Surfacing After Silence

Life. After.

wandering around faith


my prayer beads

So this may not be my most focused post, but it’s a topic that has been on my mind a lot lately: faith.  Or spirituality in general.  I struggle to answer people when they ask what religion I am, because my faith really doesn’t have much to do with religion.  I suppose my faith is based on the Christian faith, and I use a Christian devotional and Bible.  But my God is not limited to the Christian faith.  My God is God.  Present in all things and people.  And because people are different, we connect with God in our own unique ways.  For some, that is through the Christian Church, for some it is through Judaism, for some, Buddhism, and we could go on.  My God is bigger than those worldly divisions.  My sister-in-law is Muslim, but I see no difference between “her” God and “my” God.  We simply express our faiths differently.

So when a Jewish friend included these prayer beads in my birthday package, there was no hesitation as I reached for them and warmed them in my hands, allowing my fingers to become familiar with the different shaped beads.  Her sister made these on a trip to Israel, praying with them in front of the Wall.  I have since carried them to doctors’ appointments and therapy and will have them with me during my surgery on Thursday.  I used to have a set of meditation beads, which broke a few months ago.  These beads seem like a natural replacement.

As I let myself slip the beads through my fingers, I become focused and grounded, able to concentrate on the divine presence in my life.  I am better able to connect with that presence.

One of the things that suffered the most when I was anorexic was my faith.  I may have gone to church during that time or read my Bible, but I honestly don’t think I had faith. I didn’t not believe, but I didn’t really believe, if that makes any sense.  I believed in nothing as much as I believed in the number on my scale.  Nothing else was as sure as that number.  Nothing was as tangible.

And nothing defined my identity, my self-worth, my mood, my entire being better than that number.  Which, now that I look back on it, is quite sad.  We throw the phrase around “You are more than a number” all the time, but how many of us stop to really think about it?  Do you believe it?  Can you list things that define you other than the number?  Do you really believe in those things on that list or were they just written down for some therapy assignment?  (I had a list of thing that define me long before I believed a single thing on that list.  But it made my therapist happy at the time.)

Recovery is not an end.  It is a beginning.  For me, among other things, it was the beginning of a path of self-discovery that I am still on today.  And, hopefully, will always be on.  I think I stopped walking on this path when I had my eating disorder, and I stopped growing and became stagnant and still.  Now that I am back on that path of self-discovery, I realize the importance of continuing that journey, the importance of growth and change.  It’s part of what makes us human.

And recently, my faith has become the focus of my self-discovery.  Renewing my faith, renewing an overall sense of spirituality, renewing my connection with the Divine.  And quite honestly, that renewal started when I was at Rader.  Although I was resistant to the program’s 12 Step foundation at first, I am ever thankful for a snow storm that gave me nothing to do but my homework assignment for therapy.  I began thinking about my faith and what it meant, something I hadn’t done in a long time.  I’d returned to this general sense of belief since I began recovery, but hadn’t really examined it in detail.  But the homework questions required I do so.  I struggled with some of them, but found that I looked forward to the evening hours when I could sit down with these questions and journal, for it is through writing I come to understand most things.

I’ve continued with this examination of my faith, rediscovering some of my favorite spiritual authors.  Why did I ever put these books and these writings away and turn toward a scale made out of plastic and metal?  That is probably a question that will never be answered, but I can answer the question: “Why did I turn away from the scale and go back to my faith?”  That answer is easy: that chunk of plastic and metal only left me feeling hollow and empty.  My faith has filled that hole, for I am filled with an awareness of the divine presence in my life.  That presence never left; I just stopped listening.  And I believe that presence is there for everyone who is willing to stop and listen.

So I challenge you, no matter where you are in your eating disorder, no matter where you are in your faith, to pause and listen and accept what is yours, in whatever form you find most accessible.

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June 28, 2010 - Posted by | Eating Disorders, faith, recovery | , , , , , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. I think your sentiments here are lovely, but I actually have a side question – did your friend tell you the prayer beads were Jewish? or just something she picked up in Israel? And if so (Jewish), did she identify as a messianic Jew? (jew for jesus)

    Obviously, whatever works for you is great, and whatever the beads become for you or were for her are great, and the beads only mean whatever meaning you put into them. I was just curious because Jews don’t so much do prayer beads… (there are knots on the strings of a tallis, which is related, but different)

    Comment by Halley | June 28, 2010 | Reply

    • Halley, I’m pretty sure they aren’t messianic Jews. Honestly, all she said was that she (her sister) made them and prayed with them at the Wall. I didn’t question whether this is a Jewish tradition or not. I know I have made prayer beads/meditation beads for friends at various points and prayed while making them. I guess my point was that I didn’t care in what religion they were made.

      Comment by surfacingaftersilence | June 29, 2010 | Reply


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