My Story of Healing from Eating Disorders (Podcast)

This will be part 1 of my story because there has been healing in so many areas of my life that each would require a separate talk. So I’m sure there will be more parts that I share on this topic in the future. But for now, I wanted to post the story I shared at church here in Berlin recently and my hope, as always, is that something I said might give hope and encouragement to someone listening.

There were moments of technical difficulty during my sharing…and a bit of nervousness…and a bit of crying. Our stories can be messy, so it’s no surprise that the telling of them can be too.

Click here to hear it.

It tells a bit about how I went from this:

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To this:

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I hope that if you, or someone you know, struggles with an eating disorder, or any kind of self-destructive behavior, that hearing my story will help you to not give up and to keep praying, keep hoping and keep knowing that God loves you no matter what’s going on and that healing and good things are possible.

Your life matters and you are needed here on this planet.

Blessings & peace,

Monique

p.s. If you need coaching and/or spiritual guidance, please click here to schedule an appointment for an introductory call with me.

 

 

WHAT IS GREATNESS?

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Do you ever think about what the word greatness means? I think about it often and I seem to come across it frequently in quotes, talks, video clips and other things I listen to for inspiration. I was watching an interview of 2 people discussing greatness and I imagined myself being interviewed and being asked the question, “What does greatness mean to you?”

I think my response would go something like this:

What comes to mind is a story I remember a beloved pastor telling many years ago. He told about a little boy standing in front of a bakery window during wartime. The little boy was poor and had nothing. There was no way he could pay for anything in the bakery. He just stood outside with his nose pressed against the window, staring in, smelling the delicious aroma of freshly baked bread. Just then, a man walked up and said to him, “Little boy, would you like one of those rolls?” The boy looked up at the man and said, “Oh, would I…” The man promptly went into the bakery and bought a bag full of freshly-baked rolls. He came out and handed the bag to the little boy. The boy, in a state of awe, gratitude and wonder, looked up at the man and said, “Mister, are you God?”

That story makes me tear up every time I think of it.

I think greatness is someone who causes others (especially those who feel hopeless or lost or afraid) to believe in the possibility of a loving God. Someone who gives others a glimpse of how loved they are, how accepted they are and how they didn’t need to do anything to earn that “bread roll” other than to simply exist…not pay for it, not grovel for it, just open their hands and take it and trust that it was given with absolute benevolence. Perhaps greatness allows others to encounter the depth of love and grace because someone paid attention, someone took notice of their need, their pain, their very existence.  And by such love, hope is rekindled…or kindled for the first time.

What about you? What do you think greatness is?

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Click this link to set up a free 30 minute discovery coaching call and we can talk about it.

peace & grace,

Monique

 

 

 

 

**Illustration credit: Christian Schloe

 

 

 

WHAT IS THE SABOTEUR? (HINT: WE ALL HAVE ONE)

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Hi friend…

Do you ever have the experience where you’re about to do something you know you’re supposed to be doing and then you stop yourself? I don’t just mean doing the dishes or the laundry. I mean important stuff. Things your heart burns for. And yet, despite all the burning, there’s this voice inside you that takes a bucket of cold water and pours it all over you. And the next thing you know…

You’re doing something completely unrelated to whatever “it” is that you were meant to be doing.

I don’t know what it is for you. It could be a book you’ve been meaning to write. It could be that space you’ve been wanting to organize for yourself so that you’ll have a place to focus on your creative or spiritual life. It could be eating healthier so that you’re not sick and tired all the time. It could be a relationship you’ve been wanting to work on. It’s different for everyone.

But then some voice inside you says things like this:

“What’s the use? There’s no guarantee it’ll lead anywhere.”

“When I have more time.”

“So many other people are doing this. What makes me think I’ll ever get anywhere with it?”

“The last time I tried something like this, nothing came of it.”

“I’ll do it later.”

“I’m not good enough. / Nothing I do is good enough.”

“It needs to be perfect.”

Friend, that merry-go-round won’t stop on its own. You have to deal with it and stop it by force, even if it means bringing it to a screeching halt. Even if you have to dig your heels into the ground and feel like you’re being dragged a while before it stops. But stop it you must.

How do I know this? Because I have a tendency to ruminate, so if I’m not careful, I could spend hours ruminating and speculating and over-thinking. Granted, a big part of being a writer involves staring into space. But there’s a limit. I’ve had to learn to snap out of it. I do a lot of things to help with that—prayer, meditation, yoga, EFT, writing, watching and reading things that motivate and inspire me.

But in the end, the only way to cut it out is to…well, stop it. Get up and shake yourself out like a blanket that has crumbs on it. Because even crumbs can bury a person if there’s enough of them.

Remind yourself of the opportunities you have—very likely opportunities that a few years ago you only dreamed of. Or if not that, just reflect on what you’ve already done and how far you’ve already come. And if you’re having trouble remembering, call up someone who knows you well and ASK them. Ask them to remind you!

There are some friends who fit this quote so perfectly, they should have a t-shirt with it inscribed: “A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it back to me when my memory fails.” Or, in some cases, a coach.

Make sure you have at least one person in your life who can jolt your memory and remind you who you truly are and of all the good you have done. Because this will help you to courageously keep going on days when you feel like you’re not getting anywhere.

If you can’t reach a friend, consider sitting for 20 or 30 minutes and writing down all the good you have done and reminding yourself. I guarantee you, 20-30 minutes won’t be long enough.

I hope this encourages you and helps you feel less alone and more okay being human, knowing that there isn’t anyone on the planet who doesn’t struggle with self-doubt or The Saboteur.

Together, we can silence that debilitating voice and keep replacing it with the voice of grace and encouragement. The latter is the voice of truth.

If you need help battling the saboteur, you can click this link to go to my calendar and set up a free 30-minute introductory coaching call with me. 

https://www.timetrade.com/book/581CL

Stay courageous,

Monique

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READING FROM MY NEW CHILDREN’S BOOK – PODCAST EPISODE 10

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Hi friends…

In case you haven’t heard, I’ve just released my second children’s book Oggleswog the Dragon and it’s available just in time for Christmas on Amazon! Click this link to go there now.

It’s a story about loneliness and isolation coming face to face with courage, friendship and acceptance, revealing the transformation that happens in the presence of belonging and tenderness.

For this Wonderful Wednesday’s podcast, here’s a little reading from the story to give you a taste of what it’s about. Enjoy…

Thanks for listening!

Blessings,

Monique

 

 

7 REASONS LOUIS THEROUX REMINDS ME OF JESUS

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I started watching Louis Theroux documentaries several years ago when I lived in England. In case you don’t know who Louis is, he’s a journalist, documentary filmmaker and presenter from the BBC who travels the world interviewing unlikely people—people, in fact, who most of us would shy away from. He has interviewed white nationalists, black nationalists, neo Nazis, religious fanatics (including the folks from Westboro Baptist Church who hate pretty much everyone), swingers in Los Angeles, extreme wrestlers, gangsta rappers, survivalists in North America, the criminally insane (or those perhaps pretending to be so they can live in lush hospitals rather than in hardcore prisons) and many others.

What makes Louis unique is his ability to win the trust and friendship of diverse people whether he agrees with their views and lifestyles or not. He most often doesn’t seem to agree with them yet seems to have a morbid fascination with them and a way of pushing the limit in terms of his disarming inquisitiveness.

After watching Louis, I often go away thinking, “Man, he’s so much like Jesus!”

Here’s why I think that:

He meets people where they are. He doesn’t come in trying to change them, at least not overtly. He shows up, is courteous and exudes the best of manners. He doesn’t talk down to people, but he also doesn’t shy away from confronting people’s narcissism and duplicity. When he has a contention with someone, he mentions his disagreement so politely and hesitantly that it would be hard to imagine anyone getting upset with him. Although some do…

Those who end up disliking him (rare as it is) are those most entrenched in a worldview that brings with it self-righteousness and exclusivism. Much like Jesus dealing with the Pharisees of his day, the people who get the most irate with Louis are those who are so convinced that their thinking is right that they become volatile and sometimes even threatening when contradicted. They tend to fall under the category of religious or racial extremism. Those who have become most angry with him have been white separatists, some of the Westboro Baptist members, and neo Nazis.

His sense of horror over people’s behavior seems always couched in seeing people as human and not evil. Though it seems hard for him to hide his sense of revulsion at the lifestyles of some of the people he visits, he still treats them as human beings. Even when he asked probing questions of the young man who raped and tried to kill his own mother, he managed to ask him accountability questions while at the same time treating him with dignity and respect.

He hangs out with “sinners.” And not the garden variety type. Not people who feel bad for saying the F word, or who yelled at their kids today and feel guilty about it. Not the pastor who committed adultery. Or the nursery school teacher who commits credit card fraud. No, that stuff is small potatoes. Louis goes to the murderers, the prostitutes, the pimps, the porn industry and…judges them? No, he just hangs out, talks with them, tries to understand where they’re coming from. In other words, he extends friendship and grace.

He’s fun to be with. When you watch one of his films, you see that the people he interviews genuinely enjoy his company. They laugh with him at his silliness, at his awkward and often uncomfortable questions, at his willingness to participate to whatever degree he’s able to—either physically or psychologically. He enters their world and goes where few dare to tread and because of this, he often wins people’s trust.

His gentleness belies his courage. Although he is clearly nervous at some of the situations he gets into, he doesn’t let it stop him. He’s no coward. You couldn’t be a coward and confront neo Nazis who suddenly ask you if you have Jewish blood or show up to train with extreme wrestlers with a drill sergeant for a coach. (In the wrestling documentary, the coach pushed Louis so hard that he had to throw up.) The guy’s got moxie.

He’s got heart. “Extreme Love” is possibly his most moving documentary in which he befriends families of autistic children, gaining the trust and love of both the families and the kids. They include and welcome him because he included and welcomed them first. Sound familiar?

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Louis could teach all of us a thing or two about how to treat people we differ from with more love and respect.

I hope you get a chance to watch one of his films. Like me, you may wonder if Louis Theroux is sometimes Jesus in disguise.

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A DEEPER COMPASSION: ENTERING THE TRANSGENDER DISCUSSION

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Now that Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner has blown the door wide open on the transgender discussion, and having witnessed the horrors of judgmentalism being thrown in that general direction, it’s my turn to enter the conversation. I’m not entering the discussion to debate the moral implications of a person being transgender. I’m not entering it to take sides either way. The reason I am entering it is a bit more complex.

First, I’d like to point out that both the ultra conservatives who are screaming through their keyboards about sin and repentance and those, such as psychologists on the other side who push for sexual reassignment surgery on those who are questioning their gender, seem to be missing something. And that something is a whole demographic of people who are not wanting breasts in place of a flat chest or vice versa. They are simply confused—confused about why they want to dress like a woman if they’re a man or why they have so many male tendencies and characteristics if they’re a woman.

There are many transvestites who have no desire to change their anatomy. They just like to wear the clothes of the opposite sex. George Sand, the French writer who was romantically involved with Chopin and a host of other men, dressed in suits and men’s clothes. “George” was a woman, by the way, but had to use a pseudonym because female writers weren’t taken seriously in her day. In her day, dressing like a man was controversial. Now women are expected to wear men’s clothes and “power suits” in certain office settings, especially in managerial roles. Now it’s the norm. But George Sand wasn’t confused and wanting to be a man. She just decided she liked men’s clothes and that they were cheaper and that was the end of it. Nowadays, in Western cultures especially, women are so used to wearing men’s clothes that they don’t give it a second thought.

Another thing that needs clarification and is often misconstrued by ill-informed people is: just because a person likes to cross-dress or identifies as a transvestite, it has nothing to do with their sexual orientation. There are many transvestites (some famous ones) who are happily married to the opposite sex. Some are homosexual. Some are not. But being transgender does not automatically mean someone is gay.

I digress.

Both sides of the debate seem to have silenced, or ignored, this whole other group of people—those who are gender dysphoric. The conservatives have silenced them with one kind of shame. The liberals have silenced them with another kind. It is as if, on the liberal side, there is an assumption made that those with gender dysphoria need or want a movement to speak for them. Many with gender dysphoria don’t want or need that. They just want to figure themselves out without drawing any more attention to themselves than they already do for their perceived awkwardness and eccentricity. What they want is acceptance, and most often the acceptance they are most in need of is self-acceptance. And that is a deep and lifelong work for any human being. But it isn’t helped by exclusion and ridicule.

The main reason I am writing this, and the reason I can write about this, is because someone I know and care about very deeply struggles with just that—gender confusion. To protect this person’s anonymity, I won’t say whether the person is male or female or who they are. But I will say that I have seen firsthand the pain, confusion and mental torment this person lives with on a daily basis. They are not wanting to join the LGBT movement. They just want to have peace in their mind and heart about who they are. Lest someone from the Church start with the “They just need to seek God,” thing—they do. But they’re still confused. Lest the LGBT crowd say, “They just need to embrace their sexuality and examine whether they might need reassignment surgery.” Please. They’ve been down that road and had the discussion with psychologists, psychiatrists, etc. It doesn’t go away. And no, they don’t want to “reassign.”

So instead of entering into a debate about what’s up with Caitlyn Jenner and why she looks better in a tight dress than most women, I would rather open up a different kind of conversation, one that reaches out to those who are thoroughly confused as to who they are, including what gender to identify with. I want to open up to both sides—the conservatives and the LGBT community—an invitation to a deeper compassion, a compassion that looks not just at those getting the headlines, not at the street marches and movements, but toward individual people who may be living through their own private hell while the two sides of the debate waste time throwing mud at each other.

Consider this: the transgender community has an attempted suicide rate of 40%.

Now for just a few moments, please take yourself out of whichever side of self-righteousness you are on, and imagine living just one day tormented with a confusion so great that it makes you want to take your own life. Stay with that image for a bit and if it starts to bring you to tears, stay there a little longer. Then imagine that this is what every single day is like, hour after hour, minute after minute, for a person with gender dysphoria. And often, with that confusion goes a lot of dissociating from a possibly abusive and brutal past—sometimes physical and sexual abuse, and more often than not, psychological abuse.

There is a way other than the “live and let live” mentality or the “repent” mentality. That way is compassion. That way is connection. That way provides a safe space for someone to wrestle with their confusion in an atmosphere of love. Please: create a space of welcome, of acceptance, of belonging, because that is what all of us need most. And someone’s life could depend on it.

– MVA

* Image credit: Gustav Klimt, Bronze Autumn