all glory be to christ

Should nothing of our efforts stand
No legacy survive
Unless the Lord does raise the house
In vain its builders strive

To you who boast tomorrow’s gain
Tell me, what is your life?
A mist that vanishes at dawn
All glory be to Christ!

This is an excerpt from “All Glory be to Christ.” I prefer the version by Sovereign Grace Music, but King’s Kaleidoscope does it well too.

Anyways, I just really like thinking about these words. They are kind of depressing, in a sense. Like what if nothing lasts? What if we die and everything we build doesn’t last? But did you catch the problem with that… the focus is on us. What if WE die and everything WE build doesn’t last. It should focus on Christ, hence the “unless” in the third line. It doesn’t have to all fade away. If God raises what we are striving at, if God is present in our efforts, then we won’t be working in vain.

We are like a mist, and one day we will be gone. Whatever we did for Christ with eternity in mind will last. Nothing else will last.

I lead a Bible study, and we did a 4-week session on busyness. One thing we talked about is that 50 years from now whether we had an B or a B+ in a class won’t matter as much as taking some time to pray for people and care for people. But what about 2000 years from now? We all will be long dead. No one will even care if we graduated with honors or not. No one will care what our GPA was. But if we listened to God and planted a seed that led one person to Christ, that won’t be just important in 2000 years – that will be important for eternity! So to those college students who are obsessed with grades – study hard! but if someone needs you to listen at 2 am, then listen. Who knows, maybe that conversation will save a life.

Just something to think about. What are you doing this week? Where is your focus? Is your focus on something that matters?

you can’t do this alone

Learning that I can’t do this alone has been hard, but it has been a lesson that I have needed to learn. I have a minor eating disorder and am probably on the borderline of being anorexic, but that’s not official diagnosed. I sometimes binge eat, feel guilty about over eating, and then not eat enough for a few days. Not eating enough consists of eating too little at a meal or skipping a few meals. For a while, it was mostly subconscious. But a friend picked up on the pattern pretty quickly, because we often eat together. When she talked to me, it felt like a stab to my chest. It felt like an accusation. I wanted to defend myself. I tried to prove her wrong. But in the end, I realized that what she said made sense, and she was right. I felt like this because while I knew little about eating disorders – and still do not know a whole lot – I knew enough to know that I found myself at the base of yet another mountain that needed to be climbed. And this mountain has turned out to be higher and steeper than I thought.

The next steps were really difficult. I would some days have to force myself to eat more when I did not feel like eating much or even anything at all – but that was not the hard part. The hard part was knowing that I was not eating enough with in the first place. Once I determined that, forcing food down my throat wasn’t terrible. I first had to realize that I didn’t want to eat. (If you have never had an eating disorder, this probably doesn’t make sense. Like, just look at how much is on your plate, right? It’s a disorder. It’s not that simple. If it was that simple, it would not have been quite as hard to overcome. Things always seem simple until you struggle with it, because then you realize how hard it really is.)

And then, over time, things seemingly got a lot better. One day I went back to my dorm, in which there is a full-length mirror, and it seemed as if I lost like 20 pounds, because I saw the real image of myself in that mirror. And after that, I thought I was okay. And maybe I was. But it didn’t last for long.

Someone commented that I lost a lot of weight recently. And then someone else mentioned that I haven’t been eating much lately. And then another person noted that I binge ate a few times and then didn’t eat well for almost a week after that. I thought I was gaining weight for the last two months, but someone that had not seen me in a while said I had lost weight. This is the struggle of eating disorders. You don’t know. You don’t even know at all that you’re not okay until someone else tells you. It makes it harder, because I can’t manage it all myself. It’s literally impossible, because I can’t even tell when I eat well and when I don’t.

I don’t know what you’re dealing with, but you can’t do it alone. God made humans social organisms for a reason. There are other people who want you to get better. They can help you see the bigger picture and help you get better, whether that be checking how much you eat when you eat with them, or keeping sharp objects or extra pills hidden, or whatever it is. There are people out there who really care. It takes a lot of trust to admit that you need help, and that’s really, really hard, but you can’t face this alone. Ask for help. And if you don’t know who to ask, pray for God to send you someone or help you discern who to talk to. But please, ask for help.

living with long-term illness

I don’t think I have mentioned this much before, but I have an autoimmune disease and hypocholesterolemia (meaning my body doesn’t produce enough cholesterol) and a bunch of other diagnoses. And some days it’s hard to know how to respond and to stay strong mentally. I am sharing this not because I want an outlet to complain, but because I want others to understand the confusion and frustration and discouragement.

Imagine this for a second. It’s 6:30 pm. You have pain right below your stomach that’s worse than the normal everyday pain. You have already taken the maximum medicine for the day. You’re also totally exhausted from walking to classes and barely keeping up with note-taking in classes. You want to lay down and curl yourself up into a ball under your blankets and listen to some music. But you are also in college and have a short paper and 150 pages of reading and two quizzes the next day. What do you do? Do you sleep for a few hours and wake up at midnight to finish your work, knowing you won’t get much sleep between finishing work and having classes? Or do you try to finish everything first and then sleep? Or do you finish everything except the reading and ask a friend for a synopsis? Or maybe you skip studying for the quizzes too and hope to do ok without studying? My point is, how do you decide whether to try to feel better or to do really well in school? And sometimes, I don’t make the right decision. I had to get an extension for a paper once. I’ve skipped reading before. I’ve failed quizzes that I could’ve aced with a little studying.

And, as someone with anxiety, when my pain levels increase, I freak out. I list off things that could be wrong. Once I calm myself down, I can think through things to identify the which organ(s) are located in the area that hurts and think through things logically. Slowly, the time required to calm down is decreasing. But it is a slow process.

It’s really easy to get discouraged. For example, my abdominal pain will get progressively better for a period of time. Then, all of a sudden, it’s back – sometimes worse than before. And while some progress is consistent, a lot of it is not. It’s easy to start complaining. It’s easy to get angry at God. It’s easy to want to give up. And for me, this is my hard thing. I think everyone has that hard thing in their life. This is mine. While the anxiety and the panic attacks are bad, if I could change only one thing, I would choose medical healing, not psychological healing.

Through it all, I am trying to remind myself that God is still up there, watching over me, protecting me. I am reminding myself of the many, many blessings I do have – antibody levels decreasing, energy levels are a little better, less unexplained muscle pain. While it feels like repeated piercing of fiery knives 24/7/365, I am trying to be thankful for the days that are a little better. When I want to complain, I remind myself of days that have been worse. I remind myself that Jesus never left and never will, and that He is right there with me in the pain. I remind myself that if I finish strong, one day I will be in a place with no more pain and no more tears. And in that beautiful promise, I can rejoice.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away. – Revelation 21:4