It was never about the pizza. But I want you to know I burned it.

But you couldn’t tell. It was just always there.

Like my body.

I don’t know when the first time I realized I didn’t like my body was, I think it was always just there.

I realized in fourth grade that my mom wore a smaller jeans size than me. Which was hard for me to understand because my Mom always seemed to be working on her body. She was, even then, tiny and petite.

I have always favored my Dad’s side, the German Irish side- with thick thighs, and broader frame. Even at my thinnest I am always much bigger than my sisters, and my Mom.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized I started falling into comparing myself in early elementary. I compared myself to my siblings, and then my classmates. From my looks- I was always too pale, too blonde. I wasn’t fast, or athletic. I didn’t feel I measured up, and couldn’t keep up.

I started skipping meals in middle school.

It seemed easier to skip meals. Because even back then I had become so aware of how to diet. To cut back, rather than deal with big feelings.

I carried those “feelings” around for years after that. I was an insecure friend. I was a clingy girlfriend. These qualities were not endearing. When someone broke up with me I would always blame the way I looked…not even registering it was because I was bat shit insecure. My parents sent me to counseling, but when I was there I never talked about my anxiety, my body issues. I talked about surface stuff, I didn’t want the counselor to not like me.

I was ashamed of that part of me. Of my body.

And then I tasted a reprieve. My senior year. The year I traveled full time in ministry. Both years I was free from any sort of body issue. And I can give you one reason.

Jesus.

I always knew Jesus but I kept him on the side lines of that part of my life. It wasn’t until I chose Him the second time that I started loving myself. I look back on those years with gratitude. Because I was free.

My husband and I were friends for over a year before we started dating. He knew me, and my issues. And he still pursued me anyway. I showed him my crazy, and he still showed up at my door…again, and again, and again. The man has got to be a Saint. Because no one, no one, has ever loved me so much in my life. So I kept it hidden, all the burnt parts, all the bad angles because of him, and because of my desire to not let it rule our marriage.

I have failed many times in this.

Because of my own childhood- I have also hidden these thoughts from my kids for years. It has been my greatest gift to them, besides sharing my faith. I didn’t want them to have to carry in them what has been burned under the surface in me for too long.

And I have had great successes with it. I have been successful in doing things the right way, being healthy the best way. And I shared it. And I taught it. But it was still there, just simmering. Even at my best I would hear “But you could be better. You could run that marathon and not get injured.” And I would compare…with my sisters, with my colleagues, with my friends. Because that is what I knew. That is who I was.

And suddenly everything changed. My body became something I didn’t recognize. The burnt places became visible as my symptoms became something I couldn’t hide.

Charred.

The worst part is that no matter how hard I tried to get the burnt smell out, tried to fight the symptoms…fatigue, losing my hair, weight gain, confusion, loss of energy, anxiety, body aches, swelling…LOSS OF ME! It never left. And I LOST ME!(do you hear me scream that?) I was losing me. I went from being a friend people liked to work out with, to someone they used to see at the gym. I have mourned who I used to be. I’ve mourned the people I used to be close to, especially those who I thought would always be there. I’ve mourned the old me. Even if I had to hide the burnt pieces. Because I still saw my hard work. Because I still recognized myself.

Now all I saw was closed doors. And a body that had betrayed me.

… three. years. of. this.

But even through all of it, I’ve kept begging God to heal me. I’ve kept searching for answers. And I did things. I got a different job. I began to sing again. I began to just pray and ask God to just be with me…and He has. Because I didn’t have a lot of prayer left in me- but those words I could say…on repeat.

In the loneliest few years of my life He has shown up…

In my children’s hearts. In their prayers. In who they are.

Suddenly there it was. All of it. The truth. The big huge truth.

I realized that something in my heart needed to change.

And that’s when shit got real. That’s why I need to get real with you…

I realized that for as long as I could remember it was never about my Body.

But I want you to know I had made everything about it.

I had made my relationship with my body and self worth, more important that my relationship with my God.

It has consumed me. I was chained to it.

And it started so much longer than 3 years ago. It started when I was ten years old.

And the realization hit me like a ton of bricks. Actually it didn’t. It hit me like traveling with 93 high schoolers, on a charter bus. Which I did. And when it hit me…when it came to me, the chains that broke off were incredible. And I did something.

I laughed. I laughed so hard I cried. I laughed so hard my ribs hurt. I laughed like I hadn’t laughed since I was a little girl.

And suddenly, I loved my strong broken body.

In the middle of Disneyland, I put my swollen ankles over a bench and I laughed.

Because I was free.

Because for the first time in as long as I could remember it wasn’t about my body…it was about God.

It was about His Promise. His Grace. And His Joy.

And I am so happy.

Not because it’s all better. But because I’m free.

I’m finally free.

It was never about the pizza. But I want you to know I burned it.

I allowed those constant thoughts and comparisons to burn through and within my soul for years, and even if no one else could see them. They were there. And they stole my freedom.

So now what?

I’m letting God be my God. Nothing else. And I’m entrusting him with my body. My strong broken body. My health. My freedom. My marriage. Our beautiful family.

And I can give you one reason.

Jesus.

I often share the quote “we are only as sick as our secrets…” so putting this out there, and sharing this real-charred part of me puts to light a heaviness I’ve carried too closely. But I don’t want it to be a secret anymore, because I don’t want to allow it to make me sick anymore. And I want to keep choosing this freedom, even if I don’t know what’s next…

But I do know God is good.

And there’s joy. So much joy.

Ps. So you can hear what freedom and joy sounds like. ❤️I love that our shirts say Jesus Strong…no truer words have been spoken. (Also I love my friends Lisa and Luba- who I will always share this day- this joy with)