Monday, August 31, 2015

Help My Unbelief

Featured in August 31st’s Christians In Recovery, Cruse explores the power belief plays within our recovery processes.

Princess Diana Remembrance (Beauty For Ashes)

I remember where I was when Princess Diana’s death was announced. My husband and I were up late watching movies. When we finished, we turned CNN on, to discover “breaking news” of her death. I suppose you could call it my “JFK” moment.

Princess Diana has always meant so much to me. As a little girl, her engagement and royal wedding to Prince Charles captured my fairytale dreams. Her beauty, style and glamour was the stuff of aspirations.

And then, when the media revealed a troubled marriage and her struggles with eating disorders, I gained a different view and respect for her; she was human, even while being a princess. She was fragile and imperfect.

Struggling with eating disorders myself, I watched how she dealt with the international disclosure of such personal matters. Secrecy and shame were such huge hindrances to my recovery; I only saw the ugly stigma of the realities I was living. But Princess Diana, by example, illuminated another possibility through her choices: empowering hope.

It’s been years since her tragic passing, yet Princess Diana has left a substantial imprint. Her legacy is in her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry. She’s also known for her charity, for her intuitive response to people and for her transcendence of seemingly hopeless and painful circumstances.

I reflected on my life as I viewed hers. I see how God can take anyone and anything, creating hope and redemption from the blackest of situations. He still is in the business of beauty for ashes…

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners…
to comfort all who mourn,
and…bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor.”

Isaiah 61:1-3

He’s still in the business of restoration…

 “And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, my great army which I sent among you. "You will…praise the name of the LORD your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; Then My people will never be put to shame.…”

Joel 2:25-26

And, of course, He still heals, not just bodies, but lives, reputations and legacies…

 “…I am the LORD that healeth thee.”

Exodus 15:26

As we mark another anniversary of Princess Diana’s passing, let’s allow her legacy to remind us of God’s power, love and hope for each of us. Addictions, disorders, traumas, loss, death and failure may touch our lives, but they never determine our incredible value and hopeful possibility for prosperity, love, joy and restoration. God does that. And His determination always is as follows:

“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

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse


Sunday, August 30, 2015

What Has Come Upon Me

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Psalm 27:1

Fear. It’s a human emotion and experience.

Try as we might through all manner of vices, addictions, props and assorted coping mechanisms, we still have instances and sometimes, even eras, in which we are touched, if not bombarded, by it.

How are you handling the fear issue in your life?

Scripture repeatedly tells us not to fear…

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Isaiah 41:10

 “And when I had seen him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying: Fear not. I am the First and the Last.”

Revelation 1:17

“Be not afraid of sudden fear, neither of the desolation of the wicked, when it cometh.”

Proverbs 3:25

However, it’s easier said than practiced, isn’t it?

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “self-fulfilling prophecy.” And, perhaps, the first person to experience that phenomenon was dear old Job in the Bible. This poor guy had everything bad happen to him: he lost his family, experienced financial devastation AND was covered with sores. If ever there was a person enduring adversity, it was Job.

And he remarked- okay- whined about his fears realized, again, that self-fulfilling prophecy thing…

“For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.”

Job 3:25

I’ve heard it said that fear is faith that something bad will happen to you.

“The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.”

Proverbs 29:25

It’s about focus. What do we focus our energy, time and effort on?

“Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.”

Proverbs 4:23

There are two things to remember and not get confused (and no, it won’t be easy).

First, fear is a human experience. We’re all afraid of something.

But what we need to remember is this fear is NOT from God…

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”

2 Timothy 1:7

So, how do we begin to reconcile these two concepts? (Again, it’s not easy).

It is, however, possible to give credence to God’s Word, which is powerful NOT powerless in our lives…

“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. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:8-11

Again, it’s not easy or instantaneous. It requires our decision to put faith in God’s Word. And here’s just an example of those very words:

“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

“I have chosen you and have not cast you away.”

Isaiah 41:9

“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

“Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk in it, whenever you turn to the right hand, and whenever turn to the left.’”

Isaiah 30:21

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

Psalm 32:8

“…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

“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

It’s a lifetime process. And yes, fear can come into it. But God is more powerful than any fear. He can handle you and me.

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

Jeremiah 32:27

So, where do we focus our time, our thoughts, our energies, our resources and our very lives? What do we think about?

“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Philippians 4:8

We don’t have to let our fears be realized. God can come upon our lives instead.

 “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.”

Isaiah 41:10

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse




Little Diana


As the anniversary of Princess Diana’s tragic passing approaches, I’m struck by not just her beauty or her relatable struggle with eating disorders, but also of one poignant reality: she was once a little girl.

For as much attention as there has been on her princess status, her fairytale bride image and that of her complicated, turbulent life, she, like all of us, once started as a child.

And, being the enormous fan that I am, I have come across many of these childhood photos of her.

We can search the internet and find Diana as a toddler...
 a little girl holding a hamster...
 a big sister to her brother...
 and even an aspiring teenage ballerina.
Like so many of us, she went through the phases and milestones which mark who we become.

And it’s important to remember those truths as we reflect on her life and sudden death. This “people’s Princess” was a vulnerable human being, coping with her own inner child- and everything representative of that. Just like each one of us.

So, as we go about our own lives, let’s stop and pause to examine ourselves, along with those childlike things which have meaning, pain and joy to us.

For all of the mention of the adult woman, Princess Diana, let’s never forget the very real little girl. As we ponder her, may we honor and acknowledge the challenge of our own child selves.

Each one of us didn’t just arrive at where we are. There is a child behind us all.

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse



Saturday, August 29, 2015


If these clouds are real, wow!


When I was a little girl, I watched the royal wedding of Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana.
 I bought into the excitement and the promise of the fairytale. And yes, I wanted to be a princess. So, I woke up at four in the morning to catch the internationally televised coverage of the epic event and live vicariously through it. There I was, with a bowl of cereal in hand, watching that gilded carriage pull up, carrying the young Lady Diana Spencer and her father. And when she stepped out of that carriage? That incredible extravaganza of a wedding dress! Over the years, I heard people discussing that moment, likening it to an exquisite creature emerging from a large chrysalis.
Yep, that’s about right.

As I watched the 1981 wedding and years later, the 2011 royal wedding between Prince William and Princess Katherine, I noted how the power of the fairytale continues to hit us hard. We still want to buy into the belief that if something appears beautiful, it’s perfect, pain free and “happily ever after.” I know I certainly bought that concept. It spilled over into my food, weight and body image issues until, years later, I found myself in the grips of disordered eating. I believed, wrongly so, beauty, a/k/a being thin, would make my life perfect and fairytale “happily ever after.” Unfortunately, I discovered that wasn’t the case. In that promise’s place, instead, were harmful, miserable compulsions, thoughts, self-hated and spiritual disconnection with God. Certainly, there was no reassuring feeling I was a beautiful, valuable princess.

And it’s not entirely lost on me the profound nature of the word “princess” in the “thinspo” movement. This destructive force has taken off now, largely due to the internet. With a proliferation of websites, blogs and social network sites, devoted to the encouragement and instruction of developing and maintaining eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia, “thinspo “ has seeped into our consciousness. And, of course, it targets young girls and women, promising them a perfect, controlled, beautiful life, if only they could be as thin as possible. Therefore, disturbingly, often the term “princess” is used to describe those females who victoriously keep their eating disorders going and their weight numbers down.

Since writing the book, “Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder,” I encounter many young girls and women, at various stages in their disorders and recovery. And yes, some of them claim to be “princesses.” I often get asked if I am one as well. I tell them I’m pro-recovery, not pro-eating disorders, but I don’t know how much of that registers. They still seem to have “princess”- a thin princess, anyway- on the brain. Some things don’t change, do they? Fixating on that perfect princess, in one form or another, can follow us in life.

Princess. Yes, most little girls want to be princesses. Think about it: fairytales, dress up, costumes, wedding days. All princess stuff. We’re groomed to desire the pink girly dreams, seemingly, right from the start.

What is a princess then? Is she beautiful? Sweet? Lovable? Let’s be honest, do you and I feel like those traits every single day? Didn’t think so. And is this princess the reflection staring back at us? Most of us would probably answer “no.” Whether it’s seeking that ideal through beauty and size, even to the extremes of eating disorders or looking at a tangible female role model to embody that image, “princess” is never far from our thoughts. And still, we have difficulty accepting our inherent value in God’s eyes.

So, let’s look at the late Princess Diana. She was, after all, more than that breathtaking bride in the fairytale wedding. Years after her death, we continue to see her impact. In the 1980’s, she educated the world by touching and hugging people with HIV, something unheard of from a royal family member at the time. She sent the message that loving human touch is safe and vital to anyone who is suffering. And that included the mystifying disease of AIDS.
Sounds like a princess to me.

And just before her death, she also brought attention the anti-landmine cause worldwide by walking through Angola, dressed in protective gear. Is that act becoming of a princess?

And, of course she raised two young Princes, William and Harry, both who continue her legacy of charity and service.

Attributes of a princess?

Look at her life; look at who she was, apart from her title. Yes, she was beautiful, glamorous and, by royal title, indeed, a princess. But she was also a daughter, a friend, a girl, a woman, a wife, a mother.

And she was imperfect also. That imperfection surfaced as she dealt with her own eating disorder of bulimia. Yes, a princess had an eating disorder. That wasn’t in the perfect fairytale, was it? Did that reality turn us against her, make her any less appealing? No. In fact, we connected with her vulnerability and her humanity. Those of us dealing with eating disorders and recovery also empathized with her struggles. Being a princess didn’t prevent her from experiencing those painful challenges.

When she passed away in 1997, she was named “the people’s princess.” But that title had more to do with her compassion and her kindness expressed to others. It didn’t hinge on physical appearance or weight. It was about her heart.

So, are we, like her, princesses in our worlds? What does that mean to us? Is there the association of “thinspo” attached to it? Is there unrealistic beauty pressures attached to the definition? Are we only princesses, only valuable if we reach and maintain a certain criteria? What about our hearts? Where does that factor into the princess designation? Look around at your loved ones, your family and your friends. We just don’t get how much we’re loved and valued by others, do we? We just don’t get how much we’re loved and valued by God!

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

Isaiah 43:4

“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             

No matter who you are, what you’ve been or done in your life, God has a soft spot for you, in which He sees you as His Princess. He sees ALL of you, every facet; you are this wonderful jewel!

So, the challenge, I suppose, is for each of us to view ourselves as a “princess,” recognizing that the word speaks to our uniqueness, not a crown on our heads, not ever changing beauty trends, not “thinspo” pro-eating disorder mindsets.

I have a different definition of the word. Yes, then. I’m a Princess. You are too! Walk with your head held high; you are a child, a princess, of the Most High God!

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse



Friday, August 28, 2015

Princess Diana, On Eating Disorders...

One of her most powerful speeches...

Speech given by Diana, Princess of Wales on "Eating Disorders"

27th April 1993


“Ladies and Gentlemen:


I have it, on very good authority, that the quest for perfection our society demands can leave the individual gasping for breath at every turn.


This pressure inevitably extends into the way we look. And of course, many would like to believe that Eating Disorders are merely an expression of female vanity - not being able to get into a size ten dress and the consequent frustrations!


From the beginning of time the human race has had a deep and powerful relationship with food - if you eat you live, if you don't you die. Eating food has always been about survival, but also about caring for and nurturing the ones we love. However, with the added stresses of modern life, it has now become an expression of how we feel about ourselves and how we want others to feel about us.


Eating Disorders, whether it be Anorexia or Bulimia, show how an individual can turn the nourishment of the body into a painful attack on themselves and they have at their core a far deeper problem than mere vanity. And sadly, Eating Disorders are on the increase at a disturbing rate, affecting a growing number of men and women and a growing number of children.


Our knowledge of Eating Disorders is still in its infancy. But it seems, from those I have spoken to that the seeds of this dis-ease may lie in childhood and the self- doubts and uncertainties that accompany adolescence. From early childhood many had felt they were expected to be perfect, but didn't feel they had the right to express their true feelings to those around them - feelings of guilt, of self- revulsion and low personal esteem. Creating in them a compulsion to 'dissolve like a disprin' and disappear.


The illness they developed became their 'shameful friend'. By focusing their energies on controlling their bodies, they had found a 'refuge' from having to face the more painful issues at the centre of their lives. A way of 'coping', albeit destructively and pointlessly, but a way of coping with a situation they were finding unbearable. An 'expression' of how they felt about themselves and the life they were living.


On a recent visit to 'The Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children' I met some young people who were suffering from Eating Disorders. With the help of some very dedicated staff, they and their parents, were bravely learning to face together the deeper problems, which had been expressed through their disease.


With time and patience and a considerable amount of specialist support, many of these young people will get well. They and their families will learn to become whole again. Sadly, for others it will all be too late. Yes, people are dying through Eating Disorders.


Yet all of us can help prevent the seeds of this disease developing. As parents, teachers, family and friends, we have an obligation to care for our children. To encourage and guide, to nourish and nurture and to listen with love to their needs, in ways which clearly show our children that we value them. They in their turn will then learn how to value themselves.


For those already suffering from Eating Disorders, how can we reach them earlier, before it’s too late?


Here in Britain organizations such as 'The Eating Disorders Association' are currently being swamped with enquiries and requests for support and advice, so overwhelming is the need for help.


Yet with greater awareness and more information these people, who are locked into a spiral of secret despair, can be reached before the dis-ease takes over their lives. The longer it is before help reaches them, the greater the demand on limited resources and the less likely it is they will fully recover.


I am certain the ultimate solution lies within the individual. But with the help and patient nurturing given by you the professionals, family and friends, people suffering from Eating Disorders can find a better way of coping with their lives. By learning to deal with their problems directly in a safe and supportive environment.


Over the next three days, this International Conference, has the opportunity to explore further the causes of Eating Disorders and to find new avenues of help for those suffering from this 'incapacitating dis - ease'.


I look forward to hearing about your progress and hope you are able to find the most 'beneficial' way of giving back to these people their self- esteem. To show them how to overcome their difficulties and re-direct their energies towards a healthier, happier life.”

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Love This Churchill Quote...

Hiding Behind the Panda

“…there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.”

Matthew 10:26; Luke 12:2

This time of year, with its county and state fairs in full swing, I’m reminded of an eating disorder memory.

The summer before my sophomore year of college, I was at my lowest weight, riddled with anorexic beliefs and behaviors. I weighed a two-digit weight and my condition elicited concern from numerous friends and family members. Still, I was determined to let nothing and no one stop me. I was solely fixated on my goal of being thin, to an emaciated degree. I wanted no one interfering as I went about my daily life.

And I thought I would achieve that as I decided to go to the Minnesota State Fair in late August.

Not so fast.

By now, my disordered eating tendencies felt as close to my normal routine as they could be. I got up early that morning, engaged in my punishing exercise, non-eating and grooming routines. I wore a “normal” white t-shirt and jean shorts. There was, to my knowledge, nothing attention-grabbing about my presence.

But my fair-going experience would quickly show me otherwise. For, as I walked the long stretch of the fair site, I noticed peoples’ stares. I seemed to run into families with young children. And children, as filter-less as they are, gawked and pointed. Although I could not hear the interactions, I suspected they were asking their parents what was wrong with me. I saw disgust on the adults’ faces. They could not get away from me fast enough. I had at least three of these encounters.

I wanted to convince everyone, even in this fair setting, I was “fine.” And it irritated me that people seemed to “know,” to be bothered, appalled or fearful about my presence. I wanted to believe I was doing well; I was not out of control. I was not sick. And, in this anonymous circumstance, strangers were disputing my well- being. I believed, sure, my family and friends who expressed their concerned thoughts were one thing; they could operate in a personal agenda to hurt me. But total strangers?

And here’s where, unknown to me then, I encountered the powerful impact about two or three witness…

“…In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”

2 Corinthians 13:1

“But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.”

Matthew 18:16

I was a walking skeleton. Dressing me up for fun at the fair did nothing to change that. Neither did my desire to persuade others I was “normal.”

Still, I was thoroughly convinced I could blend in and not appear like I had a problem.

So, I decided to look like even more of the festive fairgoer. I bought one of those huge stuffed panda bears and proceeded to walk around with that sucker for the rest of my experience. Hey, c’mon. Look how happy I am; I have this gigantic bear!

I know.

But my panda strategy backfired. For now, peoples’ attention weren’t just pulled to the walking skeleton, but to the exaggerated image of a walking skeleton lugging an enormous stuffed animal around on a hot and humid summer day. And make no mistake about it, that panda became quite heavy very quickly.

But I still clung to the delusion I could hide behind its cuteness. I believed it would camouflage my unflattering reality. Throw a huge bear at it- exactly!

And, I was oblivious to the Truth, bear or no bear: secrets get exposed.

“For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither anything hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.”

Luke 8:17

“For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.”

Mark 4:22

And, since eating disorders are all about secrecy, they’re up to the same fate as anything else is.


It’s been years since this experience. I still have the panda bear. But, more than that, I also have the revelation of eating disorders and their insidious, sick thought processes, some of those including…

I know what I’m doing.

I’m in control.

I’m fooling everyone.

I don’t need help.

No one knows what’s really going on.

What are you hiding behind? Perhaps it’s not a humongous teddy bear, but it is something, isn’t it?

For those of us in recovery from food and body image issues, the challenge is to identify the need to be presented in a particular light. And then, from there, we need to confront our chosen props to distract, to deny, to lie and to hide.

Often, we can get so consumed by that obsession, we completely bypass the liberation which waits on our decision to embrace it…

“…the truth will set you free."

John 8:32

God’s blessings far outweigh our hiding. Let’s come out from the dark and walk in empowering light!

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse







Where Would Mom Be Without Her Perfect Nose?

In a scene from the series, “Mad Men” Betty and Sally, its mother and daughter characters, are fighting over the broken state of daughter’s “once perfect” nose.

 It addresses the importance appearance and perfection often play in life. At one point, daughter, Sally mocks her mother, “Where would Mom be without her perfect nose?”

With disordered image, eating and value issues plaguing our culture today, the perfection challenge is still with us. There’s an expectation of happiness, fulfilled dreams and banished sadness/loneliness which frequently comes attached to the perfection promise.

But the rude awakening to life is how imperfect it is.

Still, God has His perspective on not just perfection, but on His value of us as well:

 “Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.”

Deuteronomy 18:13

“He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”

Deuteronomy 32:4

“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all them that trust in him.”

2 Samuel 22:31; Psalms 18:31

“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

 “And he said unto me, ‘My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

2 Corinthians 12:9

We are in process; we’re constantly changing…

“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

It’s a message which needs much repeating, especially if we’re recovering from not just eating disorders and low self-esteem, but unrealistic perfectionism to boot.

We’re getting there. You are; I am. And, in the middle of everything which is imperfect, God still sees a perfection to us. We are that valuable. Period.

Copyright © 2015 by Sheryle Cruse