Tag Archives: fear

Imagine… A Women of Faith Weekend

8 Sep

On Friday morning, BFF Sarah and I will be heading to Philadelphia to attend the two-day Women of Faith weekend (WoF).  Thanks to BookSneeze, I received two free passes in exchange for telling y’all about my experience.  Sounds good to me!  Ah, the perks of being a blogger.

I’ve never been to a Women of Faith weekend, so I don’t really know what to expect.  According to the WoF website, outside food and drinks will be confiscated—does that mean I can’t shove a pack of Mentos into my purse?  Will I be forced to pay $4 for a small soda?  I know that Jesus is the living water, but will He be handing out Deer Park at the event?  Keeping us dehydrated could cut down on those infamously long lines at the women’s restroom I suppose.

Anyway, the theme of the weekend is “Imagine,” and I will, “be refreshed, encouraged and inspired. Because the God who loves you can do far more than you can ever Imagine.”  (Refreshed = free water, I’m sure of it.) Lately, I’ve been feeling parched, discouraged, and vacant.

I’m so thirsty for something more.  (More of God?  Definitely more than just slogging through the day.)

I don’t feel like I can make it through another minute.  My strength is failing me.  Not only do I need courage, but I need to be encouraged.

I have so many thoughts running through my head.  I want to do this and that, but I get so tired—I’m too tired to start, too depressed to even try. I ache for inspiration (and motivation).

And I think, I can’t go to Women of Faith this weekend.  I’m too weak, too depressed, too me.  My anxiety is kicking up at the thought of being closed into a stadium with thousands of women.  The thought of being touched or hugged by a stranger gives me knots in my stomach.  O, God, please don’t make me go.

His response? “I love you far more than you can ever imagine.”

I won’t let my fear control me.  I will bask in refreshment, encouragement, and inspiration.  I will let it fill me up and surround me like a warm bubble bath, and seep into my dry soul like aloe vera. 

Just let go of the fear and imagine…

(The video makes the Women of Faith weekend look pretty fun!)

Have you been to a Women of Faith weekend?  What was it like?  Think my Mentos are contraband?  Are you going to Philly this weekend for WoF or another stop on the Imagine tour?

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Book Review:: Permission to Speak Freely by Anne Jackson

7 Sep

“What is one thing you feel you can’t say in church?”  It’s a question author Anne Jackson posed on her blog, receiving a worldwide response.  Readers mailed hundreds of confessions, some artistic, some simply written on index cards to Jackson who cataloged the responses on PermissionToSpeakFreely.com.  Jackson uses these artistic avowals along with essays and poetry in her astounding new book, Permission to Speak Freely.

In the introduction, Jackson outlines her purpose for putting together Permission to Speak Freely; she wants to let others know they are not alone in their secrets.  She is also clear that her intention is not to malign the church, but rather to allow broken hearts to express their woundedness.  In the end, the author desires readers to find the irresistible hope rooted in God.

Since Anne Jackson is one of my favorite bloggers, it was with eager expectation I began to read Permission to Speak Freely, which is also like an essay-guided PostSecret book, but better!  Incorporating telling art and poetry into her lush writing, Jackson produces her own mosaic masterpiece with the glass shards of her own story.  Admitting her past and present struggles with mental illness, pornography, and drug addiction, Jackson offers the readers freedom to admit their own shameful secrets, first in their minds and then to close friends, small groups, or even PermissionToSpeakFreely.com.

While this book could have easily fallen into an art niche or essay niche, it’s not that kind of book.  In fact, the infusion of Scripture, art, essay, and poetry make this a book that is a treasure, both visually and intellectually.  At times, this book is challenging because readers are meant to wrestle with this book.

Permission to Speak Freely has changed me as a person.  So many books about Christian freedom come from the perspective of male authors, the fact that Anne Jackson is a woman immediately made me more receptive to her message.  And because she is a woman, I believe that her struggles resonate with me in a deeper way, which is not to say that she is not massively appealing to both genders.  Her book is for everyone and really should be read by everyone.  And I do mean everyone, though I fear some may not be ready for the freedom Jackson offers Christians.

Thank you, Anne, for having the chutzpah to write this marvelous book!

Amy’s Grade:: A

**Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”**

Beth Moore Says So Long to Insecurity + Book Tour

2 Feb

Tyndale House, Carol Stream IL–“Our gender has arguably battled insecurity since Eve ripped the first leaf from a tree in the Garden, but our culture has turned a wound into a gorge,” Beth Moore acknowledges. “We desperately need a new way to look at ourselves, and my hope is that we will find authentic help and discover that our strength is in our God-given, unshakable security.”

Tyndale House Publishers is proud to present So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore, a powerful message that tackles the topic of women’s struggles with insecurity. The marketing campaign will kick off in conjunction with the book’s February 2, 2010 street date with a CCN prayer simulcast followed by a four-city book tour.

Beth Moore personally identifies with the issue of insecurity, admitting she has struggled with it for years. When she set out to research the topic for this new book, she found that surprisingly, there is very little available in the marketplace to address chronic insecurity, further reinforcing her desire to write on the subject.

Moore combines her own experiences with extensive research to address serious topics plaguing American women, including:

How can women find validation without a man’s affirmation?

What exactly is insecurity and where do the roots come from?

How have women been “culturally abused” through media and pop culture in America?

How do men differ from women in expressing their insecurities?

How can women use scriptural tools to confront fears?

And much more!

In So Long, Insecurity, Moore seamlessly combines personal stories with stories of friends and readers, along with biblical verses and content, to provide a true tool for any woman wishing to overcome her insecurities.

Beth Moore will be kicking off her book tour for So Long, Insecurity on February 5, 2010 in Atlanta, with additional stops in Houston, Birmingham, and Nashville.

Book Tour Schedule*:

ATLANTA AREA:

Friday, February 5, 2010

BORDERS–11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  (4475 Roswell Rd. Ave. E Cobb Marietta, GA  770-565-0947)

BOOKS-A-MILLION —4:00 p.m to 6:00 p.m. (258 City Circle, Peachtree City, GA 770-632-1296)

HOUSTON AREA:

Saturday, February 6, 2010

MARDEL STORE–9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. (19650 Restaurant Row Houston, TX 281-579-0505)

SAM’S CLUB1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. (19091 Interstate 45 South,  Shenandoah, TX  936-271-1732)

BIRMINGHAM AREA:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

BOOKS-A-MILLION11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (757 Brookwood Village Birmingham, AL 205-870-0213)

COSTCO2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. (3650 Galleria Circle Birmingham, AL  205-909-1036)

FAMILY CHRISTIAN 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (Colonial Promenade Fultondale 3471 Lowery Pkwy, Suite 115 Fultondale, AL 205-849-2250)

NASHVILLE AREA:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

LIFEWAY CHRISTIAN–11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. (Coolsprings Crossing 1725 Galleria Blvd. Franklin, TN  615-771-9050)

BORDERS –2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (2501 West End Ave. Nashville, TN  615-327-9656)

*Beth Moore will only be signing copies of So Long, Insecurity.

Book Review:: Fearless by Max Lucado

8 Sep

Imagine your life without fears.  It seems impossible with the threats gripping humans here on planet Earth—terrorist attacks, bullies, illness, accidents, and so on.  Fears are only as limited as one’s imagination and those with active imaginations can fear all day and all night.  Best-selling author Max Lucado’s book, Fearless (Thomas Nelson), seeks to put a rein on those fears by helping readers to focus on God.  Lucado says that fear corrodes our confidence in God’s goodness.

It all stems from something that helps protect us from harm—our fight or flight instinct.  As humans, we run away from danger as adrenaline courses through our bodies.  Lucado says that fear drove Eve to eat of the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because she was afraid that God was holding out on her.  Her momentary doubt coupled with Adam’s led to the fall of man.  Since that day in the Garden, man has been grasping at that perceived loss of control.

Lucado lays a basic groundwork for dealing with immediate fears with eight steps that include making a worry list, praying over said list, and so on.  Then he details how to deal with specific fears—fear of not mattering, disappointing God, running out, not protecting children, overwhelming challenges, worst-case scenarios, violence, death, “coming winter,” and what’s next.  While these chapters offer a launching point, they fail to offer real meat to the discussion of fear.  Sure, the Bible verses and spiritual encouragement might help an anxious person, but Lucado’s explanations are oversimplifications of a very deep problem.  If only it was as easy as trust God, read some Scripture, pray, and you’ll be OK, if only.

Fearless frustrated me because despite digging at the root of fear (lack of trust in God and His promises), Lucado’s expositions were shallow and oversimplified.  Lucado is a pastor, skilled in the use of Scripture and story-telling, but he is not a counselor (though he may be called to counsel on occasion). While he dug into the depths of Scripture, he didn’t examine the psychological and somatic reactions of anxiety/fear.  Without medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy, some will put their trust in God and yet still feel adrenalin rushes that defy explanation.  These are not so easily explained away, which is why Fearless comes up short.

Amy’s Rating:: 3 out of 5 stars

Anxiety Does Not Equal Lack of Trust

26 May

Recently I was asked, “How can you call yourself a Christian…how can you say you trust God if you have so much anxiety?”  Tears swelled up in my eyes as the truth of the question hit me full force.  It’s the same thing I’ve asked myself over and over and over again.  Why, God, do I suffer this anxiety when I say I trust You and love You?  Why doesn’t reading Joshua 1:9 or Psalm 46 over and over again “work”?  Why can’t I trust You and lean not on my understanding.  Why, God, why?

Yet I realize that I’ve never cleaved to God like I cleave to Him during anxious periods.  I know the anxiety will pass and despite the messages flying through my body screaming, “You are not safe,” I know I can find safety in Him, even as I cry, even as I gasp for breath, even as I scream out to Him.  I’ve also learned that life here on the fallen planet has affected everything, including the way my brain function.  Not only is there an emotional and spiritual component to this anxiety/panic thing, there is a physical one as well.

I suppose if that person were to ask me the same question now I would say, “How could I not trust God and have so much anxiety?  For if I didn’t trust Him in this, I surely would have been driven mad ages ago.”  Simply put, my anxiety is an outlet for which I can trust God more and more.  Not that I welcome it, but I am learning to accept it and manage it (so that it will not manage me).  Anxiety, like many things, is a refining process, peeled away in layers, and not all at once.

When I share about my battles with anxiety, I’m often met with the comment, “We all get scared.”  Uh, yeah, thanks for minimizing my problem.  If it were as simple as that, I would be cured instantaneously.  It’s like an annoying alarm clock that you can’t turn off, no matter how many times you push the off button.  You can throw the clock around, slam it against the wall, and scream until you drown out the noise, but you can never make it stop.  The best you can do is hit snooze to find some relief.  Yet you know it will come back despite what medications you take, despite your therapeutic techniques, and despite your prayers—it will come back and you will be forced to fight the beast again.

Though I feel alone in my terror, God is there with me.  I cannot imagine calling myself a Christian and not having Him with me when I feel so anxious or the knowledge that He is keeping me under His wings during a panic attack.  This is where I place my trust.

Splash of Life

21 Jul

I’m back from my self-imposed exile.  I did Twitter from my cell phone a couple times and I posted a review of The Dark Knight on Backseat Writer (read it here).  All in all, I think I did pretty well disconnecting from “work,” relaxing, and chilling out with my Creator.  I feel refreshed and renewed, at least right now.

I spent part of Saturday at the pool with a couple of friends.  I decided that before summer’s end, I was going to cannonball into the pool.  On Saturday, I jumped in the pool FIVE TIMES.  At first, I was a little intimidated about how big of a splash I might make.  I wondering if people would look at me and wonder if I was too fat or too old to jump into the pool.

I decided that the bigger the splash the better (and I could even get a few sunbathers wet as an added bonus).  Since half of the people around the pool were passed out from the stench of their cheap suntan lotion, I doubt anyone would care enough to look at me.  And even if they did, so what?  No one is ever to old to jump into the pool.  No one.

So I jumped.

It was exhilarating and magical!  In fact, taking that plunge reminded me of everything that was great about being a kid in the summer—taking that first jump into the pool.  No more entering the pool via the steps on the pee (shallow) end of the pool.  I’m going in like a real woman—I’m jumping in on the deep end.

The only way to make an entrance into a sparking pool on a hot day is with a splashing.

If I wasn’t a writer, I would be…

17 Jun

If I lived 200 years ago, I could be the woman writing with the quill in this painting.

I was trying to think of some whimsical, light-hearted topic to share with the world, or maybe something insightful or amusing. Perhaps I’d go for a topic about God or the Bible to encourage everyone out there. Unfortunately, I’ve got nothing…not really.

But I thought, well, maybe I should blog anyway. Although the basis of writing a blog post is to actually say something, what if I say nothing of substance? While some may argue that none of my blog posts have substance, I can assure those of you in that camp that this post will lack more substance and focus than usual.

See, I like to have my thoughts well-ordered and organized before I present a topic to the world. Using keen words and stunning adjectives, I want to wow the world with my command of the English language or just my writing ability. It’s sad that sometimes the only thing I think I can do correctly is write, and even then, I still kick myself for the typos.

I’ve always been a writer and a storyteller. It’s as much a part of my identity as my freckles or my life as an only child. After I write an article, I get this feeling in my stomach, a sort of nausea, and this thought it in my head–“What if you never write anything after this? What if this is your opus?”

I’m not looking for compliments or assurances about my writing. I’m just sharing an irrational thought that swims through my brain. At times, it really scares me because if I’m not a writer, then what am I? If I can’t hide behind my skill, then I would have to be something else besides…a writer.

I wish I could say that I would be sustained by my identity in Christ; unfortunately, I can’t promise that. As much as I would like it to be true, I think my main struggle in life can be tied back to this simple truth–I struggle to know who I am in Christ and how God views me. It seems so much more important what single Christian guys or random strangers think about me than the King of the Universe…and I don’t know why that is. Rationally, I know God’s opinion is the one that matters, yet even as I type on this blog I wonder what some of you out there think of me. Not what I write, what you think of ME.

This is an area of my life I am praying about and asking God to change in me. Of course, He can’t just zap me with self-confidence (enough assurance to be confident, but not too much to be cocky. A shot of appropriately humble will do), but He actually takes me through experiences in which I come face-to-face with situations that stretch, mold, and bend me.

More than ever, I see my life as a construction zone. I want to tell people I meet now to come back in six months because you’re just seeing the framework of who I could be…I’ll be much more fantastic and interesting then…and then you’ll want to stay. Really, I am changing, but at the same time I’m still afraid that people will leave because I’m not enough. If I’m forthright about the process, does that mean I get a extension on your opinion of me?

I realize how stupid that sounds, but stupidity loves company. Almost every person has struggled with issues of identity, purpose, and spirituality. I guess I want to be real about my current battles because it helps keep things in perspective for me, may help someone else, and because I’m a writer and that’s what we writers do. We write about stuff that (hopefully) matters.

Spiritual (and Physical) Hypochondria

19 May

A few months ago, I was diagnosed with “moderate hypochondria” which came as no shock to those near and dear to me. Hypochondria is one of those things that can be tremendously funny and horribly terrifying. The funny part is that it’s completely irrational, but the horrifying part is that the fear is terribly real.

Hypochondria is a psychosomatic disorder which revolves around the fear of getting or being sick. While it varies in intensity from person to person, a hypochondriac will get something simple like a headache and believe or fear that she has a brain tumor. Normal bodily sensations and pains are intensified and even imagined. Some hypochondriacs go to the doctor too much while others are terrified to seek treatment. I used to be the former, now I’m the latter. I hate going to the family doctor, but I go when I must.

The Internet makes it easy to find new and interesting diseases from sites like WedMD or the Mayo Clinic. In trying to find cold relief, a hypochondriac can “end up” with pneumonia. For me, the hypochondria comes in bouts of anxiety. Sometimes I’m relatively OK as long as you keep me away from “E.R.” and “Grey’s Anatomy” but other times a commercial for “House” can freak me out. Plus, there’s the power of suggestion. If someone close to me has a bladder infection or a kidney stone or an ovarian cyst, then I suddenly “develop” one as well (or rather the symptoms).

Hypochondria hasn’t always been part of my life. As a child, I had surgery on my ears due to fluid in my cochlea (“tubes in the ears”), my tonsils removed, and knee surgery at 16. Despite terrible allergies, terrible sinus infections, and ovarian cysts (painful!), I was OK. That is until March of 2001, when I had the worst sinus infection imaginable. I kept going to the doctor trying to find relief for the pain, which wasn’t even lessened by prescription pain medications. After several tests including a spinal tap (those are HORRIBLE), it was discovered that I suffered from a rare condition called psuedo tumor cerebri. I was rushed to Philadelphia for emergency surgery–a shunt was inserted into my body to drain the fluid causing pressure in my head. This pressure was crushing my optic nerves, not only giving me terrible headaches, but causing me to go blind as well. I survived that ordeal and didn’t realize I was in for another.

A couple of weeks later, my right arm flailed about uncontrollably and went numb. Since my appendage was hanging on my body like dead weight, my mom drove me to the emergency room. After a few minutes, I suppose I just got tired of waiting, so I had a grand mal seizure (you lose control of your entire body) right there in front of everyone. I got rushed into a room where I had another seizure. Apparently, I was out quite a bit and there was fear I was brain damaged, but I was OK. The room looked like a scene from “E.R.”. Cabinets were open, stuff was thrown all over the place, a big blue breathing tube was popping out of my face, some weird thing was going out of my nose, and there were electrodes all over my chest.

After getting yet another spinal tap and other tests (which weren’t nearly as unpleasant as the spinal tap), it was discovered I had a blood clot in one of the main arteries of my brain. So I had to be put on blood thinners, which meant that the thickness of my blood was checked several times a day. I was in the hospital a week the first time and ten days the second. I became very good at stretching my arm and getting blood drained out of it. I also became very bruised.

Finally, I went home but I was terrified I would have another seizure. I had to wear a medical identification bracelet because I was on blood thinners and anti-seizure meds. And for a while my balance was off, and I had to use a cane. Plus,  I had frequent doctor visits to neurologists, the family doctor, the eye doctor, and everyone else that needed to see me. It was definitely not the way I wanted to spend the spring semester of my junior year.

Now it’s seven years later, and I’ve had sinus surgery due to chronic sinusitis and been diagnosed with several other chronic disorders which I don’t wish to mention, and now I hate going to the doctor. It seems to have worsened into hypochondria after the lingering deaths of both my grandparents.

Hypochondria makes life difficult at times, but fortunately I don’t live in a constant state of fear. I have random cycles in which I am forced to deny how I feel physically and rely on what I know to be true mentally. I have to trust that God is in control of my health and my life, which is something with which we all struggle. The problem is that my body ACTUALLY thinks it is sick, except that it isn’t. It actually feels pain when nothing is wrong. The pain is very real, but the underlying pain problem is not.

At least I have a diagnosis, but I tend to think that we as Christians often live as spiritual hypochondriacs. Instead of trusting God, we carefully analyze every situation to gain control. We feel the sting of others more deeply than we should and take on “illnesses”. We look around and say to ourselves, “The world is not safe. God is not in control.” We despair and fall away from truth.

During times of physical and/or spiritual hypochondria, I take comfort in Psalm 46, especially verses 1-4,

1 God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,

3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.

4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy place where the Most High dwells.

I don’t know about you, but if I saw the mountains fall into the ocean (an earthquake perhaps?), I would be scared out of my mind. Yet this psalm urges us not to fear because nothing escapes the watchful eyes of God. I like how verse 4 contrasts the volatile ocean with the “river whose streams make glad the city of God”. Completely out of  our realm of control is God, who invites us to be still and know Him (vs. 10). There is so much comfort and power in these words, especially in times of trouble, anxiety, and yes, hypochondria.

While I’ve tried to pray my hypochondria (and other ailments) away, so far I haven’t had any miraculous healing. But I have learned a lot about being still and knowing God, the value of praying and encouraging others, and living in situations I would have never chosen for my life. Since I can’t change it, I simply (or not so simply) accept it, rail against it with the truth, and trust God with the rest. It sounds easy enough, but it’s the fight of my life. Fortunately, thought sometimes I feel like it, I am never alone.

Queen Sized: Fat Chicks Can Rule

13 Jan

“Pretty girl gets pretty boy.”

“You have such a pretty face…and such an ugly body.”

“All anyone is ever going to see when they look at you is fat.”

“If you knew that people would like you better if you lost weight, aren’t you just punishing yourself?”

These are all lines from the new T.V. movie Queen Sized starring Nikki Blonsky (Hairspray), which premiered tonight on Lifetime. As far as made-for-Lifetime movies go, this one was exceptional (that is, for a Lifetime movie). The story revolves around a fat teenager named Maggie Baker, who deals with the normal struggles of an overweight girl (being called names like “wide load” and “thunder thighs”, having kids moo at her, a mom that doesn’t understand as well as identity issues that come with being fat). Then a couple of the popular girls decide to make Maggie’s life ever more miserable–they nominate her to be homecoming queen.

Despite the odds, Maggie decides to make a run of it, eventually gaining support from the rest of the student body, except from the popular kids who tried to humiliate her. And, of course, being a Lifetime movie, Maggie is voted homecoming queen, gets a bit conceited about it, has a few struggles dealing with the whole thing, and comes out at the end looking gorgeous. Oh, and she snags herself a really cute guy (who looks like he was 30 even though he is supposed to be a high school senior).

While the plot is basic, the movie hits on a lot of important issues that fat people deal with head-on. Maggie’s mom (played by Annie Potts) is passive-aggressive towards her daughter’s weight issue. She tries to get Maggie to eat healthier food, signs her up for a mother/daughter yoga class, and “encourages” her in a patronizing way. Mrs. Baker acts out of love for Maggie; she doesn’t want her daughter to be teased, held back, or suffer health issues. Yet Maggie’s mom dances around the truth refusing to ask the question–why is Maggie like this? The answer is vague, but seems to be tied to emotional eating.

Another interesting aspect of the film is Nikki Blonsky’s portrayal of Maggie. A plus-sized actress, Blonsky wowed audiences as Tracy Turnblad in the updated version of the cult classic, Hairspray. Naturally, Blonsky was told she would never find work as an actress. I even read an article that questioned whether or not Blonsky would manage to find other movie roles after Hairspray. Blonsky’s struggle as an actress mirrors Maggie’s struggle to become homecoming queen–they both are trying to do something in a medium where thin and beautiful is what sells.

I liked that Maggie’s outfits are cute, but not ultra-trendy. They are clothes a woman could find in a store with plus-sized fashions like Fashion Bug or Lane Bryant. (As an aside, plus-sized fashions have gotten way cooler and more affordable since I was a teenager. I’m dressing better now than when I was 16. Of course, maybe I’m just more fashionable.) Also, there are scenes that were so true to my life and my experience as a fat girl, I could feel my heart break. For example, Maggie’s often out of breath when trying to keep up with the other girls in gym class and chooses to change in the bathroom stall when in the girls locker room. At a party, a cute guy talks to Maggie in Spanish and her friend comments that he’s into Maggie, but Maggie shrugs it off saying he’ s only interested in conversing with her because she’s fluent in Spanish. It was such a normal feeling for me, I thought he was only interested in her because she was fluent in Spanish! The Spanish-speaking hottie ends up being Maggie’s date to homecoming and he is rather flirty…so…looks like Maggie and I are both wrong.

As I heard Maggie and those around her utter the lines I highlighted at the top of this post, I realized that I, too, believe them. Of course I’m not married yet; only pretty girls get married to intelligent, decent guys who love God and dogs. Yes, when people look at me all they see is my fat; it’s sort of what’s there, right? Why would people look past my weight when it’s so hard for me to do the same? During the climax of the film, Maggie fights the negative thoughts surrounding her (usually delivered by her mother, who appears randomly wearing a cocktail dress, as a visualization of Maggie’s inner thoughts) and says to herself, “Nobody treats me as worthless as you do.”

And isn’t that the truth, ladies? Whether you’re a size 2 or a size 32, it doesn’t matter–nobody knows your physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological flaws like you do. When asked the question, if you could change one thing about yourself…I’m thinking, stop right there, can I choose more than one thing? I can pull out a list of about 100. Yet it’s so easy for fat girls to blame all their problems on their fat. I don’t have this, do this, deserve this, want this…because I’m fat. I’m starting to realize something–I see me as fat; the world sees me as fat (at least most of it); but the people who really matter see me as Amy, not the fattest girl in the room (***see comment below). Or as Maggie says at the end of the movie, “I faced my fears and I did it in a kick-a** dress!” (I censored the quote because I didn’t want to offend people by using the world “ass”. See, it’s OK to cuss it when you put it in quotes.)

Readers, check out the comments section at the bottom of this post. Some good conversations are starting to develop and I would hate for you to miss out!

***I’ll admit it right here. When I go places, I do a “fat check” to see if I’m the fattest person in the room. If I’m not the fattest, I feel a sense of relief and think, “Thank goodness! There’s someone fatter than me here.” I also do a “wedding ring” check to see who’s married, so I can try to flirt with the single guys. I don’t think they’ll actually be interested in me. I think guys can smell insecurity and that could be my problem. OK, that’s enough transparency for one day.***

Here are a few things I’ve written about my own battles with weight and indentity:

Identity Crisis: Growing Up Fat

No Fat Chicks

Liberation Through Skeletons in the Closet

Liberation Through Skeletons in the Closet

8 Oct

One of my newspaper columns from when I was in college (a liberal women’s college at that)…

Liberation Through Skeletons in the Closet

Hi everyone. In case you haven’t noticed I’m fat. Those of you who don’t know me personally now know my secret. And the funny thing about being fat is that society has made “fat” a taboo word. For example, if you call someone fat, this is considered to be a bad thing. It’s bad to be fat. Now there are certain health risks associated with being fat, but there are also health risks in being a high school student in America today, like being shot by a classmate. But this isn’t about fancy terms or classification; this is simply about independence.

See, before last semester, I could never say I was fat, overweight, or the other terms associated with obesity. And not only could I not say I was fat, but I also could not accept myself for being fat. Camryn Manheim, a robust actress on ABC’s prime-time drama said it herself, “The world isn’t lining up to respect or employ fat people.” But, maybe times really are a’changing.

One of my favorite shows is “E.R.” (not because of Noah Wyle. I love Erik Palladino) and as I watched Thursday, April 20’s repeat episode, I noticed several big, beautiful women in the background. Yeah, they were not the main actresses, but some representation is better than no representation at all.

Not only am I more attuned to media representations of fat women (for men, this is not a big issue, excuse the pun), but I’ve accepted myself as not only a BIG individual, but also a beautiful one. What happened, you ask? Some miracle diet? Too much Richard Simmons? Absolutely not. I took “Introduction to Gender Studies”, a communications course taught by Isabel Molina last fall. For my final project, I decided to do something that cut close to my heart, how overweight women are portrayed in the media. I read Camryn Manheim’s book, Wake Up, I’m Fat!, and studied many actresses. I even submitted my paper to the Women’s Studies Conference, and it was accepted. I was honored to present my paper before conference attendees, and the President’s Council, but that’s really not the point.
The point is this- I was amazed to be chosen. Women are actually taking a look at their dress sizes and saying, “Hey! I may be a size 18, but I’m still gorgeous!” It’s about time.
Middle school was hell for me. Not only was I white in a racially tense Allentown middle school, but I was also in the gifted class and yes, I was fat even then. You can imagine how the ridicule increased my eighth grade year when I openly proclaimed that I had become a born-again Christian. I got called every name in the book, and a few that I think were made up especially for me. Even in Christian high school, my weight was always an issue. When my “best friend’ told everyone about my crush on the cutest guy in the high school, I was the laughingstock. All because of a few extra pounds.

I was ostracized for being fat, and even called a lesbian because I did not date the boys at my high school. Obviously they didn’t see the double standard, if I was too fat to date guys, then it was obvious why I couldn’t get a date. At the end of my rope, I wanted to die. I could painfully lose weight, or live with torment.
And everyone thinks it’s so easy to lose weight! Even though I don’t overeat and I am very active, I still am fat. To lose weight, I must go hungry and exercise excessively. Even some of my relatives turned against me, “If you would lose weight, you would be such a pretty girl. You would drive the boys wild.” Well, guess what I learned? I am a pretty girl, and I do drive the boys wild. Maybe not all the boys, but definitely the ones that are worth holding my hand.

I don’t have it all figured out and I still struggle to accept the image I see in the mirror everyday. I tried to love myself for who God saw me as, but it didn’t work, because I was trying to see myself through thin eyes. When you see me when we return for the fall semeter, maybe I’ll be several pounds lighter, but maybe I won’t. It doesn’t matter. Now that I can accept myself for who I really am as a person, and who I am in Christ, weight is not an issue. The real issue is, will you accept me?

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