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Journal Two: Thoughts and Writing

Skeleton - A Piece of My Story

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I was nine years old the very first time I remember looking in a mirror and deciding I wasn't enough. 

A boy had said something harsh about my body in school that left the bones which held my frame up weakened beneath the wounded spirit of a child. I had never bothered to pay much attention to my body at that age. I had legs that carried me where I needed to go. I had a right hand to do my school work with and a left hand to carry my fruit-scented markers. I had eyes my Dad said were hazel-green like his and a birthmark below my collar bone my Mom always told me looked like a dove and my friends always told me looked like a butterfly. I spent far more time running around Fanjoy's Point Road in my bare feet than standing in front of a mirror. The sweetest years. 

But somewhere between ignorant comments the commenters tragically could have never known would cut so deep and the influence of the media that screamed  to my fragile, naive self, "if you are just THIS, you will be wanted", the care-free, life-filled little girl began to shrink under the lies that attacked the tower of her self-worth from every corner until its walls crumbled into an eating disorder. 

I wish I could go back  and craddle that strawberry-blonde haired, bright-eyed, freckly-faced girl in my arms and champion her until she felt strong enough to tear apart the lies before they tore her apart. 

I wish I could have saved her from the years that would follow. I wish I could have taken a sledge hammer to the door of that bathroom where she decided to make herself throw up for the first time and hold her in her darkest, most silent, most shattering moments. I wish I could have hugged her lifeless frame that would stand at the kitchen sink and scrub dishes with blistered hands for hours on end as a means of keeping  her mind off the hunger of too many skipped meals. I wish I could have laid on the floor with her the night she collapsed from exhaustion and whispered to her heart, "there is so much more than this". I wish I could have shielded her when the gossip came, when even well-intentioned people did more harm than good with their words. "You're just a skeleton", "I can see every bone in your body and it's disgusting".  I wish I could have spoken truth over her in the years her body was healing but everything inside of her was falling apart behind her convincing smile.

I won't go onto share more details about the pain of my past because I don't think darkness should receive more recognition than it deserves. 

But today, I feel the heaviness of the place I have come from. 

Though, it is not a heaviness that sinks my spirit as it once did.

Because for all of the suffering I have known, my joy is that much deeper and that much fuller. 

I have been trying to write a conclusion to this all for three hours, but the only place I can seem to get to and the only thing I can seem to say is this. 

I love Jesus. 

Nearly four years ago, sitting on a living room floor, I surrendered years of shame, bitterness, defeat, and self-hatred to Jesus. In the contradiction that was both vulnerability and safety, I experienced the power of prayer and the love of God in a way that has forever changed the course of my life.  I never thought I would know this kind of freedom. For all that was dead in me, He has and will heal, restore, and redeem.  He has lifted my head.  I have no shame in the One I call Saviour, because He is just that. The love that broke through my hate. The One Who gives me a name when I don't remember who I am. Daughter. Beloved.

From a place of honesty, I am still working through things. Full healing didn't happen in an instant for me, but I met the Healer. And He is still building me back up. It isn't without pain still. It isn't without the daily surrender. Some mornings, I feel like I am on the front lines of a battle zone by simply looking in a mirror, but He goes before me.  And I am not fighting a losing battle anymore because I am held in the the hands of the One who has already won this victory. 

And everything is flowing from that place of freedom. The dreams that burn in my heart, my new-found passion for life, my love for photography, my love for people... it is all pouring out from a deeply known freedom in the Lord. Whether that seems relevant or not, I promise it is. 

Because everything good in me, everything good about me... I know it is because of His love and grace in my life. 

Goodness gracious, I really didn't mean to explode into a "I LOVE JESUS" tangent, but here we are. I'm not going to delete any of that because those are the words of my heart. 

The Lord is even more faithful than the sun that rises. 

But I would like to also leave this with the invitation for anyone who has known similar struggles as the ones I have dealt with, please feel more than free to reach out. My heart breaks to know my story isn't unique, and I want you to know you are not alone. You are deeply loved, and there is so much more for you. If you need a listening ear or there is anything I can pray for (you most certainly don't have to share details), I spend a lot of hours of the day editing photos, and I could replace a couple of podcasts with prayer. 

You are a treasure. You are worthy. 

Love you guys, 

- S

sarah kierstead