Learn to Fly

“So, uh, I was thinking…just a question…what would your dream job be?  Like, what do you think you were destined to do?”

It was a sunny Saturday morning and we were driving down to the gym, kids in the backseat, music turned up loud.  I had been thinking about this question for the last few months, wondering if the profession I was currently in was REALLY what God created me to do.

As I sat in the car, pondering, I could hear “Learn to Fly,” one of our favorite Foo Fighters’ songs, playing over the vehicle’s sound system, and between the heavy guitar riffs and Dave Grohl’s magnetic lyrics, my attempts at having a “thoughtful” and “deep” conversation with my dear husband was getting lost in the cacophony of the car.

I’m looking to the sky to save me
Looking for a sign of life
Looking for something help me burn out bright

“Uh, I don’t know.  No clue.  Why?”

My husband stared forward at the traffic before him, left elbow resting on the driver side door, his fingers combing through his mass of hair.

“Well, because I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.  Am I supposed to teach?  Be a writer?  I mean, I like to read and write.  I always have.  And I like kids.  So it would seem like teaching English would be a no-brainer…but I don’t know.  Is it really what I was meant to do?”

This conversation–what am I supposed to do with my life???–seemed to replay continuously in my cognitions throughout the last couple of years, almost like a record player spinning on repeat.  At the time of our car conversation, I was teaching high school English at a wonderful private school, and while I viewed books as necessary to living as water, I felt like I was designed for something else, something greater, something beyond Fitzgerald and Newsela and absolute phrases.

Amidst the strains of the Foo Fighters, I sat and thought.  And thought.  And thought.

Since that Saturday morning many years ago, many changes have happened.

  • I thought I was going to go back to school for a dietetics degree and after many months of floundering around, waiting to see whether or not I was accepted into college again, YAY!  I was accepted to three institutions!
  • I thought I was going to partner with a friend to personal train and teach yoga for his Parkinson’s clients.
  • I got a part-time job coaching at UFC Gym.
  • I resigned from my high school English teaching position and accepted an assistant teacher position at my alma mater.

Initially, the plan was to personal train and part-time assistant teach.  But, obviously, given my history with food and exercise, coaching at a gym may not have been the best option for me (ha ha)–God knew that, I knew that, but I was too stubborn and blinded by what I THOUGHT I was the best for me versus what GOD knew was best for me.

There have been many instances where I wanted something extremely badly (i.e. running my own personal training studio, participating in the Walt Disney World Marathon), and even though I felt and heard God say, “NO!!” I continued to pursue my own desires.  Those instances when I went against what was God’s calling of for life left me either doing the deed but then ending up struggling and eventually abandoning ship (i.e. giving the personal training studio to another person), or having a thoroughly miserable time in the process (i.e. running the marathon in the pouring rain).

God knows His plan and calling for my life.  And since personal training was not in the cards for me (and probably will not be for a very long time), by God’s grace, the part-time educator role at may alma mater became a full-time one, and I am now currently spending my days working with fourth-graders (which is absolutely lovely, by the way).  I am no longer doing one-on-one coaching (although I do still teach a Sunday yoga class at my friend’s personal training space), and from the outside, it would seem that everything is running pretty smoothly, that God’s call for my life is set and squared away and I am content with that.

I truly do love the people I see at work.  Not many individuals can say that they wake up excited to go to their jobs, but I can.

However, I still wonder.

Unlike the conversation I had with my husband in the car years ago, I don’t debate on whether or not being an educator is my life’s calling.  I don’t scour the employment sections of schools I want to teach at.  Instead, I think about the person I am, the person God created me to be, and I wonder if I would be the same person I am today if I never got sick during my senior year in high school.

An individual’s sense of self, personality, and values are constantly being challenged and molded, and during young adulthood, those years are quite vital in determining one’s identity.  I mean, how many of you learned many of your current life skills (i.e. how to handle problems in a constructive manner, how to overcome obstacles with grit, how to not care what others think about you) in your twenties and early-thirties?  Through trial and error, you emerged from those lessons a stronger and more whole person.

Sadly, during those formative years, I did not learn any of that.  Instead, I was focused on how many miles I ran and how many calories I ate.  My brain did not get the opportunity to grow and expand and develop.  So in effect, who I am now is a product of someone who battled a restrictive eating disorder for the past two decades.

Ultimately, I know that I am on this earth to share to joy and love of God with others.  I write this post to proclaim that I am able to rest in this knowledge, and all the times I spent pursuing my own desires (aka the ED desires), I did not feel joy or love or God’s grace there.  I feel content that I was made for a purpose, but at the same time I am not sure of all the details of my true life’s calling is.  Am I mean to stay in education for the rest of my life?  If doing so means that I am able to share that love as a teacher, great!  If I able to share God’s love through being a mother to my children, awesome!  If I am able to be a bearer of His grace through writing this blog, even more wonderful!

As I progress through the recovery process, I see that there are so many avenues God is opening up for me to be able to share His love with others.  And while these roads are still a bit unclear, I do see how all that I have gone through in the last twenty-one years of my life has led me to where I am today.  Is that a good thing?  A bad thing?  Initially, as I reflected on that, I felt a twinge of regret.  Sadness.  I had to grieve–grieve for the young adulthood I lost because of anorexia, grieve for the character and experiences and life I missed out on because I was so consumed with eating as little fat as possible.  But if all of those years of struggle and tears and fight can help me share God’s love in some way, then great.

As I am sift through the rubble of battling a restrictive eating disorder, I notice what battle wounds I have garnered, and I feel, well, proud.  My past is not gold medals and bells and whistles.  It is inpatient hospital stays, compulsive running, and Subway salads.  It is the uneven beating of my heart late at night, when I would lay in bed wondering and praying that I’d wake up alive the next day.  It is fear and anxiety and restriction.  But with the start of true recovery comes a new voice, a new path, a new knowledge that although the nitty-gritty details of God’s calling on my life  is still ambiguous, I feel confident that with my family, friends, and Him on my side, the life I am now living is one of purpose.

This recovery is a fight, and while I am not through with the challenge, I already claim victory….because just recognizing that there is a life to live separate from anorexia (and that I CAN live that life) is exhilarating.  In fact, I am so thrilled and free and full of expectation that it makes me want to throw the Foo Fighters on my car radio, and sing out at the top of my lungs…

Fly along with me
I can’t quite make it alone
Try to make this life my own
Fly along with me
I can’t quite make it alone
Try to make this life my own

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