Tuesday, July 6, 2010

saved from the fiery furnace.

Dear God,

don't you want me to wait and do this when my blog has really taken off and has 100+ followers?

i really think that would be better.

that way no one will feel like this is a "christian" blog and decide to stop following or not follow it in the first place because of the reputation certain strands of christianity have regretfully won for all of us who love you.

besides, I want recovery for everyone, not just people who believe the way i do.

i think i'll just do a few more posts and then i'll give you credit. just a couple of more and then you get an entire post to yourself!

not everyone feels the way i do and i'm just trying to keep from excluding anyone. of anybody i know you'd understand that, right?

this has been my prayer for the past couple of days. i wanted to wait to really talk about Him- i wanted to go as long as i could- get as many followers as possible, spend time enough with my readers that they would feel safe, unjudged, valued, heard, and understood- regardless of what either of us believe.

it seemed like the best way to go about things. but as many posts as i've started the past couple of days, none have seemed right. and after spending some salty-aired moments in Daniel 3 yesterday (i'm in florida with my family right now) i understood why.

I read a story i've read about a million times, but never on this side of my eating disorder. It's a story about a guy named Nebuchadnezzer.

Nebuchadnezzer was a king. a king who probably didn't have an eating disorder, or any of the other inferiority issues that accompany, because the story starts with him erecting a golden monument and commanding his entire kingdom to bow down and worship the monument at a certain time every day- a time he would signal with loud, harmonious music of pipes, lyres, horns and probably a lot of other hard-to-ignore instruments.

anyone refusing to bow down and worship the monument would be cast immediately into a fiery furnace.

obviously most of the people bowed to the statue. they didn't really feel they had another option. and given a choice between forced worship and death by fire, they chose to worship the statue to the tune of the clanging instruments. i probably would have too. and i kind of did. for five years.

but there were three men who refused to bow down: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
of course, someone ratted them out to Nebuchadnezzer. So he brought them before him and made sure they understood their inevitable fate if they chose not to worship the statue.

they told him they understood very well. the told him they wouldn't do it. and they told him that whether God saved their earthy lives or just their souls, He was going to deliver them from that furnace.

and while most people would suggest that these three were unafraid of the fire, i'm not going to say that at all. in fact, i'm sure they were petrified. but amidst the fear that continously consumed them as the heat of the furnace ensued, they were ever grounded in thier loyalty to their God, ever sure that one way or another, they would emerge from the flames alive.

and so Nebuchadnezzer had the furnace heated to seven times its usual temperature. He ordered his guards to bind Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednigo in tightly-wound garments and throw them into the furnace.

After a few moments Nebuchadnezzer looked into the furnace. He was aghast/amazed/infuriated to see that the three men were not only unbound, but were accompanied by a fourth, who was according to Nebuchadnezzer,"like a son of the gods".

When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out of the furnace, they were unsinged, unharmed, completely uneffected by the fire. they knew their God would save them- that he was a third option (or maybe the only option) when it had seemed that death or a life of enslavement to a statue (death) were the 2 only choices they had.

i used to read this story and murmur empty affirmations of its truth as i read. i'm not really sure how i thought it applied- maybe i thought that the furnace was my eating disorder and that God was in there with me so i could just know it was going to go away- or maybe i thought that the eating disorder was the statue and if i chose to quit bowing to it that God would help me or something.

but now, reading it from other side, i'm not murmuring any empty affirmations...just smiling. the story affirmed itself in the beauty with which my recovery has emerged.

what i realized as i read yesterday and again today, is that Nebuchadnezzer represents the intense, extreme, passionate parts of me that predisposed me to having an eating disorder. and when conditions were right 5 years ago, it was these parts of me that erected an enormous golden monument called, "thin" and demanded that i bow to it every day for the rest of my life. and to have an eating disorder, in simplistic terms, is to worship being thin.

I didn't choose to worship this alternative god from the outset, but when Nebuchadnezzer presented me with the alternative to "thin" (not just fat, but normal-sized, even small-but-healthy-looking; weight-gain, eating an unrestricted diet, not being a size *, or weighing ***) i became as fearful of these alternatives as any normal person would be of stepping into a fiery furnace.

in other words, i felt that turning my back on "thin" and stepping into the furnace of recovery would end me as a person. and so, like Nebuchadnezzer wanted, i bowed to "thin", every day for five years.

at times just my body bowed, and my heart knew that "thin" was not my true god, but just as many times, every brainwashed part of me bowed low before "thin"- the god that mattered more to me than anything else.

but i finally realized, thanks to a God-ordained set of circumstances, that the fiery death i thought i was avoiding by selling myself out to "thin" was actually taking place before my eyes. day-by-day. just a little slower and without the fire.

i also finally realized that as many happy faces i'd painted on, as many worshipful prayers i'd faked heavenward...

i loved "thin" more than i loved my God.

not only did i not believe that He would save me from the furnace if i chose to defy "thin", i didn't want Him to save me.

after squeezing these prickly truths around in my hand, letting them hurt, become real, i knew what i had to do if i wanted to ever do anything at all.

I had to leave "thin" behind, to turn my back on its oppressive, controlling presence and faithfully step into the furnace, knowing my Father would arrive.

the next day i called Magnolia Creek.

in the countless times i tried recovery before, i got sick of "thin" or someone told me i would go to the hospital, maybe even die if i didn't stop bowing to him. i would step towards the furnace to accept my punishment. sometimes even i would get close to the door handle, but eventually, i always felt the heat and ran back to "thin".

this time, i had no idea how or why i would make it through the furnace. i knew only that i wanted to worship God, not "thin", and not a combination of the both of them ("thin"). and i knew that God would see me out of the flames.

so here i am. in the furnace i feared for so long. to some who still bow to "thin" (or thin's equivalent- whatever your addiction), it may look as though i'm standing in the midst of a raging fire- a fire you're thankful you're avoiding.

but God is here with me. I'm unbound, dancing through the flames while He protects me. I won't say the flames don't get hot- but when the heat closes in and i think i might burn i reach out, and there He is.

and that's why i'm still here. in the furnace. in recovery. He's why i haven't run away. why i'm able to not run away. why i can't run away.

maybe you don't believe that He's good or that He'll help you. maybe you don't believe He even exists. I don't blame you. you're entitled to believe what you want without judgement from the people around you.

i want any and everyone who reads this blog to recover from his or her respective struggles, regardless of belief, custom, or tradition.

but i also want any and everyone who reads this blog to know that i love that Jesus Christ with my heart, soul, mind, and strength and it his thanks to Him and Him alone that i remain in these refining flames and that i will one day call myself "recovered".

the story ends with Nebuchadnezzer proclaiming his devotion to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. and so it is with the "Nebuchadnezzer" part of myself. the intense, extreme parts that found only "thin" worthy of worship- the parts that likened recovery to death by fire.

It's the Nebuchadnezzer within me that's had a change of heart, that's now driving me toward recovery, that pushed me to set aside all other posts and credit my Father with all of this.

i love every one of you.

It's in Him that i write now and always,



  1. Wow EA... Powerful message! We all have our "statues" don't we? God is using you in unimaginable ways and you may never know (this side of Heaven) the difference you have made. I am going to share this with some folks I know who are struggling with different things. Thank you. Love you much-Ms. Darilyn

  2. I loved it EA. I too struggle with posting my thoughts and beliefs on my blog (Even though I have) because I so desire for everyone to relate and not feel left out....but EA, this is YOUR blog...your thoughts, your story, your writing. Let it flow. it's flowing out of a heart that violently beats for Her Father who is passionately in the fire with His beautiful daughter. The flames are hot. I know that, too. As you told me, we will not be burned. Eventually, the "thin" god will burn down as the holy fire intensifies. Sure, the fire was meant for evil, but God is turning it to good--to save many lives (Deut.).....
    You are walking out unharmed....and I thank you that you are showing many others the way out too.

    you are loved.
    keep shining brightly.

  3. Ms. Darilyn-

    I'm so glad you found my blog. thanks for your encouragement! it means more than you know. i hope to see the Christenbury's soon. love you too!


    thank you so much for your beautiful words. i actually meant to send you a message letting you know it was your post about tip-toeing into the fire that really inspired this one. it was your post that led me to read back over Daniel 3 and it in Daniel 3 that God said, "tell them". so thank you. i love you much.