Close to My Heart-I

Today’s topic is very close to my heart–fat, both literally and figuratively.  The first time I learned I was overweight was when a boy with whom I was ‘making out’ ran his hand across my belly–shrouded in a swim suit at the time–and told me my tummy was a little fat.  That remark ended our romantic interlude!  But from that moment on, the idea of being fat was firmly planted in my brain.  And so I leaped onto the dieting carousel.  They say that more than 29,856 diets have come and gone since the first cottage cheese and peaches one in 1929.  I’ve tried 29,800 of them and they all work  :-) until I returned to my normal everyday eating habits.

After giving birth to two healthy girls and losing three more babies, I decided I needed to ‘do something’ about my extended waistline and my growing depression.  I added exercise to my food regimen by jogging, only to have two middle schoolers bikes  try to run me off the road while shouting obscenities at me.  Fortunately I carried a walking stick which missed the first cyclist’s spokes but connected nicely with the second’s.  Later the same day as I jogging past a 7/11, two teenage guys shouted, “Moo!” for all to hear.  They continued until I was out of hearing range.

Church members can be equally as cruel.  I stopped attending prayer meetings when a sister-in-Christ said, “The sin of over-eating is no worse than any other.  It’s just that it shows.”  A young male friend of mine quit going to church all together because of the harassment.  His lovely tenor voice set him on stages around the world but he couldn’t bring himself to face the in-house criticism.

Another  swell-meaning soul snatched a box of chocolate chip cookies from a fellow church member’s shopping basket and announced for all to hear, “You don’t need these!” My friend was buying cookies for her child’s school lunches. Potlucks become a gauntlet of pain. A censuring look, a raised eyebrow,  a click of the tongue and shake of the head at the items on one’s dinner plate will keep even the most self-confident individual from indulging.  I call these people the ‘cheese police.’

A parishioner told one of the gentlest, most loving pastors I’ve ever known,  “You do the Lord a disservice when you stand behind the pulpit with such a weight problem.”  (I ached to tell this wayward soul that his misplaced modifier said the pulpit had the weight problem, not the pastor.)

At one camp meeting, a sister-in-Christ pointed her bony finger within three inches of my nose and said,  “Do you know your fat?”  I blinked and glanced down at my body. “Why look at that!  You are so right.  Thank you for telling me.” I tried to escape. Not to be put off, she added, “Do you know there’ll be no fat people in heaven!”

Usually I think of clever and snarky retorts later, but this time, God gave me words to speak at the moment.  “You’re right again, sister.  There will be no fat people in heaven.  Nor will there be any critical or judgmental people either.  Guess you and I should praise God for His forgiveness, grace and love.”

No one ever lost weight due to another’s harping and cruelty.  The opposite is probably closer to the truth.  (You’ve heard of comfort food?)  James 4:11 NIV warns never to speak against a [sister] or judge [her]…”  Or as the Native American proverb says, “Do not judge another until you walk a mile to [her] moccasins.”    Take it from me, those moccasins can be mighty uncomfortable.  (to be continued)


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