Grace Upon Grace: How God Redeemed It All

Here’s the ugly truth: I hated myself.

And I wish I could tell you that hatred only lasted a few days, weeks, or even months. But you see, that hatred consumed years of my life. And it was ugly and exhausting.

And here’s what’s even worse: I knew better.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139: 13-14

“You knit me together.” And I knew that. You see, I knew I had been fearfully and wonderfully created by God. And I knew that by hating myself I was essentially telling him that I hated his Creation (and believe me, that made me feel even worse).

So then, why did I hate myself?

I don’t really have a good answer. Maybe because I was (and still am) a bit of a perfectionist. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do what was right, to be a good example, to get good grades in school… And to be perfectly honest, sometimes that perfectionist mindset was (and still can be) exhausting.

(Watch: To All the Perfectionists.)

And let’s just talk about self-image for a minute. Because my self-image was AWFUL. Honestly, it was BAD. I would see a picture of myself and I would want to rip it up. Some days I couldn’t even stand to look at myself in a mirror. I’m telling you, I was not nice to myself. The reflection I saw in the mirror was completely distorted.

As I said, this distorted mindset and self-image consumed years of my life. There are so many stories I could share with you, but that would just make this blog post way too long. So instead, I’m going to share just one.

And that one story happens to be the turning point- the point at which I realized just how broken I truly was.

So let me tell you how I ended up laying on a stretcher in the emergency room.

But first I should rewind just a bit and give you little more background information. You see, I had started getting these “allergy attacks,” and they seemed to happen more and more frequently and I couldn’t quite pinpoint the cause. Basically, my entire body would start to itch and my stomach would burn and feel as though it was being torn apart. And whatever I had eaten that day (if I had even eaten anything at all) was violently rejected by my body. I would lay on the bathroom floor shaking and completely exhausted.

(Watch: Dealing with Anxiety as a Christian.)

Because these attacks started happening more and more frequently, I soon discovered that Benadryl helped to lessen the severity of the symptoms (as long as I took it as soon as I started to feel the burning sensation in my stomach). Needless to say, I started to carry Benadryl with me at all times.

And then there was one night where I woke up and I couldn’t seem to catch my breath. As for my heart, well it was racing. It literally felt like it was about to jump right out of my chest.

You see, I really wasn’t being too nice to myself. I was eating as little as possible (maybe a piece of fruit or some lettuce here and there). Oh, and I was exercising quite faithfully. And I was working nights (I’m a nurse), so my sleeping habits were not consistent at all. Basically, I was tired all the time.

And this is how I found myself on a stretcher in the ER one morning after a long night at work. That morning I felt terrible. My head hurt so bad that it was making me sick to my stomach. And I did indeed end up running to the bathroom to vomit. Thank goodness it was 0700 and my shift was over, but I had a meeting to go to that morning, so I couldn’t go home and go to bed quite yet.

Unfortunately, I didn’t make it all the way through the meeting. I ended up running out of the room because I was sick to my stomach again. By this point, my head was spinning, my ears were ringing, I was starting to see black spots, and I vomited again. Except this time I didn’t make it to a bathroom. No, instead, I had fallen to the floor in the middle of one of the hospital’s hallways. And what happens when an event like this takes place? Well they call a code purple, which is a medical emergency. Needless to say, I was rapidly surrounded by the emergency response team.

And I was mortified. Because I had tried so hard to hide this ugly part of my life- the part with terrible eating habits and a distorted self-image.

(Watch: My Recovery from an Eating Disorder.)

And laying there on a stretcher in the ER, I knew the ugliness had been unmasked.

Finally. And it was a relief. Because to tell you the truth I was tired.

I would love to tell you that I left the ugliness behind in the ER when I was discharged. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite that easy. But let me remind you, my distorted self image had been with me for years and my awful eating habits did not just appear overnight either.

It has absolutely taken time to overcome those hurdles. And I would be lying to you if I told you I’ve made it over all of them. But by God’s grace I am slowly jumping over each one.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

And yes, I know I am a daughter of the King, fearfully and wonderfully created by him. But you see, here’s the difference: now I believe it.

“Mirror, mirror, mirror on the wall
Tellin’ those lies, pointing out your flaws
That isn’t who you are
That isn’t who you are

It might be hard to hear
But let me tell you, dear
If you could see what I can see, I know you would believe
That isn’t who you are
There’s more to who you are

So when it’s late
You’re wide awake
Too much to take
Don’t you dare forget that in the pain
You can be brave
Hear me say

I see you dressed in white
Every wrong made right
I see a rose in bloom
At the sight of you
Oh, so priceless
Irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable
Darling, it’s beautiful
I see it all in you
Oh, so priceless…”

-For King and Country

Irreplaceable. Unmistakable. Incomparable.

Know you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Know you are priceless.

untitled-324-3-2Although Alyssa Kuiken lives in small town northern New Jersey, she likes to think she doesn’t have a typical New Jersey accent. (Just don’t ask her to say words like talk, walk, or dog!) She married her sweet husband, Rick, this past October and loves sharing life’s adventures with him. She works as a wound care nurse and feels it’s the best job ever, because it is an everyday reminder of how fearfully and wonderfully God created each one of us. When she’s not at work, she’s usually running or lifting weights at the gym with her husband Rick (aka coach), searching for new recipes for dinner, on the lookout for antiques to decorate their home, or watching Eli Manning and the Giants (go G-men!!!) play football. Follow her on Instagram at @alykuiks!

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