Love Where It Hurts
“This is one of the hardest emails I have ever written…I am swallowing my pride and facing my fears. I am asking for help.”
Her email immediately caught my attention. Opening it, I discovered my dear friend Leslie was at the end of herself and was desperate for something, anything, to change. In one of the most courageous emails I’ve ever read, she asked seven of us to love her “where it hurts”—her body that carried over 138 extra pounds. She had asked people for prayer in the past, but never asked friends to enter into the most painful area of her life.
Leslie was done with having her weight control her life. She didn’t want to be the “fat girl” anymore. But she also recognized she could not win this battle on her own. She asked seven of us to hold her accountable and ask her very personal questions about her weight & diet once a week. No hiding for this girl. Incredible courage.
It’s easy to let people love us in the areas that are healed or healing—but letting people love us in the places that are deep and wounded is an entirely different proposition.
Leslie wrote, “ y’all are loving me in a place where I hurt. You are telling me that I do not have to be ashamed of my weight or my struggles. I can just let you love me where it hurts . . . and I get to feel the soothing presence of that loving balm.”
Over the past few months, I have asked all sorts of questions about Leslie’s eating, exercise, emotions, and body image—in effort to help lift this enormous burden she longs to find freedom from. She has responded in grace and vulnerability, sharing with each of us about the hard weeks, the mess-ups, and the tiny little victories on the scale.
What I’ve noticed through all of our conversations and emails is she’s really not fighting a weight problem—she’s battling a shame problem.
Shame has told her she’s no good to anyone. Shame has told her she deserves to binge because no one understands what she’s been through. Shame condemns her as a glutton and a phony. Shame tells her that her husband isn’t proud of her because of her weight. Shame has told her dying would be better than living. Shame told her to hide—hide behind all the excess weight because beauty is dangerous. Shame told her she is worthless.
And for years, she believed shame.
Until she decided to ask for help, a tiny piece of shame fell. Until a few months ago, she admitted her starting weight to all of us—and another piece of shame fell away. Until a group of women told her how incredible valuable and loved she is—another piece, gone. Brick by brick, pound by pound, Leslie is learning to believe the truth about herself.
This week, I’m celebrating her latest email where she declared,
“247.4 lbs. That means I am no longer considered MORBIDLY OBESE. Now I am in the OBESE category. So that is exciting!!!”
Pretty incredible what can happen when we ask people to love us in the places we hurt the most. It takes courage, it takes raw vulnerability, and in some cases it may take running or therapy or treatment. But the thing I’ve noticed about shame is it’s only powerful in the darkness—but in the light, especially in the brilliant light of seven others, it is rendered powerless.
Everything exposed by the light becomes visible . . .This is why it is said, “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5: 12-14
Leslie & I would love to hear how her story impacted you or if you’ve had similar struggles. She originally told me I could share her story using a different name–but after she read the post, she decided to use her real name. Pretty amazing courage, right?