For quite some time I have struggled on how and if I would ever share this story with anyone. I never really knew if I would have the strength or courage to reveal what I am about to say to my family, my friends or even my personal blog. It wasn’t until today, as I sat in church and heard Pastor Conway say, “It’s okay to NOT be okay, as long as you’re on your way to BEING okay, and at that moment I knew it was time. For several years now I have been “NOT OKAY” with some things in my life and it wasn’t until recently that I started being okay with the things about me that were “NOT OKAY”.
Have you ever woke up and looked in the mirror at yourself, only to see someone you did not recognize? A person that is so familiar but yet so unfamiliar staring you right in the face. Well 7 years ago after giving birth to my first son I became unrecognizable, to myself. Most people would say, “well its natural for your appearance to change after the birth of a baby”, and yes that is correct, lots of people’s bodies, and features change after giving birth to a child, but nothing I had ever seen on any woman could have prepared me for the person I would become shortly after giving birth.
Before my son was born, my husband and I agreed I would stay home with for a least the first year, this one year plan ended up becoming almost 2 before I actually went back into to workforce; but this is one chapter in my life that I am extremely grateful to have been able to write. During these few years my body and outer appearance took a toll on me that I never saw coming. In over a year I gained almost 50lbs of excess weight.
My husband and I got married in September of 2003, at the time I was 5 foot 2 inches weighing 120 lbs. Now I never expected to stay that size for the rest of my life, ( I didn’t want to) but I also didn’t expect to ever become the size I currently was.
For some time I was in denial about the weight. I lived 600 miles away from my home town so most the people who knew me before all the extra baggage, were miles and miles away so I didn’t really have to worry about anyone bringing the weight to my attention until I traveled home which was only once or twice a year.
But the minute I would arrive there I was faced with comments, unsolicited advice and all sorts of opinions about my new size. I was embarrassed, to say the least. I was ashamed and many times hurt. I didn’t realize how much emphasis my previous appearance made on how people treated and reacted to me. Even on people I didn’t even know.
Before the weight gain, I could step out of a car and stop traffic not because I did anything to get the attention, but because for whatever reason, society and people put much attention and emphasis on thin people. After the weight gain I don’t recall even being glanced at except by my husband. It was through this journey God would use my weight for purposes I never knew exist.
Three years after carrying the extra weight I decided that if I was going to be a “big girl”, I would embrace it and work with what I had. So that is what I did. Although I hated the larger sizes, I embraced them and worked them as if I was still a size 2. I had to learn to love who ever I was, in the skin that I was in.
I would be lying if I said this task came easy. I can remember a time being home in Louisiana for a visit and I would still get the unwanted comments and opinions about the weight. But as I would prepare myself for this trip home I would pray and ask God to sustain me before I got there; because let me be clear, although I was uptight and embarrassed about the weight, underneath it all was still an attitude and mouth that could pop off in 0 to 90 secs if given a reason, and believe me I had reason. So as I visited my family back home God would literally give me physical strength and willpower to hold my tongue no matter what was said about the weight. But in the midst of God sustaining, He was also doing some revealing…..
As I prepared myself for whatever was to come, God began revealing the hearts, minds and truth inside of people I considered family and friends. He began to show me how outer appearances were much more important to these people than who I was on the inside. I started to pay attention to the people around me and how they treated me prior to the weight and after. As I looked at them God begin to show me a part of myself. He started to reveal to me, my own vanity and self-centeredness through people who had now turned the tables on me. What I saw disgusted me but helped me to see a side of myself that I didnt like, but I definitely recognized.
Let me press rewind for a moment and bring you back to a petite young woman who married the man of her dreams almost 9 years ago. I am reminded of how she turned heads, and walked with a strut that coined her nick-name “runway queen”; and she dared anyone to tell her any different. She was very self involved, self-centered, a judge-mental young woman, and she was now beginning to show through all the people I now watched judging me.
So I started praying and asking God for forgiveness for treating people the way I had in the past. As I would pour my heart out to Him, I would explain to Him, how people now treated me and how horrible I felt for the people I had treated in the same manner. I wanted to see people’s hearts and not their appearances, just as I wanted them to see mine.
Throughout this revelation period, I saw God shifting a lot of things in my life, and while I thought this shifting was to reveal to me the hearts of others, I soon learned this process, including my weight gain struggles and the attitudes I had endured, were all a set up to reveal the person I was and the way my heart looked underneath my former size (2).
So I began making friends and acquaintances with people who were less attractive on purpose. I would literally scan a room and look for people who would be considered unlikely, by society views and I would intentionally seek true friendships with them. I didn’t want to see the outer of anyone; I needed to be friends with their heart.
After a few years of being pruned and gleaned, it was time to address my issues with my family. Once I addressed my heart issues with them, we were able to rebuild genuine relationships.
Throughout this whole process the one constant I have not forgotten, is that Jesus could care-less what size we are, how much we weigh, or how pretty we look. All He wants is your heart; and if you’re heart isn’t in it, He doesn’t want it all.
Today I write to you a lot lighter, a lot slimmer and much healthier. Having struggled with this weight for over 7 years and never being able to seriously get rid of it, I have found that loosing the weight was never my issue, but loosing the vanity, self-centeredness and messed up heart was. When I allowed God to reveal the true me on the inside, and perform a heart transplant on who I really was; He began to shed the pounds off with little to no effort on my part. I tell you this story in awe of what God can do with those who give their entire lives to Him wholeheartedly. I am a true believer that God will use one situation for a thousand different purposes.
I pray you will be encouraged by this, for whatever season of life you are currently in and realize that it is okay to NOT be okay, as long as your own your way to being okay.