compulsion kills passion

There was way too much information for me to include it in my last post. While I was feeling quite private about processing this journey, I now feel like everything I’m learning is just screaming to be let out… as though if I don’t voice it, I’ll somehow miss out on the plan God has for my life. Still, I didn’t want to throw too much out at once. It takes time to process this stuff, and although you may have thought I left things “hanging” at the end of yesterday’s message, I hope you still took time to process it.

So, today I thought I would talk about another twist that took place while I was away from the blog. During one of my prayer times, I felt the Lord leading me back to Sharon A. Hersh’s book, The Last Addiction. I mentioned here that the chapter about the food addict was so discouraging to me. You can imagine the look on my face when God told me what page to turn to in that book and it happened to put me right in that chapter. Not at the first page, no, he grabbed my attention with a line smack dab in the middle of a page a little ways in.

“When you have spent a lifetime not feeling, it is hard to believe that feeling is a necessary part of the process of redemption.”

I knew I was squelching my feelings with food (avoiding it or devouring it). I didn’t want to “feel” anymore because it usually ended up hurting or oppressing or depressing. It became a habit to make it go away. And then my eyes shot to a quote on the same page from Joe McQ’s book The Steps We Took that says, “We need to recall that God’s will never enters where self-will dominates.” Yikes, here I’ve been begging God to heal me, to show me the purpose He has for me, all while trying to do it myself. These words struck me in a profound way. They made me think, mull-over, process more deeply what was going on in my heart. And then I realized, every time I’ve read this chapter, I was so overwhelmed by “relating to” Anita’s story (the food addict in the book), that I missed the healing message therein. I know I missed it entirely because that day I sat down and read the chapter again. I didn’t read it through the eyes of a food addict this time though, or with the self-help attitude of “give me the key so I can fix myself” or thinking, “if she can’t find freedom, how will I”. I read it with a deep desire for healing and, laying aside my identity with the addiction, I asked God to speak to me a fresh word through this chapter. Wow, did He ever! I mentioned yesterday about my identity being wrapped up in this whole food addiction/weight/image stuff, this was the day God showed me just “how deep rabbit hole goes”.

Hersh describes asking Anita what she was passionate about. Through this account, I realized that somewhere along the line, I traded passion for compulsion. I can think of a specific incident that I’ve always thought probably pushed me over that edge, but it was definitely a series of things that primed me for willfully jumping into that pit with both feet at the “last straw”. I had to distinguish what my role in this is… and what it is not. I had to forgive others for their part, and I had to ask forgiveness of God for mine. Whether my actions were understandable under the circumstances or not, the response was still wrong. Yes, I had to admit, my behavior was definitely compulsive, not passionate. Hersh says that passion “is the lifeblood of relationships”, fuels “interests in hobbies, creativity, or learning about new subjects”, and is “desire or longing driven by faith, hope, and love”. Nothing about my addictive behavior was fueled by faith, hope, and love. She goes on to say that “compulsion actually kills passion” because it is “driven by fear”.

So, I sat for a long while just staring at the phrase “Compulsion actually kills passion.” I am not passionate about weight-loss, food addiction, self image… rather, I am compulsive regarding these things. All of them stem from fear. Fear of being fat, fear of being unloved, fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of not being good enough, fear of betrayal, fear of attack, fear of loss. And what did being afraid get me? To paraphrase the words of Job, “that which I feared came upon me!” Fear leads to compulsion… and compulsion kills passion. This is certainly not a beneficial trade-off. This is not who God created me to be.

Over the past weeks, I’ve asked God about passion… more specifically, what passion did He place in my heart. I wanted to know what my compulsive behavior was hindering. He reminded me that a long time ago, I knew what I was passionate about… and I do mean a long time ago. We’re talking early childhood here. I loved the Lord so deeply. I remember loving Jesus and telling my little friends how much I loved Jesus. I thrilled at how He loved me, not because He had to, but because He wanted to. I remember devouring every word I heard about the Bible and God, but somewhere it distorted into legalism… to striving for perfection… and then striving for freedom. He reminded me that I was also passionate about writing. I wanted to write stories and novels. I loved creating my own little worlds and complicated little characters. And then it shifted to fearing I wouldn’t be good enough. My writing was my heart on a page… what if it was rejected? The insecurities grew, the enemy took strategic measures of vicious attack, my attention shifted away from the arms of Jesus to self-preservation, self-defense, self-image, self-help… in a nutshell, just self.

I’m asking God to take me back to that innocent little girl with the big heart and even bigger dreams. That little girl knew God was immeasurably awesome and she believed “God can do what He says He can do.” (Believing God, Beth Moore)

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