Tears stream down my face, it feels like the release of a dam sliding down my cheeks, onto my clothes and even dripping onto my feet. I came here to love on children, to watch our students develop a stronger faith, to experience my husband’s first mission trip. I didn’t come here to fall on my knees but that’s where I am.
It’s Wednesday night of our week long mission trip in Monterrey, MX. We’ve worked hard every day. We’ve been hot, dirty, smelly and we’ve completely fallen in love with everything Back2Back has to offer. Everything, from the seriously delicious authentic Mexican food to sweating with the kids to mixing concrete. Tonight we’re having extended worship because regular worship isn’t already amazing enough we need more of it. Tonight there’s communion, there are prayer stations, there are people waiting to pray with you and for you. I’ve been worshiping, pouring my heart out to God with praise for His faithfulness in my life. I’ve been pulled aside by students asking for prayer or just to be loved on. It’s been the most fulfilling part of the trip for me. Seeing our students grasp His infinite love for them and grasping He’s only just beginning to work in their lives is why I do what I do.
Then I feel God nudging me. Actually, He bulldozes me. I am just sitting-thinking how wonderful this week has been, how I’ve loved these students and how thankful I am to be a part of this life changing week. He knocks me down and reminds me I’m not being who He created me to be, I’m allowing too much to get in the way of His plans for my life. I’m allowing years of low self-esteem and recent actual self-hatred over my body image to derail His purpose for me. Because I don’t like me I’m having trouble seeing anything but the me I don’t like. The Bible warns us that anything that takes our focus off God is an idol.
Romans 1:25 “For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”
I took how God feels about me and traded it for what I feel about myself. If you know anything about me I do not ever like letting people down. But here I am, letting God down by not taking His truth and allowing the lies to be what drives everything I do. If I fully believed the truth then there’s no way I could ever think I’m anything less because I may weigh more. But the lies I’ve heard and the lies I’ve told myself over the years were louder than the truth of His great love for me.
Over the years I’ve heard things like “You would be so much prettier if you just lost weight.” “You shouldn’t wear horizontal stripes.” “You cannot wear those kinds of pants and please don’t ever wear shorts.” I’ve also told myself plenty of lies. “Your value is equal to the number on a scale or the size of your pants.” “No one loves a fattie.” “If I were a size ___ I would be so much happier.” I continued to bash myself with words of hatred and dislike. I look in the mirror and instead of seeing a child of God, I see an overweight mom struggling through all of life.
But that night in Mexico, God reminded me that He created me in His image. He wanted to know how I could despise His image. He reminded me of words I use with my children, “God made you perfectly for His plans.” How could I tell my children who struggle with being seen for who they are instead of what they have about perfect creation when I wasn’t believing it for myself? I was slammed.
I walked over to one of the Back2Back staffers and with a shaky voice asked her to pray for me. For the first time, to someone other than my husband who adores me, I shared how I felt about myself. Truly felt, deep down to the bone. She prayed to our God to allow me to let go of these feelings, to forgive those who have lead me to hold onto these feelings. She prayed for me to know and feel His mighty hand of comfort and grace over me. She prayed that in my despair I would truly know how much He loves me, His creation, for who I am. Not for what I weigh or how I dress or my silver hair; but He loves me because God doesn’t make junk. She beautifully prayed over me for what felt like hours. God spoke so clearly through her I felt as if He was there, holding my hands and pouring His love into me. She prayed for me to no longer have those thoughts and feelings.
I went to Mexico to share His love to children down there who may not experience His love through family members. I went to Mexico to watch our students find their purpose. I went to Mexico to watch my husband discover there’s so much more for him in this life. I went to Mexico hating myself and left loving me for Whose I am.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3 NIV
I’ve been home for a while now. The struggle is real. There are days I can’t hear Hope’s prayers for me. There are clothes that I’m sure the dryer shrunk. There are moments of weakness (did someone say chocolate?). There are pool days, beach days, going out in public days. There’s the skinny sister, the skinny friend, the looks I read into as disgust. There’s exhaustion, there’s stress, there are countless responsibilities. There’s a closet full of clothes with more size ranging than the clearance rack at Target. There’s a hope that today I’m not the largest person in the room. There are lab results that are glaring truth. But there is a God whose truth is so much brighter. And that’s the truth I’m holding onto, grasping for, living for.