Friday, January 30, 2015

Narcissus (Falling Into The Image)

“...Keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”

1 John 5:21

In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a hunter, renowned for his beauty. According to the legend, he was walking in the woods when Echo, a mountain nymph, saw him, fell deeply in love, and followed him. Narcissus sensed he was being followed and shouted "Who's there?" Echo repeated "Who's there?" She eventually revealed her identity and attempted to embrace him. He, however, immediately rejected her. Talk about an old tune. Therefore, heartbroken, she spent the rest of her life in lonely glens until nothing but an echo sound remained of her.

Meanwhile, Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, learned about this situation and decided to punish Narcissus. (Ah, yes, vengeance). She lured him to a pool where he saw his own reflection; not understanding it was only an image, he fell in love with it. (Typical, huh?)

However, he eventually realized his love could not be addressed and died.

“As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man.”

Proverbs 27:19

And you thought you had issues.

I’ve given much thought to Narcissism over the years. And nothing puts it more into focus than recovery from my disordered eating and body image issues.

Since childhood, I’ve had an intense love/hate relationship with the mirror and my own refection staring back at me. I’ve rejected that image, critiqued it, admired it and observed things about it which weren’t even there in the first place. When I was at my lowest weight from anorexia, all I could see was a distorted pot belly stomach, even though my ribs protruded and my waistline was twenty inches.

My body and my mind’s eye were two different things. I couldn’t see past my idol. Narcissism and its culprit, rampant inferiority, were clouding every kind of vision and perception. Distortion was, therefore, the only result.

I relate to Narcissus, so caught up in the reflection, in the vision of self-defined beauty; it’s an obsession. And, to one degree or another, we’re all caught up in it. How many of us look in a mirror, experiencing a range of emotions at our reflections? We have an acceptable image standard in our minds and we strive to create it as our reality. We preen. We comb, brush, yank, tweeze, apply, conceal, line, highlight, tease and style ourselves into that version of an aesthetically pleasing appearance.

“ is the land of graven images, and they are mad upon their idols.”

Jeremiah 50:38

And that’s just the bathroom mirror; forget about a full length one!

And yes, we’re usually left disappointed with the finished product. Why? It’s because it’s an idol. We give our strength to it and/or gather our strength from it: idolatry. And we’re warned not to mess with it…

“But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols...”

Acts 15:20

Somehow, somewhere within our psyches, however, is this drive to be God, to have things fashioned according to our preferences and whims. We want to control. We want to be our own God.

Spiritually, however, there’s this one tiny little detail; we can’t be God…

“...we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one.”

1 Corinthians 8:4

That, however, need not squash our value and estimation of our individual worth. Just because we’re not God doesn’t mean we aren’t like God…

“And God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness...’”

Genesis 1:26

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

Genesis 1:27

Genesis, indeed, guides us into an accurate self-assessment.

We don’t call the shots, but we resemble the One Who does!

That means we need to focus on Him. We already take after Him. But living in in fallen world has taught us lies, and, in that batch, there have been a slew of them about ourselves:

We’re unlovable.

We’re ugly.

We’re worthless.

We’re hopeless.

We’re not good enough.

We’re defective.

We’re the only ones like this; everyone else, however, meets that acceptable standard.


So, the school of life has many lessons, if we’re willing to learn them, on revelation of our true selves.

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

Romans 12:2

No smoke and mirrors, just accurate reflection of God’s glory. Just like the countless hours we’ve spent staring at the mirror, admiring, tweaking and obsessing about our reflections, we, likewise, need to study our true reflection, God’s determination about who we are.

“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

“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

This takes work. Don’t get me wrong; we don’t need to work to become valuable, lovable or worthwhile. We are that already. But we need massive lessons in learning how to receive it as unshakable, reassuring Truth.

And that takes some studying in the Mirror of God Himself.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

John 1:1

It’s an ongoing process, but it’s one which tells us we will not find hope in our inferior Narcissism, but instead in God alone.

“Truly my soul finds rest in God;
    my salvation comes from him.
 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

Psalm 62:1-2

Let’s reflect on that then!

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse




Imagine... Tee hee...

Spirit and Truth...

Not your worth

EVERY Morning!!!

Thursday, January 29, 2015


 …I am fearfully and wonderfully made…”

Psalm 139:14

I love E. B. White’s classic, “Charlotte’s Web.” It’s the wonderful children’s story about the relationship between a county fair pig, Wilbur and Charlotte, the farm spider. Perhaps you’ve caught the 1970’s animated film of this sweet story.

Anyway, throughout the tale, there are various life lessons discussed, not the least of which is the self-esteem issue. Wilbur has been challenged in that area. In response to a threat against his life and welfare, as a prized fair pig, ready for slaughter, Charlotte takes it upon herself to write such words as, “Terrific” and “some Pig” in her webs. These web inscriptions garners much attention and therefore, saved his life.

The power of words. Scripture teaches us about their impact:

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

Proverbs 18:21


And it’s no small matter to navigate in life. After all, how many of us have been bullied, teased and abused because of our appearance? For many of us struggling with disordered eating and image issues, many toxic words like “ugly,” “fatso,” and yes, “pig” have been hurled against us. It’s a painful thing to overcome.

“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he...”

Proverbs 23:7

But, just as words can be used powerfully in negative ways, they can also be utilized for positive, affirmative healing…

Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul, and health to the bones.”

Proverbs 16:24

“So shall My word be that goes forth out of my mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

Isaiah 55:11

Indeed, that means God’s Word over us has tremendous power. It has the power to heal our lives and our issues…

 “He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.”

Psalms 107:20

But we need to know what those words are.

“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

We’ve been saturated in negative, disparaging and hurtful words over the years. But what are God’s words- and thoughts- about us?

“Since you were precious in my sight… I have loved you…”

Isaiah 43:4

“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

“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

Just like Charlotte writing positive statements about Wilbur, how much more has God written wonderful, positive, loving words and intentions about us?

You are terrific; you are incredible. It is written Truth and no one can change that!!!

“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

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse


Consider this...

Here's an alternative to obsessing over body image. Just consider how valuable we are, right now, appearances aside. There's so much more to us than how we look. Period.

“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
“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 the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.”
Psalms 90:17


Monday, January 26, 2015

The Challenge of Forgiveness...

Trying to forgive, in the name of being "Christ-like." Yet, this feels more like it some days...

(Work in progress)- Sigh...

A Sick Contest Concerning Disorder?

Recently, there’s been a contest of sorts, declaring, “Name a food and I won’t eat it.” Pro-eating disorder blogs, posters, t-shirts and images spouting this statement are prevalent throughout the internet.

This sentiment disturbs me. Triggering? Pro-ana? Pro-Mia? Anti-acceptance of self? Yes to all three.

Again, Orthorexia pops up.

Orthorexia Symptoms and Effects

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Orthorexia?

Orthorexia is the term for a condition that includes symptoms of obsessive behavior in pursuit of a healthy diet. Orthorexia sufferers often display signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders that frequently co-occur with anorexia nervosa or other eating disorders.

A person with orthorexia will be obsessed with defining and maintaining the perfect diet, rather than an ideal weight. She will fixate on eating foods that give her a feeling of being pure and healthy. An orthorexic may avoid numerous foods, including those made with:

·         Artificial colors, flavors or preservatives

·         Pesticides or genetic modification

·         Fat, sugar or salt

·         Animal or dairy products

·         Other ingredients considered to be unhealthy

Common behavior changes that may be signs of orthorexia may include:

·         Obsessive concern over the relationship between food choices and health concerns such as asthma, digestive problems, low mood, anxiety or allergies

·         Increasing avoidance of foods because of food allergies, without medical advice

·         Noticeable increase in consumption of supplements, herbal remedies or probiotics / macrobiotics

·         Drastic reduction in opinions of acceptable food choices, such that the sufferer may eventually consume fewer than 10 foods

·         Irrational concern over food preparation techniques, especially washing of food or sterilization of utensils

Similar to a woman suffering with bulimia or anorexia, a woman with orthorexia may find that her food obsessions begin to hinder everyday activities. Her strict rules and beliefs about food may lead her to become socially isolated, and result in anxiety or panic attacks in extreme cases. Worsening emotional symptoms can indicate the disease may be progressing into a serious eating disorder:

·         Feelings of guilt when deviating from strict diet guidelines

·         Increase in amount of time spent thinking about food

·         Regular advance planning of meals for the next day

·         Feelings of satisfaction, esteem, or spiritual fulfillment from eating "healthy"

·         Thinking critical thoughts about others who do not adhere to rigorous diets

·         Fear that eating away from home will make it impossible to comply with diet

·         Distancing from friends or family members who do not share similar views about food

·         Avoiding eating food bought or prepared by others

·         Worsening depression, mood swings or anxiety

What are the Effects of Orthorexia?

Orthorexia symptoms are serious, chronic, and go beyond a lifestyle choice. Obsession with healthy food can progress to the point where it crowds out other activities and interests, impairs relationships, and even becomes physically dangerous. When this happens, orthorexia takes on the dimensions of a true eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia. One effect of this drive to eat only the right foods (and perhaps only in the right ways) is that it can give a person with orthorexia a sense of superiority to others. This can put a strain on relationships with family and friends, as relationships become less important than holding to dietary patterns.

Maintaining an obsession with health food may cause a restriction of calories merely because available food isn't considered to be good enough. The person with orthorexia may lose enough weight to give her a body mass index consistent with someone with anorexia (i.e., less than 18.5). If the dietary restrictions are too severe, malnutrition can result. In rare cases, particularly in the case of women with unaddressed co-occurring disorders or another addiction, orthorexia may result in severe malnutrition and weight loss, which can cause cardiac complications or even death.

How are Anorexia Nervosa and Orthorexia Similar?

Orthorexia is a term with varying levels of acceptance in the eating disorder treatment community. Some eating disorder specialists regard orthorexia as a discrete diagnosis like anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa. Others, however, believe that patients with orthorexia symptoms are actually suffering from anorexia. Sufferers of orthorexia and anorexia may show similarities such as:

·         Desire to achieve control over their lives through control of food intake

·         Seeking self-esteem and spiritual fulfillment through controlling food intake

·         Citing undiagnosed food allergies as rationale for avoiding food

·         Co-occurring disorders such as OCD or obsessive compulsive personality disorder

·         Elaborate rituals about food that may result in social isolation

How are Orthorexia and Anorexia Nervosa Different?

Obsession with weight is one of the primary signs of anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders, but is not a symptom of orthorexia. Instead, the object of the orthorexic's obsession is with the health implications of their dietary choices. While a person with anorexia restricts food intake in order to lose weight, a person with orthorexia wants to feel pure, healthy and natural. The focus is on quality of foods consumed rather than quantity.

Signs and symptoms of eating disorders must be evaluated in the context of a person's feelings, emotions, and self- esteem. It's crucial to seek appropriate clinical advice from a professional with experience treating orthorexia, anorexia and other psychiatric conditions. The obsessive tendencies associated with orthorexia can indicate a co-occurring disorder that should be diagnosed and treated by a psychiatrist.

What Should Parents or Friends Say If They Are Concerned?

Orthorexia is a very serious eating disorder, particularly if it is accompanied by co-occurring psychiatric or addictive disorders, and significant weight loss or dietary imbalance. Like anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and other eating disorders, orthorexia is a medical disease that can result in irreversible health complications, including death.”

Hindsight has shown me I’ve also been touched by this eating disorder. Concerning recovery, it’s about process. And just as my eating disorders have morphed, one into another, so has my recovery from them.

There was a time, with bulimia, I ate everything “unhealthy” in large amounts. It was about feeling deprived, hopeless and in desperate need for comfort. So, foods rich in fat, fat and sugar were my answer. However, I learned they weren’t, as, no matter how much I ate of them, my life was still painful. I was looking in the wrong direction.

And, I believe orthorexia started for me in the early stages of my recovery process. As I got into therapy and dealt with painful issues, my buzzword was “healthy.” I was obsessed with it. Now, I wanted to eat completely healthy all the time. There’s nothing wrong with healthy eating, in and of itself. We need to eat nutritious things which encourage, not destroy health.

However, with my perspective on healthy eating, I regarded it as an oppressive rule rather than a guideline. The rule demanded perfection. However, the guideline encouraged the power of choice. And, whether I knew it or not, felt it or not, I could make another choice.

And so, the evolution of my recovery continues to focus more on that principle. It’s not perfect. But it’s about not attaching such extreme “worst case scenario” results to the food, be it healthy or not as healthy. I can always make another choice about what I’m doing. It’s freeing instead of stifling.

 And what’s the most freeing in that perspective is the relaxed approach toward perfection.

“All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.”

1 Corinthians 10:23

“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.”

1 Corinthians 6:12

Life is not perfect; I am not perfect. It’s not an attainable standard. “Healthier,” however, can be. “Kind to oneself” can be. “Human,” like it or not, is.

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

Romans 3:23

“For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.”

Psalms 103:14

And, when we come up short (and we will), God is there with His perspective and help, even dealing with these food and “trigger” situations.

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

Psalm 32:8

It’s acceptance, not rejection. We need to remember that. So, let’s eat THAT on a daily basis!

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse




Monday Reality Check...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

While going through hell...


I love Winston Churchill’s sentiment:

“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”

Life is tough. Sooner or later, we’ll experience a trying situation which feels like hell. It isn’t actual hell, thank God. Nevertheless, the power of that notorious situation/trauma makes us feel tortured with pain, despair and hopeless evidence. Eating disorders, addictions, compulsions, loss and grief are just a few examples of things which can feel like hell, if, after all, torture is the calling card.

It’s painful and almost impossible to see future, life, possibility or God. We can, instead, much more easily see ourselves as failures, weak, forgotten and ruined. It’s, therefore, inevitable that we come to a screeching halt; we stop in the mire and can only feel ourselves sinking…down to where? Greater depths of hell and torture?

But that’s not God’s truth about us. Even in the middle of hopelessness, God is there…living…loving…working…

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28

“Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?”

Jeremiah 32:27

It can be tempting to believe that in our self-defined hells, we’re going it alone. But we’re not. Psalm 23 reassures us…

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…”

Psalm 23:4

And as we ‘keep going,” transformation, bit by bit, occurs…

 “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 “keep going” doesn’t necessarily mean a dramatic, larger than life display. It can be the tiniest effort, decision or prayer. It just needs to exist. God requires only a mustard seed of faith, not a mountain. Thank God for that!

And I believe we underestimate both God and ourselves about the power of our thoughts, words and actions. We can be one thought, word or deed away from breakthrough; we never know. But God does. And even when we fall short, God has decided and created the contingency plan for us. Jesus.

“…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 1:6

Are we confident in that Truth? Are we confident in God’s involvement as we go through our different kinds of hell? Do we “keep going,” armed with trust in God, leading, guiding, helping and transforming our lives, even in the appearance of wreckage? We all need help in this area of the faith department.

We’re all in process. That applies even to the process of “going through hell.”

Are you going through hell right now? Are you stopping in it or moving through it? Regardless, God is too good of a God to leave you in the spot of despair forever; you WILL get through this, whatever “this” may be. Trust God; trust Him.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Proverbs 3:5-6

God has much more for you!

“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

Keep going!

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse