When I look back on my childhood, I’m still unsure why I took the roads I did. I grew up in a loving home with parents who are, first and foremost, devoted Christians, and also devoted parents. The first things I remember them teaching us were about God and Jesus Christ, how much He loved us, and what it looked like to live a life following Him. They also raised us to be free thinkers, and I remember very early on deciding that I was not going to follow God. I rebelled against it with all my heart. I didn’t know it at the time, but thus began a life of subconsciously trying to fill that hole in my heart that only God can fill. One of the first idols I can remember is boys. I lived and breathed male attention. I needed it to feel valuable.
I became sexually active at a young age, and lived this way through most of high school. I was never without a boyfriend, it was my life. Then, at 17, I started dating my now-husband and stopped worshiping any male attention and started worshiping him. I have idolized Travis for years without realizing it, it’s only something I recently became aware of. I truly believe it is only by divine intervention that we are still together, due to idol worship our relationship has NOT been an easy one. In the beginning, our relationship moved very quick. We spent every second together, we did not have lives that existed outside each other. After about a year and a half, I began to get bored with worshiping only him. It wasn’t fulfilling to me the way it had felt in the beginning. So I searched for my next idol. We started smoking marijuana regularly at 18, and that quickly elevated to harder drugs. Drugs became my life, what gave me value. My relationship with Travis became extremely rocky. I caused him SO much pain, due to the mess that my own life had become. We went through countless break ups and make ups, it’s miraculous we made it through that. At 19, I overdosed on cocaine at my parents house. They were the ones who had to take me to the E.R. My poor parents….I can’t imagine the pain I caused them, not just with the overdose but at where my life had gone. They weren’t perfect, we definitely had our struggles and they made their mistakes, but they really did try to raise me to love the Lord. The overdose wasn’t enough to deter me from my ways. I continued drug and alcohol use. At 20, Travis and I moved out in our own apartment and life was a party.
At 21, however, I one day decided I was done with drugs. It wasn’t fulfilling me anymore, had lost its fun, and I was ready to “grow up”, so I thought. A couple months later, Travis proposed and we began to plan our future together. Outwardly, our lives started looking good. We had decent paying jobs, planning a wedding, it looked like we were out of the dark path we had been on. Three weeks before our wedding, we found out I was pregnant. I was thrilled, to say the least. That’s when the idea of motherhood slowly started becoming my next idol. Life looked like it was headed in a great direction for us. We bought a house, three months later our daughter Taryn was born, and I was even blessed enough to get to stay home with her. Everything on the outside looked great. But inside, I was still subconsciously trying to fill that hole. A hole that ONLY God can fill. I am very thankful that Taryn did not become my idol. The stress and pressure it can give a child when they are idolized is not something easily undone, I believe. Instead, motherhood was what I lived and breathed. I was obsessed with being this perfect mom. My whole life became about breastfeeding, organic foods, and BPA. I began to get all my value in how I took care of my daughter. Looking back, I think this is when my marriage started to suffer. Travis took a back seat to motherhood, and he suffered. When Taryn was just over a year, I got pregnant with our son.
My marriage continued to go downhill during that pregnancy due to a major change in my hormones. He definitely suffered from my hormonal outbursts the whole nine months, and we grew more and more distant. After our son Trystan was born, fulfilling the idea of a perfect mother got harder. I was 25 with a two year old and a baby, Travis was working very long hours to be the sole provider, and I was unable to idolize motherhood as I once had. This is when my life took a very dark turn. When Trystan was eight months old and I was an exhausted mother who still had this gaping hole in her heart that nothing in my life had been able to fill, I entered my battle with anorexia. Even now, I still can’t understands how it all happened. One day I decided to eat better in an attempt to lose the rest of the baby weight and before I knew it I had full blown anorexia. I did drugs for years and never fully experienced the power of addiction, but anorexia was something different.
Every part of me was addicted to food, weight, body image. Within just a couple months, I went from 135 lbs to 95 lbs. I was very, very sick and eating under 300 calories a day. What still scares me is the level of denial I lived in. I did not think anything was wrong with me, I became defensive when my husband and parents would express their concern. My poor daughter suffered greatly. She was nearly 3 and her once-present and involved mother was now growing increasingly distant. She started having violent tantrums, which was a result of the inner turmoil she could sense coming from me. I really did just about lose my ability to parent. All I could think about was weight and food. Due to starving my body, I began to suffer physically. I was hospitalized multiple times in just a few months, and still I lived in my world of denial. My marriage was nearly over, we had become so distant from each other we did not even try anymore. My life as I knew it was falling apart.
I praise the Lord that my life as a practicing anorexic was short lived. I think the thoughts are something I’m going to have to deal with the rest of my life, but I only actively restricted my foods for 8 months. When I hit the 8 month mark, I could no longer deny that I had a serious problem. I remember the moment I realized I had an eating disorder so vividly. It devastated me to come to the realization of where I was. I immediately began to seek help, however I still had not come to the realization that I needed my heavenly Father. I started seeing a dietitian/counselor who was able to help me tremendously in getting physically healthy again. I got back to a healthy weight and started feeling much better physically, and even some what better mentally. I started being a present mother again, and Taryn’s behavior began to normalize again.
I was still struggling with obsession with food and weight though. Even though I was feeding my body the food it needed, I was still terrified of weight gain and had an endless list of foods I would not touch. And while I again became a present mother to my 3 and 1 year old, my marriage was still completely empty. I had actually come to terms with the fact that a divorce was imminent, and was just waiting around for it to happen.
That’s when the Lord stepped in. I randomly suggested one day that we go to church that weekend, a thought that I believe was God-given. Two weeks later, in January 2014, my husband Travis was saved.
I remember being a little mad when Travis gave his life to the Lord. That was something I had openly avoided and loudly opposed most of my life. And then suddenly my husband had God and was encouraging me to seek Him as well? But something began to stir in me-my soul had been thirsting for its creator far too long, I had been filling it with idols and it was ready to be satisfied in the only way it possibly could be. I began to seek Him out, and He embraced me with open arms. In March 2014, I surrendered my life to the Lord. His grace, love, and mercy can’t be put into words. How free I have felt since I was saved is beyond anything I could have thought possible.
My life now is far from perfect, that is not what following Him will do. Instead, I now see the reasons behind the imperfections, the purpose in the struggles. It’s so I can live in a constant covering of His grace, never not needing Him. Are my idols gone? Absolutely not. I struggle with idol worship almost daily. It feels as though at times I am having to constantly die to myself. But to die to myself is to live in Him, and there is no other way worth living.
The purpose in sharing this is to glorify God and ALL He does, it is only through Him and His grace that I have been saved, and not by anything I did myself. If you can identify with my struggles with idol worship, my life of constantly trying to fill the hole and failing, then know that God loves you just where you are. When you whole heartedly seek Him, you will find He is waiting for you with open arms. Only then can that hole be filled.