From the Pursuit of Beauty to Health: Learning to Love my Body.

Hola amor! 

It always feels like it has been forever since I’ve uploaded a new post because I just love writing to you. I hope that you are at peace, joyful, and filled with love. Today, we’re getting vulnerable. You ready? 

Just as a disclaimer, this is sensitive content. This is about my struggle with body image issues and food in high school. So please read only if you are able and take your time. 

Thank you for hopping on this journey with me.

Best,

Ash

 ***

I remember the day like it just recently happened. I felt so nauseous and lightheaded in that subway station, in the heat of the summer. I reached out to ask someone for help and what seemed like a few seconds later, I opened my eyes, looked at my dress that was stained with blood, and thought “not again.” This was the second time that I fainted in public. This time, I was not entirely sure whether it was due to my eating disorder or not, like I was sure of it the first time, but I knew for sure that that could have been the culprit. In high school, I put my body through so much in attempts to look beautiful, so much so that it has almost taken my life, and it wasn’t until Jesus showed me the way that He loved me and valued me that I began to value my health over my beauty. 

***

Growing up, I knew I was overweight, especially because much of the world didn’t hesitate to remind me. I felt in so many ways unloved. Dominican and American beauty standards were in many ways like “little gods” in my life, and I remember spending so much of my time trying to meet their standards. In highschool, I became even more self conscious about the way that I looked. I began to desire to reach a body goal, and by my junior year in high school, I compromised much of my health to reach it. 

In highschool,  I developed an eating disorder. My body was not receiving the necessary nutrients it needed to thrive. When I began losing weight, I became very cautious of people’s reactions and likings toward me. In my mind, I was constantly preoccupied with how I looked, what I ate, and how much I didn’t eat. I always wondered if a time would come where I would be what I called “normal,” where I could enjoy a slice of pizza or a cheeseburger like everyone else and didn’t worry about the ways that I looked.

***

I still remember the face of the nurse who, when I was admitted into the hospital, told me that I needed to quit the ways that I was hurting my body because it could take my life. I also remembered the therapy sessions, the counseling sessions with adults I trusted, and me deeply wishing along with others that I could quit. But I felt powerless. I thought that this was just how it was going to be for me.

***

My body image was one of the areas in my life where Jesus began to work in right away. When I first began to walk with him, I still struggled with my eating and body image. But in His great grace toward me, I remember one day after an episode, I experienced this wave of sadness that I had not felt before. In my heart, I got this really heavy conviction that Jesus was heartbroken when I was sabotaging my body. He was heartbroken that I hated what He created, that I was hurting what He loved, which was me.

It makes my heart heavy even now. I was breaking Jesus’s heart everytime that I was hurting myself because He loved me, and that led to a breaking in my heart and a knowing that somehow, things needed to change. From that day forward, I recognized what was true since the beginning of my walk, that I was walking now on a new journey of healing and restoration with Jesus.

Over the next few years, my heart and mind about my body began to change as God continued to renew my mind about myself. Throughout my walk, Jesus began to love me in a way that led me to take responsibility for my health, to work toward healing, and to learn to appreciate what I have been given. Slowly but surely though, I began to see my body as a gift and as a vehicle to live a life that loves God, that honors God, and that loves others, instead of seeing it as a vehicle to attempt to gain or earn the love of others. I also continued to pursue counseling in college, which helped me to confront much of my thoughts with someone’s hepl. As my mind began to change about the beauty of my body, I was inspired to take care of it and to cherish it. 

As my heart turned from wanting to look thinner to wanting to be healthier, my lifestyle also began to change. I began to enjoy food so much more, and embarked on the journey of figuring out what I liked to feed my body. Being physically active became more of a joy and a responsibility. I fell in love with strength training more than I did cardio. Sleep also became more of a priority for me (though Lord ,help me now), and more recently, I began making more time for self care and hair care. Hitting such a low in my health physically, mentally, and emotionally, and seeing what God was offering, which was wholeness and healing, helped me to desire so much more to take care of this beautiful body that is mine. 

It was liberating to be able to better appreciate the body that carries my mind and soul. The body that was handcrafted by God.

But love, can I be honest ? Though yes, I have tasted victory in the area of my eating and have experienced powerful changes in my mind a lot about things regarding body image, beauty, and true love, there are still hard days and the journey was never an easy one for me. I struggled, I prayed, I wept. Though I can confidently say now that Jesus has brought great healing from the pain I was in, I still have moments of struggle and of insecurity. Much of it is really because of the world that I still live in.

There are days love where I have to remind myself that my worth is not in my looks, that God sees far more of me than that, and that the world doesn’t have a final say in how I see myself. I have to remind myself constantly that I have all of the love that I need, and I never have to fight for it. When talking to myself is not enough, I have to sit myself down and pray for help, but sometimes that can be hard itself. Today, I am not currently struggling with my eating disorder as I did, but my previous history has led me to be a little more cautious about the foods that I eat and how much because of what I know my body and mind can and cannot take. Yet still, I am daily on the way of greater healing, and my life is proof that God can heal. 

I write this for the daughter out there who has an eating disorder, or maybe the daughter who doesn’t but has trouble appreciating her body. I write this for the woman with that insecurity. I write this for the beautiful daughter who sometimes has trouble seeing her beauty. I write this for the one fighting for love. I write this for the already fully loved, which is all of you reading right now. I want you to know this, that I myself and God want you healthy. I want you whole, and thriving, and filled with love so much so that it pours out of you and even onto your own self again.

I in my own journey have found that the road to wholeness and healing is rarely ever the easiest journey to be on. I have also found that journeys to wholeness and healing can look so differently for each and everyone of us, and I pray love that God will lead you into whatever works for you. He is still sovereign over us and our stories. He is with us in the thick of it.

No matter where you are, I hope you know that I will always be here for you too. Always.

Con amor,

Ash

If this post touched you or got you thinking, please feel free to write it in the comments below. We are all in this together. If not and you want to send me a personal message, please feel free to email me at sheisallinministries@gmail.com. Love you beautiful.

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” (2 Peter 1:2)

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