I want to dedicate this to My Friends who helped me to realize exactly who I am and loved me when I didn’t love myself….
I am just an ordinary woman, who is no different from you or anyone else. But what I want out of my life may not seem ordinary to you at all.
As my life’s many experiences have taught and reminded me every day, each of us has our own journey in this life. What follows is my journey…. in words.
Both of my parents were and are alcoholic’s, I come from a divorced family. At a young age I was sexually abused. I felt abandoned by both of my parents. Not long after that , both my Parent’s gave up their parental rights and I was given to my Grandmother who not only raised and loved me, but she did all that she could do to help me deal with the feelings of abandonment and inadequacy that left me with a feeling of unworthiness, as well. I thank God for my Grandmother for all she did and gave to me—even if she and I didn’t conquer my struggles regarding my self-image—struggles that I have been dealing with and that are rooted in the fact that I was abandoned by my parents. I am not sure if anyone ever gets over the feeling of being abandoned, or sexually abused but acknowledging and addressing those feelings can lead to a positive journey in one’s life—if we allow it too.
I struggle with my weight, and I have for many years, in fact. Food has been and still is my comforter. This was especially evident when I moved here to Illinois 24 years ago. I was barely 21. At that time of my life, I left everything that I had ever known, the church I’d grown up in, my job, my “boyfriend”, my friends, and even my Grandmother. I moved here, wanting to have a relationship, with my Dad who had been absent in my life.
Little did I know something’s aren’t possible!
However, two things I did realize when I arrived here was that I was alone, not just lonely, but that I forgot about leaning upon God as it pertained to all areas of my life. Food became my comfort, my escape and my partner. It didn’t take long before I was gaining weight.
I guess you could say I am a “curvy or big girl”, but the funny thing to me is that I don’t feel like a “big girl”. I still see the young woman I was when I was thinner. She’s still here, and now more than ever, she’s trying to get out. She sees herself happy, smiling and laughing and even flirting. Yes, I said flirting!
In the past 12-18 months, I have had a lot happen to me. These things aren’t what define me, but they do play a part in my story. I am recently divorced, my husband and I were together for 21 years, and I thought he was my best friend and my soul mate. I will never forget the first time I heard the word divorce come from his mouth. I felt abandoned once again, and my heart sunk. I couldn’t even bring myself to say the word “divorce”, let alone think that’s where my future was headed. However, after my husband left me and our divorce was finalized, there have been so many other wonderful people who entered my life, along with some priceless experiences from which I have learned a great deal.
If there is one positive that has come from my divorce, it is that I now truly believe that I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Without a doubt, I am sure most of you, at one time or another, have heard and/or spoken the phrase, “God won’t give you what you can’t handle”. Well, I am not too proud to admit that the divorce broke me. My husband told me that he didn’t want to be my “rock” anymore. At the time, I truly had no clue as to what he was trying to tell me–at least not at that very moment. Boy was I in for a rude awakening! Compounding matters was that I didn’t want to be a failure at the one thing I wanted most of all, a marriage! Not just an “ordinary” marriage, but one rooted in trust, honesty, communication, respect and love. Two more painful lessons I was about to learn. The first lesson was that, no relationship, much less a marriage, will work if you don’t love yourself. One person can’t be anything and everything for both parties in the marriage. Second, I was faced with the harsh reality that I had to take care of me, for the first time in my life. Before I could effectively take care of myself, I had to LEARN HOW to do that in the correct manner. Like many people, especially women, I was always good at taking care of everyone but me. I also asked myself some hard, but long-overdue questions: Why is it that I keep giving up on me? Why do I sabotage my own self? Why aren’t I worth it? After taking a long and honest look at Victoria in the proverbial mirror, I told myself that real, genuine and lasting change is never easy, but the reward was and is going to be worth any amount of struggle and pain that I’d endure during the growth, learning and maturing process.
During this process, God and the Holy Spirit not only helped me but came to me, spoke to me and made me realize that I had Him, He had not abandoned me at all and made me realize that even though my marriage was over, and although I felt abandoned and heart-broken once again, I wasn’t a failure. These experiences were merely part of the bigger picture and plan that God had for me and my life. My real journey had just begun…
A few months ago, just before my 45th birthday, I heard Pastor Andy mention that there would be an opportunity to get baptized. I thought about it, and realized that God planted a seed in my heart about getting baptized. I also knew it was time to begin again. I had grown enough in my journey and trusted myself enough to know I needed to show God I was changing from the inside out–so I got baptized and finally realized I could forgive myself for everything in my past that I still hadn’t forgive myself for and move forward.
This path that I am on hasn’t been easy, but sometimes you have to dig deep inside and find your inner-strength and realize you can do anything as long as you have God, good friends and your church family beside you to help you and love you.
I still have mountains to climb, stones to move and pounds to shed. With God ordering my steps, I have no doubt that I will see all my hopes, dreams and goals come to pass!
I really like who God has created in me! To be able to truly believe in myself enough to want to be pretty, to look and be attractive on the inside and out, all while liking and loving who and what I have become! There is nothing ordinary about being a person who struggles with his or her weight. What is really sad is that this is a fact the sad truth, it’s everywhere in our communities and nation. Being overweight, it’s a reality that is hard from which to hide and/or escape. That being said, hiding isn’t going to solve anything, I have finally learned. I’ve come to learn that that my body is a temple. I never saw it that way before in my younger years. Now, with Christ playing a huge part of my life, I get it. He lives inside of me, so I am his temple and He deserves a healthy place to dwell–and so do I. Learning to love who you are isn’t an easy task, but it is a task that I believe we should all undertake, at some point in our lives. It’s like looking at yourself and realizing that you don’t like what you see anymore, and actually making the choice to make that change. I’ve made the choice and I am not going back–ever!
Pastor Erik gave me food-for-thought one Sunday in his sermon, when he mentioned that he walked the parking lot searching for the answers that God had placed on him. It made me realize that it reminded me of a track, a circle of hope; a chance to be somewhere safe and know that it was a way for the community to see our church as a safe haven. Our church was a great place to start “Walk for Hope”, so I took a leap of faith and talked to Mary Elise and Sue Smith and they gave me the encouragement I needed to follow my heart and start and even lead it! Someone, no me, who had long been just an ordinary women, someone who in her past had been hiding behind her weight, and was now breaking out of her shell in addition to having already lost 100 pounds, came to understand and realize that in my own struggles, I could possibly help someone else with theirs and we could somehow help each other! That was in March, and not only am I leading “Walk for Hope” but another vision of hope, was Made to Crave, my newest adventure, a chance to not only to empower myself but others struggling with weight too.
Most of you here have seen me grow and bloom right before your eyes, but I couldn’t have done that without each of you, my faith, and realizing that I am better with Christ and Him giving me the strength I needed to begin a new to have that new beginning, that new start.
A relationship is not based on the length of time you spend together; it’s based on the foundation upon which it has been built. And I know now that it wasn’t necessarily wrong to want my husband to be my rock, but what I now realize is that no one person has to be my “rock”.
I know now I can rely on Christ and myself as well as my friends, members of my church family to support and love and encourage me. Above all, I have also have learned that seeking God’s direction, wisdom, counsel, plans and purpose for our lives should be what any relationship should ultimately strive for.
Our lives shouldn’t be ordinary they should extraordinary……