By Emily T. Wierenga
I was drinking twelve cups of coffee a day, addicted to sleeping pills, and only eating supper.
We were newlyweds; we’d been married under the trellis in my parents’ yard, my Dad, a reverend, officiating the ceremony and the flowers in my bouquet as fake as the smile on my face. I was terrified.
I didn’t want kids, I didn’t know how to make a home—my mother made homes, I lived in them. So my farm boy and I went on a three-week honeymoon to the Maritimes, to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia and PEI, and flew home to basement suite where I put holes in the walls.
I put holes in the walls because I was so hungry. I didn’t do love well. I didn’t let anyone close, because my childhood was spent moving, from one place to the next, and we always had to look the part—the perfect preacher’s family part—and I turned anorexic at nine years old. Because starving myself was easier than feeling lonely.
And here was this man, sleeping in my bed, and I didn’t know how to let him in.
And one day he came home from work to find me crying because I hadn’t eaten all day and couldn’t get the living room to look just right. We had purple couches from the thrift store and a borrowed coffee table and we lived in a basement suite. Trent took my face in his and said, “I’ll make supper. You rest.”
I nodded. “Thank you,” grabbed a bag of marshmallows, and disappeared into the office to do some painting.
After a while Trent called, “Suppertime!”
He’d made hamburgers and what he calls “fancy salad,” the kind where he grates carrots and chops onions even though they make him cry.
And I came out of that room with an empty marshmallow bag and white lips. I sat down at the dinner he’d made and said, “I’m sorry babes—I’m not really hungry.”
It was a silent meal with the sound of Trent’s fork and knife on his plate and this anorexic woman with the white lips.
I’d only meant to have one or two marshmallows but they’d filled a hole in me. And then they were gone.
And I wondered why he wasn’t, too.
How many of us settle for marshmallows when we’re actually craving food that will last?
How many of us, sisters, sit down with a pint of ice cream after a stressful day, or binge on Oreos after the kids go to bed? How many of us try diet after diet but end up filling on junk because we’re just so hungry?
I think of Jesus at the well, with the Samaritan woman. How he asked her for water—but then offered her Living Water in return. He offers us Living Bread—his body.
Because this is what we’re hungry for, isn’t it friends? A love so deep and long and wide and high it fills every crevice of our souls; a kind of love that would die for us, a kind that sings over us, a kind that walks through fire with us?
We are born longing for the kind of affection only a divine being can offer. We are born aching for the kind of fullness which comes from an everlasting love.
But it’s not a bag of marshmallows. It’s not fast fame or fleeting praise or accolades.
No, it’s a slow cooked meal and we need to wait, to be patient, as this is the kind of love prepared by a gentle pair of hands which feeds your soul.
Trent still makes me fancy salads. He still makes burgers and corn on the cob and I no longer eat marshmallows. Because I’ve tasted real food and there’s no turning back.
There’s no turning back from love.
My memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look
, is releasing this month, and I am excited to give away THREE copies today!
From the back cover:
“Disillusioned and yearning for freedom, Emily Wierenga left home at age eighteen with no intention of ever returning. Broken down by organized religion, a childhood battle with anorexia, and her parents’ rigidity, she set out to find God somewhere else–anywhere else. Her travels took her across Canada, Central America, the United States, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. She had no idea that her faith was waiting for her the whole time–in the place she least expected it.
“Poignant and passionate, Atlas Girl is a very personal story of a universal yearning for home and the assurance that we are known, forgiven, and beloved. Readers will find in this memoir a true description of living faith as a two-way pursuit in a world fraught with distraction. Anyone who wrestles with the brokenness we find in the world will love this emotional journey into the arms of the God who heals all wounds.”
Click HERE for a free excerpt.
I’m also giving away a FREE e-book to anyone who orders Atlas Girl. Just orderAtlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look
HERE, and send a receipt to: firstname.lastname@example.org, and you’ll receive A House That God Built: 7 Essentials to Writing Inspirational Memoir — an absolutely FREE e-book co-authored by myself and editor/memoir teacher Mick Silva.
ALL proceeds from Atlas Girl will go towards my non-profit, The Lulu Tree. The Lulu Tree is dedicated to preventing tomorrow’s orphans by equipping today’s mothers. It is a grassroots organization bringing healing and hope to women and children in the slums of Uganda through the arts, community, and the gospel.
Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, as well as the author of five books including the memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and two sons. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.