Two hours ago, I walked two outgoing letters to our mailbox. One was a letter I wrote last night to my therapist Ashley, and the other was a letter I wrote this morning to my friend Ian who has been in prison for seven years.
The letter to Ashley came on the heels of typing up my therapy notes from Monday's session. After the kids were in bed last night, I went upstairs to the writing table in my room and sat down with my blue folder that I always take to counseling. I spent half an hour adding to my "Therapy Notes" Word document, which is now 35 pages in length. The bulk of my typing last night had to do with setting some short-term goals that will allow me to redirect the obsessive, needless thoughts of food that populate much of my mental landscape.
When Ashley asked me how many hours I spend thinking about food in any given day, I told her that pretty much all of my thoughts run through what I call my "food filter." There are times when I'm reading aloud to the kids or in a writing zone when food thoughts don't butt in (although fairly often I write about recipes, so even then food has a tendency to dominate). The majority of the time, being in control of what I eat, when I eat, and how I eat is the part of my life that provides stability, familiarity, and continuity. It's the part of my life that matters most to me most of the time.
I shared with Ashley my favorite quote from Anne Lamott's latest book Hallelujah Anyway:
Then I told Ashley that I want to not mind what happens with food. Can I even imagine?
We identified a couple short-term goals in Monday's session. One is to create a mental boundary or a mental fence that allows a food-free space for my mind. I can start by designating a few hours per day that are off-limits to food thoughts. During these times I will cling to what Ashley called an "anchoring truth" whenever an obsessive, needless thought about food crosses my mind, as a way to redirect my thoughts away from food. For finding freedom with exercise, my anchoring truth was the line Can't you see that this thing you hold in your right hand is a lie?
I have already started seeking the verse that I will cling to as I work to release the control of food. In my letter to Ashley last night, I mentioned to her some of the verses I was considering and thanked her for giving me such practical things to think about and apply. I honestly feel there could not be a better fit for me in terms of a therapist. Her knowledge of Scripture and her obvious desire to love and serve Jesus, coupled with her professional expertise in her field and the ability with which she gives unique and wise counsel to me as a distinct individual (never making me feel that she is doling out cookie-cutter advice), are valuable beyond words. Sometimes I feel so thankful I just have to tell it! So I did that very thing last night in a little Food for Thought notecard.
In Ian's letter, which I wrote on lined journal paper this morning, I talked about having some of Bauer and Cash's friends over today for our every other Wednesday "Game Day at the Lake" that we've been hosting this summer. The boys start the morning playing games like Chess, Monopoly Empire, and Catan in our play room for almost an hour. Then everyone moves outside for snacks and lake time. I was sitting by the lake watching the kids play in the water this morning as I wrote to Ian. I told him how everyone's favorite moments of "Game Day" happen when TJ puts the boat in the water and it's time to go tubing. I also talked about our plans for hosting our church family this Sunday for a Baptism/BBQ/Lake Day celebration right after church, and how we look forward to sharing our property with so many others. I also shared a little about Bauer's time at camp last week and asked Ian if his kids ever went to camp, or if he remembers scuba camps in Belize where he used to be an instructor?
When I finished writing to Ian, I included in the envelope with the letter an article that I tore out from a recent People magazine. It was about a man named Ian who was in prison for 25 years for a crime he committed as a teen, and about the woman the crime was committed against becoming Ian's friend and then corresponding with him during the remaining years of his prison stay. Thankfully Ian's crime was not committed against me, but I am grateful to be his friend and correspondent. My P.S. at the end of Ian's letter today was that the article made me think of him because of the shared name and our shared letters.
There is People to read, and there are people to write. I enjoy them both, of course, but it is in writing to the people God has given to me in this life that I experience a profound joy and purpose. It's a similar joy and purpose to that which I find when I copy quotes or read Anne Lamott. My boys experienced their own kind of joy and purpose at Game Day this morning, hours ago now. The time is almost 5pm, which means I must move on from writing to the joy and purpose of preparing this evening's meal (yes, more food thoughts).