What I learned from two weeks of physical and spiritual care
Written by Ulla Mia
For years, I’ve struggled with my mental health. I was diagnosed by a medical professional with anxiety and depression. It’s a battle I’ve been fighting for as long as I can remember.
I honestly can’t imagine a day where this struggle won’t exist. I’ve also had a hard time learning to love my body. As someone struggling to recover from an eating disorder, I wanted to have a better perspective on exercise and my body.
So, just to see how this would go, I challenged myself to what I labeled a two-week reset. During this time, I tried to read my Bible daily (I was mostly successful) and reflect on my negative emotions in prayer.
I also started exercising to workouts I enjoy. Rather than focusing on my diet or body image, I focused on the gift of being able to interact with my friends as an embodied person.
Here’s how my two-week reset went.
The first few days were hard on me. I found myself struggling with motivation to read my Bible. Wearing a mentality of “needing to fix myself” made heavier the luggage I’ve been carrying all this time.
One day at work, I found myself lost in the maze of my mind. I was asking questions about life, faith, and everything in between. And I instantly felt ashamed. Ashamed of my own lack of wisdom and security in all I knew. Because what I knew was still so little.
When these negative emotions settled, I felt God saying, Why won’t you talk to me about this? As I began telling Him my thoughts, He laid a blanket of warm peace over my shaky heart, wrapped me up in it, and He assured me He wasn’t afraid of where I was at. He was in this with me. What a revelation!
Where I found shame and condemnation in such struggle, God hushed my guilt with the lullaby of a Father wanting to journey with His daughter.
I felt bad for not trusting Him with everything and somewhat doubted if it was okay to struggle on such a fundamental level. But as my mentor once told me, God wants to earn my trust and I should let Him do so.
When it came to my body, I started changing my thought patterns. This body enables me to feel my friends’ touch when we hug or goof around. Exercising this body gives it the attention it needs to be healthy. When my friends see me, they don’t see my body’s imperfections, they see my heart and character.
Shifting my focus helped me make peace with my imperfections. Of course, I struggle from time to time, but I can see now that my body is only part of me! I can love my body because this is the body God gave me for my friends to love me in. This has helped me appreciate it in a new way.
Although I saw growth, I must admit—these two weeks were hard. As I focused on areas of my life that needed healing, a lot of things were highlighted. It was a reminder not to hide from these still bleeding wounds.
Jesus, I cannot bring this to peace, but you can and you promised you would. For me, that’s such a hard concept because it’s felt like this is just how life is.
It’s easier for me to swallow this pain into my gut and let it rest where no one can see it. But all this does is put off the inevitable. I must learn to open my hands and let Jesus into those moments. This will take longer than two weeks. But it will come.
I didn’t fix myself in this two-week period. My circumstances didn’t change and many of my wounds are still open. However, I’ve learned I need to lean on Jesus more and that He’s okay with where I am! He wants to journey with me as I struggle in this forest of gloom and storms.
It’s a blessing to see how my mindset shift has helped me love my body more. I enjoy eating food without guilt and working out to get stronger and fitter, not thinner and smaller.
I’ve taken leaps in learning how to open myself to God’s grace, and in giving myself grace. I’m learning to read my Bible daily and I talk with God throughout my whole day.
So, as I see it, this challenge was a success. Not because I got everything I hoped for, but because I got what I needed to grow. I would recommend anyone who is struggling with their mental health to set aside some time for healing.
Our journeys all look different. We are all one-of-a-kind masterpieces of a Creator who doesn’t despise what He has made. We are His beloved children! And He wants us to take care of ourselves and to live in a healthy manner that lines up with His intentions for us. Because, like a daddy cradling his newborn child, God has our best interests at heart.