“Mom, what does ‘obese’ mean?”
I dreaded school physical time when I was forced to step on the scale. The doctor shook his head as he wrote the word “OBESE” on my chart. In retrospect, I already knew I was overweight but I was only 10 years old, the severity of this realization hadn’t taken root in my psyche yet.
My mother asked, “Why do you want to know that?”
“Because the doctor wrote it on my chart,” I replied.
Mom didn’t answer right away. When we got home, she brought me into her bedroom, dusted off a bathroom scale, and told me to stand on it.
When the black numbers settled in the glass window, mom looked at me and uttered, “Oh Linda.” I thought mom was ashamed of me.
Have you ever felt ashamed?
Being a mom for 26+ years, now I understand she wasn’t ashamed of me, she was disappointed in herself.
I have “all-ways” struggled with my weight. Being fat is not something you can hide and losing weight is not an easy process. My elementary school years were filled with ridicule and bullying, self-consciousness and embarrassment. Gym class was a bloody nightmare and wearing fashionable clothing was absolutely out of the question.
Maybe your shame didn’t arise from being overweight.
Maybe you thought you were too skinny, had a large nose, or weren’t able to purchase nice clothing.
It doesn’t matter what “it” was, shame is shame.
Over the summer between 8th and 9th grade, I “dieted” by starving myself; eating only one meal a day and walking more than 5 miles every afternoon. When I was hungry, I drank Diet Coke until the hunger seemed to dissipate. This was not only an unwise thing to do, it was also a very dangerous one.
I lost 35 pounds over that summer. I relished the surprised looks on my classmates’ faces when I returned to school in the fall. Their looks encouraged my unhealthy behavior. People finally “liked” me. Cute boys did a double take when I walked by them. I became popular with the “in” crowd. It felt wonderful!
Sadly, they didn’t know me at all.
This experience taught me two things:
1. Being thin made me acceptable and popular.
2. Being fat was shameful.
How foolish I was to think people truly liked me just because I was thin! This realization left me devastated!
Fast forward 45+ years.
The year 2013 was extremely hard on my family. During those dark days, I was forced to do a lot of self-examination; internally and externally. My defenses were shot opening the gate of bad childhood memories.
I was heavy again.
Was my enlarged frame one of the causes of the discourse in my marriage?
I was ashamed of what I looked like.
What happens if he leaves me?
Was my husband ashamed of me?
Who am I kidding! I was ashamed of me!
I was embarrassed of who I had become.
This may sound ludicrous to some, but not to me. I was so beaten down and destroyed; I didn’t know where to turn.
I thought I dealt with all this stuff when I was younger?
Do childhood struggles ever whisper in your ear, “Remember me?”
Exercise became one of the main things I used to get me through those dark days. My alarm rang at 4 am every day. I put on sweatpants, donned a reflective vest and I walked around my block until my feet hurt. Other days, my neighbors saw me riding my bicycle as I earnestly prayed to God for answers, help and comfort. The calories began to burn off and I started to notice a very positive change in my physique.
My self-esteem began to rise. I felt good about myself again. I was getting thinner.
This may sound like a healthy game plan, but it didn’t touch upon the real problem.
I still equated being overweight with shame.
I fell right back into thinking my self-worth was measured
by what I looked like, not who I was.
“Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.
My problem wasn’t the food I was putting in my mouth.
My problem was the shame I held in my heart.
I forgot I was a daughter of the King!
I was ashamed of myself.
I failed to remember that my
shame was nailed to the cross.
During my walks around the block, my bicycle rides, and the time I took choosing healthier eating habits, God worked on my heart. Through prayer, petition and a lot of tears, God transformed my soul. He taught me to trust Him in every aspect of my life. He took my shame, redesigned me, and made me into a woman who knows He is faithful, true and loves me beyond my comprehension.
God’s Word was salve to my soul.
His promises were the building blocks of my healing.
His Holy Spirit renewed my soul.
God has shown me that His concern over my faith far outweighs my concern about the numbers on my scale. He wants me to be healthy both spiritually and physically.
God is not ashamed of me. He loves me and is glad to call me His own, no matter what I look like.
And for this, I am richly blessed.
Note to the reader:
If you find yourself in a place similar to mine, I encourage you to first seek the care of a reputable physician and a trust-worthy counselor. Begin to read His Word and grasp God’s love for you. Surround yourself with people who will encourage you on this journey. I pray God will bless you on your journey!
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”