I had just turned 21. I was a successful senior in college at the time, and one of the top voice students in a nationally renowned private university. I had suffered on and off through the years with body image. From anorexia, to being picked on for having more of a strong look than a skinny one, when the skinny look was at its peak. I’m small-framed, but when I train and eat right….the muscle shows…I will never have a thigh gap, and I most certainly do not want one now. When it came to my creativity, and my reasoning skills, well, I was pretty secure in those, but well, I had a problem…that problem was stress. I was flat broke, and had found out that two of my closest friends were spreading rumors about me in addition to their picking on me in class.
I saw one of these “friends” 2 and 1/2 years ago, and she still can’t look me in the eye. I would love for her to know that I love her and forgive her, and maybe she’ll read this one day, and know that.
I wasn’t perfect; I’ll admit…I over committed myself because at this point, I just wanted to belong. My church rejected me. I went to a church where no one, wanted me around because I had been homeless at one point during the previous summer. Students that went to that “certain” school were successful, had good jobs, even while in school, and always kept up appearances, but oh, if they only knew how many of us went hungry at night.
By my spring semester of that year, I was malnourished, and gaining stress weight. When my parents came to pick up my stuff from school, my mom gave me a hug, and when she did, a clump of hair broke off in her hands. I looked gray. I had gained 35 pounds…Well, by the time I started to knock it off, my chorus mates and friends had noticed, and I was at my lowest point, when I came out of the back of a tour bus to hear a classmate say, “I hate girls with bigger legs. For goodness’ sake, they have lipo for problems like that!” I remember being utterly crushed because this guy prided himself on being an intellectual and not focused on appearance. That was when I started to crack…..I would have panic attacks before choir, while everyone else thought it was just allergies, my bodies response to stress was killing me, literally. I had so much socially anxiety, I would lock myself in my basement apartment and cry myself to sleep at night. I had the flu 4 times in one semester…I’ve NEVER been sick that much in a span of 6 months. My church didn’t want me, so I stopped going. I reached out to people, but everyone smiled and walked by. Although on the outside I still appeared to be friends with everyone, I felt that my true circle of trust was growing smaller and smaller.
Well, God told me to go back home, and I did, and I didn’t tell anyone else, because I didn’t feel that I mattered, yes, that’s how low my self-image was…I knew the Lord, but I had forgotten that He had made me in His Image, and how beautiful I was in His eyes. When I realized that, amazingly, I dropped the weight quickly, and got certified to teach group fitness. I am so grateful to my friend Ms. Tina, who pushed me and encouraged me along the way.
I remember hearing from a “friend” that my professors were so upset with me because I told no one I wasn’t coming back until I had another offer from another school. They may never understand why I did this, but here is why: I needed to finalize this decision between myself and God, I needed to stop pleasing people, for once in my life. Because that semester, I lived for PEOPLE, not God, but people, and I was lonely and let down. I love those professors dearly, and maybe someday they’ll read this too. I hope that somehow they’ll read this and understand that even I didn’t know the big picture then.
The happy ending, my relationship with God is awesome, and I’ve kept my weight off for 4 years! I also have true friends who love me for who I am now and a husband who encourages me to stay healthy, but who loves me for my heart, and I go to an awesome church too! I’ve learned to get away from bad influences, to forgive myself for my mistakes, and hold on to what God’s Word says, and LIVE it out. I have value.
Maybe you have bad body image, are dealing with bullies, maybe someone close to you crushed you with their words, and still has no clue. Know that you are unique, you are one of a kind. You can be healthy and rock it like no one else can. God wants you to look like only you can. Stop being afraid and let his perfect love cast out fear. The people that put you down are afraid of the amazing person that you are, and are only seeking that affirmation because they themselves do not feel adequate.
And hey, if you’re reading this blog, and you know it’s about you, just know that I love you, ok?
Only when I was able to realize who I was made to be on the inside could I successfully change the outside.