|Confessions From A Former Chubby 6th Grader…
Category: Bible Study Devotionals
This whole thing started at the mall a few weeks ago. I was out shopping with my sister when I walked into one of my favorite little clothing stores and saw thee most beautiful pair of bright red jeans.
Confession: I’ve recently developed an odd fascination with brightly colored pants. But that’s an issue for another blog.
As I saw the jeans, I immediately ran over to see if, one, they were affordable, and two, they had my size. I cheered when I saw the price tag was in my favor and immediately began to dig for my size. As I saw it and pulled it off the rack, I held it up and scratched my head.
“There is NO way these are my size,” I laughed to myself, “these hardly look like they could fit a doll, let alone me.”
I looked for the next size up, found it, and did the same thing, only to be disappointed yet again.
“Well, the clothes in this store DO run small” I said to myself.
“Not THAT small” I argued with myself.
After a few more seconds of digging, I finally grabbed the biggest size they carried.
“This is ridiculous,” I grunted, “I mean seriously, the biggest size in the store?!”
I hoped my disappointment would’ve ended there. That I would’ve tried on the jeans, have them fit, buy them, then rip out the tag and pretend they weren’t actually that size. Alas, things didn’t go my way. I got about midway through trying on those stupid red jeans when I came to the gut wrenching conclusion that it just wasn’t gonna happen.
They didn’t fit. The biggest size in the store didn’t fit.
I wanted to crawl under a rock and die.
It was in that moment that I knew I needed to gain some serious control.
Confession: I struggled with my weight growing up. I was a twig as a child. I took tap, ballet, and a bunch of other dance classes that kept me tiny. That was until I was around seven-years-old. That’s when I discovered something… I liked food.
I got picked on a lot because I wasn’t skinny like the other girls, which resulted in a lot of insecurity. I hated myself because I couldn’t wear the cute clothes all the other girls my age got to wear. I had to shop for the smallest sizes in the women’s department because I couldn’t fit into anything else. I was mortified. And as I got older, it only got worse.
As I entered my early teens, I HATED my body. Anytime someone told me I was pretty, I thought they were just trying to make the fat girl feel good about herself. “What girl is gonna wanna be friends with you? Who would even want to be SEEN with you?” I’d tell myself, “and what about boys, huh? You really think any guy in his right mind would give you a second glance? Get a grip.“
I spiraled out of control with this mentality for years. And while thank God I never delved into any serious eating disorders, you can sure bet I thought about it, and there were certain days when I shunned food like the plague altogether.
As time moved forward and I gave my life to Christ, slowly, my self-image began to change. I felt like I didn’t have to earn people’s love by trying to look good. In a way, I went from one extreme to the other. From “what do people think when they see me?” to “I don’t really give a crap.”
Both ways of thinking are dangerous. But I’ll get back to this later…
I made a decision after the red jeans incident. I finally wanted to lose the weight.
The decision wasn’t made out of vanity or conceit, but because I was really tired of not feeling my best and know that I could stand to be a lot healthier. (And okay, I’ll admit it, fitting into some smaller red jeans would be nice too.)
So I decided to start exercising. I figured I’d start walking a few miles a day and work my way up to more strenuous work.
Confession: Exercise and me have never really been good friends. I joined a gym when I was 12 and quit after a month because I felt embarrassed by the other people watching me (I thought the whole world hated me, remember?) Not to mention every effort I’d attempted to try and maintain an active lifestyle was out the window with the first sight of the ice cream man rolling down the street
Still, this time, I was motivated. I was hungry (no pun intended) and wanted to see myself begin to change for the better.
Thus started day one of “New Sarah.”
I planned to walk four miles. Four measly miles. I stretched properly, grabbed an icy cold bottle of H2O, cranked up my iPod and headed for the door. I was ready. I was pumped.
Two miles in, I cracked.
Gasping for breath and basically crawling home, I got my first taste of how truly out of shape I was. There was no way I was going to be able to make the four miles. The thought of turning the corner to go down my street basically killed me. When I finally got into my room, sweat pouring down my neck, tears began to fall down my face as I collapsed unto my bed and groaned. I was so mad at myself!
“Come on!” I thought, “you couldn’t even do four miles?! What is wrong with you? You loser! You’re just gonna stay like this forever and everyone knows it. You REALLY thought you could do this and stick with it? What a joke! You’ll NEVER make it and nobody will EVER care about you.”
…and there it was.
For the first time in years, that big, ugly monster known as insecurity reared his head in my life. I hadn’t missed him.
I cried harder. All those feelings I had as a kid flooded back to me. All the juvenile insults and horrifying trips to the fitting room where nothing fit me. As this was happening, I did the worst thing you could do in that situation… I started to believe my insecurity. I started to think it was right. I could never change. I’d always be the way I was and I’d just need to learn to live with it.
Thankfully, this story doesn’t end here. Because mere seconds into feeling sorry for myself, God intervened.
As I lie on my bed, a gross, sweaty wreck, I felt the love of my Heavenly Father come and swallow me up. I could almost feel His arms wrap around me.
“Sarah,” I listened to His still small voice, “four miles isn’t going to impress Me if that’s what you were going for. If you truly want to change, I will be right there to help you, but don’t think you need to earn My approval in doing it. I am so proud of you, you are My child, and I love you no matter what.”
Talk about a divine tap on the shoulder.
He was right (imagine that, God was right.) This wasn’t as much of an insecurity issue or a Sarah issue, as much as it was an unresolved issue: How did GOD see me?
I can’t even begin to tell you the hours I’ve spent since becoming a Christian, curled up on my bed, weeping for friends having image issues. So many girls who hate themselves, so many guys who think they could be more. I sit there and cry out to God, simply hearing Him say “If only they saw themselves the way I see them…”
As much as I’ve heard that, I’d never realized it for myself. Sometimes, it’s easier to believe something for someone else than it is to believe it for yourself, isn’t it?
I mentioned before how both the “I care about how I look” and the “I could care less about how I look” mentalities are dangerous. They are.
When you allow other people to dictate how you see yourself, you’re digging yourself a hole you‘ll never be able to climb out of on your own. You could be the most gorgeous person on the face of the planet and someone will STILL find a fault in you. You’ll still have that one freckle, that one blemish, that one thing you can’t get rid of, no matter how much weight you lose or how many surgeries you have. In the eyes of the world, you will NEVER be good enough as you are. It craves the perfection only found in a Savior, limiting it strictly to those in mankind.
On the flip side of that, there is a false security in NOT caring about yourself. The bible calls our body a temple, a temple where the Holy Spirit can dwell and move in our lives, and while the Holy Spirit can move in your life whether you’re a twig or a tree trunk, it’s a little bit harder for God to use you when you could care less about your health and completely let it go. You limit the work God wants to do in your life when you don’t care enough about the people He wants to reach to be able to be there and reach them.
The balance between contentment and self-awareness. It’s an unpopular topic. Maybe that’s why so few people like to talk about it.
I finally saw myself the way God sees me that day as an emotional piece of jello crying on her bed. I realized that He loved me no matter what I looked like, and that I didn’t need to prove anything to Him, or to anyone else for that matter. At the same time though, that wasn’t Him saying my goal to shed the weight was wrong. He wanted me to continue! He wanted to be my strength and see me achieve this goal, but not at the cost of losing myself in the process. What good would it be to loose 100 pounds and wake up hating myself every day because I didn’t do it fast enough? Think I’m some sort of failure for not burning those extra 12 calories?
God wanted to help me change, but at the same time, He wanted me to be happy with the work I was accomplishing, knowing that in my own strength, there was no way, but in Him, I can say I did my best and know that He still loves me, no matter how big or small I am.
This was early June. It’s now mid-way through, and contrary to what insecurity told me, I’m still moving forward in becoming a healthier me. I may not be melting like an ice cube in hell, but I’m progressing, and every day, I’m feeling better, stronger, and seeing the results of the hard work paying off. I’m finally even able to go the four miles—and farther! But not in my own strength, rather, in the strength of Him who makes strong, the One who calls me worthy and beautiful no matter what I look like, and the One who created me and called me His own. If realizing that was the ONLY thing I got out of this, that would have been enough. Thankfully however, my journey continues…
Confession: I can’t believe I’m almost 21-years-old and still think about how other people see me. But if we were all being a little honest, I know I’m not the only one out there who wrestles with this.
I wanna encourage all of you out there struggling with self-image to stop making it about others, but at the same time, don’t make it about yourself either.
You are LOVED unconditionally by a God who could care less if you are fat or thin or tall or short or whatever. But at the same time, if you’re looking to change your life for the better, don’t kick yourself for falling short of your goals. A little is better than nothing. Allow God to strengthen you and help you. He wants to see you achieve more than anyone does! Be content with who He made you to be and thank Him for the changes He is able to help you make.
In the eyes of mankind, you may never measure up, but to God, you are His highest and most precious creation—NO dumb red jeans can take that away from you.