Thursday, June 12, 2014

Uplifting Others

One thing that I have had to learn the most in the last four years of my life is how to handle criticism from people. Whether it being good intentions or not, I have received a fair amount of it these past four years. Most of it has been unneccessary comments from absolute strangers about me being "too young to have a child" or "way too young to get married." I feel like I have been able to handle the majority of the comments I have received with ease. The one form of criticism that I have yet to understand as to exactly why people give it or offer it to others, is in regards to other people's weight or physical appearance. Many of you know that in my entire health and wellness journey, I have gone from one end of the spectrum to the other. I have been on the "overweight" end of the spectrum, and I have been on the "underweight" end as well. In both of these instances, I was on the receiving end of some negative criticism that I would like to take the time to share and reflect on together.

After I had my son, I found myself both overweight and unhappy with how I looked. It didn't help my cause when a family member told me that if I don't start working out and lose the weight, then I am going to end up looking like my Mother. So, first of all, this comment that I received not only brought me down, but could have brought my mother down as well. My mother is one of the most beautiful women on the inside and outside that I have ever known. She is one of the most tender-hearted women I know (along with her mom, and her sisters), and honestly, if I did end up "looking like my mother" I wouldn't mind one bit just as long as I was happy and healthy.

Fast-forward two years later and I found myself overweight again, except "baby weight" wasn't an excuse this time. I decided to lose weight and get healthy for me. Although my intentions were great, I was uneducated at the time on how to properly nourish and fuel the body for a greater quality of life. When I was at my lowest weight, I received more negative comments then, than when I was at my highest weight. Many people that I worked with made jabs at me about how gaunt I looked. My own family members told me to my face that I was "wasting away." Although I am sure that these comments were intended to make me realize that I didn't need to lose anymore weight, they made me feel inferior, and like I wasn't good enough because I was "too skinny." The thing about these comments were that these people who offered the criticism had no idea what I was going through at the time. They didn't know what kind of stress I was going through, or what was making me lose weight. The truth is that I was extremely stressed out at home and with school and resorted to running as a way to relieve that stress.

I share these examples of negative criticism in my own life for one reason. This entry is to get us to realize that offering negative criticism on people's physical appearance does absolutely nothing good for anyone. It hurts peoples feelings when they get called overweight, or too skinny. I want to change the way we reach out to people who may need to lose or gain a few pounds to be healthier. I say "we" because I am going to be the first to admit that although I have been on the receiving end of negative criticism, I have also been very much on the giving end of it as well. I want to challenge everyone to do one thing. Pray. Instead of offering unhelpful, negative criticism about someone's weight or appearance, pray for them. If you truly feel in your heart that this person isn't being healthy and could nourish their body better for the cause of Christ, then pray for them. Prayer is powerful, and most importantly, it uplifts people instead of bringing them down. I think if we all make this change, it would be an excellent step in the right direction for reaching more people in health and wellness for the cause of Christ.

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