Fat. Chubby. Big. Heavy.
These are words with which I've contended for the better part of my 35 years. From being the subject of jokes and name-calling as a kid to some really creative and insulting pranks as an awkward tween to being disqualified as potential dating material in my teens, this part of myself became intricately linked with who I am as a person.
And somehow, it always seemed that any health issues I've ever faced somehow go back to the type of body I have.
"Broke your finger? If you had weighed less, it might have just been a sprain."
"Sprained your ankle? If the weight of your body had been less, you probably wouldn't have sprained it so bad."
"Headache? If you weighed less, you would never get headaches!"
"Hungry? Fatties are hungry ALL THE TIME! You should probably just stop eating."
"If you lost weight, you could probably get pregnant again."
"If you lose weight, you won't feel so fatigued or achy."
"If you don't lose weight, you're going to have diabetes and high blood pressure and die earlier."
Some of these are just silly. Some are misguided but carry an air of truth. Despite their validity, when this is what you hear from 10 years old, on, it becomes ingrained in you that your weight is a problem for the world; that your weight is what everyone sees when they see you. So here I sit, Jill, fat woman.
Yet, as I asked Him to do, God keeps peeling the layers of my issues back to reveal my need for His power at work within me. I've mentioned before, my eagerness to deal with my crap. I don't want blind spots where God could've given me sight and I wasn't even aware of the need of Him there. So true to His faithful form (of which I am grateful despite the discomfort of facing my hang-ups), He prepares my heart for His disciplining words and shows me things about who I really am.
My daily devotional this morning challenged a writing assignment:
"Is there a discrepancy between the names by which Jesus calls you and the names you give yourself? Are there circumstances in your life to which you are giving undue power, power that rightfully—and in reality!—belongs to our sovereign God alone? Sister, who names you today—your God or your circumstances?"*
I knew, of course, because God is faithful and waiting for me to be open to this, what it was that names me. I named myself FAT. Others have helped but I perpetuate this name by giving it power. I give it power when I am more concerned with how I look than with extending grace. I give it power when I tell myself that I'll always just be this way instead of believing that God can change me.
In the past few months, I've been trying to make changes that deal with my body type. It's a familial thing and so my sister and I shared ideas, recipes, encouragement. She told me one day, "I've been reading a book...it's very convicting!" I told her, "Oh cool!" and privately declared that I would NOT be reading that book. But the nagging sensation of some of the information from the book that she shared with me would not leave. I spoke to a friend about it and admitted a word that God had brought to me that stood out in my mind in bold:
"All discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11--by the way, the whole of chapter 12 is an excellent one to read on the subject of discipline!)
My friend gave me the exact same word.
Ok, God, so you want to discipline me in my view of my body, the execution of my diet, as well as my spirituality? Can't I get a little bit of a crowbar separation between my physical and spiritual self? Nope. Because discipline is whole-person pervasive. Or that's what I believe God intends it to be. Just look at the verse up there: ALL discipline. Not just spiritual discipline. Not just physical discipline. ALL. TODO. TOUS. ALLE.
Jesus didn't indulge in wine and then have a great, early-morning devo time with the Father. He didn't sleep in til all hours and then preach a righteous word on the Mount. He didn't eat til he couldn't move and then fall asleep during the most intense prayer of the New Testament. His discipline was all-encompassing in the way He ate, slept, prayed. And so ours should be too.
Which brings me back to my realization that I need more discipline in my physical existence as well as my spiritual. Everyone is different. My discipline is not yours. Yours is not mine. The bottom line is this: discipline can only happen when I can admit my weakness and let God develop discipline in me.
And the first step to discipline is knowing one's identity. When you are disciplined, you are a disciple of that thing. Follower. Believer. Pupil. Student. So my discipline starts with who or what I follow. ALL of my discipline, then should be wrapped up in my identity in Christ because that is who I follow. My devotional also said the following:
He names us Forgiven.
He names us Beloved.
He names us Redeemed.*
These are my true self; a far cry from fat. I am Jill, Forgiven. Jill, Beloved. Jill, Redeemed; all of these because of who He is. I can accept myself as I am because of who Jesus is and what He did for me. I can, at the same time, accept the truth that I need His discipline because I am those things. Who I am should always be about who He is.
I thank God that He is patient and gentle and that sanctification is a life-long process. And I know now that I can see my need for discipline and feel comforted by my true identity all at the same time. I can be me and seek God to help me be a better me, too.
*all devotional excerpts came from SheReadsTruth daily email devotionals. You can see more of SheReadsTruth at their website here.
This post is part of a writing challenge called #SheSharesTruth. The info can be found here.