I remember being a young person – around 10 years old – and someone walking up to me, poking me in the stomach, and giggling like the Pillsbury Dough Boy. I kinda smirked and laughed it away, but inside I felt this sense of, “Yep. This is who I am. I’m the fat, funny one that everyone can poke and laugh at. This is the life I’m made to live.”
I was an athletic kid. I’ve basically always been the shortest on any team, but when I started ‘filling out’ people started poking me. And challenging me to pizza eating contests and laughing when I would win.
Fast forward a few years. I’m in high school where looks matter and if you don’t have looks, well, hopefully you’re willing to lean in hard to self-deprecating humor so you can make the joke before others, that way it doesn’t hurt as bad, ya know.
I made my friends by being the non-threatening chubby girl that would boost their ego, gossip about whoever they were gossiping about, and eat whatever they put in front of me because they “bet I really couldn’t eat that too!”
When I got to college it was time for a new me. I was playing softball, working out twice a day with my team, eating in a college cafeteria (which basically means you don’t eat because it’s gross), and making changes. That lasted about as long as it takes for someone to binge Making a Murderer – I ended up leaving the softball team and spiraling into loneliness and depression. And food. Because, ya know, that’s who I am – the chubby one.
The one that isn’t worthy of love. Or friendship. Or identity outside of a Pillsbury Dough Boy chuckle.
The thing about being a human is that, unless you are old (like 99, I think), you are probably going to struggle with the questions of, “Who am I with/without this thing/person/place? What am I supposed to do with my life? Where does my identity lie?”
At 24, I was still working through a pretty big heartbreak, finding out who my friends were and what Godly friendship looked like, and struggling with the ‘fact’ that no man could ever love me if I weighed what I weighed. I was going to the gym, working out at least three times a week, and still the girl that every guy saw as just-a-friend. And I was convinced it was because I was overweight.
I was living in this world that tells me I have to operate like The Biggest Loser. That if I’m not losing 13-27 pounds a week, I’m not trying hard enough. I believed that this transformation of body, heart, and mind was going to be as easy as 3 hours in a gym every week. If a quick-fix couldn’t fix me, nothing could.
I would work out and eat well for a solid period of time, get on the scale, and see little to no change. Then I would go right back to the chips and cheese and pasta and guilt and shame and worthlessness that entrapped me to begin with.
And I would do that with the sin in my life as well. I would muster up enough Kayla-strength to hold back acting on temptations, and as soon as I fell back in to sin, more guilt, shame, worthlessness, etc. flooded my life.
I desired a quick fix of my exterior appearance but wasn’t willing to do the hard work on the inside – exposing my sin before my Creator and allowing Him to remove the weight of sin in my life.
The issue? The way I viewed myself. The way I believed that no one could ever love me because of my weight. The way that I doubted God’s goodness for me because I wasn’t under 150 pounds. The way that I still let food and comfort control how I lived my life.
It’s now February 2016 and I’m 26 years old. I don’t let people poke me in the stomach any more. I try not to let food be my source of comfort (all of the time – as you’ve probably figured out if you’ve ever at any time read this blog, I love queso. And bacon.) I have friends that love me enough to say, “You will be okay. I will help you. We will help each other. You are not these lies you believe about yourself.”
I do believe that I can live my life in a healthy way – exercising and eating so that I can glorify God in my body, not to make my body or the scale my god.
I no longer believe that I need to lose 30 pounds in 30 minutes.
What I do believe, and what I’m learning, is that I am a beloved child of God. That I am loved, not only by God, but by people who see me for who God has made me. And I believe that all of life and all of sanctification is meant to be learned and grown in throughout all of life. I’m learning that giving myself grace is a process, and by shedding the guilt and shame that comes with trying and not succeeding, so going back to the same old habits, I’m shedding more weight than a literal pound can represent.
This past weekend I was at a baby shower of one of my best friends. Last April I celebrated another best and the impending arrival of her little one. 9 months apart the three of us took the same picture.
The biggest difference? I now see someone who is learning that her identity isn’t in her weight. Her identity isn’t in how her clothes look on her. Her identity isn’t in how many miles she can or cannot run without walking.
Her identity is in her Maker – who made her and calls her His, perfectly, whole, and without blemish.
“Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”-Psalm 51: 6-7, 10