A few weeks ago, we were sitting in church, and our pastor made a statement that has stayed with me ever since. He said "God can use my problems to CHANGE ME." Sounds like such a simple statement, and yet, it really resonated with my soul and caused me to ruminate on it for a few weeks.
I've always dreaded the "problems" that I've had in my life, whether it was my perfectionism that caused me anxiety, my issues with food and weight, or my need to be liked by everyone. I've always viewed these problems as weaknesses, a thorn in my heel, and issues that I need to somehow manage in order to get by and live life as balanced as possible. I mean, don't we all try to do that? Pacify our problems so that they don't take over our lives? So we can still function normally, and at times even ignore that these problems exist? I've done this time and time again, and it has only resulted in anxiety, depression, emotional eating, and painful loneliness.
But ever since our pastor made that simple comment above, that God can use our problems to change us, I've had an entirely different view of my problems. I've even viewed them as blessings; avenues that God has allowed me to take in order to change me from the inside out. I just keep thinking of Job 23:10, (even though Job went through WAY more than I have), and how God has seen my problems, "tried" me, and that I will come forth as gold.
You might think that is being a bit too positive, but hear me out. All my life, I've tried to stay quiet about my problems and my issues. I've hidden my struggles with food for the past 14 years. I've told people one thing, and I've done another. I've isolated myself in depression and loneliness over not being liked, not having friends, and just never being "enough." I've wallowed in self pity for years, and I can honestly say that in this past year, God has done SO much work on my heart, has tried me, has loved me...and is refining me to the point that one day, by His grace, I will come forth as gold. These negative thoughts about myself have been replaced with empowering ones, and I know that God is doing a work in my life.
Being open about my struggles with food and weight have actually turned into a blessing. Honesty has allowed me to CHANGE my habits, overcome the binge-restrict cycle that I have followed since I was 13; and, the best part, it has allowed me to reach out to dozens of people that have experienced the same struggles I have. I have had the opportunity to pour into other peoples' lives, share my vulnerabilities, and be a support to them, just as I have received support from those around me.
I really believe that the problems I have experienced are being used by God. He is using me to grow me and change me, and in the process, to help and encourage others. I am beyond blessed to be doing what I do and a dietitian and a health and fitness coach, and to have such a loving Father that would allow me to be used in this way. If I hadn't gone through what I have, I wouldn't be half as relatable to those I serve.
There are days I still struggle, get depressed, fight anxiety, and eat emotionally. But, I know that God is refining and pruning me, and for that I am grateful. He never gives up on us! We can never mess up TOO much for Him. We can't "out-sin" His forgiveness and grace. God is in the business of showing us the grace and mercy that we do NOT deserve. His love is simply amazing.
This is why, I will continue to view my problems as a means of God changing and refining me. Of His transformative power working in my life. All the hardships in my life are for a purpose, and God will use them to glorify Him!
"That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:10