Six Word Friday: Kind

May kind ribbons encircle each heart

bleeding from conflict, abuse, and terror.

May empathy and compassion set apart

judgment for understanding, regarding every error.

May healing from a sad start

instill Love, Hope, and Faith forever.

(c) 11/20/2015, lem

Six Word Fridays are hosted by Adrienne at My Memory Art. Please go visit to discover more Six Word Friday creativity!

Which is the Big Bad Wolf and which is the Evil Little Piggy?

I’ve really been struggling with the depression aspect of the bipolar. That’s nothing new, I suppose. However, as I’ve been digging deeper through the layers of trauma, getting a better handle on the PTSD. (Here’s the 411, if you didn’t already know: Depression + Anxiety + my life = CHAOS ^3!) Improved consistency with the mood stabilizer med seems to have flatlined the hypomania, leaving me feeling like the depression has taken over.

I was kind of missing the hypomania. Those are the only times I’m able to get things done or feel self-confident. Hypomanic episodes are when I experience a genuine sense of joy and happiness. My life is a reflection of Fall/Winter in Portlandia: long, drawn out periods of cold, dank darkness occasionally disrupted by teasing, brilliant sunshine and clear skies, which still leave you cold. Hypomania is the brilliance of the sun, burning so bright you feel as if your eyelids are melting. You’re compelled to turn and look up, even as you can’t keep your face from transforming into something less than appealing with a wincing squint.

Anyway, the hypomania is resurfacing. Evidence? My posts from November 1st – 9th. All that nutritional research, compulsive organizing, the obsessive need to produce a perfect as is humanly possible summary document, while taking public transportation on three separate grocery shopping trips on three consecutive days, and writing nine, 1,000 +/- word blog posts back to back – in the midst of living my life as it is.

Then, I crashed and burned. From the 9th through the 16th, it was like a less colorful, much less humorous episode of Hee Haw’s, “Gloom, Despair, & Agony”:

It’s now 3:15 am on the 19th and I’m writing my second blog post of the night . . . the first post was for a newly reactivated blog that’s supposed to be focusing on my codependency issues. In the last 48+ hours, I’ve scrubbed and sanitized the petri dish otherwise known as my refrigerator, hauled 5-6 bags of accumulated garbage down to the dumpster, dealt with burned on food left for too long on the stove (too long may or may not mean several days), gone on a quick grocery shopping trip, picked up a prescription to replace my lost bottle of mood stabilizers, met with a couple of ladies from one of my faith communities, gone to my cousin’s to wash & dry two loads of laundry, hung out with the grandbabies, reactivated an old FB profile that’s a previous pseudonym and invited my “safe” people to join me there – which they all have, culled 130 “friends” from my primary FB profile, written three blog posts, and prepared an awesome homemade dinner.

I surprised myself with The Awesome, lol.

I guarantee I’ve only slept 6 – 8 hours, or less) for that entire time. But, I digress.

While writing my last post I discovered a couple of groups that I LOVE! I haven’t been into metal, since . . . well, EVER! Their songs (and official videos) feel like my dark insides coming out into the open for examination and processing.  This one especially blew me away. The layers of meaning within meaning of these lyrics, hits me on so many levels.

I’ll leave you with the lyrics:

“Big Bad Wolf”

Even in these chains, you can’t stop me. (4x)

Once upon a time
There was a nasty, little piggy filled with pride and greed
Once upon a time
There was an evil, little piggy typical disease
You see this little pig is slowly becoming my own worst enemy.
You see this evil pig she’s a blood, blood, blood sucking part of me

Everywhere I go, you go along with me (she said)
Everything you get, is all because of me (I said)
Everything I do, you do along with me (she said)
No matter where you run, you cannot hide from me

She’s got a hold on me
Maybe she is just what they want me to be

Even in these chains, you can’t stop me. (2x)


Pig, pig! Would you let me in? (2x)
Pig, pig! I’ve been everywhere that you’ve been
Now I’ve got nothing to lose and everything to win

Pig, pig! Would you let me in? (2x)
Pig, pig! I’m already under your skin
‘Cause I’m the big bad wolf, now let the games begin

You see I am the wolf,
And this dirty, little piggy lives inside of me.
You see every now and then,
I forget which one that I want and which one that I need.
I have come to realize
That both of them have become a necessity
I now have come to realize
That I become which animal I choose to feed

Anything I say you lie along with me. (she said)
Every song you sing is all because of me (I said)
Anytime I cry you always laugh at me. (she said)
No matter what you do you will belong to me

She’s got a hold on me,
Maybes she’s just what they want me to be

Even in these chains, you can’t stop me. (2x)


Oh man, all these voices
I just can’t get the fuck out of my head!
I can’t, I can’t, I can’t

Even with these chains, you can’t stop me. (3x)
Even in these chains, you won’t break me
Even in these chains, you won’t stop me
Even in these chains, you won’t break me
Even in these chains, you won’t take me
Even in these chains, you won’t haunt me

Pig! Pig! (2x)

Stay the fuck, stay the fuck, stay the fuck out of my head!

She’s got a hold on me,
Maybe she is just what they want me to be

Even in these chains, you can’t stop me. (2x)


‘Cause I’m the big bad wolf, now let the games begin! (2X)

Writer(s): Christopher Howorth, Christopher John Howorth, Maria Diane Brink, Kevin Gregory Churko
Copyright: Maria Brink Itm, Cadium Music Publishing O.B.O. Gumpofwump, Chrisinthismoment

Happy Birthday, my son!

1986 11 09Today, my son turns 29.

When I saw him on Saturday night, I mentioned that I had hoped to have his gift ready.

“Oh, yeah. I guess my birthday is in a couple of days…”

He went on and we touched on the fact that, for him, because of the way he grew up, his birthday has never really been either celebrated or about receiving gifts.

Sadly, this is true.

Since today is his birthday and this post is about celebrating him, I’m not going to go into all the whys and wherefores exposing this lack in his life. Maybe tomorrow. We’ll see.

Dear Son,

I was a 16-year-old runaway when I discovered you were growing inside of me. I was staying with a friend we’d met when we stayed at a neighboring homeless shelter a little while before. Your father was in prison on a parole violation. I didn’t know about his record until the night he went to jail. I’d vowed my love to him and he’d gotten me away from the sad life I’d been living. So, I was going to , “Stand By My Man.”

I was so scared when I got the news I was going to be your mommy. I was clueless and knew that I’d have a hard time meeting your needs. Even though abortion was one option, it never was for me. There was no way I could ever give you to other people. I didn’t want you growing up wondering why I didn’t want you. I couldn’t imagine giving away the only family I had.

That was the same year Madonna came out with, Papa Don’t Preach, and even though my situation had little in common with the song, other than being a pregnant teen, “I was keeping my baby,” and it became my anthem.

Selfish? Yeah, probably. But, deciding to keep you motivated me to do better, to be better, or at least to try. I entered a youth job readiness program and got my first GED.

Your father and I wrote each other, giving updates, making plans for our future, your future.

It was February. I turned 17 in June and he got out of prison. We went “on the road,” again. We landed in Texas and became friendly with a truck driving couple. They “adopted” us and took us back to their home in North Carolina. I didn’t know both my mother and her father had been born there.

The local community and church welcomed us. They helped us get a trailer.  They got us a car, a dark blue, two door, Oldsmobile Cutlass. I finally got prenatal care.

You were such a strong baby, with such a strong heartbeat! At my first exam, the doctor thought he heard two heartbeats, with two echoes. My belly was so big and so full, he thought you might be twins!

The week before you were born, your father got into a car accident on his way to work and wasn’t able to work. With you just about ready to enter the world, he convinced me that there wasn’t any way we would make it if we stayed. Despite the fact you were nearly a week overdue, we packed up the car late that Saturday night, after visiting friends and watching “rasslin’.” We drove on out of town. We got about a hundred miles away when I admitted that I wasn’t having Braxton Hicks contractions and you were on your way.

We pulled into the pothole filled parking lot of a little greasy spoon joint. I swear he hit every one of those damn things! When I tried to get out of the car, the pain immobilized me. He ran in, called out, “Cup of coffee to go! Woman in labor! Where’s the bathroom?” He was back in the car and driving almost as soon as he’d left.

On the way back to town and to the hospital, he broke the speed limit and we made it back in way under an hour. Even though we’d seen a state trooper every few minutes on the way out, we didn’t see any on the way back. I was in the delivery room by 2:30 in the morning. They broke my water, but the labor didn’t progress the way they thought it should. I got an emergency C-section. You were born around noon. I heard later, that the doctor wanted to get home in time for Sunday supper.

We stayed in the hospital for a week. I lost a lot of blood in the surgery and was severely anemic. It was the height of the AIDS scare. Your dad and I fought because he didn’t want me to get a blood transfusion. The medical staff won that argument and I received three units of blood. The night I got out of the hospital, we got in the car and left. I had 12 or 13 staples in my stomach.

We spent the first two years of your life living out of cars and hitchhiking across the country. Your dad was a better caregiver than I was during that time. I guess I was experiencing postpartum depression in the midst of it all. By the time you were two and I was 19, we were on our own.

You’ve been through, and overcome, so much in your short life. Now, you’re married to a wonderful woman and have two stable and loving families you belong to.  Your, “real,” adopted parents support and guide you in ways I’ve never could. You’re one of the best managers your company has and you’re taking college classes. You guys are on the path to home ownership. You are in the early stages of owning your own business. You’re a man of faith and integrity and continually work to grow, heal, and improve.

I couldn’t be more proud of the man you are. I love you.

Happy Birthday, my son!

Eating Myself Sick (pt. 2)

Yesterday, I started writing about my most recent downward spiral into a binge eating episode. Now, for the rest of the story.

Two days ago was “Family Fun Friday” at my daughter’s school. Her dad decided he wanted to go and would pick us up, to go as a family, at 7:30 am. Every night my daughter doesn’t go to sleep before 10 pm, no matter how hard I try. Every morning, it’s a fight to get her awake, dressed, and out the door by 8:30 in time to catch her bus. It was very stressful knowing I not only had to have her up and ready an hour earlier, but, that I would also be in his presence, with his moodiness and anger over his current circumstances and belief that I’m to blame for the situation he’s in because I left the relationship nearly two years ago.

There was no time for a healthy or filling breakfast. So, I wound up eating two half pieces of pastry and half a muffin, along with a large cup of coffee with several creamers, while we were at the school. After we left and were on our way to where I volunteer weekly, less than two miles from his place, the arguing and criticism started. Then, he expected me to use his truck to go do my volunteering at the church. That way, I would go back with him when he picked our daughter up from school. No, thank you.

I wound up at his place, but, I didn’t take his truck. So, the angry texts started coming. Emotional manipulation and empty threats of a non-violent, but psychologically traumatizing nature started coming. Intellectually, I knew that the threats were empty, that his beliefs weren’t my truths, and that I’m not responsible for making him feel better. However, it didn’t stop the PTSD sensations of severe anxiety and overwhelm from taking over. I was jittery. My emotions were in turmoil. I couldn’t stop thinking of the “what if’s” and trying to formulate plans against them.

Anxiety at that level completely shuts down my ability and desire to eat anything. This effect results in a binge later. When I left the building and took the hour long transit trip home, I was okay. As I got off the bus and started approaching my home, I could feel the tension and anxiety rising. So, I decided that I was going to go do something else with safe people for the night, and left almost as soon as I got home. Then, something happened that triggered my sense of obligation, and my fatigue was so extreme, I just went back home.

I made a healthy-ish choice for eating, which sort of satisfied the nutritional hunger. Time to relax and self-soothe. Catch up on recorded shows and try to knit a scarf for my son’s birthday, three days away.

However, as the evening went on, both a physical and mental/emotional hunger grew. Unfortunately, I happend to have a little bit of cash. I checked the balance of my SNAP benefits. I could go get something to eat at the grocery store and make a healthier choice between Popeye’s and Safeway. I got dressed and went out the door. As I got closer to the bus stop to go to the grocery store, the aching in my thighs from all the walking I’d done this week and the overwhelming fatigue washed through me. Then I saw the bus go by.

I checked to see when the next one would come. Nine minutes. Not much time at all, but too long to sit and wait in the chilly night at the bus stop. Okay. Keep moving and walk to the next bus stop. Check the time. Five more minutes. Look up. A yellow, orange, and red beacon in the night – Popeye’s. It’s just a minute’s walk, then I can sit down. When I leave, I’ll still be close enough to walk home.

$6.99 special: Two tenders and four shrimp, a side, and a drink. Sounds good. Coke, please. Yes, honey for the biscuit! Do you have butter? Oh, it’s REAL? Even better. Cajun fries for the side. Thank you for the coupons.

Sit by myself, put my headphones on, and start watching a recorded show on my phone. A text from the ex. An update on our daughter and her complaining of a headache and upset tummy. More criticism for not updating him during the week or having her call him.

Mmmm. That honey and butter on that biscuit sure is good. The rest though, meh, but I eat it anyway.

In comes a group of women. Loud laughter and conversation. Friends having a night in on a food run. On the outside, looking in. Thoughts and emotions swirling on the inside. Calm and still on the outside. I look down and see the coupons I’ll never use.

“Do you guys eat here a lot?”

“Mmmhmm,” head nods.

“Do you want my coupons? I’ll never use them. Oh, sorry, they’re sticky from the honey.”

Home again. Anxious again. Minor relationonal skirmish. Isolation. Knit and watch t.v.

Knock, knock, knock. “Come in.”

“Here. I ordered late night pizza,” two slices of pizza and a hunk of cheese filled bread in a small, long Domino’s box.


5:00 a.m. nausea.

When self-soothing turns into self-abuse, it’s time to admit there’s a problem…again.

“Hi. My name is Lillian. I’m a food addict.”

Now, to figure out how to unravel and disconnect the eating from the PTSD and my relationships before I kill myself with food.

Eating myself sick (pt. 1)

I guess it’s time to get back to recovery basics, when it comes to my eating.

Yesterday was hard. It was the perfect storm of hormonal cycles, PTSD triggers, and physical exhaustion. Truthfully, the eating spiral started while I was working on my food plan and trying to figure out how to make it work.

The rationalizations and justifications of, “I’m starting tomorrow, so I’ll enjoy this bacon, egg, potato burrito with country gravy and a Coke for breakfast, now,” and, “After all, you’re not supposed to go shopping on an empty stomach, right?” were the first steps on the slippery slope of my binge eating disorder.

Eating has been my consistent “go to” for self-soothing/self-medicating ever since I was a pre-adolescent. It started after I told my mom about my step-dad having molested me for the previous two years and we wound up going and living with my grandmother.

Dolly Madison Donut Gems in the morning for breakfast before school. Extra chocolate milk at school for lunch. Burger King on the way home from school with my mom. Snack or dinner while visiting grandma at the cafeteria she worked evenings at, during her lunch break. KFC when grandma got home after 9 p.m. from her job. Neither mom or grandma knew how much or how often I was eating. It was offered and I accepted. It replaced the “love and affection” I’d lost when my step-dad stopped paying attention to me  – which was the whole, warped reason I told my mom in the first place.

Getting fed was the way I felt like I was cared about and mattered…at home. At school, it was definitely self-soothing to drink that second chocolate milk. We’d moved several times during that year and I wound up in an inner city school in Houston. There was a large Latino population, a slightly smaller Black population, and a small White population. I didn’t fit into any of them. I talked White, was obviously a “half-breed” Latina, and obviously not Black. it was 1980, in Texas. Mixing races was very much frowned upon. Add into it that I was the “new kid” in sixth grade. I was either ignored or shunned, depending on which group of students I tried to interact with. So, I ate alone. That second chocolate milk and seconds on food, if it was available, filled in the interminable time between the end of one class and the beginning of the next, otherwise known as lunch and recess.

If I focused on how good the food tasted and how it filled me up, then I didn’t have to pay attention to the taunting or the isolation.

After school, mom would meet me in front and we would walk home, just talking about our days. These are vague memories, at best. However, I know that I enjoyed that time with her. Whenever, she could, she’d take me to the Burger King that was between the school and the apartment we shared with my grandma. Sitting there and eating my Whopper Jr. with fries and soda, extended my time with her. Time that was easy and uncomplicated. Time when I felt like she saw me and that I was loved.

Snack/dinner at Picadilly Cafeteria, where grandma worked, was usually an obligation kind of thing. Mom didn’t want grandma to know she’d fed me at BK. So, on those days, I’d have a snack – usally fried okra. I love the taste and texture of fried okra done right. Other days, when we hadn’t stopped at BK, I’d get a full meal. Mom and grandma, sitting with me while I ate, having quiet and easy conversation. Those were our family time meals.

Grandma LOVED Kentucky Fried Chicken, Original Recipe! My memory tells me she came home with a bucket nearly every night. My adult reasoning says it couldn’t have been nearly that often. Anyway, I was usually still awake, despite it being close to 10 p.m. If I was awake, the smell of the chicken was so good and grandma was so sure I hadn’t had enough to eat. So, I would eat…again.

So, food was how I knew I was loved. Food was how I received comfort and suffered through rejection and isolation. Eating was a deception and obligation for emotional safety. It was never about nourishment or health. It was always about emotion and relationships.

I suppose not much has changed on that front. On Thursday night, despite having eaten two very healthy and sustaining meals, one of which I stopped eating when I was satiated, that good ‘ole Southern comfort food got brought into my Trauma Recovery and Empowerment Model group and I filled my plate. I overfilled it! Homemade mac ‘n cheese, homemade potato salad, greens & ham, and fried fish were irristable.

This was the fourth time I’d been in this room with these women, many of whom are African American, all of whom have experienced significant DV trauma. Some are recovering from substance addictions. None of whom did I feel a connection to. I was always uncomfortable in this room, with these women. All I could see was why I didn’t fit with them and the reasons why they wouldn’t feel like I should be there with them. I guess I was mentally back in that sixth-grade school yard in Houston.

But, that food! It was common ground. I was sitting at a table with a Latina and a White girl, surrounded by Black women. All of these women are so strong and so inspiring and I’d been so intimidated and unsure that I could be accepted by them. I ate, everything, after stating I’d gotten way too much and that I probably couldn’t finish it all.

Well, I finished it after a particular topic came up while we were eating and I got triggered into sharing a very painful memory of loss from five and a half years ago. Then, I ate a piece of homemade apple pie for desert.

Sorry this is so long. If you’re still reading, thanks for hanging in there. To be continued tomorrow.

Granting yourself grace: Doing the best you can, as you can

I’m totally exhausted.

Every day this week, as I’ve been working toward this new way of eating, life has continued being what it is. Despite how much I need it to pause for a minute so I can get my bearings and make this transition, life goes on without any consideration to my needs.

The other people in my home are still themselves, God love them. Six of us are living in a tiny, two-bedroom, Section 8 apartment: Me, my 6-year-old, my 22-year-old daughter, her 22-year-old boyfriend, their 20 month old daughter, and their 8 month old son. My youngest daughter still needs me to figure out how to be the kind of mommy she needs instead of me trying to get her to be the way I feel I need her to be. The Bipolar II, the PTSD, the depression, and the fibromyalgia still factor into my emotional, mental, and physical capacities. The relational/financial enmeshement with my ex, the father of my youngest, is an almost daily source of stress. There are four days left to get the apartment ready for inspection.

Changing the way I eat, why I eat, how I eat, what I eat, and everything that goes with that, is like going to a new country, embedded in the culture and society without any preparation or guidance, only every obligation and aspect of your earlier life came with you and doesn’t give a crap the you have to learn a new language, new customs, and follow new rules.

I also have a mentality which has existed most of my life: If I can’t do it right, if I can’t get it right quickly, and if too many obstacles make getting it right quickly difficult, then I give up.

There. I said it. Out loud. For all the world to see.

I get easily overwhelmed and cave under an unrealistic, compulsive need to be in control and do things perfectly, according to my understanding of perfect.

Can you guess where I’m at in this cycle?

Here’s the thing, though. I absolutely cannot go that route this time.

That’s where grace comes in. What does it mean to “give grace?” The Free Dictionary offers several definitions. Two of them are what I’m talking about here:

grace (grās)
4.b. Mercy; clemency.
6. A temporary immunity or exemption; a reprieve.

In other words, I need to be merciful to myself in my self-judgment. I need to free myself from my internalized obligation to “get it right.” I’m not even sure where that need came from, really. It’s just “out there,” in the world around us, right?

“Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.”

I wonder how many times I’ve heard that statement? It’s not really true, in a literal sense, though, is it? After all, I can’t possibly do this healthstyle change “right.” What’s right? The rules and guidelines that worked for others, in the context of their lives, circumstances, and resources. I’m not them. My life is not like theirs. No excuses, it’s just what is.

I can’t only focus on food, food prep, learning new recipes, spending two hours a day on grocery shopping trips via public transit. I still have to parent my child who experiences High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. I still have to pay attention to the Bipolar and PTSD triggers. I still have to do the work of trauma recovery. I have grandbabies who need a loving and open grandmother. I have adult children who are concerned about my overall wellbeing, and who get concerned when they see me start to obsess and get tunnel vision.

So, what do I do?

I accept that I have limits on my time, my energy, my resources, and my opportunities. I take note of the things that aren’t working and figure out what is keeping them from working, then brainstorm what the possible solutions are. I ask for help and provision when, where, and with whom it is safe and reasonable to do so. I forgive myself, instead of criticizing myself, for giving into the temptation of eating too much Southern Comfort Food while in a trauma recovery therapy group. I’m not going to hate myself for eating the homemade mac ‘n cheese, homemade potato salad, homemade greens with ham, and fried fish. Instead, I’m going to appreciate and be grateful that the community and relationship building that happened in an environment I’d previously felt very unsafe and uncomfortable in. I’m going to give myself credit for the efforts and changes I’m already making. I’ve eaten two, self-prepared meals, which, mostly, followed the eating plan.

I’ve learned, over time, that change is a process, not an event.* There’s a learning curve. There is a letting go of the way things were. New ways of thinking and doing have to be practiced. It’s a whole new way of being me . . . at a time when I have days, weeks, and months when I’m not even sure who I am.

So, I’ll do what I can. I’ll do it to the best of my ability, even when that ability is nearly nothing. I’ll give myself credit for the one time in however many, that I make the better choice.

For now, I think I’m going to take a nap before it’s time to start my day, since I’m dozing off at the computer. I’m going to give myself the grace to hit “publish” without all the grammar and spelling checked. Feel free to let me know about edits that need to be made. My brain and eyes are too tired.

Grace be with you.


Endure and eat that elephant: Lessons on perseverance

Yesterday, I hit a mental & emotional wall about this journey. Then, I had a slow epiphany: I have to work within my life as my life is to make these changes. Trying to do it “right,” as quickly as possible, and attacking every, single, health issue, all at once, is a recipe for self-sabotage. I remembered a few lessons from Aesop, Paul the Apostle, and “Unknown.”

The first thing that came to mind was Aesop’s fable, The Tortoise and the Hare. You know the cocky, vain, eager bunny who scoffed at the plodding, humble, self-confident tortoise when Rabbit’s braggadocio prompted Tortoise to challenge him to a race. Of course you remember what happened. Rabbit raced ahead and in his arrogance and dismissiveness of Tortoise’s ability, he decided to take a break. So, he fell asleep and woke up to discover Tortoise had won the race.

I wonder if an underlying reason Rabbit decided to rest and fell asleep was masked by his “king of the world” attitude. Is it possible he actually got tired because he hadn’t paced himself and NEEDED the rest, but, instead of admitting the truth, he hid behind his mask of overconfidence and disdain? Either way, he didn’t think it through, devise a strategy, or do enough research about his competition. He was overly reliant on a natural gift, which he hadn’t actually trained to use for anything other than self-serving vanity. Instead, he wound up sabotaging himself and failed to carry out his goals.

I’m pretty sure I’ve been guilty of this. Like so many people, I’ve started exercise plans, made resolutions to get healthy, and boasted with overconfidence that I was going to “DO THIS!”and “make it happen,” (unlike so and so). I’ve relied on my innate ability to gather and process information quickly. However, I haven’t disciplined and trained myself to use that innate ability with enough planning and forethought to get beyond the first leg of the race and move through the first obstacles. Consequently, I’ve seldom crossed the finish line. I’ve stopped almost as soon as I started most of the races I’ve challenged myself to run. It’s happened in many areas of my life, especially in the arena of my health and wellness.

I was feeling a bit overwhelmed and discouraged about implementing all the changes I need to make to follow the food plan I figured out a couple of days ago. There’s so much more to this process than just choosing “the right” foods. Research, logistics, and forming new habits are required. Problem solving skills have to be developed and honed. Other needs and obligations must still be met. Regaining one’s health is about so much more than the food and focusing on food alone is a set-up for failure. I have to be in this for the long-haul, no matter what.

Which brings me to Paul the Apostle and his advice on enduring until the end of the race.

Hebrews 12:1-3, Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart.

This passage addressed the early Christian community of believers and was a call to personal accountability for adhering to their faith in the face of all the things around and inside of them which threatened to derail their commitment to living an intentional life of faith in Jesus. Obviously, it wasn’t specifically written for those of us in the 21st Century and it wasn’t about choosing what foods to eat for optimal health. However, even if you aren’t a Christian, there is value and application in the message as it relates to this journey.

He gives advice on how to endure, keep looking to Jesus and follow his example of persevering in the face of societal shame and stigma. Even if you don’t ascribe to the “Jesus is Lord, provider, and protector” theology, his example and story is still one worth following when facing overwhelming circumstances while working to do something life changing.

In that era, just as in all era’s, the poor and sick were the lowest of the low and completely devalued in that society. Humiliation, shame, and systemic “isms” discouraged and thwarted any attempts to “rise above.” Yet, Jesus pushed through and moved beyond the stigma and societal shame that conspired to prevent him from accomplishing his mission. It’s an encouraging reminder that there is someone who can be counted on because he’s gone through it and that, because he went through it, anyone else going through it isn’t going through it alone. Again, even if Jesus isn’t your Savior, his example and outcome gives hope because it shows that, regardless of the “haters” and obstacles, one’s goals are achieveable.

Since I am a Christ follower, I believe I can count on Jesus’ love for me and his accomplished mission to get me through the most challenging and impossible circumstances. I can let go of all the obstacles, doubts, and discouragements. I can stop listening to all the negative voices outside and inside my head. I believe I can focus on Jesus and gather my strength from him, I can do this. He’s with me and helping me all the way to the end.

I’ll leave you with a couple of final thoughts:

My paraphrase of a well-known bit of advice, “If you’re going through hell, don’t stop or there you’ll stay.”

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.