“I don't want to read God Loves Ugly. How could Christa possibly understand how I feel! She's skinny.”
Year after year for about a decade, I looked at skinny girls and had the same thought. How could thin people ever understand my daily torment of attempting to stuff myself into “fat jeans”—praying that the zipper would make it up all the way up without squeezing my muffin tops into the shape of a small whale? The word skinny was a both a curse word, and a curse word that I longed for someone to call me. In fact, I wanted this label so desperately, it consumed my every thought, every emotion, and every moment of existence.
According to the movies, skinny meant loved. According to my favorite TV series, skinny meant happy. Skinny meant accepted, wanted, and desired—all the things that my broken heart believed would fix all of my problems. But year after year when I wasn't skinny enough to put on a swimming suit without having a stroke, I continued to live as an unhappy, unwanted, rejected, and undesirable blob of matter, ashamed that my breathing wasted good oxygen.
I wasn't unhappy simply because I was 40 lbs overweight. I was unhappy because the pain in my heart was so great, I would sit alone in my apartment bingeing on anything I could stuff in my face, watching television late into the night, addicted and enslaved to a medicating food addiction.
I wasn't unlovable because I had stretch marks and cellulite. I was unlovable because I believed that I was, so I acted that way—lying, bragging, name-dropping, and slaving for perfection—plowing over anyone who got in my way.
I wasn't unwanted because I was physically hideous. I was unwanted because I was so petrified of boys who had hurt me in the past, that any new guy who got around me would get made fun of, put down, and thrown a rejection punch long before he ever had a chance to reject me.
My entire life was built on the foundation of a lie—if I can just attain ‘skinny,' then all of my problems will be solved. The thing was, my weight wasn't the real problem—my weight was a symptom of the problem.
And the problem was my broken heart.
Most people have ‘something' that they have on a golden pedestal—believing that when they finally achieve this goal, or get this social status, house, job, spouse, dress size, or number in the bank—then and only then will they experience long-lost happiness. This dangerous approach to life has a couple of holes that I found out the hard way over the years:
1) If you can't be happy until you achieve your goal, it makes for a lot of sad days in the meantime.
2) When you finally attain your goal and you lose it or it's taken away from you—your happiness is temporary and not permanent.
When happiness is attached to a goal, an event, or an achievement, then unfortunately, it can slip through your fingers faster than the wind on a blustery day.
Day after day for almost a decade, my journal entries looked just about the same—focusing on the food, the weight, my appearance, failures, and imperfections. Each day was spent scheming how to finally get my body and my eating under control, and hopefully stop being a total disaster in the process. But focusing on the problem only magnified it, and I lived consumed with what I wasn't, staying hopeless and depressed.
Until I found out that there was a much better way to live life.
My unhappiest years were lived from the outside-in. I believed that if my outward circumstances could achieve perfection, maybe my inner world would finally have peace. But living in a fallen world where bad things kept happening meant my world kept spinning—so I lived each day in a dizzy stupor, far from my coveted happiness, joy, or peace.
And then I made the switch—learning to live from the inside-out.
When I stopped focusing on all of my problems—the food, my weight, the fact that no guy would touch me with a 10-foot pole—and started hanging out with the solution whose name just happens to be Jesus, then He began doing an incredible work that I never could have done on my own. He began going back to the roots deep within my heart, showing me how to pull out the destructive lies, and replace them with His truth. He began holding me when I cried from loneliness, and kissing my face, my tears, and my wounded heart. He began showing me how all the things I hated about myself—He didn't hate them at all. In fact, He saw everything and had zero condemnation or shame for me—all He wanted was to be invited into the mess, to shine His light into the darkness, and through relationship…..
Begin to love my broken heart into wholeness.
The more I learned to do this, the craziest thing began to happen. My addiction to food started to take care of itself. And because I wasn't bingeing anymore, the weight that my body held onto out of shame began to shed on its own. Even though everything looked far from the cover of a magazine, I was learning to look in the mirror and see something different…..
I was seeing true beauty radiating from a heart that was being healed.
Over the years, my body simply followed what I believed, landing on the natural size God created me to be while living in a healthy place. And because I live every day to be loved by my beautiful God, when I look in the mirror these days, my reflection has become the image of what's going on inside of my heart. The more my heart is greatly loved, the more love I have to give—back to God and away to others. The more my heart is filled with peace, the more it passes my understanding to guard my heart and my mind when the storms of life begin to blow. Because I am the temple of the Holy Spirit, my heart is an eternal oasis of joy, patience, kindness, goodness—-you name it, and it's living inside of me because of who lives inside of me. The more I eat on the fruits of the spirit alive in my spirit, the more my soul is nourished, my youth is renewed, and my physical body follows what's going on inside of my heart.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to be beautiful—in fact, we're created in the image of the most beautiful Guy in the universe, and I love looking like my Father! But I don't slave to look like Him by obsessing over my outward appearance anymore.
I've learned to let Him love the ugly parts of my life, and the more that I'm loved, the more I look like Him.
And the more that I look like Him, the more true beauty radiates from my life.
Even if you've never dealt with a food addiction, we've all had things in our lives that we've tried to change from the outside-in. But until we get the root of the problem healed inside of our hearts, another bad fruit will always grow back in its place. If you'd like to learn how to change from the inside-out, then take the 10-day God Loves Ugly Study Guide challenge with me. Subscribe to my weekly newsletter on the lefthand side of the page, and you will receive the first two chapters of the Study Guide for FREE. Each weekday—starting today—for the next two weeks, you will receive short videos that coach you from the pain of a broken life into the reality of our inheritance of freedom.
Are skinny girls happier than chubby girls? I blew that theory out of the water—because I learned how to love myself even while I couldn't fit into my jeans, which meant I attained something way better than happiness. I found lasting joy.
And so can you.