This may come as a surprise to some of you, but I was a big boy when I was a kid and not big like cute chubby big… I’m talking like I was grossly obese big. Like if you saw me you would have been concerned for my health and well being. My overweightness started as a teenager and carried it’s way till my sophmore year of high school. It was the lowest and most depressing point in my life.
It all started with my stubbornness as a child in getting what I wanted. I was spoiled and a nonstop whiner. My mom had figured out that if she just gave me food I would be happy and me being an unknowing kid… it was heaven for me. I remember walking home from school and there being a small donut shop. I would buy a box of a dozen donuts and carry it home. Of course eating a few donuts on the way. Once I would get home I would go up to my room, play video games, and eat the whole box. Later that night, I would usually request my mom to order me some takeout… choices were pizza or a burger joint and not your typical burger place… this place had chili cheese burgers with chili cheese fries… amazingly delicious. This behavior carried on just about EVERY DAY for years of my life. I was a loner with no loving family or friends. All I had was delicious food. It was the only thing that made me feel good or… at least I thought it did.
As I grew older, my nickname quickly became “Fat Albert”. It was well known throughout school. I had soon gotten so big that I couldn’t fit in the walkway of the school bus. I had to wedge myself through and strafe sideways… usually scraping the kids closest to the aisle all the way to my seat. I distinctly remember clear as day this one time in class a kid making fun of me for how fat I was. I typically lowered my head and tried to block out the harmful words they said to me. This particular kid took it a step further and poked my stomach hard while saying “Hoo Hoo!” just like the Pillsbury Doughboy and to my ultimate demise… the worst possible thing happened… I fartest the loudest fart that I could ever remember. Immediately the whole classroom stopped what they were doing and laughed at me. It was excruciating embarrassing. When I thought it couldn’t get any worse… I heard a more mature type of laughter and to my surprise I looked up from my shame (all while the entire class is laughing at me) and my heart completely sunk… the teacher was in tears laughing at me along with the students. This was the point in time in my life where I thought… I want to end my life. The pain was unbearable… in my mind the bullying was expected from other kids, but now the teacher too? I had never felt so much shame in my life. I remember bursting out in tears and leaving.
From this point on, I thought about suicide a lot not only because of the way I looked, but also due to the lack of a loving family and friends. I wasn’t a believer. I had nothing. Of course… unbeknownst to me, God has a plan for all of us.
I am a firm believer in this following quote that a wise man once told me… “Fruit doesn’t grow on the mountain, it grows in the valley”. I consider these traumatizing trials in life not as tragedies (although they may feel like it in the moment), but as blessings… why, because I believe the more trials we go through the more we grow in many ways. We grow in spirit, we grow in strength (either mentally or physically) and we grow as a light to others… to show them that it is OK to have gone through trials that in the moment may seem unbearable and undeserving.
So how does the story end, well it never ends, but… fast forward to my junior year in high school and through many other trials (I have a plethora of them if you are interested in hearing more just ask me, I am an open book)… I ended up loosing over 100 pounds putting me down to a slim 150 pounds. Ironically, my nickname changed from “Fat Albert” to being “Slim”. Girls started trying to ask me out and I just seemed to be treated better overall by everyone. You would think I would be happy, but I wasn’t. I had realized the broken world we live in even before being a strong believer in Christ. A world that judges us based on HOW we look and not HOW we act or think. It greatly made me bitter to inequality, because I had gotten the opportunity to see both sides of the playing field. To turn from being “disgusting” to look at (I was told this many times in fact) to being considered “slim”.
How do I process this information now, well… now with some more wisdom under my belt and being a strong believer I realize that it doesn’t matter how someone looks. Despite our human nature to notice things that aren’t the norm, I always try to put in the forefront of my mind to look past how someone looks. I don’t care if someone is black, brown, white or purple… I don’t care what they are wearing, in fact I don’t even look in my sock drawer to see if I get matching socks, why… because it doesn’t matter what other people think on how you look. We are all beautifully created to perfection in God’s eyes. What matters is what you bring to the world through your spirit, mind and actions. That is what I try to look for in people. It has been certainly one of the most freeing and blessed attributes that God has given me. The ability to just completely look past how someone looks and to be able to unbiasedly hear their voice. Hear their true character and being. That is what truly matters.
Now am I perfect? Of course not! There are times where I may stumble and judge someone based on their looks, but for the most part I have that strong trial experience that serves as a reminder to me. That once (and still for various reasons… being a nerd, being hispanic, etc…) I know how it felt/feels to be discriminated against. God has blessed me with the foresight to look past that and instead be able to focus on what truly matters… relationship.
I hope my words can be heard as a reminder that… despite how hard your trials may be in the past, present or future, that we all must remember that God will be by our side along our journies. We are not alone. He will see us past the hardest obstacles and in fact will shower us with blessings when it is all said and done, although the blessings may not be foreseeable within our understanding of time. They certainly weren’t foreseeable for me at the time I was a teenager. It wasn’t until my 30s that I realized… Wow God. You knew what you were doing and I thank you for it.