This morning at church we celebrated the feast of Epiphany, which commemorates the journey made by three men (sages or wise elders) to find and bring gifts to Jesus, who they believed to be the new king. I don’t pretend to know what parts of this story are historical fact and what parts are metaphor passed down through oral tradition and eventually recorded in the gospel of Matthew. However, the story gives me something to think about. In particular, as our pastor mentioned in her sermon, we find ourselves thinking about direction, destination, goal, and purpose. The story in Matthew tells us that the three wise men took their direction from a star, following it for months until they reached their destination. Did they know exactly what they were searching for or were they simply awestruck by the wonder of one particular star and began to follow it?
Equally important, in what direction are we headed?
I don’t often stop to ask myself what it is I’m seeking. More often than not, I plow forward blindly, go-go-going and do-do-doing until I’m exhausted and confused about where I was headed in the first place. It’s harder to stop, stand still for a moment, and assess what it is I’m actually seeking. What’s my goal in all of this? What unmet needs am I trying to fulfill? Stopping to think about these things requires me to quiet my mind, slow down my body, and ignore the fast paced world I live in (which is hard to do, even for just a moment). This idea can be applied to much of life, but it seems particularly important to have some direction for our recovery from disordered eating.
In my own recovery, I believe I was headed in the direction of inner peace. Attending counseling sessions, writing in a journal, and changing the way I thought and ate were certainly great first steps. But ultimately that inner peace didn’t come solely from escaping the binge cycle. It came from reconnecting with God and looking at myself as a whole person again, tending to my mind, my body, and my spirit. That search for inner peace is what compelled me to write my book even after I had broken free from the cycle of bingeing. And it’s that continued search for peace, now that I’ve had a taste of it, that keeps me writing in this blog, connecting with God and others, and tending to my needs in a more gentle and loving way.
So, what’s your goal? In what direction are you currently headed? Are you facing the direction you hoped to face? What is it that you’re seeking at this journey’s end? Is it possible to be mindfully aware of the journey itself while headed towards that destination? I believe so. In fact, I believe that finding our direction (setting our internal compass, if you will) requires us to be open to experience and to be aware of ourselves and others.
In the first weeks of this new year, consider what it is you’re seeking, in what direction you’re headed, and how you might become more aware of yourself and others on this journey.
Peace, joy, and health,