I need to lose fifteen pounds.
I think this at least every other day. Sometimes it really makes me (and my tight pants) upset. Other times, I feel comfortable in my (stretchy) pants and can talk myself out of a diet or healthy choice.
I’ve struggled with weight my whole life. Being bigger and taller than everyone else has always messed with my head, and while I didn’t grow up with parents who ever made my weight an issue, I played sports and was active enough to realize early on my body wasn’t like the others.
When Chris and I started dating, I was about seventy pounds heavier than him. I would imagine us walking through the mall and just know there were people behind us making fun of our size difference. I thought all those stereotypical things about big girls and skinny guys and knew what we looked like was a joke to someone.
Does a lot of my funny, humorous personality come from always being the fat friend?
In the spring of 2012, I saw a picture of myself and felt immense shame. Shame at how much space I took up. Shame at how I could even pretend to look happy while living in that body. Shame at how much food I knew I was eating.
So I lost weight.
This wasn’t the first or the fortieth time I had tried, and I can’t tell you why this time stuck other than it did. Over the course of the next year and half, I lost over fifty pounds and got down to my healthy, normal, happy weight.
I’m embarrassed to say I was at my “happy weight” and still had it in my mind I needed to lose another 5-10 pounds. I never lost that weight, but I have a feeling even if I did, I wouldn’t have been satisfied. I still would have needed to lose just 5-10 more.
I could lose weight and still not like myself or my body. I could still not like the stomach pouch that brought me my two babies (but, let’s be honest, I had before babies too). I could not look at myself in the mirror without being more critical than loving.
Over the course of the last few years, I’ve gained and lost the same 10-15 pounds. I’ve sat consistently about 15 pounds over what my favorite weight is.
I find it really hard to love myself because of those pounds.
Something in my brain tells me I’m not worthy of being loved, being called beautiful, or being attractive to my husband because I have fifteen pounds on my body I don’t want.
I’ve been trying to reconcile my hateful thoughts to what God tells me about His love. And I’m having some real problems justifying my self-hatred when I read about and share with others how much Jesus loves them.
Standing in front of the mirror and admitting God loves me just like this—extra weight and all—is scary and sometimes too much. I know, in my smart little brain, this is not healthy and not correct. I know I am made in His image and there is nothing I can do to make Him stop loving me, but somewhere along the way of learning that message, I also learned from the world if I’m not visually pleasing enough, I don’t actually deserve love.
I’ve turned the (completely wrong and dangerous) message of the world that I’m not equal, important, worthy, valued, or deserving if I have a certain pants size and made it the message of my Father. Unfortunately, the world got confused with the Word, and suddenly I’m not sure God can love me or forgive me or care for me because I’ve eaten too many tacos today.
The only reason I’m sharing this with anyone other than my journal is because I’m afraid I’m not the only one who got this message confused. I’m scared somehow we started equating love—both from our earthly relationships and our Heavenly Father—with our weight and that is in direct conflict with what God tells us.
He tells me I am loved and doesn’t mention my pants size.
He tells me I have value and doesn’t ask how many cookies I had for breakfast.
He tells me I am worthy and doesn’t ask about the scale.
He tells me I am loved.
He tells me I have value.
He tells me I am worthy.
Me: Loved. Valued. Worthy.
You: Loved. Valued. Worthy.
Read that again if you need to.
I know some of us want to argue about this. We want to bring up gluttony as a deadly sin. We want to mention having idols like food that take our focus off God. And yes, I hear you. I understand the sin part. I understood it so well, I forgot about the love part too. I don’t need to be reminded of how not having self-control is a struggle.
But I’m still loved, valued, worthy, and His daughter as I wrestle with those things. We seem to focus so much on the sin part and forget the LOVED IN SPITE OF IT ALL part.
When I lose those fifteen pounds, I’ll be worthy of love.
When I get that promotion, I’ll be valued finally.
When I get married, I will finally be happy.
Because I am hard on myself and my inner dialogue is often highly critical, I forget the in-the-meantime part of struggling through sin. I forget the part where He loves me right now with no changes. He loves me when I’m fat and when I’m less fat. He loves me when I can’t love myself and when other people can’t either. He loves me when I’m in the pit sinning and when I’m starting to climb out. He loves me at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end. There is no cute before-and-after picture where He suddenly decides I’m good enough now.
We live in a world that loves a transformation. We’re obsessed with being better and younger and faster and smarter and striving. And technically there is nothing wrong with that (although even as I type that I feel strongly it’s debatable; that’s a different post though), but if we’re caught up in the improvement part so much we forget the grace and love and mercy part in the present moment, we’re missing the freedom. The freedom to be loved well no matter what the world tells us about our appearance. The freedom to be confident in who God created us to be right now (someone made in His image). Then in that freedom, we get to ask with an earnest and open heart how we can be used for His purpose, right where we’re at, in this very moment, in our tight jeans and with our slightly crooked teeth.