female, currently afflicted with eating disorders, food, weight and body issues? There’s always hope! Psalm 5:12:” The Lord is faithful to all of His Promises and loving towards all He made. 2) What advice, physically, would you give to someone, male or female, currently afflicted with eating disorders, food, weight and body issues? The physical body needs time to heal. Metabolism and digestive issues- work with an eating disorder expert who understands it’s more than your weight. 3) What advice, emotionally/mentally, would you give someone, male or female, currently afflicted with eating disorders, food, weight and body issues? 1) Renew the mind with God’s Truth. It does work- Truth can and will win! 2) Resolve past pain and issues; release forgiveness. 4) What has/have been a scripture(s) that has/have helped you through, giving you hope and peace? Jeremiah 29:11 Jeremiah 7:23 Psalm 145:13 Psalm 5:12 5) What advice can you give someone, male or female, afflicted with eating disorders when it concerns food? It’s not about food. Food is your symptom. It’s your “coping tool.” Food can be nourishment, not the “drug.” Eat healthy=healing step 6) What advice can you give someone, male or female, afflicted with eating disorders when it concerns food holidays (i.e. Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.)? See attachment from our RD. 7) What advice can you give someone, male or female, afflicted with eating disorders when it concerns stress? Have a stress plan proactive (where you have an action plan where food is not on the list). 8) What advice can you give someone, male or female, afflicted with eating disorders when it concerns image/swimsuit (summer) season? You can rebuild a healthy body and image. (There’s a special group we do here that really helps with this). 9) What advice can you give someone, male or female, afflicted with eating disorders when it concerns exercise? Have an accountability plan. Balance= Health 10) What advice can you give someone, male or female, afflicted with eating disorders when it concerns family/relationships? Stop blaming. Forgive. Choose to live as you. They cannot give you happiness or take it away. 11) What advice, physically, would you give to males currently afflicted with eating disorders, food, weight and body issues? It’s not just a female issue. Separate male treatment is a must. 12) What do you have to say specifically to males who are currently afflicted with eating disorders, food, weight and body issues? They are not alone. Ten percent are males. It’s not a female issue. 13) What advice can you give someone afflicted with eating disorders when it concerns therapy? Whole person= Long term healing. Find your champion team! 14) Any other comments, advice? There’s hope. Never give up. You will never regret making the journey.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hidden Potential...

Some Statistics on Media Affecting Eating Disorder and Body Image Issues...

The influence of the media (see our 'Women Are Dying to be Thin' infographic) on the proliferation of eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa cannot be refuted. From an early age we are bombarded with images and messages that reinforce the idea that to be happy and successful we must be thin. It is nearly impossible to open a newspaper or magazine, listen to the radio, shop at a mall or turn on a TV without being confronted with the message that to be fat is to be undesirable. The most frightening part is that this destructive message is reaching kids. When adolescents feel as though their breasts, weight or hips don’t match up to those of supermodels and actors, they feel fatally flawed. Sadly, even children of elementary school age are obsess over their weight. To illustrate the media’s obsession with thinness, try and name 5 current female television personalities who are overweight. Compare that task to naming 5 female television personalities who are underweight or at ideal weight. Even if the argument is made that the media’s portrayal of women is just a mirror of society and not an initiator, the media still needs to take responsibility for at least perpetuating the dysfunction. The following are statistics and facts that document how obsessed we are as a society with the pursuit of thinness. Dieting • 95% of people who diet instead of following a healthy meal plan will gain back the weight they lose in between one and five years. • 73% of teenage girls who abuse diet pills and 79% of teenage girls who self-purge frequently read women’s fitness and health magazines. • At any given time, one in every three women and one in any four men are on a diet. • 9/10 of girls who are high school juniors and seniors diet while only 1/10 of high school girls are overweight. • Individuals who frequently diet often experience depression. • 35% of individuals who diet only occasionally progress into pathological dieters. • 2/5 of women and 1/5 would give up 3-5 years of their life to realize their weight loss goals. • The diet and diet-related product industry boasts annual revenues of $33 billion. • By 1990 the average age that a girl began dieting had dropped to eight from fourteen in 1970. • Roughly one half of girls in 4th grade are on diets. • More than half of nine and ten-year-old girls admitted that they felt better about themselves when dieting. Body Image • Often, one of the first seating disorders symptoms to manifest is poor body image. • According to a study from the University of Central Florida, nearly 50% of girls aged three to six were already concerned about their weight. • A study showed that women experience an average of 13 negative thoughts about their body each day, while 97% of women admit to having at least one “I hate my body” moment each day. • Roughly half of the women in the U.S. wear size 14 or larger though most standard clothing retailers only cater to sizes 14 and smaller. • When asked to choose their ideal body shapes, 30% of women chose one that is 20% underweight while 44% chose an ideal body shape that is 10% underweight. • A Glamour magazine survey showed that 61% of respondents felt ashamed of their hips, 64% felt embarrassed by their stomachs, while 72% were ashamed of their thighs. • One study showed that women overestimate the size of their waists by 25% and hips by 16%, while those same women could correctly estimate a box’s width. • One study showed that 75% of women consider themselves overweight when, in reality, only 25% were. • Four out of five women in the U.S. are unhappy with their appearance. • 81% of ten-year-old girls experience a fear of being fat. • 42% of 1st through 3rd grade girls say they wish they were thinner. • Adolescent girls are more afraid of gaining weight than getting cancer, losing their parents or nuclear war. • More than half of white, adolescent girls who are a normal weight view themselves as fat. • Seven out of ten women felt angrier and more depressed following the viewing of fashion model images. • A study that offered preschoolers a choice between two dolls that were identical except for weight, the preschoolers chose the thinner doll nine out of ten times. • Children were asked in one study to rate pictures of other children based on attractiveness. The obese child was rated less attractive than a child with a facial deformity, a child in a wheelchair and a child who is missing a limb. Models • The majority of runway model meet the Body Mass Index (BMI) criteria to be considered anorexic. • Vogue magazine stated that they chose Gisele Bunchen as their “model of the year” due, in part, to the fact that she deviates from the typical “rail thin” image. In fact, Gisele weighs only 115 lbs. and is 5’11 – 25% below her ideal weight. • At 5’7 and 95 lbs. Kate Moss is 30% below her ideal weight. • Fashion models’ weight averaged only 8% less than the average women 20 years ago. Today the average fashion model weighs 23% less than the average woman. • 25% of Playboy centerfold models meet the criteria to be considered anorexic. • Many magazines create images of women that don’t really exist by using computer-modified compilations of various body parts. • Playgirl magazine centerfolds have grown increasingly muscular with less body fat over the last 20 years. However, the average man’s weight and body fat percentage have increased. • Miss America contestants have grown increasingly thinner over the past three decades. • Plus-sized models averaged between size 12 and 18 only ten years ago. Now, the majority of plus-sized models on agency rosters are between size 6 and 14. • Mannequins closely resembled the shape of the average woman in the 1950s; the average mannequin and woman both had the hip measurement of 34 inches. Since then, there has been an increasing disparity between mannequins and the average woman. By 1990 the average hip measurement had increased to 37 inches while mannequins had decreased to 31 inches. • Based on their theoretical body-fat percentages, most mannequins would cease to menstruate if they were real women. • The average U.S. model weighs 117 lbs and is 5’11 while the average U.S. woman weighs 140 lbs. and is 5’4. Television and Movies • One quarter of all television commercials convey a message related to attractiveness. • The rate of eating disorders in Fiji surged following the introduction of Western television programming. • A study found that viewing music videos featuring thin women correlated with a jump in body image dissatisfaction. • In Allure magazine model and actress Elizabeth Hurley stated, “I’ve always thought Marilyn Monroe looked fabulous, but I’d kill myself if I was that fat.” • Actresses Cameron Diaz, Julia Roberts and the singer Diana Ross meet the BMI criteria for anorexia. • A People magazine survey showed that 80% of female respondents felt that women in movies and television programs made them feel insecure about their bodies.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Glory to Glory (Not all right now)

We live in an instant ta-dah culture; we want everything two days ago. Who else is impatient besides me? Be honest. Yeah. In life, whether or not we’re in recovery, we want to “arrive” already, fully finished, perfect and dazzling. That, however, doesn’t quite happen (cue eye roll). I know. We want our stuff: our blessings, our miracles, our breakthroughs and our “happily ever after’s” now! RIGHT NOW! But that thinking IS NOT God’s thinking: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9 So, that means process…waiting… Yay. I know, it’s frustrating. But there is a purpose to waiting, to not getting it all at once. We not supposed to have everything at once. The glory process we’re on needs to catch up with our learning curve. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 And, let’s face it, we can be slow learners, can’t we? What if God has something incredible for us, but we need to do a few things first? What if we need to mature? Correct behavior? Learn something? I love a sentiment I once caught on a decorative wall hanging: “God answers our prayers in one of three ways: ‘yes,’ ‘not yet’ and ‘I have something better in mind.’” Does that make our minds go clunk? Wherever we are, we are in process. As wonderful and easy as the “perfect” answer may appear to be, God is far more concerned about our character issues and development. Process. Not fun, easy or gratifying so much of the time. But necessary? Worth it? Ding! Ding! Ding! Any bells going off? What if we trusted the process, with God IN it for our lives, prayers and desires! We ARE going from glory to glory. We’re just at this particular glory. But, there IS more! Don’t stop the process!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May, 2013 Serene Scene Magazine...

Cruse’s article “Eaglet or Eagle” appears in the May, 2013 issue of Serene Scene Magazine.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother’s Day, Not Measuring Day

What’s your reaction to this image? Can you relate? Did you and your mother actually participate in this activity together, treating it as a bonding thing, a game, a competition or a means of “self-improvement?” Today is Mother’s Day. It is devoted to the remembrance and celebration of our mothers, those people who first loved us. And, perhaps, even, in the name of that love, diet and weight measurement were a part of that. With my mom, I believe it was. She battled with her weight her entire life, certainly as long as I’ve known her. I discuss it in my book. Years later, I see how it wasn’t intentionally done to harm me. But, nevertheless, that focus on body image, weight and thinness did. It’s not just my experience, not perhaps, not just yours, either. Studies have, indeed, shown its impact: I can relate. “…The study, published this week in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, found that when a teen-age girl develops an eating disorder ‘the mother-daughter relationship appears to contribute significantly.’ Kathleen M. Pike and Judith Rodin, who wrote the study, say they concluded this after comparing the test results of girls with eating disorders with those of girls who did not. ‘It appears that some of the mother's own dieting and eating behavior and especially her concerns about her daughter's weight and appearance pose a significant risk that a daughter will be disordered in her eating,’ said the authors, who are researchers at Yale University… But their study said that daughters who have eating disorders are more likely to be those whose mothers have abnormal concern about weight control. The researchers studied 41 teen-agers in the 9th through 12th grades who showed a drive for thinness, bulimia and dissatisfaction with their bodies, and compared them with 39 who did not show these characteristics. Bulimia is a psychological condition characterized by cycles of food binges, purging and then avoiding food. It may include bouts of anorexia nervosa, where a person has an abnormal fear of obesity and may refuse to eat. In selecting as a control group the teen-agers who scored low on what the researchers called an eating disorder inventory, the researchers excluded the lowest 10 percent on the ground that dieting is so pervasive that this group was not typical. Mothers and daughters in the groups were then given a series of questionnaires that asked about attitudes toward the family, dieting, weight loss and attractiveness. The study showed that ‘mothers of daughters with disordered eating had a longer dieting history and were more eating-disordered themselves.’ Eating disorders ‘may be learned at least partially through the daughter's modeling the mother's behavior,’ the study said. For some, eating disorders may be an effort to manage anxiety, the study said, adding that ‘mothers are influential in terms of modeling this type of coping behavior for their daughters.’ The most marked difference between the two groups studied, the researchers said, involved the mothers' attitudes toward the daughters' weight and appearance. Mothers of girls with eating disorders may place ‘direct pressure on their daughters to be thin,’ the researchers said… ‘Mothers whose daughters were eating-disordered were more critical of their daughters than the mothers were of themselves,’ the study said. ‘These mothers did not think they needed to lose more weight than their peers; however, they thought that their daughters should lose.’ These same mothers also ‘rated their daughters as significantly less attractive than the daughters rated themselves.’ In the control group, the mothers' ratings of their daughters' attractiveness were much closer to ratings the daughters gave…” (“Study Says Mothers May Pass On Eating Disorders”) Growing up, Mom often used the term “right weight” as we were diet and food buddies, on again, off again. The standard was still the same: we needed to look a certain way- thinner- in order to be beautiful, a/k/a, worthy. Image was stressed, beauty was stressed, weight loss was stressed. But, what wasn’t stressed? Honor. I find that particularly striking now, on Mother’s Day. Indeed, the fourth commandment states: “Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. Exodus 20:12 But, nowhere, did I learn to honor women, my mother and myself, included in that commandment. And that’s the saddest thing when I think about the mother-daughter connection. How many of those relationships were spent dieting, focusing on their weight, instead of their separate value as incredibly valuable females? How many mothers and daughters focused on how God viewed us? “Since you were precious in my sight… I have loved you…” Isaiah 43:4 “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalm 139:14 This Mother’s Day, no matter what our experience has been, no matter if we’re a mother, a daughter and/or an eating disorder sufferer, we can choose to honor, to celebrate ourselves as women. Let’s allow God to meet us and help us, wherever we may reside in the spectrum of mother-daughter issues. Let’s not make our lives about conditional, oppressive standards. Let’s not teach these standards to the next generation. Let’s not continue practicing them ourselves. It is Mother’s Day, not measuring day. Value yourself, via this scripture, today:’ “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 Happy Mother’s Day; God bless! Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Happy Mother's Day!!!

God bless every mother out there!!! You're incredible!!! "The strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws." Barbara Kingsolver

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Perfect Weight

At the Pleasure of the Savior

One of my favorite series I catch on Netflix is “The West Wing.” While watching it, I became aware of a standard response regarding the president’s staff: “I serve at the pleasure of the President.” I don’t know if this response really exists or if it was just for dramatic purposes. But I started thinking about the service issue. When I was thirteen, I served as a waitress for my cousin’s wedding. Thank you. Yes, I’m still recovering. Let’s just say I was not skilled. I tried not to spill food, break plates and grumble. It was not an easy feat. So, I had a negative view of serving. But, alas, it’s all over the place in Christianity, isn’t it? “Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.” Deuteronomy 6:13 “…what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul,” Deuteronomy 10:12 “If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour.” John 12:26 “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Galatians 5:13 Whew! Yeah. Got it. Anyway, how do we feel about the serving issue? “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...” Proverbs 23:7 A lot of us probably have negative associations with the word. We may think of mistreated waitresses, humiliation and irritation. Not exactly the stuff which has people lining up around the block. Do we, then, challenge our views of the issue? Or do you and I opt out? If we do that, however, do we miss out? Perhaps, that is the better question to ask. But are we asking it? Or do we ask the question, instead, “what’s in it for me?” Did Jesus ask that question? Yeah. Exactly. Feeling sheepish yet? Scripture tells us we are to follow His lead: “…‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24 “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45 And concerning the serving issue? Yeah. That’s quite inclusive. As we deal with our struggles, issues, disorders and addictions, let’s take the time to stop and check out our service to others. Is it there at all? Are we helping anyone else? Service is the antidote to the myopic self-focus, which, sooner or later causes us problems. God has blessings for us which only come by way of serving. Are we, then, missing out on some of those blessings? “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” John 15:15 Do we, indeed, serve at the pleasure of the Savior? It’s worth asking and perhaps, adjusting, isn’t it? We want to be the addressee of this scripture: “His lord said unto him, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.’” Matthew 25:21 Let’s start with the servant then; let’s be one, in a new and different way in our lives. Let’s start today. “I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.” Psalms 119:125 Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse

Friday, May 3, 2013

A Listening Ear Ache?

When I was a child, I had repeated ear infections. My earliest memories are of me, screaming in the car, on the way to the doctor, with a hot water bottle pressed against my painful bleeding ear. Fun. Years later, the ear ache issue pops up again. I’ve been told I’m a great listener. People feel they can tell me anything, and often do. I love helping people. But there is a line, all too often, they want to cross. And so, if I’m not careful, I can often find myself with a spiritual ear ache. Most of us know God is love. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God...” 1 John 4:7 But is love always telling someone what he/she wants to hear? No. But this desire to only hear pleasant things still exists, nevertheless. We like “feel good” affirmations. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” 2 Timothy 4:3 “Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things...” Isaiah 30:10 Ever since the book on my eating disorder journey came out years ago, I’ve been repeatedly approached by people who are affected by addictions, disorders and dysfunctions. I am not a therapist; I make that clear from the start. Yet, I often encounter people, who feel that, because he/she is communicating with me, suddenly, it’s okay to stop his/her recovery program. Wrong answer! I’ve thought about why we do this. I think the disorder/addiction convinces us to be secretive, with the faulty promise of being “safe” in our particular disease. But there is no such thing. Talking to someone, outside of his/her recovery structure and geographical area may “feel” safe, but it’s an unhealthy way to continue the disorder or the addiction. There’s more pain, harm and shame. Jesus asked the question, “Do you want to get well?”(John 5:6) Often times, however, our answer seems to be, “no.” So, we vent our pain. But is that helpful? It’s frustrating when someone pours out every problem and issue to me but does not do so to his/her recovery team and/or therapist. It’s like the thought goes, “Since I’m talking to her, I don’t need to talk to them.” Are we, indeed, guilty of this? Do we turn to someone, just for the purposes of unloading? It’s not only wrong, but harmful as well. Help is not one person using another as a dumping ground. An important point, both to the life and recovery issue is this: boundaries. “Let all things be done decently and in order.” 1 Corinthians 14:40 A listening ear is not to be a crutch. Yes, we are to love and help one another, but we are not the infallible Source God is; we are an imperfect resource. As that resource, we are not to be viewed or misused as the substitute answer for God. Often, in conversations with someone who is struggling, when asked if he/she has talked to God about his/her life and circumstances, the predominant answer is “no.” Why not? Perhaps, because, there is the belief it is not necessary- or effective to pray. Again: wrong answer. “In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.” Psalms 18:6 Only God is our complete Source: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 Part of being that incredible and loving Source involves correction. Yes, God corrects us. “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten...” Revelations 3:19 And most of us aren’t thrilled with that. We’d rather be assured we’re okay doing what we’re doing; we want to hear what we want to hear. But is that helpful? Counseling, supportive people and listening ears are a part of a healthy life. We need that support structure. But God needs to be first in that equation. Even the best Godly resource, like a therapist or a recovery program, can be wrongly viewed as a God substitute. And, when that occurs, the resource stops being a help. If you’re not in recovery now, please find a program. But, most importantly, find God and seek His help, direction and wisdom. Recognize resources, organizations and people as imperfect; yes, they are part of recovery, but not the only vital element. God needs to be involved; He is perfect, complete and acutely aware of everything about us. He wants us to lean on Him. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 He desires to be our ever listening Ear; therefore, talk to and hear Him today! “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” Matthew 11:15; Mark 4:9 Copyright © 2013 by Sheryle Cruse


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Airplane...

"Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:12