“always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” – 1 Peter 3:15
That little girl up there is me. I know, looking slightly boyish and totally 90s, but there we have it. The lady with me is my lovely mummy and she really is truly lovely. Massively thankful for you, Mama. Anyway. So, here I am blogging after what feels like and has actually been months, and after not really having a lot to say it’s only taken me a stinking cold, an aching back and lack of sleep despite being in bed for the past 2 days to finally get some inspiration at 12:40am on a Saturday morning. Great, huh?
So here it is. I know, this will come as a shock, but a lot of the time, I don’t feel fearfully and wonderfully made. I don’t look at myself and think, ‘wow, God did GOOD with me!’ or look in the mirror and marvel at the long list of suitors I have (errrr…) – I usually just look in the mirror and walk away. Sometimes thinking nothing of it, sometimes choosing to silence the voice in my head telling me I’m not good enough, and sometimes the voice whispers in and the sadness descends. But the thing is, regardless of this, I am still fearfully and wonderfully made. I was back then, in all of my 1990s glory, and I still am now – 20 years old, a size 18 & the bubbly laugh and crazy hair I am so often identified with.
Anyway. So recently I haven’t been feeling massively Christian, far from it in fact. I’ve been feeling far away and distant and wondering where Jesus is. I recently changed antidepressant medication, which was a massive blow after aiming to come off of them completely just 4 months ago. I joined the gym after being told I’d gained too much weight (but hey, attractive lads lifting weights next to me while I look like a beetroot and the release of happy endorphins can only be a good thing, right?). I haven’t really given Jesus a lot of time because I kinda managed to convince myself He isn’t there. It was only after chatting it out and actually going to church I realised that wasn’t the case at all. He’s just as much a part of what’s going on for me as He always has been – and that is MASSIVE part. There’s a few things I wanna say, and I’ll try not to be too long, but thank you for bearing with me anyway.
The first is that, as cheeky as it sounds, the best workout music is definitely worship music. Going for it on the cross-trainer looking like I’m trying to balance on blue whale’s tongue is made all the better by listening to some beautiful words about our beautiful God. There’s that verse that kept coming to me – you know, the classic question posed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:19 – “do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit?” – and the truth is Paul, no, not really. I’ve written about it and I’ve talked about it before, but it /was only when I was wrestling with the cross-trainer trying to get to the next target I’d set myself I realised that I need to be looking after my body. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not discrediting anything I’ve written about being a big girl or embracing the curves. All I’m saying is, eating tub after tub of Ben and Jerry’s when I’m feeling super sad isn’t exactly productive. Sure, it’s fun, but it’s also fun knowing that I’m turning my sadness into something productive and helping myself much more by getting on that treadmill (I know, there’s a sentence I never thought I’d say either). Whatever you look like, whatever you weigh – heck, whatever the number of Ben and Jerry’s tubs you eat is ABSOLUTELY FINE. I just need to be looking after myself, and this is a practical way to do that. So I gave it all to Jesus (and then shortly took it away again, but here I am surrendering it all over once more) – the workout, the eating, even the ice cream. And He met me on that treadmill. He cheered me on. He told me I was beautiful when I walked home and was just redder than red, ladies and gents. He was there when I did eat an extra bit of cake anyway. He was there, He was there, He was there.
He was there, and He always has been. The verse up top is something I just want to briefly explore – the one about having something ready to explain why you believe what you believe. For me, it’s all about explaining why I believe in Jesus and what He’s done for me – and funnily enough its all about my appearance and my weight (what a shocker, I know). It was at my student group at church that I told some of my pals my story, and as I did, it was like the Holy Spirit just covered me and seemed to say, “see? Told you I never went anywhere” and guess what? As always, Jesus was right.
When I was 15 I said yes to Jesus. But that was after a long journey that began when I was 8 when my parents separated and then divorced. I struggled with my self-image and identity and found it in the food I ate and the attention I got from other people. I found comfort in food and as a result ate excessively and without fail, of course, gained a hell of a lot of weight. My self-esteem suffered even more as I surrounded myself with skinnier, prettier and more beautiful people than myself and all I did was just wish the whole time I was more like them. It was only after losing weight for my mum’s wedding and feeling beautiful for about 5 minutes in my new slimmer figure that I realised something was still missing. I still needed comfort. I still needed that love that I’d never given myself because I didn’t think I was worth it. It was only when I started going to church with my mum that I heard a sermon on the Parable of the Sower – you know, the one usually told about faith and reaping the fruits of that faith with Jesus, but what I heard from it was that no matter how much I weigh, no matter how well I do with my grades and my exams, no matter whether I have a boyfriend or hundreds of friends or even if I eat Sainsburys out of their supply of Ben and Jerry’s, Jesus will love me ANYWAY – and it was a love I couldn’t help but say yes to. It’s a love that despite me walking away and despite me finding the comfort in too much food instead of finding comfort in Jesus has stuck with me and has clinged onto me and longed for me to come home.
It’s the love that’s encouraged me to start looking after myself. To try and turn away from the comfort eating of recent times, of looking to other people for affection and attention, and to start seeing the value in myself. To see myself as that child again, fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God because I still am today. At 20 years old, in size 18 jeans, with a knack for looking a bit silly at the gym.
STILL fearfully and wonderfully made.
That’s my hope. That despite all of the mistakes I made, despite all of the wrongs I do and the times I let the world down and myself down I let HIM down, He still looks upon me and says I am fearfully and wonderfully made. He doesn’t think He’s made a mistake – he knitted me together, remember? He put me together piece by piece and he lovingly thought of me and chose me long before the world came to be.
And guess what?
He did exactly the same with you.
I heard this song recently, thanks to my lovely Lauren, and it’s called Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace) by Hillsong, and the best bit of the song is this:
“Oh I can see You now
Oh I can see the love in Your eyes
Laying Yourself down
Raising up the broken to life“
He died so that I might have life. He raised me, broken and useless, and he raised me to life. He does this everyday, relentlessly seeking me and showing me how He loves me.
So what is my hope? My hope is found in Him – in that I can do nothing to change the way He sees me, nothing to make it better or worse, because it already IS what it is; He sees Annie, and He sees His fearfully and wonderfully made daughter. Amen to that.
Peace and blessings x
Photo from Lex Rosenthal and Joy French on Pinterest 🙂