What does this word mean to you?
I looked up a few definitions for the word exposure and quickly realized that it holds a lot more meanings than I initially thought. As a noun, exposure could mean being exposed to something dangerous such as a chemical, or it could refer to exposing a secret of some capacity. It also refers to an important step in the photography process and highlights a desire some celebrities (or people in general) may hold to be seen by the masses. As I was reading these different definitions, I became even more curious about the word “exposed” rather than the word exposure.
Exposed. Not covered or hidden; visible. In a vulnerable position or situation.
I’ve been stuck on these words for the past few weeks, feeling as though God is really trying to tell me something. The church I attend is currently doing a series called “Christianity Exposed” and to be honest I didn’t anticipate how much impact this would have on me within the first few weeks. If I’m being real, I anticipated that this series was going to speak more to the Christian questioners, and less to the all in Jesus followers. I had the impression that it would dispel some myths for those that don’t fully believe or understand the Christian faith. Now don’t get me wrong my hope and prayer is that it is doing just that, and more people will understand Christianity in a way they never have before. With that being said, I’ve also come to realize that this series is doing so much more than just dispelling some myths. What it’s doing is creating space for devoted Christian followers to take a deeper look into their own mirrors. Into their own walk of faith.
This word exposed. It’s a big word. It holds a lot of weight, doesn’t it?
For me it holds the potential to strike all kinds of fear. And this fear, when left unchecked, has the potential to create a very scary spiral. I’m going to trail off here a little but stay with me. I promise it’ll make sense in the end. Or at least in my mind it will. Anyway, have you ever heard of the expression, “Sunday scaries?” If not, here’s a quick explanation. Essentially, it’s this trending expression used by a large population of young women/men on Sunday afternoons and it’s referring to the depression and/or anxiety you feel on Sunday after a weekend of partying mixed with the realization that you have to face
real life again on Monday morning. Sunday scaries. Anyone relate?
Okay back to this word exposed, and how does it relate to the Sunday scaries? It relates because both definitions bring up a lot of baggage for me. I used to be one of those young women, living for the weekend and fearing reality. And it wasn’t until recently that I realized my headspace has done a big 180, however I still have things in my past that are left unexposed. I no longer live for the weekend but sometimes I actually fear them.
This probably sounds insane, and you might be wondering, how can this girl fear the weekend? I didn’t understand it either at first. It’s taken me over two years to finally realize that my Sunday “scaries” still exist, but only they look different now.
Since becoming a Christian I’ve given God the reigns to do a work on me. To change me. He truly saved my life, and yet I still battle with old enemies. Enemies I thought I had laid to rest. What I’m just now realizing is that these things were not dealt with. They were hidden away, slowly fading into the background of my past, only to rear their ugly head in moments of weakness. What happens when our enemies aren’t properly exposed to the light, they eventually find a way back to the surface. They eventually become the things that are staring straight at you when you look in the mirror.
Even typing this is scary. Because in a lot of ways I try to pretend it’s no big deal. I compare myself to others struggling and think “my issue isn’t so bad” or “it’s all in my head.” That statement isn’t wrong, it is in my head. But allowing it to sit and stir in my mind won’t create space for God to heal it. God calls us to confess, to bring it in to the light and allow Him to work it out. I’m thankful each and everyday for His hand in this. For the way He calls me out of hiding. For allowing me to see vulnerability as a blessing, instead of a dark and scary place.
The way I view myself has been a battle most of my life. I grew up sometimes believing I was better seen then heard. In high school I fell into the trap of normalizing substance abuse, and craving attention based on my outside appearance. If no one was listening, maybe they would notice me for the clothes I wear or my commitment to “have a good time.” It’s in those pivotal years when patterns begin to develop. We are given more freedom, and more choice to do what we please with our free time.
God calls us to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, but all I was doing was sacrificing the one and only body I’ve been given. I didn’t know the rest of the verse, I didn’t how to be holy and pleasing to God, or how to not conform to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:1-2 NIV). Throughout those years I did a lot of damage to myself, and the world did a lot of damage too.
My weekends look a lot different now, but I fear the person I used to be on Sunday mornings. The person who laid in bed half the day. The person who stayed hidden from the rest of the world. That person was scared. I understand where that expression comes from.
Over the past few weeks God has been calling me out of hiding. He has been gently nudging me for a while, and I can’t ignore it any longer. So here it goes. I struggle with body image and some food anxiety, and I am actually quite scared of alcohol. I’m crying as I type this because I so desperately want God to release me from these fears, but I know these things need to be out in the light for Him to do so. I don’t want to hide anymore. I don’t want to deny anymore. I just long to be free. Truly free from a place that has held me captive way too long. I long to be exposed and unashamed.
Here I am God. Will you meet me where I’m at?
I think I need to sit with this a little longer. Sit here in the silent comfort I need oh so badly. But I also wish to explain this a bit more first. For those of you who may not understand these fears, and especially for those of you who do.
My body image issues, as well as my food anxieties eb and flow during different seasons. For me it started in public school due to mean words spoken and eventually my insecurities were poured out into the health and fitness world in the hopes of finding a saviour. But to be honest this world did more damage in some ways because the more I learned about healthy living, the more obsessed I became to know it all, to do it all correctly. And what I’ve realized in the past year or so, is that it’s actually impossible. You will always come up short because there will always be something you wish to better about yourself or some new nutrition trend on the market. If you’re looking for a saviour, this is not the place to find one. Thankfully I know that now, but unfortunately those patterns inside my mind still exist, and they are triggered from time to time.
One of those triggers for me is alcohol. Which brings me to my second fear. And this is a big one. It’s something I’ve very recently been able to name, and it’s because I finally had the courage to speak it out loud to someone in my life. I was scared to admit these things to anyone, but you know what she did? She just listened as I spoke. And she said things that deep down I already knew, I just needed to hear from someone else. And that’s why this community is so beautiful. God uses people to reach us in all kinds of ways, but we must be willing to let those trusted people in. People who can speak into your life
from a place of love and understanding, even if they haven’t walked a single step in your shoes. I believe that’s what the Christian faith is all about.
I am scared of alcohol because it brings me back to places I don’t wish to travel anymore. I associate it with a lot of very dark times, and even to this day when I drink it I can feel my anxiety begin to rise. My thought patterns reflect an older version of myself, and I wake up the next morning wishing that I had the courage to not go there anymore. To just say no once and for all. This thought just flooded my mind as I’m writing this, I have never woken up the next morning and regretted the glass of wine I didn’t drink. Yep, I hear you loud and clear God.
The enemy searches for footholds in our lives and attaches himself to these things. For me alcohol is a foothold, and I know it’s time to finally let it go. To say no to the patterns that pull me backwards and allow the presence of God to fill in those old familiar places. God calls us to flee from evil, to hate what is evil and to cling to what it good (Romans 12:9). For me it’s alcohol, for you it might be something completely different. But for each one of us, that good thing is the same, it’s His saving grace.
I don’t want to fear the weekend, or my old self, or any of the things that pull me backwards anymore. I stand on a promise of redemption and freedom, and I choose that. I choose you God. Whenever I’m facing this battle, I will choose You, because You always choose me too. You won’t leave me in the dark.
I searched for my saviour in places I’m not proud to admit, but I’m done running from my past. I’m ready to let God heal this piece of me.
The word exposed holds a lot of weight, doesn’t it?
And I will thank Jesus each and everyday that I don’t have to carry it alone.