Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Good Gift

Great with Child: My Body at its Finest

My body is a gift, a good gift. Though not a gift I’ve taken care of and treasured. Rather, I’ve neglected and mistreated it, then cursed the gift giver. As though it was God’s fault.

My word for 2014 is FREEDOM! God has helped me break free of many chains: guilt, shame, perfectionism. I knew this one was coming. It’s been a prison of my own making, going on 20 years.

Growing up, I was active and athletic (though not terribly coordinated). I valued my body and took care of it. I appreciated it for what it could do, much more than how it looked. I even enjoyed bathing suit shopping! Not because I was a waif. I’ve always had a sturdy frame. God blessed me with fleshy arms and generous thighs. Perfect for staying grounded, and hugging wholeheartedly.

When I went to college, my own apartment felt like freedom. When it came to food, it was really bondage, in disguise. I ate nothing but junk: cheesy doritos, frozen pizza, macaroni and cheese, french fries, Ben & Jerry’s. There wasn’t a single fruit or vegetable in my shopping cart. I gained at least 15 pounds that first summer. Which is a lot on my little 5’ frame.

As I gained weight, I felt less than. Old messages that fat was bad, ugly, and shameful, danced in my mind. Rather than losing the weight I’d put on, I became indignant and gained even more.

The rejection I experienced while overweight fueled my deep seeded fear: I’m not enough. Not worthy of love and affection. The worse I felt about myself, the more I ate. The more I ate, the worse I felt. It’s a toxic cycle.

Through the years, I’ve played with getting healthy. I’ve lost a lot of weight. But taking up less space on this earth doesn’t automatically heal the hurts. Flogging myself and shaming my back fat doesn’t inspire lasting change.

Eventually, life happens. When you seek comfort in food, there’s always a reason to eat: deployments, special needs, PCS moves, loss and grief. Life’s too hard. I’m too sad. Before I know it, a DQ Blizzard for dinner seems like an acceptable choice. The weight returns, with shame in tow.

Fast forward to this past weekend. I had an incredible day with my family. Then saw photos of myself. From behind, no less. As I looked at myself, all the joy drained out of me. Harsh, judgmental thoughts rushed into my mind.

Rather than camping there, I let the grace of God wash over me. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I had a pity party first. Then I picked myself up and remembered that my size is a reflection of my choices, not my worth.

God loves me exactly as I am. He also loves me too much to leave me in bondage. I am choosing to believe that I am who He says I am, and that through Him all things are possible. Old baggage and excess weight don’t serve me anymore. I have a race to run!

So, I’m grabbing this bull by the horns. I’m embracing my I-can-do-anything-I-put-my-mind-to attitude. It’s not about skinny. It’s about healthy and strong. It’s about conquering fears and dismantling lies. It’s about taking care of, and treasuring, the gift. 

Please visit me at my new blog, www.ericaaklan.com 


  1. Amen, Sister! How many of us struggle with similar issues that we're too afraid to confront head on. Thank you for your vulnerability and for speaking out loud about something so personal, so that you might be free from it. Anything we can do to cheer you on?

  2. I really, really love this!! It's such a good reminder that when God sees us, He's looking at how big and soft our hearts are, not how how mushy our thighs are! :) Thank you for speaking deep truth about self-image.