Peeling Back the Layers

It’s 4:00a.m. and I’m tired. I’m tired of me. I actually contemplated starting a whole new blog to share what I’m about to share. One of those anonymous (read “safe”) blogs. Even as I write this, I’m not so sure that I shouldn’t be writing somewhere a little safer. After all, people I know read this blog. People I see at work, at the grocery store, at church will read my words. Do I really need my thoughts all out there for the whole world to see? And who really wants to know this much about me anyway?

But the truth is…I am too tired to start another blog right now. And, quite frankly, I’m not sure I’m the type of girl who could maintain another blog. I have enough to maintain, which is why I’m here in the first place, all tired and bedraggled at 4:00a.m….because of my lack of maintaining ability.

And…it’s not just that. I’ve been thinking that I started this blog to share more about our ministry, and how God’s grace shines through our family. I want to encourage women through Sufficient Grace Ministries, and so far that has mainly included mothers who grieve the loss of their babies. But, my desire to minister to women goes deeper and further than that. If we are a ministry that wishes to reach out in Christian love and encouragement to women, why not share some of our struggles in other areas of our lives? Don’t all women battle certain weaknesses and temptations? Perhaps sharing honestly about some of these other issues indeed falls under the category of ministering.

It is heavy on my heart tonight to just peel back some of the layers I’ve been hiding under. They are getting heavy. And, I am tired of carrying this weight, literally and figuratively. Since this is my place to write, and I don’t wish to start a new blog to maintain (uggg!), I have decided to just peel back the layers right here. I hope you don’t mind. And, if you do…that’s O.K., too. Tonight, as I read the bible with James before bed, I was reminded of a verse that God spoke to my heart during a very tumultuous time in our family life.

John 2:23-25: Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.

Another version (too tired/lazy to look it up right now) says, “He knew what was in the heart of man”. I remember the first time that verse pierced my heart, cutting through all the layers of my pride and issues and concerns with the opinions others may have of me. (And, believe me, that is a battle of mine. I hate to step on toes, or cause someone to dislike me or feel uncomfortable. I want to be nice, to be liked, to be respected. I care what other people think….so much so that I’m feeling a little panicky sharing some of my layers here.) I remember feeling so free when I read those verses. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of me…my value isn’t dependent on what is in the heart of a “man” or “woman” or anyone, except my Savior. And, He loved me enough to die for me…even when I was at my very worst.

Please don’t get me wrong. I think we have a responsibility to care about our reputation and the perception others may have of us to some degree. But, to what degree? How much should the opinions of others dictate who we are and what we share? I certainly don’t wish to cause anyone to have less respect for me or this ministry because I share a weakness I am battling. But, I also don’t want pride to keep me from sharing something that may encourage another woman who is struggling. So, I prayerfully press on, trusting that my integrity will not be compromised by the sharing of my heart…but instead will shine through more so. If not, I trust the Lord to be my guide, and will do my best not to concern myself too much what is in the heart or opinion of others.

Several years ago, I lost 25 pounds. It was the first time in my life that I attempted to face the fact that I have an unhealthy love affair with food. It was the first time I chose discipline and obedience in this area of my life. Prior to that time, I pridefully embraced “freedom” in that particular area…only it wasn’t freedom at all, but bondage rather. The first two weeks of the healthy eating plan I chose (Weight Watchers…if you’re curious), were quite painful and intense for me. There were many emotions. I felt like an onion with many layers.The layers were being pulled back, and I felt exposed. Giving up unhealthy food for me was like grieving a loss, and I realized on that journey that food had a place in my life it should not have. When I was stressed, tired, excited, feeling unloved, bored, lonely or any emotion at all, I wanted to eat. And, when I tried to stop, I realized how much I depended on food to fill me in more ways than just meeting my physical needs for nutrition.

It was about more than losing weight for me. I realized that my attitude toward food was actually sin, and I was not going to be able to change it on my own. I prayed through those emotional weeks of “junk food detox”…and quoted scripture. I felt the layers of my onion being peeled away. At first, the peeling was painful, but slowly I embraced the loss of each one, realizing true freedom for the first time in my life.

I also lost twenty-five pounds, and that brought a whole new set of issues. Physically, I looked better than I had in a long time. Suddenly, I could wear anything I wanted…and it looked cute! I wanted to try different outfits…stuff I never could wear before. Tim, who has never made my weight an issue and makes me feel beautiful no matter my size, reminded me a couple times about being modest. And I soon found the balance. (I won’t tell you about the time I walked out of the house in a bikini and he locked his keys in the truck because he was so distracted! Oops…I guess I just did.)

Then, there was the influence of having my always-very-thin-and-in-shape mother’s approval as well as my grandmother (who always notices such things). Mom never criticized my weight and she loved me unconditionally, but I knew she noticed. Especially when I felt her approval when I lost the weight. A mother’s approval is a powerful thing. And, it was a new layer to be mindful of. (Do not tie yourself to the opinions of others, Kelly….remember what is in the heart of man. We are fickle humans. Live your life before God alone.)

I won’t say that it didn’t feel good to have her approval and to be able to fit into cute, stylish outfits. It did. But, it didn’t compare to the feeling of freedom I felt and the healthy attitude I had toward food. I was having wonderful devotion/prayer times….going to Lord instead of food, casting all my cares upon Him. I ate for physical nutrition, not to fill the void in my heart and soul. It was such an amazing gift, and I was grateful for the freedom.

I was encouraged as the Lord whispered to my heart to let go of other things that held me back, to cast off my shackles…to stop sitting it out…to embrace the dance of life. He led me to start Sufficient Grace, to take time off work and just focus on being Tim’s wife and James and Timothy’s mama. I was blessed with the gift of time to attend bible studies for moms and take online classes. No longer an onion covered in layers, I blossomed. (Is it wrong that I’m thinking of a yummy, deep-fried Onion Blossom dipped in southwestern sauce….or maybe some honey-mustard? Sorry….I’m getting off track.)

I walked in my new freedom for a few years. Slowly, though, I have crawled back into my stinky onion cocoon, layer by layer. It’s interesting how painful the peeling off of the layers is at first, and then it starts to feel good as I realize with the passing of each layer I embrace new freedom. The putting back on of layers is the opposite. It feels good at first, harmless. It lures me in, wooing me with a sense of familiar comfort. It feels like a safe place to hide. Safe from the pain of cancer, safe from suffering, safe from grief, safe from my shortcomings, the piles of unfolded laundry, my increasing lack of organization. A numb, safe place. But, then as layer by layer is added on, I start to feel trapped and suffocated. I cannot move, and the more I try on my own, the more entangled I become. It becomes clear, this isn’t a safe place at all. Right now, I’m tired of carrying these heavy layers.

I hate getting all heavy and dramatic about this. I’d much rather just make a joke about how I’ve never met a Dorito that I didn’t like…and keep on eating my Doritos. In fact, I probably will keep on eating them…just now I’ll have the Baked kind! It really isn’t even about food. It’s about the place I’ve given to food in my life. And not just food, but other things. Reading blogs, wasting time on facebook, watching TV…none of these things in themselves are bad. What I’m struggling with is that some of it I’ve done, instead of going to the Lord. I’ve been running…escaping…not stopping enough to listen to His voice. Just going…way too much…out in my own strength.

Pastor James gave a message last week where he invited us to share something that we are struggling with… an area where we would like to remain accountable to one another. Something we could pray for and encourage each other in for the coming year. It’s funny. I felt too shy to share mine on Sunday, but I’m pouring it out here for anyone to read. I trust he will read it here, too. Along with strangers, friends, blog friends, acquaintances, people who love me, people who couldn’t care less about me, people who may judge me for sharing this, people I wish weren’t reading it. As I digest that thought, I will try to remember that my identity is in Jesus Christ and I am a new creation in Him. (Plus…there’s always the possibility that no one will read it. After all, it’s pretty long!) It is my hope to encourage someone else, and in doing so, if it makes me look less than perfect, so be it. I am…way less than perfect. But, you already know that! =)

If you have time, I hope you’ll pray for me as I seek the Lord and trust Him to peel back each layer. And, I’d love to pray for you, too. If you’re still reading this post, and you have your own layers you’d like to get rid of, please feel free to share them. You can also email me if you don’t want to share them here. I posted a new discussion in the forum on my sidebar, too if you’d like to join in. Our God is a gentle, patient teacher, you know. And He doesn’t give up on us. In the movie, Blindside, the very strong female character, Mrs. Tooley is talking to her husband about the boy they adopted. Her patient husband tells her Michael is like an onion with layers that need to be pulled back one at a time. She says…”Not if you use a knife”. (Love the character by the way…and I can relate. She just wants to cut to the chase, and get it done. And, she loves control. Aye, aye, aye…how I can relate!) Thankfully, our God doesn’t work that way. He patiently, gently works in us in His time, peeling away each layer, making beauty…even out of stinky onions like me. This time around, I look forward to the peeling…even the painful part…knowing that it will bring the sweet taste of freedom that waits for me beneath these layers.

Comments

  1. Thank you for your willingness to peel the layers back- just as with an onion sometimes going deeper can cause stinging tears. I've turned to food too for comfort at various times in my life and you're right- each bite seems so innocent and yet the end results can be disasterous. I guess my hope is that I don't let my plans get in the way of His plans for me… nor do I let myself become overwhelmed with anxiety.

  2. Jennifer Ross says:

    Yes, I read your loooong post:) It was good, and there are many layers that need to be "ripped" off of me. I have taken a really hard fall lately and really need prayer deeply for help in ALL the areas of my life.

    I see the need to get back to where I was, so I choose to turn around, and go find that path that the Lord was guiding me on…..

    Great post. If it makes you feel any better, I ate almost a half a bag of Doritos a couple of days ago…. and boy do I wish I wouldn't have done that!! LOL

  3. Joye @ The Joyeful Journey says:

    Oh Kelly, you are so beautiful. This took so much courage. You shared yourself here without hiding anything and I know that God will use this testimony. He can use even us stinky onions and somehow we bring His flavor to an otherwise bland world. In our weaknesses His power is made perfect!

    I may not struggle with food, but I do struggle with keeping my life in balance right now and not getting so overwhelmed with my kids that I lash out at them. Sometimes anger towards their disobedience just collects inside me and explodes. It's ugly and I detest it. Pray for me! And I am happy to pray for you!

  4. I also read the whole post… so beautiful… we all really must learn to be real so Jesus can shine clearly through us… and He will. As you learn and grow, He will be glorified. I am right there with you. God Bless you!

  5. MelissaLeigh says:

    I have been reading your blog for awhile. I lost our son in September. His due date is right around the corner and I am having a very hard time. I am fighting depression, which sometimes I feel I am losing the battle. I need to lose weight as well, but I eat my emotions. I am very good at hiding my pain from others but here lately I am tired of hiding. I hurt so much and feel so alone. When you talked about being on facebook and reading blogs, that is so me. I seek God's word but I don't do it enough. I try to feel my pain with other things instead of His words at times. This has been my New Years resolution. Thank you so much for sharing. It has really spoke to me and touched my heart.

    Thank you for your honesty,
    Melissa
    http://www.thealbertsjourney.blogspot.com

  6. Franchesca Cox says:

    I can relate to this on SOO many levels. This has got to be one of the best posts I have read on your blog since I started following it. I know it's hard to share those "layers" but I am just so encouraged that I am not alone. I too feel like I replace the Lord with things I do like blogging or hiding behind my grief instead of letting him heal it. I will be praying for you as you have been a huge blessing to this community!

  7. Tammy On the Go says:

    I gladly share here, because not just an hour ago, I was clinging to the kitchen counter and hating myself one more time for shoving a hershey's kiss down my throat even thought I knew I was already sick over the left over, reheated junk food I had just inhaled…I am over weight. I have been for 3 years now….since my first child. I gained 50 pounds with her and lost 40 before I had my 2nd. I gained 50 again and still have 35 to lose of that. it's the same need and sin that you talked about in yoru post. I thought I had over come it. I was a 175 pound 11 year old and fought myweight until I was 16. Then (whole other story) the battle was won for a while, up and down and then the 7 years before I had my daughter, I really walked in Victory. Very fit, very healthy and stayed the same weight for 5 straight years! But then after my daughter, I felt like I was back to the same kid I was when I was 11…no victory. and I can't seem to shake this lose.
    thank you for your post. tomorrow is ANOTHER day that I will try and shake this lose, walk in victory and ask forgiveness for trusting in food and not Christ. So as I eat, I will pray for you as you eat, please pray for those of us who walk this same road. I know I will get back. I knwo I will feel whole again. I know my God is faithful and that his power is greater than my flesh.

  8. Tammy On the Go says:

    sorry…loose, not lose! should have checked my spelling before I posted…. lol

  9. Kathryn @ Expectant Hearts says:

    Kelly, I think we MUST be on the verge of revival..God has been putting similar on my heart.. and lots of people from what I"m reading.. Not even food specifically (although I do struggle with that as well) but just in being real and turning to HIM first..

    Thank you for sharing. I have a blog post brewing myself and a big fear has been, my MOM reads my blog. :)

    I love your blog.. I"m glad you're sharing here adn I look forward to joining you on this new journey!

  10. Kelly,
    Bravo. Bravo for chosing to be brave and authentic. God has been teaching me since my daughter died that healing, grace, and the glory of the Lord can be SO powerful when we chose to (during the mess) live authentically in front of our peers, especially the body of Christ. God's glory comes with such power when we can see Him work in each others lives, and, unfortunetly, we can see Him the best when our lives feel like they are just one mess after another.
    Your post, has, and will minister to many. It has ministered to me, this evening. Thank you for taking a risk, He will bless it.

  11. Beautiful words and post. I can totally relate. I have gone and deleted comments I have made on other people's posts because I didn't want them to see past my layers and was afraid I was somehow hurting God's reputation (I think He is able to take care of His own reputation)…much pride I possess..hmmm..

    I've been thinking of a word for my year. Something that will remind me of what is important. I think it will be "Abide." But maybe it should really be "Authentic. " I'm still praying about it.

    You said a lot of good things and I need to "chew" on some things for a while. Thank you for sharing. They ministered to my heart greatly!

  12. The Writer Chic says:

    Kelly, I love you for your vulnerability and openess with us. You and I are SO similar in so many ways. I will be praying for you during this "peeling" season. Hugs, Monica

  13. I am so glad that you decided to write it all out here! I can relate on so many different layers/levels :) Thanks for being open, honest, and vulnerable with us. You are an encouragement and inspiration to us all!

  14. As always, I appreciate your honestly and thoughtfulness! I struggle with layers too, and food is high on that list.
    As embarrassing as it is, my struggle lately is selfishness/anger. Many of our friends right now are pregnant with their 2nd or 3rd child and I have really struggled to be happy for them. It's not like me at all, I love children and obviously our friends, but it just reminds me of what we are missing. Definitely something I have to pray about a lot!

  15. Kelly, I was just feeling convicted on my way home from work for my affair with food, got home and read this post.I need to lose 20 lbs and sometimes I just let my depression lead me to the chocolate and the tv, or the computer. Thank you so much for being vulnerable,I feel encouraged that I am not alone in this struggle. I will keep you in my prayers as I tackle this issue in my life.

  16. Kelly,
    Thank you for your honesty and transparency. I struggle with things, too, that aren't pretty and that I don't always want to share. But this is what lets me know my blog friends are real. Real people with real struggles, and their willingness to share. I am definitely an emotional eater which is one of the reasons I never lost my weight after Grady went to heaven. I will pray for you in the days/weeks ahead. Love and blessings to you.

    Tonya

  17. I hope you are on the way to coming free of those layers that are holding you down. I think you are an awesome Christian woman, and I know we could be great friends. I am a hugger, a cryer, a singer, a lover of children and I know that even though we have not met, I love you. I am praying for your happiness and direction. You carry the weight of so many. Make sure you take care of YOU. Love, Carol

  18. Thanks for sharing. I don't know if I've ever commented on your blog before (found it through Stacy after we lost our Andrew in Aug), but I really enjoy seeing your heart as you type. I actually just resolved to get back on Weight Watchers (have about 15 lbs of pregnancy weight to loose) and have committed to running in a 10k in March and your post was a real encouragement. Thanks for making yourself vulnerable so that others can be encouraged! Lots of love, Sarah :-)

  19. Just playing a little catch up.

    Thank you for deciding to put yourself out there. No doubt you've helped a lot of people! We are all onions that could use a little peeling. This year I want to draw closer to the Lord and it can be so easy to be distracted by things, especially all the stuff on the internet. I want to find a balance. I've started a devotion with my friend Trisha and I am hoping that this is only the beginning.

    I don't think there is a woman out there that doesn't have some sort love/hate relationship with food at some point in their lives. I am such a junk food junkie and I know it's not good for me at all. Some days I do great at eating good and sometimes I'm absolutely horrible. I've noticed that when my emotions are gloomy that I adapt an 'I don't care' attitude and that's when I eat the bad things.

    Oh, BTW, I love the Blind Side!

  20. I love the whole analogy of peeling off the layers. It even sounds painful to me, and makes me consider my own. And sometimes it's even harder when you have unintentionally regrown those layers.

    Thank you for the honesty of this post. It's a healthy thing, and much needed in a world where we hide behind so many things and struggle to identify the person we desperately want to be.

    I heard once that speaking something out loud removes some of its power. I think the same is true of writing publically about our personal struggles (in a wise, relective way).

    thanks!

  21. Of course that should say reflective. And I meant to italicize 'sounds' – the sentence isn't quite what I meant without it.

  22. site author says:

    This post is as if you have just taken an x-ray of my life and heart and wrote it all out. Seriously, so bizarre. I actually just returned from the dr's today with a prescription for help losing weight.

    I look at pictures of my paper thin mother, and think 'how did she do that?' I look at my brother who is just as lean and strong as a person can be, and I think 'what is the deal?' Am I the black chubby sheep?

    A couple of years ago, I started counting calories and exercising. I lost 40 pounds. Then suddenly after years of infertility, we were pregnant. After that pregnancy loss, I ate, and didn't care how much or when. Then I suddenly became pregnant again. Ruthie is 4 months now, and I'm in the 'onion' again too. Pregnancy gave me an excuse to eat, nursing gave me that same excuse.

    I'm hiding. Here I am telling women online to face the truth, fight the lies, and I too am hiding from the truth. Hiding in the ministry online, hiding with excess sleep, hiding with food. But what I'm hiding from most is my frustration with myself. These sky high expectations that I had built up, and have so ridiculously expected myself to perfect.

    Your words are so encouraging. I know I'm not the only one who faces this struggle. And it helps to read it outloud from someone else's perspective. Thanks!

  23. Tammy On the Go says:

    I have been back in the gym for a couple weeks now! but I shared a box of oreos with the girls at wal-mart…uh oh! still trying, still praying and looking at it differently, I really do believe I will have a different story to tell in a few months, thakns for stopping by!
    love,
    Tammy

  24. Lynnette Kraft says:

    Look at all of these supportive readers you have! I was so blessed when I saw that you had so many comments when you were seeking prayer and support. YEAH!

    I think many many people can relate to this issue. Food is to be enjoyed but when it controls us, it's not enjoyed anymore is it?

    I think that it might help to find pleasure in drinks. I know, you think the issue goes deeper – but sometimes I think the distraction of having something to sip on helps.

    I like my coffees and teas and water and such. I have a friend who buys the flavored stevia liquid and flavors and sweetens her water with it. Her kids love it.

    I will pray for you Kelly and I know that God will give you victory!

    Thanks for being open, honest and real. Those, in my opinion, are the best kind of posts to read – and you did it with such lady-like poise.

    Love,
    Lynnette

  25. Lynnette Kraft says:

    And by the way – I've missed you! I can't believe how longs it's been such I've been here! I've had so much going on, I haven't been bloggin' around in a while.

  26. Kelly, thank you so much for sharing this (in our facebook group). This is so my heart’s cry too. Weight has always been an issue for me and for a long time I just complained and moaned about it. Finally my husband said, “If it bothers you so much, why don’t you just DO something about it.” I think my biggest stronghold was fear. I was afraid of failure, afraid I couldn’t really do it, because I had tried and failed before. But slowly, I began to move my life one step at a time towards healthy living – eating whole and natural foods and making exercise and important and essential part of my life. Of course, it helps that my husband is the most active person I know – he trains all year long, every single day, rain or snow, for mountain bike races. Even when he doesn’t “feel like it”, he still pushes himself and gets going. I finally discovered a love of running and it’s been the best thing ever for me. Running has become so much more about my life than just something to help me lose weight and be active. It’s taught me about confidence and pushing myself and believing in myself. It’s made me realize that I really can overcome my strongholds – because He has given me everything I need for each new day. Thank you so, so much for sharing your heart. I will be praying for you – and I’m so glad we can share our journeys on facebook. :)

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  1. [...] clock. Might as well at least enjoy yourself, right?…she justifies, slipping further under her stinky onion layers. Believing the lie. She felt good about working out, until her eyes wandered…until she [...]

  2. [...] I’ve written before about my stinky onion layers. [...]

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