Wednesday, August 6, 2014

A Story that's "Weighty"

This story is just that…a story! I happen to live this story, but I'm hoping that it can give you a little insight on how God has used my circumstances to love me, but even more how much I need him. This story illustrates where I currently find myself. I would like to remind you that this does not define me, although it used to. Sometimes I feel like I have "Big Girl" written on my forehead, but my weight, height, cellulite, and stretch marks say very little of my heart. Please read my story, and remember it's just a tiny glimpse into God's huge, overarching story of His Glory. Please note that I am not sharing this for any health advice or weight loss plans. I have a great team around me that is helping me overcome where my heart is, my sin, and my eating habits. I tell this story with the intentions of showing the depravity of my human heart, and ultimately show, once again that I as well as you, have a daily desperate need for a Savior.

"Dang, She got big!"
Those are the words I have overheard friends saying to other friends. I could read them as they rolled off the lips of family members, as they leaned over to whisper into another's ear. I have heard things like, "I would let you borrow my shirt, but I don't want it to stretch out," "I don't want it, but Courtney will probably eat it," and "She can't fit in here," from people on a packed elevator.

Thankfully, no one has asked me the question, "are you pregnant?" No, I'm not! I think I would cry on the spot. I have gained about 51 pounds in less than 3 years. Yes, I know there is a problem. No, it is not my thyroid. Truthfully, sometimes I wish it were a pregnancy, or had a thyroid issue. Then I would have something else to blame for how I look, rather than the truth! The truth is that I need to look at my heart and acknowledge the real problem. This may seem sad, but it's true.

Over three years ago, on my wedding day I wore a size 8 fitted-dress.
I weighed 165 pounds. I looked great, but I was miserable.

Growing up I developed quicker than most of my schoolmates. My birthday was after August so our school held me back from starting Pre-K for a year. I wasn't too self-conscious until I entered 6th grade. Something triggered in me when my best friend, who was overweight, began to hate herself for how she looked. I played outside a lot, played volleyball, and was pretty active. I had a cute body, but I began to see that I looked different from the girls around me. I was taller and my body developed curves sooner then theirs did. I didn't see that as maturity, I saw it as being big. I felt big, no matter my weight, or the pant's size. It became an ever present voice that taunted me in my head. As I feared my weight and tried to control it, my body blew up. It was this massive pendulum that swung from anorexia to gluttony. I considered throwing up, but I was a singer and knew it could damage my vocal cords. Instead I tried to eat my sorrow away, but it never seemed satisfied.
Through high school, I quit all of my sports because a "serious" relationship was taking up a lot of my time. I gained alot of weight, and I gained it really fast. I remember in the beginning of my relationship, this boyfriend begging me with tears in his eyes, "Please, don't get fat! Please!"
I broke up with him and ran away to a bible school (that's a whole 'nother story). I lost a lot of my weight thanks to being broke, having no job, and a low budget cafeteria menu. I became less stressed as the pounds shed, but still in my heart, I felt like a "fat girl."
I was able to stay smaller as I worked at the summer camp which had long hours and small meals. Still, my heart was uneasy and wasn't satisfied. In my eyes, I was bigger than the girls around me. I was convienced I couldn't be anyone's definition of beautiful because I wasn't even my own.

In my mind, beautiful was blond, petite, and super skinny.
Which I was none of the above!

Where did I get this? Why was this my definition? Maybe media, maybe it was the girls I saw with the guys I wanted. Maybe it was because I didn't see myself as beautiful, beauty had to be everything I wasn't.
I was sold a lie, and bought it.

I didn't believe anyone that would try to tell me I was lovely, or that what I was believing was lies! Instead, the rejection of others and lack of praise was what defined me. It was my identity. I was broken. I had no idea who I really was. I didn't believe that what God created (Me!) was good or was ever enough. Even when I had all that my wicked heart desired, the blonde hair and was a skinny version of myself. I was not satisfied.

I met Derek at that summer camp.
He was a masterpiece.
Smart, handsome, funny, and amazingly talented!
I really liked him. He seemed to really like me too.
I felt I had two things going for me at that point. Two things I thought I could slam on our imaginary table and say "Hey Derek! Choose me! I'm worth something!"
1. I thought I was pretty (now that I wasn't as big as I once was).
2. I could sing.
I knew Derek wanted to be a spoken word artist, so I knew I had what he would want in a wife.
I would like to add, God loves his creation. He loves what He has made. He knows all things, which means He also knows what will destroy us. These two things I thought I brought to the table defined me, not Jesus. I was worth something, because I was pretty, and I could sing. Not because I found my hope and idenity in Jesus. 

So what would it mean if I wasn't “pretty," and I could no longer sing... What would I have left?

Let's find out.
Because God loves me so much, He destroyed my idols. It seemed like the day after my wedding I inflated. Five, ten, twenty pounds. I was speeding down a hill and I could not stop. I tried what seemed like everything, but I couldn't let go of the weight.

I grew polyps on my vocal cords, and because I was prideful and angry, I kept singing. I ended up losing my voice and needing surgery, which kept me completely silent for about a month. I never thought I would sing again. I was so angry at God. As I lost control, I thought for sure Derek would leave me because I wasn't the girl he married anymore. I was just waiting for a tiny, blonde girl to come bouncy into our lives and I would have to watch my husband be woo'd away from me.

What happened next, left me in awe.

This man loved me so well during these past 3 years. He has held me as I've cried, complimented me, encouraged me as I worked out, and continued to enjoy me as I am. My inability to believe I was enough played a huge part in many of our fights. Derek has shown me the Gospel by loving me deeply during this time past my body shape. We are still together, our covenant is strong, and we are growing in our love, and enjoyment of each other daily! He is my biggest fan, and my best friend. I'm so grateful for the gift he is in my life.
When do you hear stories like that?
Now, you may think that God was mean to me (I did at the time), or you may even say that this wasn't God. You may think I miss stated something when I said he loves me so much that he destroyed my idols. But I know God loves me! He has convienced me of this truth time, and time again. I know he would preserve me for that which will greatly harm me, I'm not just talking about temporal, but eternal/heart/deep stuff. He cares more about my heart then my happiness, because He knows what my heart is focused on will direct me. When I am naval gazing, I compare, covet, and critize all those around me, losing many friends in the process. I know because it's happened before!!
Let me clarify. Being healthy and strong is not wicked. It's what Jesus intended us to do as stewards of our body. But personally, that was not my heart's intensions in my vanity. I wanted to be hot, admired, and wanted. Those are dangerous desires with ill intentions. I'm glad Jesus didn't let me lose the weight. I could see that the vanity in my heart was quenching any joy out of my day to day life.
I'm learning so much about what beauty really is, and this is why my blog say "Beauty flows from a beautiful heart," it's true!. My weight, my hair color, skin color, even the words people say about me, do not define me. My identity is found is Christ Alone!
My body may not be where it should be, but my heart is growing in a direction where I can become a better steward with it. I want to glorify God with my body, heart and mind and feel confident that my idenity is not found in my pant's size, but whom I hide myself in. Jesus.
"Rock of Ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself in thee."
This is certainly not the end of my story, and I can't wait to share more of overcoming gluttony and obesity. I hope to learn these valuable lessons thoroughly, so that I may pass them on to my children.
How do you feel in your skin? Who/What defines that?