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Wednesday, March 22 2017
I Am That I Am
If you were to ask me a year ago, “Who are you?” my answer would have consisted of the following: I am a wife, a mom, a runner, a teacher, a clean eater, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a coach. If you would have asked me if I was embodying any of these roles well, I would probably only have been able to say yes to the runner representation… I was neglecting my family and friends, distracted in my job, and not really eating at all. I was typical eating disorder sufferer; I was giving my all to my disorder and symptom use and failing to thrive in any other aspect in my life. During a session with Genie, she challenged me with the question, “Who am I?” and suggested that this is the most intimate question that God has ever answered in Exodus 3:14 “I Am That [who] I Am”. This phrase that has given me the strength to accept myself for who I really am: I am HIS.
Why is this phrase so important in the Bible?
When God states “I Am That I AM”, He is declaring that He is God: the one true King. He is telling Moses to trust His word because His word is the truth and the light, and this expression should not be taken lightly. When we trust that He is the I Am, we can have faith and confidence that He is with us in all situations and struggles in this life. That understanding is vital to not only our relationship with God, but also in our relationship with ourselves as children of The Almighty King.
When I was in the depths of my eating disorder, the only worth I found my identity in was connected directly to my sickness. Phrases like, “I am a runner”, “I am a clean eater”, and “I am skinny” were labels I gave myself, and those labels painted me into a corner of what I had to embody and what I had to be… If I am a runner, I must run daily or who am I? If I am a clean eater, I must eat clean or who am I? If I am skinny, I must stay skinny or who am I? There is a pattern here… Whatever I attached with the phrase “I am” I felt as though I had to embody that at all times and do it well or I was a failure at what I stood for. Keeping up with these “branding factors” that created Brooke were exhausting. Why? Because they were not connected with the Spirit, they were connected with the world, and this world is draining and impossible to keep up with. However, God loves us as is without fail; this is why I needed to change my perception of who I was so I could stop limiting myself and begin to bask in the joy of what God perceives me to be. I am perfectly made in His image because I am HIS, not the world’s.
How did this verse change my worldly thinking?
God puts it bluntly to Moses, and in turn, He puts it plainly to us… “I Am That I Am”. In one of our sessions together when I was drowning in my disorder, Dr. Genie Burnett said to me, ““I Am” is one of the most powerful statements in the human language because it is one of the most powerful statements in the Bible.” It hit me like a ton of bricks because at that moment, I began to think of all the negative and restrictive words I attached with I am… Also, in my disorder, I believed that if I was claiming one of those labels, I had to embody it 110% of the time or I was a fraud. This was stressful, and the pressure to perform was slowly killing me.
[Dr. Genie Burnett’s interjection here: Over the last 17 years, I have noticed themes emerge across clients’ struggle with their issues. A major factor in the development and maintenance of any struggle – whether eating disorder, anxiety, depression, or any other issue – is the belief about who “I am”, or the person’s inner identity. I believe that God’s statement reflects the truth that God IS. He exists and is everything. How we complete that sentence similarly impacts how we live our lives and how we impact others.]
When I dug into God’s word, I learned that He only calls us to be one thing… HIS. If I live, breathe, and love with the statement “I am His”, I will be able to be who I am in that moment, in that struggle, in that triumph, whatever it is, in that time and not feel pressured to fit into the worldly “I Am” statements that kept me sick for so long. If I live by His standards of me, I can love myself for who I am just because I am the daughter of the King, not because I am a runner, a clean eater, or skinny. When I put my worth in my worldly attributes such as my body and physical ability, I was destined to fail. I cannot stop myself from aging, and with age comes certain changes… And why would I want to hold myself to impossible standards? Ain’t nobody got time for that! When I started putting my worth in His love for me, I was able to love myself. No strings attached.
One of the quotes that helps me accept myself on a daily basis is “Be who you are today.” It is quite simple. Now, instead of waking up and judging myself in the mirror, I simply look at me, look at my body, and say “This is it- I am who I am, and God is with me and God is for me.” This phrase speaks love, acceptance, and truth into my soul instead of the hate, the disgust, and the pressure I use to feed it. I now walk out of my room with confidence and peace, and I never want to go back to the old worldly pressures; “I Am That I Am” is good enough for God, and it’s good enough for me!
Thursday, March 16 2017
Ripped Away and Humbled
Sometimes, I wish that I could live my life in the same way I write. I love language, and the way words can gently caress a page without a second thought. But alas, grace to me is the equivalent of hiking at dusk, and forgetting to take a flashlight. I stumble, and look (quite) foolish, but at least I can provide those around me with some joy and comic relief! Thankfully, these incredible people are also the biggest blessings in my life, and are the lights who help me when I really stumble, and need a hand to find my way.
I had been approached to write for the blog a couple of weeks, ago, to which I was honored. As I had started off writing, I was striving for something elegant, inspiring, and captivating. However, as I began writing, I quickly realized that a sing-song crunch, followed by a giant tear right up the crotch of my favorite black khakis, five minutes before having to leave for church is as far from lady-like, and elegant as it gets. Not to mention, I was an hour from my college dorm room, and did not have time to swing past and grab another pair- woops!
Now that everyone is probably wondering why I am discussing splitting my pants on a Sunday morning (I mean, as I said- real life comic relief!) I’ll go ahead and clarify. I will be the first to say I am quite blessed for the journey that has been my ongoing recovery from a dark battle with anorexia. Part of this has been learning to love and accept my body, my home, and my vessel- as is, including the weight recovery. Last summer, being the hardest, and first summer living free, I began working towards getting rid of all of my sick clothes, and I am getting closer to this goal with each passing season, but living on a college budget, and being unable to afford to replace everything at once, I decided why not keep the stretchy khakis? It can’t be that bad- right? Wrong.
In recovery- we must let go of our pasts in order to define the here and now, and look towards the future.
Understanding this piece of my past has been ripped away is such a defining moment of freedom. Something I could not consciously give up, was completely ripped away from me, and looking back, I grow more thankful each day. We are fighters, and we are not to be defined, and confined to sizes or numbers.
Being humbled by a God bigger than me on His day is a reminder that I am saved, and redeemed. I was freed already, and it is just a matter of allowing myself to walk out of the cage to which I had alienated myself. If this had occurred year ago, or perhaps even six months ago, I would have surely broken down. That girl was taking the required actions for staying alive, but she still struggled for a real purpose, as she clung to society’s false concepts of beauty. She was a girl who forgot not only who she is, but whose she is. Her identity in Christ is unrelenting, and his Manna is the only thing that has been able to satisfy the true hunger.
I know that ripped pants sound silly to some people, but for someone who has waged war with themselves- it can be devastating. Thankfully, I can say on that morning, I laughed, and that was a battle I won. Something I find insightful, is learning to break our false perceptions on the world. We look into the mirror, and so often look at our physique as a means of controlling the internal chaos at hand because we are afraid of what we might truly be like. However, I want to let you know that you are fearfully, and wonderfully made, and that will always be enough. You are enough.
Monday, March 06 2017
What Would You Tell Your Younger Self?
An unknown author once said, “You carry the wisdom of each year you have lived in your soul”… and this rings true for each and every person who is blessed with life on the Earth. I have been on a soul journey myself the past year, and with each step forward I take in self-love and self-acceptance, I have an ache in my heart for the younger Brooke who focused so deeply on the world and neglected to see the true beauty that came from within. As I watch my own children with unconditional admiration and love, I think to myself, How could they ever not see how perfect they are?!? And yet, I know, that the world will try to tell them otherwise over and over again on their own journey. I posed a question to my peers; a question to those close to me and my journey that I was curious to see if they had the same experience as me, and I was humbled and touched to see what their responses were. There was a common theme in the retort, and the beauty of the words made that young girl still inside of me feel safe and loved on a level that I hope to pass onto my children each and every day.
The question: If you could tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
Claire Fillingham Don't worry and obsess about everything!
Wow- how many times have you told yourself this, yet yourself just went on ruminating on the worry of the moment? I have found that everything in this life is temporary- the good, the bad, the hard, and the easy. There is a beauty in realizing that God is in control and that worry and obsessing over each and every struggle, fear, and possibility in this world will only lead to a distrust in God, who is ultimately in control anyway. And thank Goodness for that. If you think about it, no one wants to be in control of everything- that is a pressure that is not worth the power. As Elsa reminds us in song, “Let it go!!!”
Amber Markmann Simmons Take more chances and don't be afraid of failure.
In this life, there are no failures. Each failure is simply a lesson that creates growth, wisdom, and strength in us that helps mold us into using our full potential. Somehow, we have allowed society to tell us that failures are a reflection of our worth, yet each person will fail at some point because, alas, we are HUMAN! So does that mean none of us are worthy? Michael Jordan said, “I have failed over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed”. If one of the most successful basketball players in history says failure brought him success, what makes you any different? Go for it; take the risk of failing. The reward is with the humility.
Kathleen Friedell Pawson Don't look to others to find your love joy and peace and Ashley Neal Callicutt You are and have always been GOOD ENOUGH.
To me, these two go hand in hand. When I was struggling to find my worth in the world, Dr. Genie Burnett drew a circle on the white board in her office and wrote my name in it. She said everything inside of this circle you can control. Everything outside of the circle is out of your control. This means that I cannot only look to others for peace, security, love, safety, and affirmation; I have to create those inside of myself so I can then feel safe and loved no matter what the world throws my way. I cannot always control my circumstances, but I can always control my self-worth, self-love, and self-acceptance. As Ashley says, I AM GOOD ENOUGH! If I find that from within, my joy and peace will be a constant that will not be altered by my surroundings.
Lauren Hobbs Take time for yourself. Explore you. Don't rush into what society says you should be doing with your life.
As we have discussed, society can be cruel, stereotypes are made to be broken, and no one of us is alike; so why do we hold ourselves to the standards and timelines of those around us? More marriages, more careers, more friendships would flourish if we all took the time to get to know ourselves on a level that rocks the core of societal norms. I literally had to take a “Leisure Test” while in treatment for my eating disorder because I had zero clue who I was because I had always conformed to those around me. At 32 I am finally discovering my passion and my path because I allowed myself to truly sit still and get to know myself. I pray that no matter how long it takes, we all can take the time to know our true selves and our true passions. Our families, our communities, and our world benefits when you take the time to find the true you!
Laurie Markle You're going to be okay. The insecurity that is driving you is unfounded. The people you're worried you'll look stupid in front of, disappoint or never live up to: they were faking it, too. We're all faking it 'till we make it. We're all pretending we know what's going on. The truth: none of us know what we're doing. God's got cooler, wilder things in store for you than you are able to imagine. Let Him do the work and worrying - just enjoy the ride.
This gave me all the feels; even sitting here writing this out, I don’t even pretend to have the answers or be perfect at this thing called life- I just got to the point where I could actually start handling it without an eating disorder to numb it all out, so this spoke to me. You’re going to be okay. How many times in my life have I needed these words? And to think, I didn’t need them from anyone but God and myself. Tears build as I am typing because what a gift to give yourself in a time of strife, need, and uncertainty… you are going to be okay. We are all faking it, even Oprah. J
Brandi Guy Doublestein Be patient and trust God
God has this!!! It is such a simple concept that is the hardest leap of faith to put in action. God is in control, his plan is perfect, and if we sit back and let Him do His thing, we will reap the rewards of being His faithful servant his beloved child. Once this concept is put into action in your life, you will find that not sweating the small stuff is actually a possibility in your world. The big trials and obstacles that God lays out before you no longer make you question “why me” but make your ask “how can I use this to better myself and others?” The precious moments, milestones, and gifts become etched in your heart instead of overlooked and rushed through. God’s plan and love are perfect. We as humans cannot change or manipulate all that life throws at us, but with full trust in God, we can see the silver lining in all that we experience in this life.
Although the social media craze has had its downfalls, the connection of experiences and wisdom that we can receive by truly listening to others experiences is a priceless gift that has been bestowed upon our generation. Your words and your experiences matter. YOU matter. And if we can help our children realize this about themselves, we are creating a better world in spite of what moral, spiritual, or political wars are going on around us. Thank you all for being a light in this world when the threat darkness can overwhelm the soul. My inner, teenage Brooke is feeling the love, and I pray that we can be the change that we want to see in this world for all generations to come.