Have you ever been walking through life, eyes focused firmly on the ground, and when you finally stop to look up you realize you aren’t anywhere near where you’d like to be?
That was me 10 years ago.
I had been at my first ‘real’ job for about a year, experiencing the adult life in full force, along with the newfound freedom of living on my own. And as glorious as this time in my life might have seemed, it was also a time of great emptiness. I was feeling a void in my life and I was desperately grasping for anything to satisfy the longing. Not surprisingly, I turned to food.
Naturally thin (or so I thought), I would eat and drink to my heart’s content. If I was sad or having a bad day, food was always there to comfort me. A good restaurant meal, a sweet dessert, a bag of chips with a nice thick ranch dip were enough to temporarily fill that tiny empty feeling that I couldn’t seem to shake. Day after day, this was my life, just coasting along not really paying much attention to my choices, or how they were affecting me. But life has a funny way of waking us up, doesn’t it? One day, while taking a break at work, a coworker of mine (very sweetly) pointed out that I had put on weight…
Emotions started swirling inside of me; fear, embarrassment, anger, shame. But, as much as her words hurt, it was a pivotal moment for me. It was the moment I “woke up” to the consequences of my habitually bad choices. I kept asking myself, how did I get here? How could I have let myself get this overweight? How did I not notice the weight creeping on? But then I was asking, where do I start? Do I need to exercise? What is considered healthy food?
I felt incredibly lost.
It would be amazing if I could tell you that I just magically had all of the answers, and that the weight just began falling off the minute I realized it needed to. But I don’t, and it doesn’t. I started by making one small healthy decision at a time, which led to another small decision, which led to another. It was a journey, a very long process with many up and down moments. Did I fail on a daily basis? Yes, of course! But, was the struggle worth it?
I would not be where I am today without once going through that struggle. And God knew that, didn’t He? When I was in the midst of that despair and shame over my weight (and life choices), wondering why I even had to go through this, He knew. He knew that that period of my life, although very difficult, ultimately changed the course of my life to come. As I began to lose the weight, coworkers of mine started asking me for advice and help with their own weight struggles. I started to love being able to help others achieve their own personal goals. I would eventually go on to quit my job and return to school, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness. I would start teaching fitness classes and working with individuals one-on-one to accomplish their health goals. Had I not gone through the struggles that I once did, I would not have been equipped to help others through the very same struggle, while also providing them with encouragement and motivation along the way.
We may not always like where we are, and like me, you may wake up one day confused and angry about how far off course you feel, but the beauty of the journey is the strength and knowledge that you gain by persevering through it. I don’t know what struggles you’re currently going through and I don’t know how far out of the way you have traveled, but I do know that although it can be a long and hard road, the journey back is turning you into exactly the person that God wants you to be. These struggles develop our character to help us for whatever the next obstacle (or blessing) in our lives will be. And who knows, maybe this particular struggle will change the course of your life too, for the better. Keep pushing.