Which one do I listen to?

by Rev Alan Johnson

One of the most significant conversations I had while a chaplain at the Children’s Hospital in Denver was with a 14-year-old girl who was in the eating disorder unit.

I was covering for one of our staff when the girl noticed I was wearing the Livestrong bracelet. She said, “I heard there was a Godstrong bracelet. I sure would like one for myself and my girlfriend.”  I asked, “What would that mean for you?”  “Well, it is like I have a voice on this shoulder telling me that I am fat, fat, fat, and on my other shoulder a voice is saying I am to eat good food, stay healthy, get well. Sometimes I don’t know which one to listen to.”

That got my attention. That night I searched the web and sure enough, I found that bracelet and ordered 15 of them.

When the bracelets came in, I returned to her room and we talked about those voices and I gave her five of the bracelets. On each one the word “Godstrong” was visible along with “Eph. 6:10-11.” That verse, from Ephesians in the New Testament of the Bible, reads, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armor of God so you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”  We talked about the strength that God gives her so she can listen to the voice that leads her to life and to love, love for herself. That was almost 10 years ago and to this day I wear that bracelet myself and I do tell the story of this amazing girl who I hope continues to believe in herself, her worth, her belovedness. I hope she is listening to the divine power of God which is a strength and a guide for her.

Another voice will be heard on February 23, 2104 — speaking about her eating disorder and recovery. Mara Abbott will give a talk about “The worst idea that ever made perfect sense.”  Mara Abbott is a professional cyclist “whose career trajectory would have appeared perfect to those none the wiser. She was one of those who found cycling as a training method for something else, and rocketed through the ranks to the sport’s very pinnacle. She won the pink jersey at the Giro Donne, the first American to win the fabled race, as well as a second national road championship and overall victories at the Tour of the Gila and Cascade Classic. However, somewhere in the tumult she began to lose her way, to lose sight of her goals, her aspirations, and her sense of purpose. Abbott hoped to simply fade away. Mara sank into a self-sabotage that saw her waste away, physically, by consciously under-eating so that her veiled anorexia would slowly reduce her to a point of competitive irrelevance.”  (from Velo Magazine, July 2013)

Mara will be speaking during the Interfaith Network on Mental Illness Annual Meeting, February 23, starting at 5 p.m. at the First Congregational Church, 1128 Pine Street, Boulder.  Light refreshments will be served, including some provided by a James Beard Award winner, and a brief business meeting will also be held. Please join us.

For more information, email i[email protected]

Rev. Alan Johnson

INMI Cofounder and Chair

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the submitter. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the board of directors or members of the Interfaith Network on Mental Illness.