Radically Loved by God
About the Guest
Lee Wolfe Blum struggled with an eating disorder for over 10 years. Blum shares the stories of several women who rose above their circumstances and relied on the Lord for His courage to live bravely.
Radically Loved by God
Bob: Lee Wolfe Blum remembers a time in her life when she was clinically depressed; and as much as her friends wanted to help her, they didn’t know how.
Lee: So many people had told me, “If you’d just pray, you’d be healed.” Yet, I still felt miserable. I still had a real, deep clinical depression; and my eating disorder—most of it—was because of the depression of just—I didn’t want to eat; I didn’t want to take care of myself. I felt great shame and embarrassment that I couldn’t get out of it. Then, I was like, “Well, God must not love me, because I’m not healed; so then, why should I live?”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, October 12th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. When we have friends or family members, who are in a hard place like Lee Blum was in, do we know how to help? If we find ourselves in that place, how can we be brave?
We’ll talk more about that today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. Do you remember a book that came out when we were back in school?
Dennis: Yes. [Laughter]
Bob: You remember one?
Dennis: I do! I do! [Laughter]
Bob: Just one. I’m thinking—
Dennis: I read it in the first grade.
Dennis: I had to read it.
Bob: You did not read this one in the first grade. This is a book that I think won the Pulitzer Prize. It was written by a president, but it captured the imagination of a nation. It was the book, Profiles—
Dennis: —in Courage—
Bob: —in Courage.
Dennis: —by JFK.
Bob: Yes; John F. Kennedy wrote a book where he told us stories of courageous people. I think we were a nation, then—and maybe a nation today—
—that needs to hear stories of courageous people; because, as you’ve quoted—who is it that said, “When one person is courageous, the spines of others stiffen”?—who said that?
Dennis: Billy Graham.
Dennis: And JFK made the statement—this won’t be exactly as he said it in the book, Profiles in Courage—but he made the statement that some men/some women sail with the wind until the events of the day propel them into the center of a storm. And it’s back to the idea that the book is written about great men and women, who displayed profiles of being courageous.
We have a guest with us today, Lee Wolfe Blum, who has written a book called Brave Is the New Beautiful.
Bob: And you’re—do you think of yourself as a brave person? [Laughter]I mean, that’s—
Dennis: Now, come on!
Lee: That’s a longer question. [Laughter] I can answer that.
Dennis: Come on—be truthful.
Bob: You’ve had to confront your fears—
Bob: —and to embrace bravery; right?
Lee: Oh, absolutely; or I wouldn’t have written the book. I always feel like everything that I try—and anything that I speak about or write about—is always something that I feel like God is teaching me. Otherwise, I’d feel like I don’t have any authority over it.
Would I say I’m brave? I would say, “Yes; now, I can say I’m brave.” I’m almost 46, so it’s taken me this long; but the bravest thing that I have to do every day is be the person that God made me to be. I say that because, as I mentioned before, I grew up in a verbally-abusive home and live in a culture now—that we all live in—where there is this idea that I’m supposed to be one way; right? There is this idea that the Lee that I’m supposed to be is all these voices of my past / all these voices of the world. So, for me, the bravest thing that I can do is not listen to that and step into who God has made me to be.
That’s hard for me; because I very easily can get stuck in shame—and a deep, deep pit of shame.
The more I reach into Scripture, and the more I believe God and what He says, the more I can step out and do the things that God has called me to do. For me, I’m not afraid to get on stage. I was the Easter bunny in the mall one year—I’m not afraid of any of those things. What I’m most afraid of is that you’ll know all the parts of me—all the icky parts—but God—and I love this quote by Brennan Manning: “Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is an illusion.”
When I start to get either full of shame—or even full of pride—I start to remember that—like: “God calls me the beloved. God loves me.” I feel we need to shout that everywhere—our teenagers need to hear it; the elderly need to hear it.
We need to shout out people’s worth.
We’ve become a culture that has just—especially on Twitter® and the internet—we just immediately attack each other and eat each other alive. As I mentioned before, you never know what somebody is going through. Instead, let’s shout—let’s shout out each other’s worth. Let’s say: “You’re the beloved. You are loved by God!”
Dennis: I think sometimes, Bob, our courage factor needs to be poked on a little bit, which Lee does in her book, just to get us to step out and engage other people—
Dennis: —who are hurting, who have messed up, and who need a friend.
Bob: Well, one of the ways, Lee, that you do that in the book, Brave Is the New Beautiful, is you draw pictures for us. You paint portraits of women—who you’ve met / women whose stories you know—who have modeled bravery—
Bob: —like the story of Amy, who was sexually abused by a gymnastics coach.
Bob: We’ve read a lot about this in the papers; right?
Lee: Yes. Right; right. Amy—this happened years ago; she’s a grown adult now. Amy, at first, didn’t want to come out and say that this had happened; because the culture she was in was starting to pick sides. She was a young 12-year-old little girl, and she didn’t want to come out and say this happened; but then, eventually, she did report what happened.
Lee: She ended up having to be on stand for five hours.
Bob: —as a 12-year-old?
Lee: —as a 12-year-old—for five hours, staring him in the eyes—that is unbelievable bravery!
When I interviewed this girl, Amy—she is now in her 20s—she was like, “Yes; it was really hard, but it’s what I did / it’s what I needed to do.” That changed the trajectory of her life. Sometimes, acting out in those scary things can completely change the trajectory of our lives.
What it did for her is—she was no longer holding the trauma in her body. She was using her voice to speak what was true.
Bob: We’ve read these stories, as I’ve said, of women on the Michigan State gymnastics team—and women who were abused beyond that scope. Many of these women were silent about their abuse for decades.
Bob: Why would so many not say: “Hang on! This is wrong. This happened to me”? Why the silence?
Lee: That’s a great question—and one of my favorite questions—because, as I mentioned, the book was called Me Too; and now, it’s not. I often get interviews to talk about this MeToo movement and, especially, the MeToo movement in the church—it’s happening. We cannot deny that it is now affecting the American church.
The reason why people stay silent is—you have to understand what happens to the body when it is traumatized—not only when it’s traumatized—but the risk of speaking up. So, you think about this little girl—
—I mean, when you are a teenager—
Lee: —your social life is it! So, she would lose that. You think about women—you know, women, who have jobs who are being sexually harassed at work. Are they going to speak up, or are they going to lose their job? Are they going to risk that? People stay silent because they are afraid, and people also stay silent because people say they don’t believe them. A national broadcaster, was just accused of sexual harassment—a group of seven women came out for the woman who accused him—they came out and said she was not telling the truth.
Why would anyone go, then, and tell?—if you’re going to be, not only eaten alive by the media, but you’re going to be eaten alive by other women, which is hard enough as it is. The reality is—two things—one: When you have trauma in your body, you’re re-traumatized every time this thing is brought up. I know many women, who have been sexually assaulted; and every time they read a story about MeToo or every time they hear a story, they are reliving some of it in their body.
If anyone is listening—and that is you—I encourage you to be able to get the help you need so that the trauma doesn’t have to live in your body; but also, that you have to tell someone. That telling someone your story / telling somebody what happened does change the course of your life; because you now have a voice / you now are being seen.
You know, that woman who I saw at the airport—it reminded me a lot of myself. A lot of what I see happening with women—all we really want—and this is men too—we just want to be seen. We want somebody to see us—not to be seen like I want to be seen as famous and this great author—
Lee: Yes; like: “I see you,”—I put my phone down; I look you in the eyes; I want to hear your story—“I see you.” That’s what Jesus did; right? He saw people. He took time with them and saw them. Then, the next step is, then, asking people: “Help me understand.
“Help me understand your story.” Instead of jumping to this “I don’t agree,” or “This is wrong!” or “This isn’t biblical!” How about just, “Help me understand”?—which is a very gentle and loving way to help somebody feel seen.
Dennis: The Bible is filled with all kinds of stories about relationships.
Dennis: Where you have you relationships, you’re ultimately going to have conflict. Where there is conflict, there has to be some kind of resolution of asking for forgiveness and granting forgiveness.
Dennis: You tell a story in your book about an older woman—
Dennis: —79 years old—
Dennis: —about how she forgave someone.
Lee: Yes; Carolyn—amazing woman. I had all these judgments about her when I met her, which is funny. Here I am—I’m trying to talk about loving people—and I’m sitting next to her at this conference—and I’m like: “Oh, she’s probably this and that,” and “…this and that.” As I got to know her, she shared her story with me; and I was just blown away.
She had worked at a place for people with AIDS. She had to change their diapers and had to help them in their daily living. She had judgments about these people and had all these thoughts and opinions. She wanted to come in there and save them. She quickly realized that she could learn a lot from them. She learned a lot about grace, and loving people, and just holding their hand. She taught me a lot in telling me those stories of what it was like for her.
She was a judge—she was a federal judge. She came in there, wanting to be Jesus for these people, which is—there is nothing wrong with that—but what she found was it was through relationship and through loving these people that she saw Jesus. It was pretty profound to hear her story.
Bob: You tell a story, as well, about a young woman who went back to Vietnam—
Bob: —to find her home; right?
Lee: Yes; and her story—if I could write a book about her whole story, I would. As I was interviewing her—her story is fascinating. She didn’t even know that her family was still alive in Vietnam. She was adopted into the United States at a very young age. They had been on TV shows, out in Vietnam, like: “Find your relative,”—all this stuff. Anyway, they ended up finding her.
The piece about her story—that wasn’t the story—the story was—is that she grew up in a white, Caucasian, Norwegian family. She thought she was white and Caucasian for most of her life. It’s so funny how you think a story is a story. Then, as I got to know her, I’m like: “Wait. You saw pictures; right? You saw pictures of your family and realized you were Asian.” She’s like, “I saw pictures, but I thought I was Caucasian and white.” Her crisis of faith was when she finally realized, in high school: “I’m not this.
“I’m something else. How do I become this?”
I think it’s very similar to what I was talking about of my own life: “Am I going to be the person that the world wants me to be?” or “Am I going to step into the person that God created me to be?” As women, we think there’s not enough room for us, especially women authors and speakers: “Oh, there is not enough room for me. Somebody else is already doing that,” or “Somebody else is already like that,” or “Somebody else has already achieved that.” Then, we back off: “Oh, I shouldn’t do that. There are people already doing that.”
What we don’t realize is that God created every single one of us unique. So, how God created me—my take on it, which is unique—there is room for all of us. I have found—in part of my learning through all of this is—when I start to realize, “There’s room for her, and there is room for me,” it takes out jealousy; because, when I believe there is room for us—
—and we don’t live in this scarcity mentality—then, I can cheer her on. I’m no longer jealous; I’m no longer envying her; I’m no longer looking at Instagram and going, “I wish I had what she had.” I’m saying, “Here’s my life, and that’s hers.” Then, I make it for myself.
Anytime, I have a cooling or a little bit of jealousy, I then cheer her on—I say: “You go, girl. What you’re doing is amazing.” Then, it takes the jealousy away. God has created all of us so that there is room for all of us and a path for every one of us. Mine is not the same as hers.
Bob: Lee, you shared a little bit with us about your eating disorder. You wrote a book/a memoir about your eating disorder. You also, at one point, in your life—you were ready to end it.
Lee: Yes; actually, I did. I attempted suicide, which is not always a subject that everyone wants to talk about.
Dennis: No; I just want to affirm you—suicide is far more common—
Dennis: —in the Christian community and, as far as that goes, the nation is aware of. I think, if people don’t tell their stories, they don’t give people the freedom to come out of the darkness—
Dennis: —of depression—
Dennis: —and admit what they are being tempted to do. I’m glad you did tell your story.
Lee: Well, thank you very much. I’m very lucky to be alive. I tried to take my own life; I was in a deep depression.
Dennis: You were not married at the time?
Dennis: Were you dating Chris?
Lee: I was dating Chris; yes.
Dennis: Did he know?
Lee: He knew I was in a deep depression. He did not know that I was going to take my life. I was pretty serious about it.
So many people had told me: “If you would just pray, you’d be healed.” Yet, I still felt miserable. I still had a real deep, clinical depression. My eating disorder—most of it—was because of the depression of just—I didn’t want to eat; I didn’t want to take care of myself. I felt great shame and embarrassment that I couldn’t get out of it.
Then, I was like, “God must not love, because I am not healed; so then, why should I live?”—which is totally wrong theology.
Lee: It was totally Satan just really messing with my brain. I started—I took multiple pills, was pretty adamant, packed things in boxes—did all the usual things that people do when they’re going to end their lives.
My husband—well, my husband Chris, who I was dating at the time—woke up in the middle of the night and had this feeling that something was wrong, which is crazy. I believe it is Divine intervention. He woke up in the middle of the night, came to the house I was at—I was a nanny—and he banged on the door—you know, banging on the door.
Dennis: So, he drove somewhere.
Lee: Yes; it was about four in the morning, banging on the door. The mom came down and she said, “What are you doing?!” He said: “There is something wrong with Lee. I know there is something wrong with Lee.” I gave him no indication whatsoever.
They ran up, and they found me lying in a pool of my own vomit. I proceeded to be in the ICU for three days. Basically, all the doctors were like: “It’s unbelievable that he found you when he did, or you would have been dead. The chances of you having children / the chances of you really recovering fully from this are very slim.” Ha-ha—but not with a God so big as ours—right? I say that because I have three beautiful kids. I do feel like I’m fully recovered from the eating disorder; depression still rears its ugly head every so often.
The point of that is—I really, at that point in time—I really had this moment with God in the ICU, where He reminded me of the man by the pool in John 5. The man by the pool—you know, he’s lying there 38 years; and he’s saying: “Oh, God, nobody will help me. Nobody will help me. All these people get in the pool, but nobody will help me get in the pool.”
God’s like, “Pick up your mat and walk.”
At this point in my life, God was saying—not “I’m not going to heal you,”—but “Lee, I don’t force you to do things,” and “Lee, you have to do your part. You have to pick up your mat and walk.” It was at that point in my life that I started doing the things that I needed to do for recovery. Then, God met me there.
The whole time, now, I look back—God is saying: “I love you. I don’t want you living like this, but you won’t come to Me. I’m just waiting / waiting for you, Lee, to come to Me.” He said, “Pick up your mat and walk”; and I started walking, and I’m not walking back to that pool for sure. [Laughter]
Dennis: Yes; I’m glad you let our listeners in on that story, because—you mentioned this earlier—you kept talking about people who weren’t convinced their life matters.
Dennis: Your life does matter.
As you were telling your story, I couldn’t help but think of Ephesians, Chapter 2, verse 10—it says, right after, it says, “We have been saved by grace through faith.”
Dennis: We can’t boast about it. It’s God’s love that changes our lives and makes us a new person. It says in verse 10, “For we”—you, Lee—“are His workmanship.” The concept of workmanship means God’s work of art.
Lee: That’s so beautiful!
Dennis: As you were sharing that story, I was thinking: “God made a work of art that He was not done displaying—
Dennis: —“in His creation. He loved you so much. He woke your future husband up; and he had to forego the humiliation and the shame of going and knocking at somebody’s door, at four in the morning,—
Dennis: —“to rescue the work of art.”
What’s the work of art supposed to do?
Well, it goes on and says this: “Created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” He has hard-wired you with a spiritual DNA to use you for this generation, and He loved you so much that He wouldn’t let you perish—
Dennis: —not only spiritually, by dying for you—but also, physically perish and shorten your life when He still has something for you to do.
I’ve got a book for you.
Lee: Well, great. [Laughter]
Dennis: Okay? Let me reach over here and get it.
Lee: While you’re doing that, I would say that I believe He has that for everyone.
Lee: I don’t think just being a speaker and writer is it. You know, God has a plan for everyone, and He’ll save—He’ll go to the ends of the earth for all of us.
Bob: Ephesians 2 is a verse for everybody [who is a believer].
Lee: Yes; yes.
Bob: Everyone is His workmanship—
—everyone is created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. That’s not just a select group.
Lee: Exactly. I don’t want anyone to hear that and think, “Oh, God saved me,”—He’s going to save everyone to do what He has planned for their lives.
Lee: I really believe that.
Dennis: So, you don’t know this, but I wrote a book called—what?
Lee: Choosing a Life That Matters.
Dennis: I want to give you this to you—
Lee: Thank you.
Dennis: —because your life does matter,—
Lee: Thank you.
Dennis: —and He does have a plan for you.
I want to thank you for writing this book—
Dennis: —and calling women, especially, to bravery; and it really is a new beauty.
Dennis: It really is. Thanks for being on the broadcast.
Lee: Thank you for having me.
Bob: We have got copies of the book, Brave Is the New Beautiful, in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order it from us when you go online at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call to order at 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the title of Lee’s book: Brave Is the New Beautiful.
Order, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY,” to request the book.
You know, as we’ve talked about depression and eating disorders—and about discouragement and the very real issues that we face in life—I’m just reminded of the fact that our prayer/our desire every day, here, on FamilyLife Today is to provide listeners with practical biblical help and hope for the issues that we face in our marriages, in our families, in our lives. We want to effectively develop godly marriages and families.
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We hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together in church this weekend, and I hope you can join us back on Monday. Jaquelle Crowe is going to be here. She’s a young woman, who lives in Canada, who has begun to understand how the gospel—and understanding the gospel / believing the gospel—really does change everything in your life, whether you are young or old. She’ll talk more about that on Monday. I hope you can be with us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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