The day had already been difficult.
It was such a bittersweet day... One month since my decision with my friend Lila to never self harm again, and to completely recover from the eating disorder. But trying to ignore the unpleasant feelings can instigate the exact emotions you wish to dispell.
It didn't help that this day happened to be the first day of the national cheer competition. I was surrounded by tiny beautiful girls. We attended a banquet... I remembered attempting to skip this meal in the past couple of years... I remembered crying and locking myself in the bathroom the first year I attended this meal, hating my appearance and not wanting to wear my dress, and dreading the fact that I would have to eat in front of everyone wearing the dress.
But this year was different in so many ways. I was regularly eating three meals a day. I had not cried over my appearance that day. I laughed. A lot. Another different thing about this day?
I didn't want an eating disorder. If you don't understand eating disorders, you can't possibly understand wanting to have the eating disorder. This wanting to heal, wanting to recover, wanting to love myself, wanting to look in a mirror and mutter the word "beauty"... That desire was indescribable.
Something else was different about this day. There was a program following the banquet that could have been the single reason God had made sure I cheered that year... Despite my wanting to drop the sport.
The program began with a speaker. I was hardly paying attention until I heard the words, "God created you wonderfully, beautifully, and perfectly." They had my attention. The speaker continued to share with the multitude of girls how much God cared for them, and how special each of us were to God, how much God adored us for who He made us to be, how everything about ourselves we see as a "flaw," God sees as perfection. I can't begin to paint the picture for any of you... God. Was. There.
I fought the tears... No one else was crying. I knew it had to be touching people, but I also knew that this presentation had a unique effect on me. The sweet girls around me noticed the unavoidable tears dripping from my face and my lack of control over the sniffles, and they tried to comfort me for the problem they didn't know existed.
I smiled, touched by the love I was able to recognise for one of the first times. As I was getting a grip on my emotions, the lights dimmed and music began playing. Mirrors were set up on the performance mat and two girls stepped out portraying insecure teenagers unhappy with their appearance. They stood before the mirrors in the same way I had done so many times everyday, cruelly critiqueing their God-given bodies. Their beautiful bodies.
As the song continued, more girls and guys stepped onto the mat as worldy people encouraging the type of behavior that God despises: the image obsessed, the setters of societal standards, the guys that leave you wondering what you did wrong.
The song was nearing the end, and the girls were once again before the mirror... weeping, tugging at their shirts, fingering through their hair, lost in the mess of lies the devil continually whispers.
But than... the presentation became captivating.
A man playing Jesus stepped onto the mat between the two mirros, carrying a cross. He looked at the distraught girls, and an overwhelming sadness enveloped His face. He turned the cross around revealing a reflective surface... more mirrors. At this point I was confused. Why would they use mirrors for Jesus' cross?
He thrust Himself upon the cross, hiding the reflective surface. Covering the mirrors. No one could see the reflective surface... It was covered by Christ. His suffering hid the mirrors. The girls turned toward Him and ran to Him.... They were loved. The mirrors were gone.
I began whispering to God. Thank you, Lord, oh thank you. I am loved. I am beautiful. I am created by you. You created me with a purpose. I. Am. Loved.
The girls loved on me. They held my hand, held me, prayed with me, all without a clue as to what I was determined to overcome.
Following the performance, the speaker asked that anyone who needed to talk should run to their coach without hesitation... But I hesitated. I didn't know how to start a conversation like this... So I prayed.
All of a sudden the two coaches went to the bathroom leaving my favorite coach standing a few feet away from me with no other girls around. I started crying, and she held me. I spilled my entire story. She listened to me for an hour. She gave me verses, she gave me love, and she gave me better counseling that night than even my professional one could. Over and over she stated, "You are perfect. God wants you to see yourself as beautiful, because you are. You are so gifted. Stand with your head held high, and keep raising it, because you are incredible."
Could God have made it more clear that I was going to recover as a stronger person than I ever could have been without this? He was going to teach me what loving His creation felt like, and I couldn't wait.
As she patiently talked with me, the song played during the presentation played once again, and God was speaking the lyrics to my heart. I know He was.
So turn around you're not too far
To back away be who you are
To change your path go another way
It's not too late you can be saved
If you feel depressed with past regrets
The shameful nights hope to forget
Can disappear they can all be washed away
By the one who's strong can right your wrongs
Can rid your fears dry all your tears
And change the way you look at this big world
He will take your dark distorted view
And with His light He will show you truth
And again you'll see through the eyes of a little girl
There could never be a more beautiful you
Don't buy the lies disguises and hoops they make you jump through
You were made to fill a purpose that only you could do
So there could never be a more beautiful you .