In a world where social media can often kinda show us everyone’s best foot, it’s sometimes so hard to embrace the beauty in your own imperfection. The grass always seems greener when glimpsed through the prism of a computer screen. This is the day-to-day struggle KariAnne Wood shares through her transparent and honest discussion on the challenges she faces with her own imperfections and the overwhelming fear of not measuring up. Along the journey, she discovers acceptance and grace and joy in celebrating the “you” that God created each of us to be—and the amazing that was there all along. It’s a grace to welcome KariAnne to the farm’s front porch today…
From the outside looking in, my life looked like a storybook.
I had a husband I loved, a home I was entirely taken with, happy and healthy children, and acres of bluegrass in the middle of the country.
But if you looked closer–if you peeled back the pages of the script and dug a little deeper into my heart–you’d know.
You’d see that I was battling a demon with a grip so tight on me that it left me weary and broken.
That demon? My struggle with my weight.
Truthfully, I’d always been a little heavy.
The kind of heavy that comes with its own set of names, like chubby or pleasingly plump or stocky or tubby or chunky.
When I was younger, I remember overhearing a friend of the family’s whispering to my mother in the kitchen, watching me as I slouched in a chair after school, dipping Oreos in milk.
“Maybe she’ll grow taller,” I overheard her say in low undertones to my mother. “She’s just got a little bit of extra weight on her. It’s actually kind of cute. She’s not fat. She’s just fluffy.”
As I listened to their hushed conversation, I wanted to scream at them at the top of my lungs. I wanted to shout so loud my voice could be heard across seven counties. I wanted to yell, “I’m right here. I hear you, and I’m NOT. I’M NOT FLUFFY.”
But I didn’t. I didn’t say a single word.
Instead, I acted like I couldn’t hear them talking about me. I ignored it all and pushed the hurt deep inside, layering it on top of frustration and hurt.
And slowly dipped another Oreo into the milk.
It wasn’t that I didn’t know I was heavy.
I simply told myself I’d worry about it tomorrow. Tomorrow I’d go on a diet. Tomorrow I’d start a new exercise program. Tomorrow I’d drink eight glasses of water a day and put on leg warmers and do leg lifts and go all Jane Fonda. Tomorrow I’d be skinny and wear size eight jeans and add carrots to my favorite-foods list.
Except tomorrow never came.
Food became my comfort. It became my friend, my confidant, and my protector.
It was there for me on days when I was flying high and needed to celebrate, and it was there to make me feel better when I was feeling frustrated and hurt.
Food was constant. It was faithful. It showed up and healed my wounds and dusted me off and gave me the confidence to face another day.
Over time, the pounds continued to pack on. I wore that weight like a shield of armor to protect my heart from getting bruised.
I hid in the background whenever anyone took pictures. I embraced leggings as a fashion choice because they made me feel skinnier. I worried about fitting into movie seats. I was scared the bar wouldn’t close when I went on the rides at the amusement park.
I coped by making jokes about my weight. I wanted everyone to think I was okay with it. That it was a little thing. That it meant nothing.
But it did.
It meant everything.
I decided I needed a purpose, a new focus, a distraction from all those carbohydrates.
So, I created a blog.
I turned to writing as my lifesaver. I found an online community where I belonged–where I fit in. I shared about our home and detailed the renovations. I told stories and created projects and glued pumpkins together out of twigs and transformed faucet handles into tassels and along the way, I discovered something amazing.
Online everyone is skinny.
On the blog, my hair always had the best day ever.
On the blog, my husband was always clever and funny, the children were always well-behaved and said the cutest things, the house was always clean, and I always walked around in three-inch heels and size eight velvet pants.
Online, I wore the cutest outfits, my earrings always dazzled, and my red lipstick was perfectly applied.
Until one day when real life and the blog intersected.
I was asked to attend a real-life event that would include hundreds of people from my online niche. I’d meet other bloggers and greet people and interact with an audience and a stage and a microphone.
There would be photographers and cameras, and the event would be recorded for posterity, along with me and all those extra pounds.
I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t go. If I showed up, everyone would know. Everyone would see the person behind the blog and realize no one was wearing size-eight velvet anything.
So, I took the coward’s way out. I made up an elaborate excuse, explained that I was honored and flattered but that I had something else going on and I’d have to miss it.
And I hid.
I went all ostrich and ducked my head in the sand. I’m not proud of it. Not even a little.
The rubber met the road, and I took a detour. At that moment, I came face to face with the reality of how much my weight controlled my life. I felt helpless and unworthy and ugly and fluffy to the tenth power.
On the afternoon of the event that went on without me–I lay in my room in the darkness sobbing and pity-partying myself into a tightly wound ball in the chair.
I wore my despair like an outdated outfit from the back of my closet — wrapping myself in sadness and longing for comfort.
And then–in the midnight of that moment, my heart heard a whisper.
You are loved.
I can’t accept it, I sobbed. I don’t deserve it.
You are worthy.
Why, Lord? Why me? Who am I?
You are Mine. You are chosen. You are a daughter of the King.
As those words of healing and acceptance washed over me, I felt the burden I was carrying melt away.
I felt the guilt and the pain and the hurt lift from me.
I glimpsed the joy beyond the curtain that was mine for the taking, and in that glorious, incredible moment, something in my heart shifted.
My amazing, awe-inspiring, grace-giving Heavenly Father reminded me, ever so gently, that I wasn’t defined by a number on a scale or a pixelated image on the screen or the size on the tag of my fashion leggings.
I didn’t have to lose weight to gain His favor.
The power that food had over me? It wasn’t of Him.
Food could never fill the deep need for comfort and acceptance and approval inside me.
Only God could.
I was valuable. I had worth. I was precious and adored and loved because I was created in His image.
Simply because I was His.
With joy and an exuberant heart for the un-finer things in life, KariAnne Wood writes the lifestyle blog Thistlewood Farms from the back porch of her farmhouse in the rolling hills of Kentucky. She followed God’s call for her heart and jumped with her family from the busy Dallas metroplex to the end of a winding country road, where she lives with her husband and four children.
Her first book, So Close To Amazing is a collection of hilarious and heartfelt reflections on getting it almost right—and how, instead of giving up, we can choose to simply embrace our real selves right where we are. It’s a story of transparency and honesty and recognizing that perfection is completely over-emphasized and overrated. It’s about celebrating our quirks and flaws and uniqueness—and how to learn to love the amazing, creative, incredible individual that God created each of us to be.
[ Our humble thanks to Tyndale for their partnership in today’s devotion ]