It’s a hard thing to see tears streaming down your mother’s face because she thinks you are about to die.
On the way home from the airport, my mom was very silent. VERY silent. That’s never a good sign. It was only when we got through the front door did she start to cry, her face full of fear and worry.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, still a bit oblivious to the fact that I looked like a strong wind would send me flying flat onto my bony butt.
“Lauren, you need to see the doctor.” My mother was firm on this point.
My heart was stuck in my throat, not because I feared the doctor which was also a bit true, but rarely had I seen my mother this upset. Even when I returned home from my California music camp to visit her after her initial surgery, my mother was smiling in her hospital bed and optimistic about the future. She had recently accepted Jesus as her savior at a healing prayer ministry gathering, and ever since then, the Bible became her daily reading tool, and a special warmth and love radiated from her that I hadn’t seen in previous years. Little irritants that normally caused her much grief (helloooo traffic-induced road rage and angry words yelled at me for not helping with the household chores) ceased. And so to see her with tears running down her face and eyes filled with questions (Will my daughter need to go to the hospital? Will she even survive the night?) made ME similarly scared.
Ok, ok. I’ll go.
Lets just say that when my pediatrician saw me walk through his office door later that day, HE almost had a heart attack. The appointment was a whirlwind of poking, prodding, and questioning, but after the hour or so with the doctor, our family left with another scheduled meeting with an eating disorder specialist and nutritionist. My doctor had the same look of fear and terror in his eyes that my mother had, and knowing that all of the Hawaii people who had thus seen me all looked completely terrified at my appearance did not sit well in my gut, and made my spirit turn with uncomfortableness. Great. To say I was overwhelmed was correct, but I was also so nutritionally deprived, my brain was not thinking quite clearly. I knew SOMETHING big was about to happen, but it didn’t faze me. It was almost like I had taken one too many cold medicine pills, and the resulting head-unattached-to-my-body feeling had resided in my body…for the last, oh, I don’t know, 10 months? 12 months?
Here now is where my faith, and my family’s faith, would surely be tested.
I too, like my mother and father, were believers in Christ, yet the head knowledge I had about Him greatly outweighed the experiential knowledge. Case in point: I could recite scripture, tell you all about the book of Mark, and detail history in the Old Testament, yet I didn’t have that ONE life-changing God moment where Jesus truly transformed my world. I heard people talk about it, that there was a time when it was like flipping on a light switch, and they turned from darkened sinners to individuals redeemed and free from the constraints that once held them back.
I wanted that.
Deep down I felt like a fraud. I said I believed in Jesus, but (in my mind) I didn’t have a close relationship with Him.
On the way home from the doctor’s my mom suggested we stop at Zippy’s to eat lunch. Great. Vegetarian chili, just like what I had in the freezer at college. My mother’s response: No way. Pick something else.
Step one of eating disorder treatment: Patient must eat, and she should try to eat foods that are not considered “safe”…like the aforementioned chili. Or veggie burger.
What to eat then? Once seated at the restaurant I perused through the menu with a fine-tooth comb. Which dish had the least amount of fat? Which dish wouldn’t make my thighs big? Obviously my mother was not going to let me run, so what could I eat that wouldn’t make me feel like a gigantic slob? Ten minutes later I finally decided on stew. Granted it was Dr. Shintani’s (aka a macrobiotic-like doctor who prescribed low fat meals for diabetes sufferers) vegetable stew, but hey, it was not chili or a veggie burger.
I devoured the meal when the waitress brought the steaming plate to our table, and while my dad looked at me with pride (he had no idea what Dr. Shintani was all about), I saw my mother’s furrowed brow as she bit into her burger.
The first nutritionist I worked with definitely would have frowned at the stew as well. At a really low weight, patients need as much energy as possible–although the general public may baulk at the idea that fast food and processed snacks make for good eating disorder recovery meals, these types of food will give a person protein, fats, and carbohydrates without taking up too much room in the stomach. Going with a carrot, green bean, mushroom, and cauliflower tomato-based soup was not the best method for getting in those calories, but I was scared. Scared of eating a burger which I really wanted and ballooning up overnight. Scared that I wouldn’t be able to exercise off the meal I had just eaten. Scared that my perfectly calculated daily meal plan would be uprooted and turned on its’ head.
My mother’s brow stayed furrowed until we reached home. It was then that she said that we needed to pray. Sure, I thought, we can pray. I knew my mother was a prayer warrior, and would devote hours to reading God’s word and then talking with Him. I was expecting a short five minute recitation of scripture, maybe a few words to Jesus thanking Him for the day, and a request or two for physical healing for me.
Was I in for a surprise.