The Power of Being Real

I just finished reading a book called “The Elephant in the Room” by Tommy Tomlinson. It is an autobiography about a Southern man who is morbidly obese (446 pounds) and his journey to losing weight. It is a very honest book that explores how he got to this place and what kept him there. It also is a kind of yearlong journal as he struggles to walk on a different path. What I love about the book is that there is no quick fix. No amazing new diet that completely turns his life around. It is simply a slow, long, hard walk to start making small changes, one step at a time, and slowly change his direction. At the end of the year (SPOILER ALERT) he has only lost 25 pounds. But, after reading through the whole book, you are able to marvel at what a victory that is and have hope that he can continue on this slow crawl towards better health. After reading the book which was published in 2017, I looked online to see if there were any updates on his journey. I found an interview that was done in January of 2019 and as of that date, he was continuing the course. The weight was still slowly coming off. No major dramatic losses, just one pound at a time. 

 

There is something powerful about being real. About acknowledging that you are weak. You struggle. You have some major flaws that don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. There is something powerful about hearing about another person’s struggle with some besetting sin and finding out that the only way they have slowly conquered this sin is by very hard, very slow work. Two steps forward, one step back. 

 

I think what makes it so impactful, so powerful, is that when we are real, we help others to not feel alone. And not feeling alone gives us hope. It is so easy to have a weakness and feel like you are the only one who struggles in this area. We feel like the wimp, the frail link, the failure. Everyone else seems to get along just fine and here we are, all alone in the corner, unable to overcome this particular problem. We must be a freak. 

 

And then a friend whispers in your ear, I have that exact same problem! And suddenly your whole perspective changes. Oh, this is just another problem that is common to mankind. I’m not abnormal. 

 

This is probably why young mothers love to gather together and compare notes. My baby does this weird thing, have you ever heard of that before? OH YES! My kid did the same thing when he was that age! And the mom gives a sigh of relief and then they compare notes and try to help each other figure out how to deal with the problem. This spirit of camaraderie is so uplifting. So encouraging. 

 

We need to expand this Realness to other areas in our life. We need people in our lives that can tell us, I really struggle with eating more than I should. I have a hard time keeping away from the bad stuff on the internet. I really struggle with being kind to my spouse. I have an anger problem. I spend money that I don’t have because shopping cheers me up. I have a hard time not gossiping. I have a real problem with anxiety and depression…Things that we all struggle with, but we think we are struggling alone. 

 

When someone shares something that they are struggling with, it encourages me, but when someone gives off the persona of being Perfect, it alienates me. I feel like you must belong to a higher level of humanness than me. You are in some special club that I can never be a part of. And it makes me withdraw into myself. I feel like I need to hide my imperfections from you since you obviously wouldn’t understand them. 

 

I used to find people who gave off an “I’m perfect” persona were really irritating. Being around them just fueled my own insecurities. But, God has been showing me some things lately.

He’s been teaching me that there is no such thing as a perfect person. But, there are people who are so afraid of their imperfections and their unhealed wounds that they will do everything possible to keep them hidden. And they put on a show, an outward appearance of having everything together. It’s their own form of self-defense. And that’s ok. Facing your imperfections and your wounds is not easy and sometimes you are so busy surviving, you just don’t have any energy left over to try and tackle these deep issues. 

 

So, to my people who have mastered the art of being real, thank you. Your willingness to be open about your problems is such an encouragement to me. And to my perfect friends, thank you for putting up with me and all my messiness. I’m hoping that some of my messiness will rub off on you and maybe some of your perfect habits will rub off on me. It’s a good exchange.  

 

Fat Fridays: Confessions

Confession.

I am addicted to food. Not in the good way that everyone is, where you need food to keep you alive. No, I have a dependency on food to help me feel better when I’m stressed, or angry, or fidgety, or worried, or bored. I do not use food to keep me alive. I use food to alter my mood. In fact, the foods that I choose to alter my mood are slowly killing me. And I know this. And then life gets really stressful and I reach for the junk, the sugar and highly processed foods because, for a couple minutes, they make me feel better.

 

Confession.

 

I am not superwoman. I read all these accounts of men and women who have struggled with weight for years, and then one day, they just decide to stop. They exert their willpower and inner strength and somehow manage to completely alter their course in life. I keep thinking that I can be one of those people. I will exert my amazing will power. I will summon up my inner strength. I will take amazing Before and After pictures and wow the world with my amazing feat of weight loss. Look at me, I’m so amazing….Except that, I’m not. Amazing. The longest I’ve been able to exert my will power is about 9 months and then I give in to the old cravings and the old lifestyle and I’m back to square one. 

 

Confession.

 

I am not really smart and wise when it comes to health and nutrition. I keep thinking that I will just do enough research, read enough books, and then, Voila! I will know exactly what I should and shouldn’t eat. When I should and shouldn’t eat. What supplements I should take every day. I’ll figure out the exact perfect exercise plan and system. I’m smart. I just need to do a little research. In fact, I actually am as gullible as the next person, just as susceptible to the current trends as everyone else. I have read and heard so many different diets and health plans that my head is literally spinning. I have NO idea who is right. Keto, low-carb, vegan, calorie counting, low-fat, carb counting, portion control. Who knows? Gentle walking, brisk walking, interval training, yoga, pilates, weight lifting, all of the above. Who knows? 

 

Confession.

 

I am at the end of myself. I need to change. My weight keeps getting worse. My health is getting worse. My quality of life is getting worse. I do not want to stay in this place. And I don’t know how to get out of this place. I am thoroughly stuck. 

 

Conclusion.

 

I just went and read through the 12 Steps for AA. I don’t think I knew how wrapped up in God those steps are. 

 

  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. 
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. 
  4. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. 
  5. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. 
  6. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. 
  7. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. 
  8. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. 
  9. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 
  10. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. 
  11. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. 

 

Copyright  1952, 1953, 1981 by Alcoholics Anonymous Publishing (now known as Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.) All rights reserved. Rev. 8/16 

 

I think what I need is a meeting for food addicts. Do they exist? If they don’t, they should.