(Guest Post by Anna Elmira, a dear friend of mine who’s battled the same eating issues I have, on how holidays can be hard for those with mental illnesses. Please welcome her?)

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119: 105.

 I sit here and write by candlelight, trying to sense these beautiful words of the psalmist. All is dark except for the glow of the little fire in front of me. If I snuggle in close, I can feel its warmth and hear it crackle. All is simple. All is quiet. No bright lights or people talking or phones ringing.

God knows that Christmas is coming and that there will be glitter and carols and gingerbread cookies… God knows that I need to care for my soul, for it is so very tender.

via Amelia Fletcher photography

I’ve been a disordered eater for almost twenty years. Also, I’ve been diagnosed with depression and assessed by my psychotherapist as ‘a highly sensitive person’. My bones and joints ache from early on-set arthritis. So, I feel everything.

For disordered eaters like myself, the holidays may not be ‘the most wonderful time of the year’. 

Personally, I am on sensory over-load when I go home for Christmas. I sit at the table with my family and stare at my plate. The mini mountain of mashed potatoes, the pools of gravy, the cranberries, the stuffing, and my mother’s famous stuffed cabbage…

My thoughts are snowballing and it feels as though there are a million moths trapped inside my chest. I sit at the table and I want to socialize and be normal but I am distracted by the twinkling of lights, Bing Crosby, and the creamy Lindor chocolates wrapped in shiny little papers.

 I even think of the homeless man I see all the time on York Blvd, holding out his boney hands for bread money, baring crooked teeth; drenched in urine and booze. His eyes are deep and his body so thin. And all of this tugs on my mind and yanks on my flesh. My stomach writhes and all I want to do is cry.

And in the middle of this chaos, just as I slip to the bathroom and lift my fingers to my mouth, Christ whispers, “Daughter, I know a better way.”

Matthew Henry says it wisely, “The word of God directs us in our work and way, and a dark place indeed the world would be without it. The commandment is a lamp kept burning with the oil of the Spirit, as a light to direct us in the choice of our way, and the steps we take in that way. The keeping of God’s commands here meant, was that of a sinner under a dispensation of mercy, of a believer having part in the covenant of grace.”

Daughters, God’s word is a lamp unto our feet. We are walkers through this world, and we are often pushed out into its darkness. Let us never journey there without His Light, like a flaming torch, lest we slip. Allow Christ to be your lamp by night, a light by day, and a comfort at all times.

via Amelia Fletcher photography

So by the flicker of candlelight, I give myself space to breathe. Here I can meditate on God’s Word, I can write, and I can sing. Here I can notice tiny, peaceful things like gently cascading snowflakes outside my bedroom window. The snow seems to almost breathe here, inhaling and exhaling over the glow of street lights, piling up along the escarpment.

And in these moments, although my jeans feel snug and my mind cannot hold another thought, there’s a stillness in my heart that I haven’t felt in a very long time.

Let us pray.

God of Life,
There are days when the burdens we carry
chafe our shoulders and wear us down;
when the road seems dreary and endless;
the skies gray and threatening;
when our lives have no music in them
and our hearts are so lonely
and our souls have lost their courage.
Flood our path with light, we ask you;
turn our eyes to where
the skies are full of promise.

-St. Augustine of Hippo

Anna Elmira lives in a cozy little bungalow in Ontario. Working in Developmental Services, she is a Behavioral Counselor for Transitional Aged Youth with Autism. She loves reading, writing, crocheting, taking photographs, singing, drinking coffee, and hiking the Bruce Trail. The Lord is her Shepherd.


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