Sunday, March 16, 2014

A Walk in the Park

Some weeks ago I declared an all-out commitment to myself to get to the core of my emotional health issues. I had wanted to start dating to help with the loneliness of being single. Newly divorced, I felt the freedom to pursue romance in my life. The problem became apparent that the kind of man I would attract would likely be in a similar healthy state as I.  That was not going to be good enough.  I also recognized the root of the issue was my own sense of unworthiness due to low self-esteem. I recognized in my intellect that I should and wanted to feel both worth and acceptance of myself, I just didn't. This was evidenced in my behavior to seek approval and acceptance from others, not being able to provide that for myself.

I recall getting indignant with myself, and saying with gritted teeth that I would do whatever needed to be done to get to that place. I was willing to expose and feel whatever was hidden in those recesses of my heart and mind in order to obtain the peace and serenity I longed for. I also remember saying that I knew this would take all of my will, strength, courage, and faith to stay on this path. In comparison, the work of weight loss would be like “a walk in the park”.  I had always equated my weight loss journey as the most challenging thing in my life, and in many ways it is because at the heart of weight loss is the reason why I have overeaten, mindlessly eaten, and eaten whatever I wanted regardless of its nutritional value. Hence, it is an important area of my addictive behaviors that has needed healing. I’m pretty sure I started turning to food for comfort at age three; that's pretty core stuff.

As I've shared in recent posts, I have gotten my miracle and experienced an amazing spiritual awakening (reference step twelve)! I feel God’s love for me in a such an encompassing way that it permeates into my very soul, filling me with acceptance, self-love, resulting in self-esteem. Everything shifted when that miracle happened (February 15, btw). Everything. I am not consumed with dating or men or my future. I don't need to perform or seek approval because I have it already. I don't need others to esteem me because I esteem myself. Having accepted myself just as I am, I have returned to the weight loss issues with a different sense of self. Instead of despair, desperation, guilt, or shame prompting me to lose weight, it is self-love. Because I love myself, I have been able to ask myself what I really want.  I can be honest and acknowledge that my whole self wants a health in all areas, including my body. So on March 5, I said, “it’s time for a walk in the park.” I started a 23-day somewhat radical weight loss plan, laid down the cigarette smoking once again (but with compassion for myself), and said a prayer asking God for help.

Mostly, it has been a steadfast effort of planning and acceptance of my limited choices. I've had some withdrawal issues, and some of the emotions that I have stuffed or puffed “away” (buried) have surfaced. I have not felt deprived or resentful or a victim, though. I am aware of my choices and I am just working on maintaining the course ahead of me. The joy of my new found acceptance and love has been sustaining me, mostly. There are struggles, but compared to previous efforts and compared to the recovery work I've been doing…it is like a walk in the park!

Today, I went to Tubac with family and friends. We shopped a bit, and I found different items at shops that I was tempted to buy. Each time, I got this prompting to put the items back on the shelf as there just might be something at the next shop.  There is a wonderful boutique called “Lily’s” that my mother really wanted to see. I could see why when I went inside. There were a lot of things that caught my eye, but I became suddenly drawn to a painting behind the counter. I soon learned the story behind the painting. It is of a stream and a walkway from a park in Kansas City. Having grown up in Iowa, I especially appreciated the familiar beauty in the picture. The artist, Lyle Collister, told me that she would take walks there as a child with her father and that she had such fond memories of that. The original name of the painting was Paradise, but she had renamed it A Walk in the Park. Imagine that. 

It became clear to me that this painting was for me. I knew my God, whom I call Father, was telling me that we were on this “walk in the park” together and that I was not alone during my journey (including my renewed commitment to weight loss; I have lost 70 pounds and want to lose 80 more).  I find peace and serenity in this picture, and it represents a safe place for me. It’s not only the picture itself, but the story behind the picture, and how the details came together for my edification and blessing. It is a reminder of His love for me by showing me in such personal ways that He is real and caring. I have shared this story a few times today; I tear up every time. I sit here as I finish this post and I am in amazement, humility, and peace.  My thought tonight is that I shall pull over to the side of the Lane to take time to appreciate, to soak in this love and feel that connection with the One Who Loves Me. 

A Walk in the Park by Lyle Collister

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