By Faith Reboot’s Amy Sondova
I have a life-threatening disease called obesity.
It’s a slow death, which happens in a million little ways.
At first, it’s just the teasing by classmates and later, social ridicule since making fun of fat people never goes out of style. Then it’s trying to find clothes that not only fit, but are affordable and even fashionable. Finally, it’s the things you want to do, but just can’t, like fit comfortably in an airplane seat or tour Europe or walking up a flight of stairs without losing your breath.
It’s the swollen feet that make finding adorable shoes more difficult.
It’s grabbing another purse when want you really want is a pretty little dress to wear to church. The purse can fit you; the dress cannot.
It’s wondering what the next doctor’s appointment will hold—the number on the scale, my A1C, my cholesterol always ebbing upwards.
It’s the shame I feel when I look in the mirror and think, “This isn’t the person I was meant to be. This isn’t even the person I want to be. This isn’t me.” But when people look at me, I feel like they don’t see me; they see fat. Especially the men who never seem to ask me out, buy me a water at the karaoke bar, or utter anything but vulgar obscenities.
Underneath it all, I wonder if I’ve somehow let God down. Is my obesity a spiritual problem? I know it affects me spiritually because I daily lavish myself with messages of hate and shame, not how God loves and accepts me.
What about this is a spiritual issue and what about this is having an ailing body in a fallen world?
I don’t know where one ends and the other begins, but for me, it is both.
Last February, I came to my breaking point. I could no longer go on like this, wondering if my impending 35th birthday would be my last. I was close to hitting 400 pounds on the scale and I ordered many of my clothes from a catalog. Despite all-night pleas for miraculous healing from God, you know, like waking up in the morning and being a size 14 (at least I’m reasonable), I felt hopeless.
I saw a future hooked up to a dialysis machine and losing toes and feet to diabetes.
And I just wanted to die because it seemed too hard to change.
I thought about the slow, hard suicide I was giving my body. I remembered a friend who died young, who would’ve traded places with me in an instant if giving up a terminal brain tumor meant they could see he could see his young daughters grow up and get married. I had a chance at life—a better life—and I decided to give it all I’ve got. For him. For me. And for God’s glory.
Because I knew that no matter what, I couldn’t face the dramatic life changes about to take place without God.
I changed my diet choosing a low-carb, low-fat diet appropriate for diabetics and started working out 40-60 minutes a day on a recumbent exercise bike.
It was agony. I would break down and cry while I exercised because I couldn’t seem to do more than 10 minutes without feeling exhausted and the constant hunger consumed me.
Gradually, I worked up to exercising 60 minutes at least five times a week and learned to become satisfied with less food.
The turning point, I think, was when I stopped crying to God about making my body so flawed and complaining about having depression and anxiety, which make me want to eat. I started blasting worship music during my workout and thought about how this great physical transformation was also a spiritual transformation.
I never needed a Savior like I needed one now.
I gave my life to Jesus when I was 4 years old. I was sorry for lying to my mom and teasing a boy. Every time my life was out of control, I knew Jesus was there, hand outstretched ready to pull me out. I could even see God’s work in my struggles with mental illness.
But my lifelong battle with obesity…no, it was too much to ask of Him. He could change it in an instant. He could’ve made me with a faster metabolism. There were a million things He could’ve done and did not.
God, do you even care that I’m drowning in my own fat? Do you see me beyond my fat? How can you possibly love me when I can’t stand to see myself in the mirror? As least when I’m dripping with fat after my workout, I’m acceptable because I’m trying to change.
And one day it hit me straight in the heart—it wasn’t just a physical change. It wasn’t just all the spiritual muscle I was building by giving God the glory for my workouts. It was a transformation of thought I needed, a renewing of my mind.
So far, I’ve lost 80 pounds. More than shedding fat, I am learning to lose shame, regret, and self-hate. I am transforming my thought patterns to put them in line to what God’s Word says about me—that I’m beloved, flawless, beautiful, created for a purpose, His child, LOVED.
I have a life-threatening disease called sin, but fortunately, I have a Savior who will continue to transform every part of me for my good and His glory.