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  • Janae Janik

Finding Jesus in the Fog

The ground was damp with morning dew and a gloomy haze covered a sky that threatened to spill with tears at any moment. My heart felt the same. 


I was supposed to be back in Australia, which had been my home for 2.5 years.

 

But I wasn’t. My health had rapidly declined and I hadn’t been able to take the necessary steps to stop the intense relapse I was experiencing in my eating disorder. I told myself I was fine…I had to be fine. Because admitting I wasn’t – that I needed help to pull out of this one would be to admit failure - again. Some of the most intense failure I’d ever felt in my life.


It was still dark out that morning as I began my ascent up Mt. Mccoy. It was completely enveloped in fog - so much so that I couldn't even see the cross standing atop the hill. But for some reason, I knew I needed to reach it as the sun rose from its evening slumber. I needed to find God somewhere. And I suppose a physical wooden symbol of my barely hanging on faith seemed a logical meeting place.




Honestly, I’d known for the previous 8 months (when this relapse had started) that God was leading me to come home to heal. But that was the last thing I wanted. Literally every fiber of my being had drudged up every logical excuse to explain why that was out of the question. I WOULD NOT MOVE BACK TO CALIFORNIA.


I wrestled with this for months. And the thing is, God allowed me to continue in disobedience. Though completely numb of emotion, I actually excelled in school and my internship. I began to check off many of the accomplishment boxes I'd been aiming for and felt like I really had it all together. I was more on top of things than I had ever been.

 

Except that I wasn’t. I was slowly killing myself and I didn’t want to change. I didn’t want to listen to my doctors and I didn’t want to listen to God because I knew what He would say. The idea of recovery felt too painful this time, and I couldn’t do it again. So I ignored Him. I shoved down all my emotions, and alongside it I shoved away my intimacy with God in the effort of trying to protect the life I loved.


“Janae, I want your heart. All of you. Let go of the control.”

“I can’t Lord. I’ve tried. I’ve begged you to heal me and you won’t.”

“Will you surrender again and trust me?”

“No…I can’t.” 


Those three words were ruling my life and had complete control over my soul.


I reached the top of the mountain and sat in the peaceful silence. The fog was so heavy I couldn't see anything of the town below me - my physical vision completely clouded - just like my spirit felt. I was angry at God, and I couldn’t see a way out of this mental torture.



What I thought would be a quick trip home for Christmas was permanently extended when I received the news that my visa wouldn't be approved to return. I had been at my best friend’s house when I got the email. I quickly went to the bathroom as my knees buckled and I sank to the floor. I buried my face in between my legs and sobbed quietly.  It felt like my world had come to a halt.  The choice I had been wrestling with was completely taken away. A huge boulder-sized weight pressed against my chest and my heart felt like it was being physically shredded raw. I never even got to say goodbye - to my friends - and the place that had become my home.


Staring through the fog, I slipped my hand into my pocket and pulled out a small cardboard box. It was given to me at a recovery retreat several months earlier where we had been challenged to write down everything the eating disorder was “saving” us from - everything we were holding onto. We were then instructed to bury it as a symbolic gesture of surrender - when we were ready. 


I hadn’t been ready. Honest to God I sure wasn’t ready then either. But there was a small sliver of petrified hope that hadn’t resided in my soul in a very long time. If it was a last ounce of motivation, or desperation, or simply the knowledge I had no other option - I’m not sure. As the fog began to lift, I took out a pen and began to write.


There was so much weight being held in the ink of the words that started to form.

 


See, when I left for Hillsong College in July of 2019, I was so determined that my eating disorder would not follow me into that season of my life. I’d been there, done that and I knew the false securities it promised would only lead to heartbreak and distraction from God’s calling. I wasn’t recovered at the time, but I was managing it well and walking the journey of healing. And I was so excited for what my time at Hillsong meant. I knew He was leading me there.

 

But man, what I thought was going to be a season of equipping and stepping out into a new beginning turned out to be far from the leadership platforms I had foreseen. God had used that season to unveil layers of pride and control which I thought had been laid down years before.

 

Far from leaving my mental health challenges in the past, I found myself continuously wrestling with them to degrees I hadn’t experienced in years. Although I fought hard, my eating habits worsened until every time I tried to eat I was filled with intense paralyzing anxiety. I spent two, five week long stays in an inpatient program to stabilize and relearn how to eat. Many more countless hours were spent in individual and group therapy or dietitian appointments. All of this to ensure I could stay and continue my studies and program.

 

So when I knew my health was failing again and I subsequently felt God leading me to come home and heal, it felt like the weight of everything I had been fighting for would be for nothing. I had to come out of this on top. I had to finish my season well. It couldn’t end like this.


But maybe my definition of “coming out on top” or “finishing well” isn’t what God had for me at all. What if the stripping down, threshing and molding were the process God was using to equip me? Not leadership platforms, but heartbroken surrender. Not accolades and achievements, but tear stained pillows soaked with the sorrow of suffering so that others could see His light shine in the midst of brokenness?


I left that box up there on that mountain, and as I began the descent back to my car I knew that even though I had pushed Him away, He had still been walking in relationship beside me - waiting for me to simply turn around and come home. Not home in Australia, and not even my childhood home in California, but home to a deeper and more powerful belonging than can be found in any physical place. Home within His embracing love. In a couple hours I would lose my physical freedom, but with the hope of gaining my mental and emotional freedom back. 

 


I started another 8 month journey of treatment that day. 8 months that were excruciatingly painful. 8 months that were tremendously healing.


And that healing has continued. Today it is exactly two years since I buried that box under the cross - the very symbol of Easter. Two years since I’ve stepped on a scale or made myself throw up. Two years free of addictive behaviors that had enslaved me. And it seems a miracle to me that the incessant thoughts which trapped me in paralyzation have subsided. They no longer command my attention every waking minute. And while I don’t consider myself fully recovered - the past 2 years have been the most lasting season of continuous recovery since anorexia began to rear its ugly head almost a decade ago.


I think the beauty of the resurrection story is that there is hope when all seems lost. As Jesus hung there on the cross He cried out, “My God, my God. Why have you forsaken me?”


How many times have I wrote a semblance of those words into my journals? How many times have I shouted at God in anguish and anger? And how many times has he lovingly walked alongside me - meeting me where I was at - asking for nothing less than my presence.


Not achievements. Not accolades. Not the things I thought I needed to be valued. Just me - in all my hurt and brokenness. The part of me I thought nobody wanted. The darkness I was ashamed of - that I feared anyone really seeing. The version I thought was a failure. He wanted that version of me.


Isn’t that the epitome of love exemplified - to so fully desire relationship with someone that you love them not despite their faults but regardless? To be the hope for someone until they can hold it for themselves. To welcome others back home - into belonging.


This is Easter. This is the Resurrection. This is Jesus.


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