Today I’m welcoming author Emily T. Weirenga to share from her new book, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look. I met Emily for the first time last year and the first word that came to mind was gentle. Hers is a gentle, kind soul. Read her words and see what I mean.
We were newlyweds.
I was anorexic.
Trent came home one day to find me crying on the couch about the living room—about how off-kilter and ugly it looked with our second-hand furniture—and I hadn’t eaten since the night before.
He put his arms around me. “Let me make you supper,” he said—this farm-boy I’d met in Bible School, who drove a car he called The Beast and volunteered at kids club.
I nodded, kissed him. Grabbed a bag of marshmallows and headed into the office to paint at my easel.
Half an hour later Trent called me for supper. He had made burgers, corn on the cob, and “fancy” salad (which is what he calls salad with grated carrots, cheese, onions, bacon and croutons).
I emerged from the office, my mouth white, the marshmallow bag empty. I sat down at the table, looked at the plate full of food, and said, “I’m not hungry.”
I don’t know why he didn’t leave me then and there.
I’d been so hungry I’d stuffed myself with marshmallows, instead of waiting half an hour for food that would sustain me. All I could hear was the scratch of Trent’s fork on his plate as he ate.
It was the beginning of a three-year relapse into anorexia which would nearly wreck our marriage, and it wasn’t until we left our jobs and moved to Korea that I would begin to eat three meals a day, again.
Because sometimes it takes moving to another country to see what you have right in front of you.
I’m better now. I’m eating now—I never skip a meal, and I have two little boys whom doctors said I’d never be able to have, because of the damage anorexia did on my body.
And I’m wondering how many of us settle for the marshmallows when what we’re really hungry for is food that will last?
How many of us, sisters, sit down with a pint of ice cream after a stressful day, or binge on Oreos after the kids go to bed? How many of us try diet after diet but end up filling on junk because we’re just so hungry?
I think of Jesus at the well, with the Samaritan woman. How he asked her for water—but then offered her Living Water in return. He offers us Living Bread—his body.
Because this is what we’re hungry for, isn’t it?
A love so deep and long and wide and high it fills every crevice of our souls; a kind of love that would die for us, a kind that sings over us, a kind that walks through fire with us?
We are born longing for the kind of affection only a divine being can offer. We are born aching for the kind of fullness which comes from an everlasting love.
But it’s not a bag of marshmallows. It’s not fast fame or fleeting praise or accolades.
No, it’s a slow cooked meal and we need to wait, to be patient, as this is the kind of love prepared by a gentle pair of hands which feeds our soul.
Trent still makes me fancy salads. He still makes burgers and corn on the cob and I no longer eat marshmallows. Because I’ve tasted real food and there’s no turning back.
There’s no turning back from love.
All proceeds from Atlas Girl will go towards Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree. The Lulu Tree is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel.
Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look.
She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com.