I always heard that when you’re overweight, it’s really a cover up for some other kind of problem. I heard that people use food as an escape, a way to not deal with real issues. I never believed that. I was always a pretty happy, well-adjusted person without any deep emotional problems. The only big issue in my life that was holding me back was that I liked food and because of that, I weighed almost 300 pounds. I was constantly self-conscious and believed people didn’t like me because I was fat. I didn’t like myself because I was fat.
I often told myself that if my weight problem and all the things that went with it were to simply disappear one day, I would be left a very happy, non-depressed person, free to unleash my potential and become who I really believed I was. Then I decided to look a little closer at what was going on.
I was a social worker by trade so I knew the benefits of sitting and talking to someone. There seems to be healing in letting another person know what’s going on in your head. But in the same way that it’s easier to see what’s best for someone else than what’s best for you, it didn’t occur to me for a while that I might benefit from having a counselor.
As well as being unhappy about my weight, I also had some questions about religious issues. Why wasn’t God speaking to me the way He did to others? Why did it seem like things weren’t clicking for me spiritually? I went to church every Sunday, I really believed the basics and I prayed all the time. What wasn’t I doing right?
Finally, I decided to talk to a Christian counselor about these things and my weight problem to see if there were answers I just wasn’t thinking of.
Surprisingly, I found that my real issues weren’t that far below the surface; I just needed an objective person to help me get to them. With my counselor’s help, I realized that I was cutting myself off from God because I didn’t understand the way a relationship with a “Father” should be. My dad was a very nice man who just didn’t relate to his children very well. I grew up without a feeling of love, protection, or importance from him. Because of that, I pushed God away, figuring I didn’t know what it was like to have the kind of father God was supposed to be. I didn’t understand how that was supposed to feel.
Then in one of those “golden nugget” moments, the counselor asked what my relationship was like with my mom. I told her it was wonderful, I was very close with my mom and we had a very good, strong relationship. Then the counselor really opened my eyes when she said, “God doesn’t love you like your dad does, He loves you the way your mom does.” There was a very long, pregnant pause while I tried to sort that out. I understood THAT kind of love. I knew what it felt like for my mom to care for me, protect and nurture me. I had never considered that it could be that way with God, too! It was one of those things that I look back and wonder why I never thought of it before. Finally I could begin to understand the way God loved me and it opened up doors to finding my importance, my purpose and my own self-worth.
Once I began seeing myself the way God saw me, as His important, individual, incredible child, I was finally able to learn to love myself the way He does. I started combatting the negative messages I constantly fed myself and started believing that I was worth something and had importance that wasn’t tied to what my body looked like.
It was a freedom I hadn’t felt before and was exactly what I had been missing. As I began learning how to treat myself better and to become kinder to myself, I was also able to also discover strengths that I had never noticed before. I really was a kind person. I was a gentle encourager and I really appreciated other people. I was organized and detailed and had good ideas.
Once I began to see my positive qualities, it became easier to make choices that affirmed my new sense of worth. I began to survey my physical condition and took a new approach to becoming healthy. Because I liked myself more and finally felt I was important, I chose to not abuse myself with overeating or lack of exercise. I finally realized I was important enough to be healthy. I had never recognized that before.