Monday, August 12, 2013

My thoughts on National Eating Disorder Week at BYU

(I started this during NED Week.. that was a few weeks ago. But the story and its effect and message is just the same. I dearly hope and pray that if this resonated with you, please pass it along and know that God is aware and you are not alone)
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13 years ago two other track girls and myself were standing in a circle talking. It was one of those really wonderful spring mornings. The kind that tend to get stuck in memory. Well, at least in mine. Funny how even 13 years later I can still picture each of their faces, remember what we were all wearing, and I remember exactly what went through my head.

It was then I realized I must be fat.

We had just finished a workout and it was in this time of stretching out and prolonging the walk back to the trainer that one of the girls brought of Body Contouring. I thought she had a great body. She was one of our fastest girls on the team. But I can still see her reach down and pull the skin out on her sides. This was the first time I remember someone pulling at thier own skin like that. Thinking back on it, I know now that it was just that skin you have so your body can stretch and move without tearing. But even then as a sophomore in college, I thought that she must be right, she was fat.

So where did that leave me?

I wasn't particularly good at any sport really. I was on the Volleyball team, but didn't play in the games. I did pole vaulting (which I was terrible at) and javelin (which I was actually pretty okay at). I didn't break any records nor did I manage to break any bones either. But standing there under that perfect yellow sun, feeling the warmth of it on my skin, I felt unworthy. I felt ugly. And I felt fat.

Those have plagued me for more years and kept me on more crash diets than I would care to remember. I believed that BEAUTY came from a size. I never had thought that before. I was really happy in my size 7 jeans, size Med tops and large size 9 feet. (Ok, nevermind, I actually have always hated my feet.) I went on a date almost every weekend, had enough boys like me to know I wasn't ugly and was told by my parents and family I was beautiful.

But I felt like it must have all been an act. Because I really was UGLY. FAT. WORTHLESS. And there, with the sky as blue as the sea and the red track beneath my feet, I vowed to get pretty. To do what it took to get thin.

So I stopped eating. Actually, I did eat. I had a Dole Fruit Cup and a PB&J. Period. And water. I couldn't just stop that. But that was all. My wise mother knew something was happening to me but I would leave for school  at 7:30a and be back after work. That was around 10:30pm. The crazy thing is, I didn't get much thinner. I was sure I was destined to be fat and ugly and unlovable.

Years later I got married to a man better than I thought I could be worthy of, had a baby and suddenly, I was buying size 2 and even 0 jeans! I was wearing shirts that were XS. I couldn't believe it. I was thin. I was little. Now I was beautiful and worthwhile. Now I could feel happy. Because as I had learned, thin=pretty=happy.

Oh Lucifer, you are quite good at making me believe those lies. I suspect he has made you believe them too.

During my time as size 2, I taught a group of 12 and 13 year old girls for my church. It was easy. They were so eager to learn and share their love. I told them that God loved them.. no matter what. I testified that He is with us always and knows our pain and sorrow and heartache. And I did/do believe that. When I was that age, I was told similar things. I had enough experiences to know that God really did hear and answer my prayers. But me feeling ugly and fat surely did not matter in the grand scope of things such as starvation, abuse, war, poverty etc. As a farm girl from California, the fact that I had a Father in Heaven who did care that I felt fat and ugly and unloved didn't seem to register on the same scale of importance.

The only reason I was a size 2 was simple. Somehow, my metabolism had sped up. That coupled with my continued working out, nursing a baby, and eating whenever I could all added to it. Months later I was losing weight,fast. I could not see any explanation for this rapid weight loss. I wanted another baby so bad. I remember a friend of mine whose Dr told her she needed to put on some weight before her body would conceive. I thought that I must have the same problem and that was why my body wouldn't let me grow a baby. My body wasn't being taken care of properly.

In my obsession then victory to be thin, I was seeing some serious repercussions. So I did what any other person would do... I started to pack on the calories. During this time I thought back to that day on the track. I wondered what had happened to the other girls. I thought about the one girl who desired body augmentation and the other who was saving for lipo. Then I thought about me. And I thought about the 12 and 13 year old girls I taught and wondered if they were feeling the same as I. Did they view themselves as fat ans ugly and unlovable. Had Satan and the world so distorted Gods view of beautiful that it was equated with inches on the waistline? How had I been consumed to such lies and killed my inner voice??!!

We were able to get pregnant and I delivered a big and healthy baby boy. I put on 65+lbs. {note: I gained about the same with my first}. Mind you I worked out every day. I ate VERY healthy. And still the weight piled on. I fought those thoughts of hate and lies by reminding myself that there was HUMAN inside of me. I was being so blessed to nurture and grow a child inside of my own God-given body. Our baby was born and 2 weeks later I was at the gym. I was going to shed all that weight and become the thin, fun, happy wife and mom like the ones I saw all around me.

5 months later the only weight I really lost was the normal baby weight. That means I still had 20lbs to lose to be "happy". And then it happened....

I was in Houston. It was a perfectly sunny Sabbath day. I so vividly remember every detail of this day as I did the day that started my down this terrible path. I was wearing a shabby apple black dress. I put my hair in a high bun, applied my favorite red lipstick and slipped into a pair of heels and headed out to go to church. I looked in the mirror and time stopped. I felt so beautiful. My Father in Heaven, it seemed to me, had wrapped His loving arms around me and took away all that self-doubt and years of pain and self-destruction. This mere instant seemed to me to take hours as I finally understood how much He loves me and hears me and wants to help me. It was really just a few seconds but I soon found myself dissolved to tears of gratitude and relief. It had been so long since I felt good about myself, so long that I  didn't know what to do with my burden lifted. I thought I must surely float away.

I had been praying for a good 10 years to feel good about myself. I knew my thoughts of ugliness were not from Him. But I also had given into that bad self-talk. I knew I shouldn't have but once I started down that path, it engulfed me. I am still a little softer and heavier than I used to be. But I am also a mom of two amazing kids and loving my life at 30 years old. I still workout daily and eat pretty healthy. But no more crazy crash diets. No more fads in health. And most importantly, no more looking in the mirror and seeing myself as Fat. Ugly. Unlovable.

I can now proudly stand up and say that I am daughter of Heavenly Parents who love me and I love them.  I am a daughter of God. A Princess and future Queen. I am a woman of Virtue and Strength. I am a wife of honor and courage. I am a mother of a whole new world.

I will not let my own daughter get trapped by those thoughts. I will not let Satan win. Do I still have "those days" when I feel down? Days when I feel I can barely hang on? Yes. I do. I think that is part of this experience called life. But it was when I truly turned over my heart and soul to my Creator and pleaded for His help that I was eventually given peace in my heart. My eyes were opened and I saw myself as I truly am. And I think back to that day on the track and it brings me instantly to that day in the mirror and I remember how the burden was taken from me and finally, I was free.

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