A few days ago I was clearing out some cupboards and came across two old photo films. I’d no idea what was on them, but popped them off to Boots regardless. Glen picked them up on his lunch break and we opened them together at the kitchen table, bathed in the afternoon sun.
The first film was taken on our honeymoon. They show two open-faced, laughing young lovers – tanned, carefree and brimming with hope and expectation.
The second film was taken four years later and has only two frames. They’re photos of me at close to my lowest weight. I’m looking at the camera – at Glen – but my eyes are blank. My body looks skeletal – horrific, like something from a horror film.
It’s rare that you get to see two poles of your life in such clarity and we’ve been working through our feelings. Firstly, grief – for the youngsters with so much pain ahead, for the wasted years, the horror of an eating disorder that nearly destroyed us both. Shock too – at how bad I looked. At where we started and where we ended up.
I look very different in those two shots – in one, a fresh-faced and beautiful young woman, in the other, an etiolated cadaver. But my appearance isn’t the real story. It’s my heart. And my heart in both shots was the same. Frightened, hardened, wilful, determined to be in control. The real hope isn’t in looking more normal today. It’s been in what the Lord has been teaching me about dependence and brokenness and gospel hope. In the redemption and change that happens first of all in the heart. And which means that nothing is wasted.
The hope of the gospel is not the hope offered by the world.
It’s a hope forged in suffering, the fruit of darkness, brokenness, weakness.
And thank God, it’s a hope built on Him.