One of the foundational things in my early recovery was the process of sorting out what my values were, what meant the most to me. The eating disorder and my other addictions, for so many years, clouded my vision and understanding of what truly I was meant to be, and what spoke to my heart. The eating disorder with its rules and mandates for living caused me to believe that my worth was determined by that number on the scale. My pursuit of perfection was a way to try to prove to others that I was successful, put together, and impressive. Authentic, deep relationships were scary because who I was on the inside was anything but the polished self I tried to portray to the world.
As I started my recovery journey I knew that I valued my family, my friends, and my relationship with God, but I had little realization of who I wanted to really be on the inside. Who was Kelli really without the incessant voice in my head that said I was not enough? There was always that voice had so many rules to live by just to make it through the day. I needed concrete examples of what the abstract concepts of contentment, joy, and fulfillment looked like lived out in this world.
There were two women in particular that I began to look up to. They had walked their journey of recovery and were living full lives. I watched how they handled the stresses of daily living. I listened to what they said. I saw the joy and contentment in their lives I so desperately wanted. As I walked through the early days of recovery that were not easy, I continued to look at these women as examples. I kept telling myself, “I want what they have!” They were examples to me of me of the things I so desperately longed for.
God knows we need examples to live this hard life of faith. It is not an easy road. Sometimes we feel alone in our struggle to go on. Check out what God’s Word says about watching others’ lives for encouragement.
Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of faith…”
Of course, we have to ask what the “therefore” is there for. Look at chapter 11 and we find countless examples of people who lived a life of faith during difficult times. These were not perfect people. We can read of their lives in the Scriptures and surely find shortcomings, but these people were known for their faith and dependence on God through trying and unknown times. Their journeys were marked by fear, by questioning, by hardship, and by sin, much like ours today. Their examples of faith in God, despite a much less than easy and perfect life, show us that we can continue. We can go on even on those most difficult days. Reading of their lives of faith in God causes me to say, “I want what they have!” I can read of their lives, and see how a life of faith, despite seemingly overwhelming hardship and difficulties, can be lived out.
But wait! There is more! Hebrews 12:2 gives us the secret that these champions of faith used to carry on. We are to keep our eyes on Jesus. It is what I need to do to run with endurance this life God has granted me. Jesus is the focus of my faith. He is the originator and giver of my faith. Jesus is the sustainer of my faith, and He is the one who perfects or completes my faith. Someday when I see Him face to face I will know that my confident assurance in Him is fulfilled (Hebrews 11:1).
This life is hard. I know this well. God knows this, too. These verses in Hebrews 12:1-2 tell us so when it says we are to “run with perseverance”. We would not need perseverance is this life was easy. However, we are not alone. God speaks of connection throughout the Bible. We are to lean on each other, and together look to God with faith to carry on in this life. God has given us in His Word so many examples of fallible people who persevered because they fixed their eyes on God, and lived a life of faith in what they could not see at the time.
If you are struggling in your journey of recovery, find people who lives out the values that you so desperately want. Who can you watch and learn from? Who lives in authentic realness, joy, and contentment that transcends their circumstances? This can give you a tangible picture of what honest life in recovery looks like. Find people that cause you to say, “I want what they have!”