Dietland, by Sarai Walker. Creator: Ariel Zambelich | Credit: NPR

Have you seen the AMC show Dietland? It’s based on the book of the same name by Sarai Walker. The story centers around a plus-sized woman named Alicia who goes by the moniker Plum because “she’s round and succulent,” like the fruit. Oh boy, don’t EVEN get me started. Before I go any further, let me offer the disclaimer that Dietland is written from a very worldly point of view and has the potential to offend.

That being said, I squirmed my way through the entire two-hour premiere. It’s uncomfortable to watch someone be so completely unsatisfied with themselves. But, I’m captivated and plan to continue watching. Why? Because Plum, like all of us, desperately wants to be loved and accepted for who she is. Man, can I relate.

Plum is me.

I am her.

I’ve struggled with weight issues my entire life, something I bring to life in the pages of my debut novel, A Love Restored.

Many have asked me why I would choose to write a plus-sized heroine. A couple have cringed at the thought of my hero, Benjamin, finding her attractive. “Who would want to read that?” Others have suggested that without the overpowering, ever-present media we have today, Ruth Ann wouldn’t have struggled with self-image issues in the 1870s? Really? Then why were women deforming their rib cages inside whale bone corsets to achieve a tiny hourglass figure?

The truth is Ruth Ann’s story is my story. A Love Restored is based on my own romance with my husband, Mike, with all its ups and downs, including our devastating break up (you’ll have to read the story if you want to know more).

Like Plum, I’ve had cruel things said about my appearance. Oftentimes by people who were supposed to love me.

Boys don’t date chubby girls.

With those broad shoulders and hips, you wouldn’t be petite even if you lost weight.

You have such a pretty face, what a shame you don’t do something about your figure.

Men don’t marry overweight women.

I guess people assume that as your waistline expands so does your capacity to tolerate rudeness.

But their insensitive words failed in comparison to the ugly way I spoke to myself. I’d become so defined by the negative comments and opinions of those surrounding me, I no longer saw anything to esteem. I’d allowed my self-worth to be determined by a yardstick that measured my value according to the size of my waist or the flatness of my stomach, always coming up short.

I yearned for a love that would look upon my heart and find inestimable worth, despite my physical flaws. Couldn’t someone love and accept me the way I was? Like a needle caught in the scratch of a vinyl record, the toxic phrases I spoke to myself played repeatedly in my head. Why was it so hard to believe a man might find me attractive? Even love me? No matter the exact phrasing, it all boiled down to the same thing in my mind—I was undesirable, therefore unlovable.

I’d hit rock bottom and came close to swallowing an entire bottle of ibuprofen.

Then another voice spoke to my damaged heart reminding me of His great love for me. That indeed I was not a mistake and that He loved me more than any man ever would. The overwhelming weight of inadequacy that had burdened my spirit since childhood disappeared. A soothing peace soaked into my parched soul like water in the dessert, bringing relief to every dry crevice.

The Voice of Truth had silenced the Great Deceiver.My personal journey to self-acceptance is shown through my heroine, Ruth Ann. But at its core, A Love Restored is not only a story of love, romance, heartache and restoration, but also a story about the power of words over our lives. It is a story about the struggle each of us faces to take our thoughts captive to the truth of Scripture so we may experience the fullness of God’s unequivocal love for us. As Benjamin and Ruth Ann discover, it is only then that we are truly able to give and receive love, unconditionally.

Words have the power to lift us up or tear us down, and the most dangerous ones are the ones we repeat in our own mind every day. I spent way too many years repeating words of death to myself—that I was fat, ugly, unlovable and unworthy of the very God I believed sacrificed His son on my behalf.

In a world that often equates our worth to the size of our paycheck, our appearance, or the diploma hanging from our wall, it can be very tough to see our own value. We are ignorant if we don’t agree with the current PC opinion. We are ugly if we don’t look like the air-brushed images on the covers of fashion magazines in the check-out lines. We are a failure if we don’t earn a six-figure income and have the latest devices at our fingertips.

Friends, that is a lie. The enemy of God longs to distort your perspective so you no longer see the truth of who you are in Christ. The Bible tells us in John 10:10 that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (NIV)

Here are just a few things the Bible has to say about you:

1 Thes.1:4      You are chosen and dearly loved of God. (NIV)

Ps. 139:14       You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (NIV)

Zech. 2:8         You are the apple of God’s eyes. (NIV, I just love that one!)

2 Cor. 5:17      You are a new creation in Christ. (NIV)

John 1:12        You are a child of God. (NIV)

Col. 1:14         You have been forgiven. (NIV)

Rom. 8:1         You are free forever from condemnation. (NIV)

Eph. 2:10        You are his masterpiece. (NLT, Can you just imagine?)

My prayer for you is that you will not allow the enemy to steal the joy that is rightfully yours as a child of God. Speak the truth of the Gospel over yourself every day and ask God to give you His eyes to see yourself as He does.

For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. ~1 Samuel 16:7b