Just a few months ago, I remember my mother coming into her room to tell me that I was going to Greece with my yaiyai for 6 weeks.
I remember my first initial thought, which sounded like a pestering little voice saying “you know that being away from home means you can’t workout, right? You know that this means you’re setting yourself up for weight gain. That’ has been the mentality of my life since I was 16, since the beginning of having an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise.
As much as I knew how amazing an opportunity to go to Greece with my grandmother was, I did not feel deserving enough to vacation, because I must discipline myself to working out everyday. Why? To prevent myself from ever looking like how I did was I younger. You know, the girl who was teased about having a chubby stomach, or the girl who really shouldn’t be wearing a two piece bathing suit without wearing a shirt over top. I was already dreading the thought of leaving for this trip, simply due to those very negative thoughts.
As the months flew by, the date of my trip departure was finally here. I had packed a suitcase full of clothing, my bible, some notebooks and markers, and of course a jump rope and yoga mat for my pre-planned workouts I had saved to my iPad.
A lot of praying had been done prior to the trip, about enjoying the time spent with my grandmother and not worrying the food being served to me while I stayed in an unfamiliar household.
But when I arrived, things felt really different. I knew that they would be, as I was no longer able to follow the same routines I as I would when I was home, but the reality of no longer being able to do things “my way” really started to sink in. I was uncomfortable, yet humbled, as I truly didn’t have the power/control over my life as I did when I was back home.. I simply had to trust God with his plans for me during the time being spent here.
I had already planned out how I would refuse to eat certain foods that my grandmother had prepared for me, how to kindly say “no thank-you, I’m okay” or “I don’t normally eat this”, but I couldn’t bring myself to refusal when it came time to eating because, I truly did want to eat what was being prepared for me. I have spent years refusing food that I indeed would have eaten if I were still a child, but it was the enemy convincing me that I can’t eat it.
As the days went by, there were more and more incidents where my mind was still in this “refuse food when given” mode, and “exercise as much as you can” mode. I couldn’t bring myself to end the thoughts, I was afraid of what would happen if I chose to reject those thoughts and follow a different way of living. I knew in my spirit that this was not who God has made me to be, but still could not let go of my fears.
The second week of our trip was spent on an island in Greece called Santorini. It was a beautiful island, many things to do and see, and the hotel we stayed in had very kind owners whom my grandmother spent a lot of time laughing and getting to know better. My yaiyai has a very hard time walking, because her legs are constantly in pain, so she would always like to sit down, enjoy her iced coffee, and just relax. I on the other hand was really eager to do things, go and explore, take pictures, go do stuff. This is one of of the things I had learned about myself since being in Greece, that I have always been the type of person who needs something to do. It doesn’t matter what the activity is or involves, but being productive in some kind of way is what keeps me sane.
Our first night in Santorini was spent at a little Greek restaurant, and I already been feeling panicked over what I would eat. I was afraid that if I were to order something that I felt comfortable eating, such as a salad, that my yaiyai would say something like “you can’t just have a salad”. Another thing I have learned is, I have a hard time saying/doing things that could potentially make someone upset, thus I am afraid that if I were to order something like salad and it upset my grandmother. So, I ordered a sausage portion, which had fries and salad. It did taste pretty good, however I did eat more than what I could handle because I felt like I needed to “prove” to my yaiyai that I could eat something else other than a salad. I spent the rest of the night overthinking about what I ate, but quickly turned to prayer, asking the Lord to help me when it comes to meal times.
The next day, my yaiyai and I had breakfast provided by the hotel. I sat at the table anxiously waiting to see what the breakfast would consist of, and my head was in a “you shouldn’t be eating breakfast without exercising first” mode. I tried to shut off these thoughtswith godly thoughts, but then the breakfast was served and it was Italian white bread, cheese, meet slices and pound cake. For a split second I really wanted to remove myself from the breakfast area and go back to the hotel room, because I was terrified at the food I was about to eat. I rarely allow myself to eat those foods, because of the fear of looking like how I once did as a child, so it was very hard to convince myself that this was going to be okay. Another thing I have learned, is that the devil tries to tempt me when I’m most vulnerable. When fear foods are placed in front of me, I am tempted to just dive in and eat as much of it as I can, until my stomach is in pain. Just to prove to myself and to others that I have enough strength/capability of eating this food unlike when I was depriving myself of food in the past. The truth is that, I am not as strong as I think I am, I’m actually very weak, and I cannot peacefully eat food unless I pray to a God that the negative thoughts toward food do not arise during the act of eating, because of my weakness towards it.
I ended up eating a lot of the bread and cake, cheese and meet slices during the days of being in santorini, to the point where I felt very uncomfortable. Then, downed it all with iced coffee.
God’s grace was abundant during this time, because although I was treating my body extremely poorly, He still allowed me to have some truly incredible experiences with my yaiyai.
The third week spent in Greece was in a city called kalamata. This was where my yaiyai was born, so she was thrilled to take me here and spend time showing me different things. During the week I felt really blessed to have been able to do things such as swim in the ocean, rent a bike for the day, do some walking along the strip. But there was also something that I was keeping inside that I just couldn’t shake off. I felt like I had gained weight from Santorini, but again I was trusting God that things would be okay.
My yaiyai asked me where we were going to go for dinner one night in kalamata, there were tons of little restaurants and cafes along the strip. We stopped at a really nice restaurant where they served tons of traditional Greek foods, which I ate and truly did enjoy. But, there was a night where I had eaten to the point of pain again, and afterward I decided I should go for a walk, and to meditate on God’s word, to feel at peace again. But my weak self gave into the temptation of going to a nearby frozen yogurt place, similar to Menchies. This was a compete act of impulse, I knew in my mind that it wasn’t a smart choice because I had already felt so so bloated and uncomfortable from dinner, but instead of turning to God for help in they situation, I regretfully chose to do otherwise.
After eating the yogurt, I immediately went back to our hotel to sit down in the washroom, and felt ashamed for my poor decision. I knew I should have asked God to help me during such a weak moment. As I sat down, I began to cry, and folded my hands and put my head between my knees and just said ” God, why, why is this happening? Please God, help me, I need a miracle, forgive me dear Lord Jesus for all of wrongness. Please God, please help me”. I was desperate for God’s healing hands, and even more desperate for some serious discipline from Him, because this wouldn’t be the first time that I have chosen to refrain from turning to God in all of my life choices/decisions. I contacted my mom to tell her that I really needed her to pray for me, so she did with family. I sat in bed that night, feeling sleepless and so ashamed. I couldn’t fall asleep, I was praying that I could but it was so hard to. I began listening to Christian songs. There was one song that really hit me, called Thy Will Be Done. The lyrics fitted to the situation I was currently in, and I couldn’t help but cry and sing the words out loud. As I continued to meditate on the lyrics of the song, I was blessed enough to finally get some rest.
The next morning, I felt, okay. More than okay, I actually felt capable of getting up and going for a walk. Something I truly didn’t think I had enough courage to do, but God was faithful during this time, and He gave me the strength and grace to get up, shake off the shame from the night before and feel at peace.
The following day my yaiyai and I went to a little beach with some of her relatives. It was really nice, because I was able to spend sometime watching their little girl play in the water. She couldn’t swim because she was too young, but she just plopped herself down on her stomach and started to slither along the rocks beneath the water, and she honestly looked like she was having the time of her life. Just the fact that she was able to find so much joy, and happiness from simply being in the water, without being able to swim, truly humbled me. Many times I have neglected the little things God has given me, because I am too concerned about getting a full body workout. It was in that moment where I felt guilty of not being as present as I could have been many situations, simply due to the fact that my mind was focused on wanting to exercise, instead of the Lord Himself.
We finally decided to leave and drive back to our hotel, but we all noticed a colourful parachute floating in the air from quite a distance. We aturned our heads to watch the parachute glide through the air, and were amazed by the beauty of it. Then all of the sudden, I saw a cloud, with colours in it. I took off my sunglasses and could no longer see the colours, but when I put them back on I could see the colours of the rainbow. I didn’t know what to think of it in the moment, but I could sense that it was some sort of sign from God that things will be okay again. I was really anticipating getting back to the hotel to research the meaning behind a rainbow cloud, if there was meaning, and this is what I had found:
Genesis 9:13 “ I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth “
Days later, we had left kalamata and returned back to Magda’s house. We finally had one last island we were going to visit for a weekend, called Andros. We took a boat to the island, and travelled around the island in a tour bus. Now this weekend was really significant because there was another wondrous thing that God had shown me while being there. We all went to a little beach with a cafe and had some lunch. After lunch, I took a walk down the strip, and walked up a little bit of a hill to take a really good glimpse of the mountains in front of me. I stopped, and just began to praise God, for everything. For everything He has given us , and made for us to see, and to use on earth. He painted a beautiful masterpiece for us to simply just enjoy, and glorify Him for. I could feel His presence as I stood there, feeling the wind flowing through my hair and breathing in His goodness.
When I started to walk back, I decided to walk along the sand instead of the road, because I wanted to dip my toes in the sand and water before departing from the beach. It felt really nice, and I noticed some really beautiful rocks too. I picked up a stick and started drawing in the sand, writing the letter I, then a heart, then a cross. I then noticed some really precious rocks that I wanted to pick up and take home with me, so I began to pick up the rocks and put them in my pocket. Then, I could hear God saying to me, look for a special rock. I didn’t know what the special rock would look like, nor did I know if I would ever find it, but I began to look for this specific rock God had told me to search for. Keep in mind, there were millions of rocks along the beach, some were tucked beneath the sand and hiding behind bigger rocks, but I was determined to find this rock. All of the sudden, I noticed a rock that had a very unique shape and colour. I picked it up, only to see that there was a cross engraved on the right side of the rock. I was amazed. Then, I heard God say to me that I should search for a heart shaped rock. Now, I knew that God had led me to find the first rock, but I was really questioning if I would find this heart shaped rock. I then began to search for this heart, and amazingly, I found it. God led me to finding these rocks, for reasons that will remain to be a mystery, but all I know is that I was reassured that He is here with us, he is living, he is powerful, and he loves us more than we could ever possibly comprehend.