Shalom. Peace. Restoring things to the way they were meant to be, the way God designed. We all desire to be a part of something meaningful that restores the world to what it was supposed to be. It’s been some 27 years for me realizing that my restoring shalom in the world is meaningless if I am not walking in the Spirit of God. What I mean by that is all of my actions, public AND private are in line with the way God intended them to be, the way of shalom, what some may call walking in the Spirit of God.
Foster a lifestyle of surrender.
Many of you know a part of my story…a struggle with bulimia. I am realizing more and more how deeply rooted this outward struggle is. Control and pride run deep in my life. Marriage has played a large role in exposing these roots, especially as I realize more and more how what holds me back from stepping into more fully bringing shalom is my own lack of shalom. It has taken me coming to a place over and over again where I realize I am not in control. I need give up. I am fed up. I surrender and cry out to God.
Foster a lifestyle of walking in the Spirit.
Dealing with behavior alone is meaningless. For over a decade, since I was 15, I focused the majority of my efforts on my behavior. Stop binging and purging. Stop overeating. Read the Bible more. Pray more. Go to church. Go on missions trips. Give more. Go to therapy. Join a support group. You name it and I tried it. They are all good things, but they are tools. They are a means to an end but not the end. God has been so faithful and patient with me all of these years. He is the ultimate patient lover. Marriage with my husband Steven has helped give me a glimpse of God’s incredible love, patience, and faithfulness. When I least deserve it, God is there for me.
About a month ago, I realized things in my life needed to change, a lot. I couldn’t do it anymore. I truly couldn’t give what I didn’t have. I couldn’t be a person that brought shalom to the world if my soul lacked it. I couldn’t say that God was in control of my life and then continue to take control of my life through binging and purging. But, it wasn’t so much about the behavior, it was about my lifestyle. My outlook on life, my inviting God into my day and all of it. It was about slowing down and letting him speak to me and disrupt every area of my life at all times. It’s been through the power of walking in the spirit throughout my day rewriting those pathways to which serotonin – pleasure – has been flowing.
In the past I thought I could walk in the spirit by praying in the morning or practicing some sort of religiousness, but my old pathways of serotonin flow would quickly overtake whatever “will power” I had. I became discouraged. I looked for more tools – groups, therapy, accountability – but what I most needed was to walk in the Spirit. Over the last month, allowing the Spirit to overtake my life and help me rewrite new pathways for serotonin flow through submission to walking with him in everything has been incredible. I almost don’t want to tell you what that has looked like because the hesitation of both myself and others can “If only I did those things, then I would experience….” If I say anything about what this has looked like, it would be my prayer first thing in the morning and throughout my day “God, take all of me. I give you all of today and all of me. Please protect me. I believe in you, help me in times when I have unbelief. I want to be fully alive. I want to experience shalom and bring shalom to all who experience me today.”
A New Chapter…
After struggling with bulimia for so long, it’s taken a toll on my body. I was so ashamed to go back to the dentist. I had not been to the dentist in over a year and was looking for a new one. I knew some expensive work was on the horizon; I had been told that before.
Last week I went to my new dentist, Dr. Gutierrez. I was overwhelmed with positivity and support. In the past, as I shared with Dr. Gutierrez, I have been seen by dentists that saw me only for my worst moments. I left their offices feeling judged and discouraged. I was able to share a bit of my story with him and his staff, especially my dental hygienist Alejandra. Alejandra connected to my story and recognized, as she put in her own words, “We all have something we struggle with – our big secret we keep hidden. When we recognize that, we have compassion and we find comfort in our journey forward.” Dr. Gutierrez encouraged me, gave me practical advice, and involved me in a plan to more forward and keep me smiling with my best smile ever! I believe that God used them to give me hope in a very practical way.
The cost of the dental work, $13,312.50. It sounds like an astronomical number but then, seeing how far God has brought us in growth up until this point; provided for us a beautiful wedding, home, and honeymoon; helped us over countless hurdles being newlyweds; and providing for us financially, this is but a small hurdle for God. I am excited to see God continue to work in our lives and in this!
Moving forward in this next step of dental treatment is more than just about my teeth. I think it’s about realizing the best is yet to come, God is only beginning His work in my life. I will choose not to keep on smiling because of the work of Dr. Gutierrez on my teeth but because of God’s faithfulness in my life and the unspeakable joy that comes from walking in the Spirit with Him.
He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” – Revelation 21:5
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. – Philippians 1:6