A Burning in the Belly

I don't know how to completely express what I'm feeling right now, but it's been steadily increasing every day. This...whatever it is...began with that night I happened to be on Twitter, and the protests over the Iran elections broke out. I found myself up until 2 am, reading tweets and passing them on. That's when I first noticed the fire in my solar plexus. The image of myself that I received is of one of those old fashioned train engines that had been left broken down and rusting in a rail yard, forgotten and considered useless. Then a group of history buffs and train enthusiasts decide that the old girl still has a lot more use left in her, so they repair and clean her up, load up the water and coal and start her up. She's slow moving at first; it's been a long time since she's moved even an inch. Her entire body feels stiff and cranky. But she chugs along, enjoying the ride and seeing how much the landscape around her has changed since she was out of commission. As the engineers load up the coal and fire begins to burn even higher, she remembers: this is what it is like RUN, to be alive. To be free to move.

That's how I'm feeling now. My recovery from food addiction is going well, and I'm more active than I've been in many years. And my engine, which is being fed by God instead of massive amounts of the wrong types of food, has revving faster each day. I've had so many thoughts, ideas and stories that are just begging to be written that I realize that 24 hours isn't enough time for me to get to all of them. And I still have to work my recovery program, which actually comes first, even though writing is a lot more fun. But I do it anyway.

For years, I was unable to write much of anything. The fact that I have so much to write about is directly related to my personal relationship with God as my guiding force in life. That all began a little over two years ago, when I attended workshop at Bosch Baha'i School. A few months later, I met a young lady who introduced me to a 12-step program of recovery from food addiction. That's when my life changed drastically on all levels. For the first time in my life, I realized that God has been with me every second of my life--I allowed food and other addicting activities to come between our relationship. I don't want that to happen anymore.

By putting down the excess food and picking a simple plan of daily living, I've discovered that all I've ever really wanted was to be of service to God and to mankind. I knew that was my reason for being on this earth even as young as three years old, although I didn't have the vocabulary to express it. But I did it through actions. I wanted to save other kids from bullies, and everyone I knew from "mean, nasty, bad people". Of course, I've had to learn some pretty harsh lessons about acting on that "savior" instinct. Let me tell you--it doesn't work when the ego is involved. God created me HIS servant; I'm supposed to get my instructions on what to do with this being-of-service instinct from Him. I'm still learning how to do this. I've said it a million times: I'm a very willful person, as stubborn and hard-headed as anyone could possibly be. Most of the time, it's a one step forward, four steps back process. But that's better than trying to run backwards and wondering why I kept falling down.

It's no accident that I became a Baha'i 23 years ago, and that I kept seeking spiritual solutions to my everyday problems. One of my favorite books written by Baha'u'llah is the Hidden Words:
O SON OF SPIRIT! I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself? Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone beside Me? Out of the clay of love I molded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting.

It's taken many years of ramming my head against a steel door to learn how to turn down the volume on the incessant chattering in my brain, get quiet and listen for the guidance. It does come. And even if I think I don't hear anything, I've discovered that if I make phone calls to my fellow food addicts, they will, strangely enough, hear what I need to hear and relay the message. Often, it's a very humbling process. People with savior complexes love to think that they are the ones with the direct pipelines to the Eternal. Now I know that everyone has access--it's a matter of choosing to use it. Apparently, the message is for me to rely upon God first, and when I'm struggling with that concept, God will speak to me through other people. I've tested this many times because (as I stated before), I don't learn these things quickly. But it has NEVER failed.
“The inspiration received through meditation is of a nature that one cannot measure or determine. God can inspire into our minds things that we had no previous knowledge of, if He desires to do so.“We cannot clearly distinguish between personal desire and guidance, but if the way opens, when we have sought guidance, then we may presume God is helping us.”
Shoghi Effendi: Directives from the Guardian, pgs. 77-78, 173 edition.
So what's changed in my life as a result of this? All I can do is list some of things because the number of blessings is startling and humbling:
1. I can feel the presence of God working in my life everyday, and express deep gratitude for that throughout the day;
2. I am much more connected to my life, along with my mind, body and spirit, AND to the people around me;
3. I no longer think that I'm starving between meals or that I'm on a torturous diet;
4. I'm being of service through writing for the Examiner.com as the Sacramento Baha'i Examiner, and for other online web sites. In other words, I'm doing what I TRULY love--write, and be in the process of earning a living while engaging in my passion.
5. I get to do things like walk with my family and/or friends to different events, go to the grocery store, play with my grandson, ride on amusement park rides, go places without someone pushing me in a wheelchair.
6. Finally,since I've lost enough weight to satisfy my orthopedic surgeon that I'm a good candidate for a total hip replacement, I have the surgery date set: October 1 2009 at the Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Roseville, CA. I can't tell you how thrilled I am about this! I WILL be able to take Tae Kwon Do and dance lessons this year!

None of this would be possible without the Baha'i Faith and my 12-step recovery program. There isn't any food in the world, or for that matter, any relationship with the opposite sex that feels better than being in conscious contact with God as much as possible each day. You don't even have to do pray and meditate "perfectly" before the miracles begin to happen. Trust me--I thought I was nothing more than a grossly obese circus freak in wheelchair eight years ago. I was totally dependent on my family to help me get around. That's no longer the case. It feels good to be able to go for a walk, just because I can. And my family no longer has to worry about me dying in my sleep the way they used to.

God IS truly amazing!
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