My husband is a prison chaplain. Part of what he does is to provide spiritual counsel to and minister to men who are currently on Death Row in the state of Ohio. It’s a job that he loves and is very passionate about. Actually, I wouldn’t really even call it a job for him, it’s more of a calling. I am amazed at his ability to see past the crimes that some of these men have committed and view them as broken people who are need of transformation. I’ve heard him speak of positive interactions he’s had with murderers, rapists, gang leaders, and child molesters without blinking an eye.
Last night though, something we heard on the news is probably going to put that to the test. The state of Ohio is seeking the death penalty for Ariel Castro, the man accused of kidnapping, raping, and horrifically abusing the three teenage girls from Cleveland for over ten years. If the prosecution succeeds, he will end up on Death Row. And my husband will have a legal and spiritual obligation to try and reach out to this man who on the surface appears to be a monster. He will be called to try and give peace to a man who repeatedly beat a young girl in the stomach with the intention of killing her unborn children. He will be asked to offer forgiveness to a man who for ten years starved, tortured, and chained up these girls in a dark, boarded up basement.
This post isn’t about weight loss directly. It’s about finding the strength to face your monsters in a healthy way when everything inside of you wants to do the opposite. So many of us are emotional eaters. And so many of our emotional troubles stem from problems that are deep. Sometimes we want to keep them so deep that we pretend they never happened. We downplay the severity of how we’ve been affected by them. We deny how much we actually fear them rearing their ugly heads in our lives again.
Our monsters can come in lots of different forms. One of the most common that I hear from so many people is that of sexual abuse. I am not a psychologist but I do have first hand experience in dealing with it and I know that the more you try repress and pretend that this monster doesn’t exist, the bigger and nastier it gets. Another popular monster is addiction. Drugs, alcohol, pornography, and yes, even food, can sometimes secretly and silently take over people’s lives and destroy them. Years of secrecy and denial can go back generations and at some point, in order for this monster to be slain, somebody is going to have to be brave enough to shed light on the problem and face it head on. Infidelity, physical abuse, mental and emotional abuse, feelings of neglect…there are so many issues that wound us in the core of who we are that, when not handled and ignored, turn into the boogey man that never leaves our bedroom closet at night.
There are lots of aspects that have to be addressed when we decide to purge out our monsters. I don’t know that I am equipped to address all of them. I struggle with forgiving. I struggle with empathy and tolerance at times. I need to work on those things and would urge you, if you are facing a monster of your own, to examine your own mind and heart to work those out however you need to. But one area that I do feel like I have a pretty good grasp on is letting go of fear.
I used to be a pretty worrisome and fearful person. Now, I am happy to say that while I still do feel worried on a surface level at times, when it comes to my inner spirit and the deep down core of who I am - I don’t have fear any more. The place where I once had anxiety, depression, and sadness have been cleaned out and have been filled with faith in innumerable promises given to me by God, hope in knowing that this world is not the end all be all - there is somewhere better after it‘s all over here, and confidence in knowing that God is the ultimate judge. He will deliver harsh justice to whoever needs it. He will pardon whoever needs it. It’s not on me to make those decisions and I can’t tell you how much freedom there is in that knowledge.
I know that this just barely scratches the surface of this issue. My intention wasn’t to try and provide all the answers today on how to be an emotionally healthy person. But I do want to try to get across how freeing and powerful it is to shed some emotional weight. I know that the term “Let Go and Let God” is so cliché now that it has lost it’s meaning, but there are some very real benefits to doing it. Trust God enough to give yourself to Him and let him take care of your monsters for you…He wants to do it. Let him.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7
“Give your burdens to the Lord, and he will take care of you. He will not permit the godly to slip and fall.” Psalm 55:22