I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. I remember the only time I was ever at a more “normal” weight was when I was in high school. Thanks to Physical Education requiring that I run a mile almost everyday, and me starving myself by having maybe a can of ravioli a day (I KNOW!), I was at a somewhat desirable weight.
Fast forward, and the weight crept on. With being in college, getting married, having kids, and just life, I found myself more than 150 pounds overweight. How could this have happened? I remember when I was around 220 pounds thinking, this is it, the highest I’ll be. Now is when I start my diet and never again have to be so miserable. Friends, I far passed that weight. I relied on a program to lose weight (several of them, actually) to make it happen and didn’t do the inner work required to change what was happening inside of me.
Something really uncomfortable and shaming happens when you’re obese, especially when you’re morbidly obese. People look at you differently. There are so many stereotypes about and judgments around fat people. It was always assumed that I was lazy, unhappy, “carrying too much of the world’s weight”, etc. And while some of that may be true some of the time, those things created shame in me. What people saw was on the outside, not my heart, which led me to believe something must be wrong with me.
I don’t recall ever going to any kind of Holy Spirit conference where someone didn’t come up to me and address my weight in some manner and “encourage” me with what the “answer” was. And you know what? That was more hurtful than helpful. I realize they wanted to help. Their hearts were in the right place, but these people wouldn’t see ME. They would see my WEIGHT. Instead of my heart, they saw my pants size. And that hurt. Especially for someone who so desperately just wants to be seen and heard and known. Because, after all, isn’t that what we are created for?
Despite those who were well meaning but missed the mark, I pressed on into the heart of Jesus. It’s the one place I knew I was truly known, even more than I knew myself. I began to realize that somewhere along the journey, I lost myself. If I’m to be completely honest with you and with myself, it might be accurate to say that I never knew myself at all. And if I don’t know myself, how can I ever know God or others?
In the presence of God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit, I find what I truly need. I find myself. I find them. I learn that all the things in my life that I’ve been told are “wrong” about me (it goes far beyond just the weight!) are actually not so wrong at all. In this process of knowing myself, I began to lose weight. It has been a natural byproduct of the transformational presence of the Father.
I’m not saying I haven’t had to be aware of what I’m eating. I’m not saying that there aren’t certain guidelines that I’m aware of and try to follow. What I AM saying is that this unraveling of the expectations I’ve allowed to be placed on me in my life has led to something far greater than I ever imagined. I’m becoming myself. The shoes I wear are starting to feel more comfortable. I’m present to myself and pay attention to what is happening in AND around me. I pay attention to what I pay attention to – good and bad. I don’t run and hide from the scary/painful/uncomfortable/sad things. I allow myself to fully experience them…with Jesus at my side.
It’s also been super important for my journey to have a few people come alongside me and begin to really allow them to know me. That’s never been an easy thing for me. But I’ve taken the risk, and it is fruitful. I’m realizing that it’s okay to let people know who I really am as I discover it – the good things AND the wounds and things that need to be transformed.
I’ve been learning that all the hype, the “next best thing”, the “miracle” thing that people say you need to do isn’t for me. I’m not saying those things don’t work for others. But for ME, and MY journey, God is bringing me to a place of intimacy in His presence, and that is my transformational catalyst.
Today I am 80 pounds lighter than when I started. I have a long way yet to go. But it’s a start of a beautiful journey of unraveling and contentedness.