Today I’m happy to share with you a guest post by Alexandria Robinson, who tells the story of her struggle with an eating disorder, and how faith helped pull her out of it by helping her to realize her true value and worth. In our age of many struggles with mental illness, the message that we are infinitely precious and loved, even in our brokenness, can’t be spoken enough. Enjoy!
There’s a conversation that we need to have. We’re starting to have it, but there is still so much more we need to do surrounding this issue. It’s something that directly impacts 1 in 5 people, so all of our families. Unfortunately, we need to have this conversation with younger and younger children. Although mental health is a decreasingly taboo topic of conversation, there is still a stigma surrounding it. At church, I am part of a new mental-health and emotional-wellness ministry. At our last meeting, I was heartbroken when a sweet mama shared her struggles with her teenage sons. One of them was on the right track, going to a counselor for his severe depression. When he told his girlfriend about it, she told her friends, and a slew of hateful text messages arose. What’s a mom supposed to do?
I’ve had several conversations with mental health professionals who say the church is perfectly positioned to help those in mental distress. I know for me, my faith was the game-changer in my mental health struggles. Like a lot of young women, I have struggled with body image since my pre-teen years. I remember talking to my friends about all of our tips and tricks on how to avoid food in front of our parents or throw it up later. Although I knew the long term damage I was doing to my body, I had no desire to stop or ask for help. It wasn’t until I came to know Jesus that things changed. I now know that my body is a gift from my creator, and he thinks I’m so beautiful that I am ‘to die for’, at any weight. Having respect for my body helps me to honor my king.
After my brother was diagnosed with depression, I became obsessed with finding out everything I could about mental health. I was one of the people in his primary support network and, more importantly, his big sister. I love my brother dearly–he’s my best friend–so when I found out he was self-harming and having thoughts of suicide, it brought me to my knees. He is agnostic, but because he is an intellectual, we are able to have great conversations about the questions that really matter–things like the meaning of life and suffering. The great existential questions that those with a mental illness often ask are answered by religion. Unfortunately, we often write off church as something we only have to do on Christmas and Easter. But I would challenge anyone who is experiencing a mental health difficulty, either directly or indirectly, to start making it a habit to get into the Scriptures.
“‘Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10
I like to think of the Bible as our roadmap on life’s journey, and that without it, we are just wandering around aimlessly. Coming to know the one who made you can help you answer the all-important question of: “Why?” When you have your “why,” it makes all things easier. I know my “why”…or at least part of it. I write online Catholic bible studies on my blog. As a convert, I spent a lot of time online searching for answers. I came across a lot of amazing resources, but there was no Catholic voice readily available. That’s what I’m working to create.
Although I am involved in my bible studies, YouTube channel, and church ministries, I realized there was still something missing. People need help just opening the Scriptures. That’s why I wrote a book, A Catholic Millennial’s Guide to the Bible. In it, I answer some of the most common objections to Bible reading. Have you ever asked, or heard your child ask, questions like: I don’t know where to start; do Catholics even read the Bible; how can you read such an old book? I certainly have, and I answer all of those questions in the book. A Catholic Millennial’s Guide to the Bible is a short, easy read, written by and for Catholic millennials.
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. ” 1 John 4:9-11
We need the Lord, now more than ever. Spending time in the Bible can help us on our tough days. In my lowest moments, I remember my body is a gift to be respected, not garbage to be abused. This realization comes only from being rooted in the Word of God.
Alexandria Robinson is the author of the new book, A Catholic Millennial’s Guide to the Bible. In it she explains how to the Word of God is relevant to our lives in the modern day, the Church’s relationship with Scripture throughout history, and how the Bible came to be. It is written by and for young Catholic laity to encourage them on their long journey home to our Heavenly Father. It will make a great Lenten read or Easter gift. For more on Alexandria, check out her blog at www.TheGenesisFeminist.com.
“Always” and “never”–
are there any other words
which cause so much pain?
Need we say more? 😉
PS Don’t worry, Grandma, we only stayed at the park for about 10 minutes then hurried back home! Snow looks prettier than it feels!
When the sun sinks into the sea
–a candle snuffed out suddenly–
the silhouettes of palm trees darken
against the fading colours of the sky.
Their leaves become black as crow feathers–
old-fashioned feather quills
writing poetry upon the earth’s dome
among the shooting stars.
I’m outside walking on a January day;
the sidewalks and the sky are matching gray.
I pull my hands into my sleeves,
–the cold wet air is biting me–
but inside there’s a flame no one can see.
I’ve got Maui warmth
hidden in my heart.
The sunshine from Paia
is here to stay, yeah.
Oh, yeah, aloha!
Oh, yeah, aloha!
When you are in Hawaii,
no one asks you why
you’re doing what you’re doing
or you’re wearing what you’re wearing, today.
They say, “Oh, hey, aloha!
Hope you have a great day!
Oh, hey, aloha,
it’s just fine doing things your own way.”
When I was out swimming
with my brothers in the sea
I cut my foot on coral
now the sea’s inside of me.
I’ve got mermaid scars
(perhaps I’ll grow a tail).
The ocean’s salt is in my blood
and bright Maui stars
are ever in my eyes.
So oh, hey, aloha,
hope you’re having a great day
Oh hey aloha,
I’ll be going back to Maui,
It was with some regret
that I washed the salty windswept wildness
from my Hawaiian holiday hair
and cleaned my sea-spattered glasses,
hesitant to send any lingering remnants
of my joyful January trip
down the drain into the chilly pipes below,
letting the island warmth
sleep into the cold Canadian soil.
Feeling right at home, up a tree on the beach!
In Hawaii, the sun sinks into the sea
like a burning golden coin–
you can actually watch it slip below the surface.
The clouds show off their colours:
peachy orange and cotton candy pink,
dark grey accentuated by strips of shining gold.
After it’s done, the sunset hurrah,
deep darkness falls quickly.
The winding island roads are bathed in blackness.
Everything fades away except ohana, family,
the small circle of warmth
around you and and your loved ones,
sipping wine and sharing stories.
With no streetlights to prolong the day,
it soon feels so late and sleepy.
Bed beckons after a day on the beach.
You’re ready for the windy palm tree lullaby,
that endless rustling of phantom rain
that is simply leaves swaying in the starlight.
The crickets convince you to close your eyes and listen.
“Be soothed, be soothed,” they sing.
“Soon enough the sun will return…
rooster will be sure to let you know.
Early and often he will call:
‘Get up! Get up! A new adventure begins!’ ”
Maui is gorgeous! This mountain valley park is lovely!
All of these photos by my awesome brother Winston. 🙂