A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise, a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. (Luke 10: 31-33)
“Are you doing okay? Really?”
I’ll always remember that car ride. It’s stamped in my memory. That was the day that something changed.
My friend Hayley and I were in the car together, running errands around town and taking a much needed break from the busyness of our schedules.
I’d met Hayley our freshman year of college. Over the course of almost four years, we had shared many late night conversations, cups of coffee, and inside jokes.
I was driving, and my hands clenched the steering wheel a little tighter at the sound of her question.
I let it echo in the car for a while, struggling with what to say in response.
Was I doing okay?
The past few months, I’d been struggling to hold up a facade of everything-is-okay.
College was wrapping up, I was planning my wedding, a move to a new city was becoming a reality.
It looked like I was okay. I wanted people to think that I was doing okay. But it didn’t take too much scratching of the surface of my story to realize I wasn’t doing okay.
I wasn’t fine.
I wasn’t eating.
I’d not been eating for so long that my body had given up. It quit telling me when I should have been hungry. My stomach stopped growling after I’d stopped listening time and time again.
I was underweight, over stressed, and many times during a week, I wouldn’t even realize I needed to stop and eat something until I was on the brink of fainting.
Then, in a frenzied rush, desperate to not pass out again, I would end up eating out of a vending machine, or raiding the fridge in the late hours of the night, piecing together a small semblance of a meal.
In the morning, I would skip breakfast, and most of the time I’d substitute a cup of coffee for the first meal of the day.
Then, I’d skip lunch.
Then I’d skip dinner.
I would get home around 10:00 pm most nights during that semester and and realize that I hadn’t eaten anything since the night before.
I’d been doing it for so long that it seemed normal. It seemed fine. It seemed okay.
But deep down, I knew it wasn’t.
The evening before, I’d tried on my wedding dress for the first time in the nine months since I bought it.
It didn’t look right. That night, I’d pulled up a picture of the first time I’d tried on the dress. Back when I ate everyday.
I wanted that back.
Over the course of a few short months, I’d lost more than fifteen pounds.
Most everyone who I knew who commented on my weight loss assumed it was a good thing. A slim figure for a wedding made sense, and if they questioned the hurried nature of the change in my form, they didn’t ask.
Maybe they didn’t see anything wrong.
Maybe they didn’t want to broach the subject.
It’s easy to pass by on the other side of the road. I know. I’ve done it.
Was I doing okay? Really?
Despite the world telling me my new slim frame was what I should want, it wasn’t what I needed.
I needed a balanced life. I needed my health back. I need to make a change.
That day in the car, something changed. Hayley didn’t pass by. She didn’t let the messiness deter her from an encounter.
That day, Hayley saw me. And she crossed the road. She poured kind words on my wounds, and begin to bandage them. She took care of me.
She loved me with the love of the Father.
And He loves me with a love that isn’t disgusted by my messiness, that doesn’t shirk away from me when I’m lying on the side of the road, streaked and muddied with my mistakes and wounds.
The Father loved me when I couldn’t even love myself, at a point in my story where I doubted that I was even worthy of love.
He doesn’t wait until I prove myself worthy of His love, until I have it all together, until everything is okay, until I’m fine.
The grace He gives me, the grace He gives each one of us, is for the present moment. The now – even when we’re struggling to love our neighbor as ourselves because we wonder if we ourselves are worthy of love.
He treats us with mercy. And He heals us – continues to heal us. And then, He equips us to love others mercifully in return, the way He loves. The way He teaches us to love ourselves.
Chloe Langr is a writer, podcaster, and the author of “Created for Love: Reflections for the Catholic Bride-to-Be.” She is passionate about the feminine genius, which she explores on her podcast, “Letters to Women.” You can also find her on Instagram at @chloe.langr and on Facebook at the Old Fashioned Girl Blog. When she isn’t buried under a growing stack of books, you can find her in a local coffee shop, spending time with her husband, Joseph, and their daughter, Maeve.