When You Cannot Sing

20190522-Mount-Singing

I stood in the sanctuary, surrounded by voices lifted in song, and I felt tears threaten to stream down my face. The words of “The Solid Rock” were on the screen, and my voice cracked as I tried to sing the second verse:

“When darkness seems to hide His face,
I rest on His unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.”

There are times when the words of a song ring so true to my own lived experience that I am overcome, and such was the case with this song. Darkness had been hiding God’s face for months, and I struggled to see the truth. Depression had been haunting my days and nights with frustrating consistency, and I was tired. It is hard to rest when the storm is raging. Merely making it to church felt like a victory, and I didn’t know if I had the strength to sing the words I wanted desperately to believe.

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Too Much

I caught a glimpse of myself today as I was opening a set of glass doors, and I was caught off guard by how large I looked. Even though I have gained back 75 of the 90 pounds I lost many years ago, I think part of me sometimes still imagines that there’s a thinner version of myself walking around, even though I know what the numbers on the scale and on my clothes say. I live with this absurd fantasy in my head, despite reality literally staring me in the face every time I look in the mirror in the morning, and despite the way the fabric of my clothes pulls in places where it once hung loosely. I want so desperately to be the size I once was that I think I have convinced myself that I’m not THAT fat, that my weight isn’t THAT big of a problem. But when I feel the skin on my thighs rubbing painfully when I wear a skirt or dress, when I feel that same skin stretching uncomfortably taut when I cross my legs, when I feel the sides of a chair digging into my backside, when all I can think about when swimming at a public pool with my daughter is how many people are disgusted by me–those are signs of a problem. I am uncomfortable with my body and uncomfortable in my body.

black make up palette and brush set

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All of this makes me feel like “too much”–both in the literal and figurative sense of the word. I feel as though I quite literally take up too much space in the world, but I also feel like my ongoing struggle with my weight and food obsession make me too much for people. If people knew how many times a day I thought about eating junk, would they still be my friends? If I ballooned up to 400 pounds, would I be loved? Am I even loved now? Is there a point at which even God Himself will say, “Whoa there, Erin, I think I’m going to need to take a break from this relationship until you get your issues settled”? In my darkest moments (and there have been plenty of those), I ask all of these questions and more. And in my more rational moments, I know that the love of people I care about is not contingent upon how much I weigh. I know that I am loved deeply by my husband and family. I know that God loves me with a love I can’t even fully fathom and that it is nothing but pride and vanity that causes me to question His design. But somehow, sometimes, knowledge of this love isn’t enough. I haven’t believed it completely. If I did completely and utterly believe in God’s love for me, I wouldn’t choose other things above Him. I wouldn’t turn to food for comfort instead of to His Word. I wouldn’t chase after temporal pleasures instead of chasing after Him.

In a way I am in fact too much; I think too much of myself, too often. I spend too much time dwelling on my problems and not enough time dwelling on the Lord and His goodness. I trust too much in my own sufficiency rather than recognizing that I am completely needy. I waste too much energy on worthless pursuits and not enough energy working for the Lord and not for man. I fritter away too much time in front of a mirror, applying makeup and fixing my hair in the hopes that my face will be pretty enough that people won’t notice the rest of me, instead of cultivating the inward beauty of a heart that hungers and thirsts for God.

Since I am too much, I must pray as John does in John 3:30, “He must become greater, I must become less.” The important thing about my life ultimately isn’t how much weight I lose or don’t lose. The important thing about my life is that it points to Another altogether–Jesus Christ. He lived the perfect, sinless life I cannot live and gave me the redemption I could never hope to earn. May I live a life that brings honor to the One who can never get too much of my praise or receive too much glory.