Tag Archives: addiction

Addiction, depression, eating disorders….and complete freedom

30 Aug

 

Addiction, depression, eating disorders… for some of you, one or more of those words will stand out, screaming at you from the screen. You know more about that word than you have let the world know – you know it inside out. It’s your secret.

These topics, these words, lie heavy on my heart today. Why? Because I believe God wants me to share this message with you –

COMPLETE freedom is attainable

Those first three words hold so much weight for me. Each of them is a part of my story, my testimony. I sit here today a different girl to the Anna everyone knew 18 months ago… or maybe more accurately – the Anna people didn’t know. I have been on a journey of freedom that at times I never thought possible. And you know what makes me sad? What breaks my heart? What breaks God’s heart? Is that the world says: manage it….. take this tablet, go on this course, read this book… and just learn how to manage it.

Take the tablet, read the book, do the course… but in doing that alone, we relinquish our responsibility in managing and guarding our thoughts. For we underestimate the power of our thoughts and where they can take us if we allow them to. We get into habits of negative thinking, which like a cancer can invade every aspect of our lives – making it a dark and negative place to be. God can easily get cut out of being the answer.

Eventually, after years, I got to a place where I gave up trying to do it on my own. I went to the GP, got help, got tablets…came home and had a revelation. I reached the end of myself and have never stood at such a clear crossroads before: Be ‘fixed’ by the world – or jump into my counsellor God’s arms – someone who knows and loves me intimately and who has paid for my freedom – total freedom. I put down the antidepressants and picked up the bible (disclaimer: please talk to your doctor and mentor before stopping any medication). I reached up, and I reached out. I said “God, I can’t do this day, this hour, this minute without your help”. And day by day, minute by minute, he faithfully saved me.

Man it’s a lot of work – changing thought patterns, learning what it means to truly be loved and love myself. It’s a lot easier to pop a pill. But – it’s worth it. To live in, to taste, to know true God ordained, God desired freedom.

And it’s there for you.

Freedom is a decision, it’s a process. You are loved into it. Freedom is about holding your thoughts captive and trusting God for the strength not to go down certain roads in your mind. Freedom is about clinging on to God and trusting his promises. It’s about community – letting others in on your struggles, letting people stand beside you in the fight against lies. Letting people pray for you and with you.

So, are you ready to let go? Are your ready to be loved into freedom?

Here are some verses for you:

– ‘Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’ Romans 15:13 NKJV

– ‘Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead you live under the freedom of God’s grace’ Romans 6:14 NLT

– ‘For the Lord is the spirit, and wherever the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’ 2 Corinthians 3:17

– ‘We have escaped like a bird out of the fowlers snare; the snare has been broken and we have escaped’ Psalm, 124:7

 

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Daytime TV and trashy novels

16 Aug

 

Only 5 long days until the hubby & I step onto a plane and head towards the white sands of a Turkish beach. The hours of trawling for bargainous internet late-deals have served us well. I must admit, despite my excitement that I am a more than a little jealous of the super-sized summer holiday you have ahead of you.

‘You are what you eat’ shout the magazines from the stand, proclaiming miracle bikini diets and portraying pictures of celebrity bodies. I choose to ignore the pressures as I make a cheeky detour to the chocolate isle. Instead my mind wanders to planning my holiday reading and am hit by the challenge…

‘You are what you think’

I am so tempted to fill my suitcase with trashy novels. I want a bit of comfortable escapism from difficult family situations and the uncertainty of my future. I’m tired. What is your escapism route? Trashy daytime television? Hours of trawling Facebook… or the internet? Why? Because you can, because you are having a break from the daily routine, and frankly because that’s all that was on when you rolled out of bed at lunchtime!

So it is tempting to fill my mind with rubbish tales of endless pursuits of love and flashy lives…. but it would be about as spiritually nutritional as a deep-fried mars bar is healthy

As the months stretch ahead and we check out of our usual responsibilities, taking a little time away from tough relationships, pressures and stresses….are we going to check out of our minds too? As we step away from our home churches, are we going to step away from the discipleship and the challenge of accountability as well?

In Philippians 4:8 (NLT) Paul urges you to ‘Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise’

If we are products of where we let our mind wander in the quiet and in our down-time, then let’s be challenged by this verse. Of course, lie in, relax, indulge a little, party and holiday. But..make an effort to stay accountable and to keep in touch with your community, keep plugging into God – don’t leave him at uni along with the routines you had built. Here are some tips:

– Spend time asking God how he would like you to spend these months. Pray and think about the following ideas

– Make prayerful plans – pray for great conversations with family and friends

– Make financial plans – save for something or replenish that overdraft!

– Make physical plans – stay healthy

– Make spiritual plans – pray a little more, spend a little more time studying the bible

– Make active and restful plans (rest might be a spiritual discipline… but laziness isn’t!)

– Make creative plans – pick up old hobbies

So…. will this be a summer for checking in, changing, growing, challenging?

Or checking out?

Nutella and eternity

8 Jun

My love for good holiday books tend to result in a heart-stopping moment as I place my luggage on the check-in scales to be weighed. I hold my breath as the weight creeps dangerously close to the 10kg limit. I haven’t been fined yet, but I have had to do the awkward airport-floor suitcase reshuffle.

What’s more, I’m a naughty reader. With a good book I can’t help but sneak a glance ahead. I do it with the coyness of a child who knows they are doing something they shouldn’t – cautious not to be caught with their fingers in the Nutella jar. I look around to make sure nobody is watching as I jump a fistful of pages and chapters ahead, just to get a taste of what is to come.

It got me thinking…would we live differently if we really knew where we were going? Would we act, speak, pray, spend differently? With eternity written on our hearts, we often take forgranted the reality of heaven and what it means for us as Christians to spend forever in the presence of God. The book of Revelation provides us with that peek ahead. It is full of written glimpses of heaven offering descriptive metaphors, stunning imagery and strange descriptions of a reality that is incomprehensible to us in life.

What if we were to live with a more heavenly perspective? Paul often reminds us that the best is yet to come. He encourages us to see life through the lens of eternity. In Romans 8:8 he says “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us”

But how can we maintain a heavenly perspective when the world encourages us to live endlessly seeking the promises of pleasure? We enjoy the illusion of security, and desperately try to satiate a hunger for things we can’t always name or put our finger on?

With inspiration from Paul in Philippians 1:18-26, here are some tips for maintaining a heavenly perspective:

– Rejoice. Not a fluctuating happiness that depends on circumstance but praise that is offered throughout the seasons of our life. Pray for the gift of Joy and make decisions to worship even when it’s costly

– Ask to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and keep asking

– Pray and be prayed for

– Know what you are fighting! If it’s materialism, an addiction or a destructive relationship that battles for your attention – name it and seek accountability

– Get your hands dirty. Commit yourself to working for the Lord throughout your brief time on earth. We only get one chance, make it count

So…let’s live purposeful, heaven bound and heaven-focussed lives, creating echoes that bellow into eternity. Being driven by a spiritual urgency that acknowledges how short our time here is.

 

The marching man with dirty knees

28 Sep

As London wakes
You drink your breakfast
From an aluminium can
Another hungry sip
Adding to your already foggy mind
Your familiar morning haze
~
You with your dirty knees
And ripped jeans
Taking big
Intentional steps
A swerving stride
High legs
Marching man
~
Your scuffed hands
Are weaponless
But you are invincible
Marching into battle
Barking slurred orders
To invisible troops
~
An army of one
Striding across busy roads
To unheard beats
An unseen band
Marching man
~
Lifting your hand
A sharp salute
Honoring the invisible
A smirk on your face
Like a naughty child
~
Would you notice
If I stayed to march with you
For a while?
A few paces
In step
Your lonely battle cry
Heard
Saluting with you to the unseen
To the beat of the invisible band
~
I didn’t.
But the little part of me
That doesn’t care about intrigued stares
Regrets
That I let you march alone

An ode to the man who didn’t ask

23 Sep
Sitting there
Lounging
On the pavement
Against the wall.
Your concrete sofa
Your chaise longe
~
You sit reclined.
Legs outstretched into my path.
Exhuding an
Atmosphere of regality.
This is your street
~
You breathe through a
Smouldering cigarette
Not bothering to
Pull it from your lips.
Denying yourself the London air,
Ash threatening to fall on your
Marked jacket.
You don’t mind
~
Your outfit
A dusty street man’s,
Mismatched and well worn.
3 pairs of trousers
Rolled carefully to different lengths
A strange rainbow of colour
Against the grey of your pavement
~
You stare.
Moving only your eyes
As people open shops
Beginning their working days.
Fueled on good nights sleep and steaming coffees.
A different life
Ruled by ticking clocks and ringing phones
~
I wonder
What is going through your head?
Maybe nothing,
A simple fog of morning sleepiness.
Maybe jealousy or intrigue
At the lives of passers by.
Or perhaps bemusement at our complicated existence
~
But I sense a disconnectedness
A blasé
An unaffectedness
That says
This is my world.
You live yours
~
You do not ask of me,
Or speak
Or look
As I expected.
You don’t interrupt the moments I spend
Seeking my key
An opportunity to request change or food
As many would
~
Did you even see me?
Notice me?
~
I am touched by the irony of this
The lack of exchange,
Aknowledgement.
Confused.
You have turned the tables
The un-noticing
Becoming the unnoticed
~
This is my world
You live yours

Damn you Mr Fry. The murder of the sweet tooth

15 Sep

I had a sweet tooth. Nope, an entire set of sweet teeth. Main meals were a mere step to a pudding and my eyes would devour the dessert menu before even considering drinks. I would substitute bread for sweets, and chocolate would be the essential full stop to every meal. Except maybe breakfast. Sometimes.

Damn that Mr Fry. No, not the twitter-holic, but the man who bought the good stuff to the UK.

‘Sharesize’ were banned as they were far too ‘mesize’. Instead everything had to be in poxy lunchbox portions – safely wrapped and packed. This tactic, plus a well loved pair of running shoes are the only reasons I am not obese.

So.

I gave up chocolate for a month. Yup, a whole month. That’s 30 days and a potential 60 pieces, bars, slabs, packets of tasty chocolate.  And instead of yielding to the advice of the thousands of articles online on ‘how to cure your sweet addiction’, I didn’t hunt for a therapist, a hypnotist or take a trip to the doc for some magic patches. I didn’t even buy one of those newfangled Le Whif chocolate inhalers (what!). I just stopped.

Let me tell you- stopping is easier than ‘having just one piece’. That one piece is like taking the plug out the dam. Like the alcoholic version of ‘one drink to drunk’, one piece is the chocoholics ‘one piece to…’ i’m not sure that works so well.

Unlike giving up caffeine, I didn’t get the shakes, the headaches, the sick-day worthy flu-like symptoms (another story all together)… nope. I just really, really, really wanted it. I had to battle temptations to find a new muse – digestive  biscuits, gingernuts, percy pigs, percy pals, percy tails, percy and friends…

For a week perhaps.

And then something happened. I stopped dreaming of chocolate, wanting chocolate, desiring to pounce on anyone who was holding the stuff. In fact, all things  saccharine sweet began to lose their sparkle.

And, timely as ever – headlines announce that our sweet treats and junk are as addictive as cocaine. Well if that’s true…

Then I just went cold turkey.

So now, fruit is sweet enough for me. Chocolate has returned – no, for the first time holds ‘treat’ status rather than an end to every meal. The ultimate test is a humongous, open bar of toblerone sitting in the fridge. I have had one chunk.

My husband however….

Is now hooked.

Oops

So, although I can go a day without chocolate, I wouldn’t dare give it up all together. I owe it to my body to continue with the odd indulgence here and there (see below). And whilst I half-heartedly attempt to wean my husband off it, I love him too much to deny him the positive health benefits that a step into chocolate heaven offers.

So do yourself a favour, grab a square and read about all the lovely things you are doing for that body of yours

•It’s a natural stress reducer as it releases the brain chemical serotonin.
•It’s high in magnesium which helps stabilise moods & emotions.
•It helps keep arteries clean, may well be as effective as red wine.
•It contains antioxidants.
•It’s a natural mood elevator – it releases ‘feel good’ endorphins.
•It helps prevent tooth decay – it contains an anti-bacterial agent.

PS: These lovely list of course, is increasingly overridden by not so nice things as you continue to chow your way through the entire bar. Here’s a free supermarket mantra, as you walk down the choc aisle mutter to yourself – snacksize, not sharesize. snacksize not sharesize….