A year ago, my friend and I met over dinner to catch up. She told me about the man she had been dating for several months. As with all things Lizzie* it was a hilarious story that had that makings of a good rom-com movie.
“Do you think he’s the one?” I asked.
She shrugged as she responded. “I don’t know. I mean, I think you get to a point in your life where you’re like, this is who I am and this is who you are. You don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not or play games. You just figure out if you can live together.”
I nodded. Notions of romance after age 35 were crushed. I resolved to get a giant chocolate chip cookie before I left to help me swallow this bitter pill.
“So can you, you know, be who you are together?”
“Yes,” she confidently said. She took a sip of green tea. “You don’t have to impress each other. You just are who you are.” She threw her arms out and laughed, “This is me! This is who I am. Take it or leave it.”
I laughed, too. I tried to think of any instance in which someone of the opposite sex wanted to “take it.” Maybe I was just a “leave it” kind of woman. You know, the kind of woman you want as a friend, but not as a girlfriend.
I used to think I was awkward around men because my father had an affair, which absolutely crushed my 19 year-old heart. Now, I think, I just never felt pretty enough. Somehow the idea of the male gaze affected me younger and I was always the fat kid.
I look at old class photos and I’m one of the fattest kids in my class. As I got older, I was the fattest kid in my grade. I sift through my college pictures and often times, I was the fattest one pictured. We’re all known for something, right? I was known for being fat.
See, I wanted to be known for being smart or funny or kind or godly or a decent singer or a good writer. For so much of my life, I’ve seen myself as the fattest person in the room. And I hated myself for it.
I mean, do you know what it’s like to carry the weight of that extra weight around? It’s not just the excess celluloid, but all the judgment and shame that comes with it. And I’m not talking about the opinions of others. I’m talking about how I feel about myself.
Once upon a time I was the fattest person in the room. I had to order most of my clothes online (or from catalogs.) I tried to eat better and exercise. I would lose 40 pounds and then gain it back. Actually I would gain even more weight. At one point, I weighed almost 400 pounds.
And I thought, this is me. This is all I’ll ever be. If a heart attack doesn’t kill me, then diabetes certainly will. This is me and I am going to die from being too darn fat. They call it “morbid obesity” for a reason.
My “This is Me” wasn’t who I wanted to me. There wasn’t a satisfaction that comes with knowing who I am and accepting it. It was more like, “This is me and I hate myself. I can’t believe anyone would like me….and maybe if I put on make up, I won’t look as bad.”
But that is not who God created me to be. At 400 or 300 or 200 pounds, I don’t think God ever looked at me as “the fattest person in the room.” I believe He just saw His beloved daughter, Amy.
Sometimes I’ve railed at heaven, screamed at my ceiling shaking a fist of accusation. Why did You make me like this? If I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, then why am I so flawed? Why can others eat a bag of M&M’s and drink regular soda and eat at fast food places and I have to be so very careful? Why doesn’t my body make enough insulin? Why is my metabolism so slow?
WHY AM I SO FAT?! Why has my life been so sad that I’ve wanted to eat? And why have I allowed this fat to starve me of a more abundant life?
Really, God, why am I fat?
One day, He gave me an answer. He didn’t have to, of course, because He is God and God doesn’t need to explain Himself. I heard it in my heart. “For My glory.”
And part of me is ashamed to admit that seems mighty unfair—why do I have to suffer for His glory? I realize, though, that I have no idea what glory or holy or fairness or justice really is apart from God; therefore, His “glory” seems like some abstract concept. What is the glory of the One whose very name is holy?
I think about Moses face glowing from seeing the passing of God’s glory as he was protected in the cleft of a rock by the very Hand of God. To be called to do something for God’s glory is a high calling indeed, even if it is difficult to bear.
I’m starting to realize I’m so much more than a number on a scale or my age or the size of my clothes. It isn’t about finding “the one,” getting married, and having kids or scoring that perfect job. It isn’t about buying a house or owning a dog. Those are all good things. Great things even.
It’s about being able to say, “This is me.” This may not always be me because God is constantly refining me into someone who looks more and more like Jesus. It’s about seeing my flaws and gaps and open spaces and seeing how God’s light shines through and how His strength makes up for all my weakness. It’s not being about the fattest person in the room, but rather about being the person in the room who is living and loving for His glory.
It’s about me coming to terms with myself. This is me. It’s not all I’ll ever be, but it is a result of everything God has done in my life up to this point. I want you to look at me because I want you to see Jesus.
This is me trying my very best to live for His glory.
This is me.