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Hope V.

Today, Hope speaks to us about recovering from an eating disorder, transformation and being enough.

Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I grew up in Bristol and was one of five kids. I was the middle child, and honestly always had slight middle child syndrome. Life was pretty steady for the first 10 years, I struggled in places but thought that was the norm. When I got to secondary school, I began to struggle more with family life, processing emotions, and feeling good enough. I developed anorexia when I was about 12-13, and it became something that dominated me and who I was. It was my best friend and my worst enemy all in one. Comforting me in those moments, numbing emotion, but at the same time guilt tripping me when I had anything to eat or drink. Fast forward over the next four years, and I began my road to recovery. Learning about what I needed to do to manage emotion, and to have the future I wanted.

Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: This is such a hard question. When I became a Christian, Isaiah 61 was read out, but I think whilst that passage is one that guides me, reassures me. Right now my mind keeps coming back to Joshua 1:9.

Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Surrendering more to Jesus. I find it so hard to trust God with my future, and trust what He is doing. I need to learn to sit in quiet, to tune into Him and to take time to just be still which is something I find so so hard in places.

Profession: Mental health campaigner and author.

If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? I wrote one, and it was called Stand Tall Little Girl, which was based on a song my older brother wrote for me when I was in treatment. It was all about standing tall and taking on the world.

When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? When I was a child, I must have had some encounters with God but never really stuck at anything. Eleven years ago, I walked out of a church and vowed never to go back. Little did I know that 11 years later I would be stood in the entrance to HTB, sweating on a hot summers Sunday evening, looking in through the door debating what to do. Hiding in the back row of church so no one would talk to me, so I could keep myself separate. Then, Alpha began. And more anticipation. I had no idea what to expect. So instead my guard was up, I spent my first few weeks resorting back to my old teenage self (that version of me where I so often used to get stuck, trapped in my 13 year old self where the abuse set it). I knew something was stopping me making a commitment to God, but I couldn’t work out what. Perhaps giving up control? Trust? The guilt I felt? The fact that I couldn’t let go of my past? I felt God had punished me over the summer, and over parts my life because of what happened as a child, something that was out of my control.

The truth is, I recently gave my life back to Jesus, it took a lot of courage and support from others to do this. But it has been life-changing already. I never thought I would get to 30 years old and I am now just 6 months away. I have come from being so broken to feeling okay again. When I walked back into church after so long I never thought it would be any different that I would never feel God. I knew he existed and loved others but I never felt he loved me. Now, I know he does. Despite all my failings, he is there and he cares. The past is in the past. I left that weekend knowing that I don’t know everything and that there is so much to learn. I feel a mixture of fear and excitement about my future with God. But I know now for once in my life I am ready for this. This isn’t just my parents having a relationship with God or someone telling me what to believe or me feeling guilty so I believe. This is the real deal.

“The truth is, I recently gave my life back to Jesus, it took a lot of courage and support from others to do this. But it has been life-changing already.”

How would you describe Jesus? Loving, patient and kind.

Top three essentials: My running shoes, my phone (although I hate to admit that) and my jounral.

Hobby: Hiking and basically anything outdoors!

Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Flood myself with worship music and be vulnerable.

Favorite person in scripture? The woman at the well – the fact that she not only was loved and welcomed by Jesus even in her brokeness, which I just love that this is talked about in the Bible in such real terms, but also that she then went and talked about Jesus to everyone.

What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? That He loves people in their brokeness and even when we aren’t healed, He is right there with us. I really believe that God can transform our lives.

“I really believe that God can transform our lives.”

How do you engage with your community? Talking and trying to be honest and vulnerable.

Favorite holiday? The Middle East – probably Jericho!

A goal you have? To help everyone realise they are enough. I think so many people go through life feeling, stuck alone and just not good enough. And I want to change that.

A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: Every week, we list of three things that hvae been good, three things that are on our mind and three things we are looking forward to! It is nice for grounding us!

Question you will ask when you get to heaven? Why wasn’t I healed?

Thing you want to raise awareness about: Eating Disorders – I want everyone to know that even if you can’t see someone is struggling.

What does your morning routine consist of? Getting up, reading my Bible whilst eating breakfast and drinking a herbal tea (I have to be very strict with myself as often I want to look at Instagram first!) Then I might go for a walk, or a run! On Fridays, my husband and I go for a coffee pastry walk! We started it mid-pandemic but have kept it up!

What is on your nightstand? Plants!

Define Christianity in a sentence: Risky, but transformational, loving and freeing, if you let it!

For more Hope:

@hopevirgo_

Until next time, keep witnessing!

XX

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