Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, columnist, artist, author, founder of The Lulu Tree and blogger at www.emilywierenga.com. Her work has appeared in many publications, including Relevant, Charisma, Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, Christianity Today, Dayspring's (in)courage and Focus on the Family. She is the author of six books including the travel memoir Atlas Girl and speaks regularly about her journey with anorexia. She lives in Alberta, Canada, with her husband, Trenton, and their children. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.
We make it to church, again, on a Sunday when I’ve forgotten to put on my makeup and everyone can see where I’ve cried, the tears crusted on my skin, because Sunday mornings are like that.
Me in the shower, feeling the hot water down my back and then four boys, knocking on the door. Because heaven forbid Mommy have a shower without them.
“Just five minutes!” I cry, and Trent enters, tells me I actually only have five minutes before church is going to start and should he just take them without me, then?
I shake my head through the water, put a hand on the glass to hold myself up. “I’m coming,” I say hoarsely. Because I want to go. I want to meet Jesus.
I want to meet him in the songs, in the sermon, in the farmers’ faces around me.
Jesus has always been safe because he healed the sick, who hung out with sinners, died for me, but his Father allowed so many to be killed and hurt in the Old Testament and had such hard rules. I don’t know how they are the same God and so I speak to Jesus as much as possible but I know, deep down, I need more.
And the older I get, the more of a mother I become, the greater I understand why Dad shut the office door and lost himself in the computer for hours at a time and didn’t come home until late from church, because being unable to fix your children is difficult.
But that little girl still cries. The one inside me, with the mushroom cut and the plastic glasses and the pink sweat pants.
The same girl who was asked to speak with her dad just one year ago at a conference, pregnant with Kasher. We were asked to talk about our healing journey through anorexia, and then Dad said something about the calories in the food at breakfast, the morning we were supposed to talk. I just shoved back my breakfast chair and walked away, for him not remembering that I used to be anorexic, that I used to count calories like I counted my ribs, and I did not want to go up on that stage and share about our journey through anorexia together.
But first, there was worship. Two hundred men and women and teens in one room, singing songs to God. I stood in the back with Mum and Dad and I closed my eyes and I saw heaven. And Jesus was standing there, and I was a little girl running towards him. I wore a white dress and he picked me up, and he swung me around, and he told me over and over how beautiful I was.
“Your ankles are beautiful, your legs are beautiful, your waist and your arms and your neck are beautiful, and I love you Emily Theresa Wierenga.”
I didn’t want him to let me go but the song stopped and I opened my eyes, and then the next song started and I closed them again. And in my mind, I was back in heaven. And I was still a little girl in a white dress. But I was hiding behind a tree, not wanting to disturb Jesus, because he’s the Creator of the Universe. And I’m just me.
And I was the same girl who stood outside her father’s closed office door knocking, wondering if he would have time for her but not wanting to disturb him.
And then I heard it. Jesus’ voice, calling for me.
He was searching in bushes, behind trees, looking everywhere.
Jesus Christ, the Creator of the universe, was looking for me.
And I knew, in that moment, that I was loved. I was wanted, not for any reason other than the fact that I was created. And I found the courage to forgive my dad, all over again, and to see him for the broken man he was who tried to love and who was willing to stand up on that stage and share his story of watching his daughter starve herself.
And afterwards, we sang a song together, me playing the guitar, my father’s beautiful tenor rising with my alto. We sounded good together.
It’s Sunday, now. I step out of the shower, find a pair of wrinkled dress pants, a necklace and shirt and the boys are all in their white church shirts and little dress pants, waiting at the door.
And we go to church and I hand out juice boxes and granola bars to the boys lined up in a row, and then I take Trent’s hand.
And in front of me is a little girl with long blond hair and a white dress. She’s sitting beside her grandma, but when she begins to cry in the middle of the service her grandfather takes her into his arms. He’s a big burly man, who barely fits in the seat but he looks down at her with such tenderness, and she leans her head against his chest.
And I begin to sob, quietly, in my seat.
This excerpt is taken from Emily Wierenga’s new memoir (the sequel to ATLAS GIRL), Making It Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity and Purpose. Order HERE.
This week we are giving away THREE copies of Emily Wierenga's new book, Making it Home: Finding My Way to Peace, Identity and Purpose. To enter, simply comment on this post. The winners will be selected on Friday.