I am overweight. I have been my entire adult life. You’ve heard of the freshman 15? I gained the freshman 27. And I never lost it.

Over the years, I have placed more and more value on my mind and less and less value on my body. I have divided myself up into categories, overvaluing my thoughts and undervaluing my muscles.

As the years have passed, it’s been harder and harder to change my habits. Motivation is in short supply when you’re overweight and out of shape. It takes courage to get outside and walk or run—there’s no hiding my overweight-and-out-of-shapeness when I’m walking down the street.

This Lent, I decided to move my body more. I believe that God created us as whole people, not as brains-on-sticks, and I want to live into that conviction. That means taking care of my body.

Today was only my second day of getting outside on a walk—just a walk. It feels a little bit ridiculous that a walk is an accomplishment, but that’s where I am.

As I headed out, it was cold: 12 degrees. But the icy air spurred me on. I was bundled up, and I was moving. As I rounded the corner, I encountered a woman sitting on the sidewalk. Her clothes looked a bit ragged, and she sat by a rolling cart filled with grocery bags. She was waiting for the bus.

I know nothing about this woman, yet it seemed from what I saw that her life was much more difficult than mine. But that woman lit up when she saw me charging toward her. She even cheered for me. She seemed genuinely proud of me for getting outside in 12-degree weather to move my body. On a day when no one else was outside in the elements, this woman, who lacked her own transportation, encouraged the overweight woman in the Oxford sweatshirt.

I wondered if she knew how hard it has been for me to get out there. Could she see all of the extra weight under my layers of clothes? What made her cheer me on?

No matter. She kept me going today. She gave me a smile and a holler midway through my walk. She was a sign of God’s grace. This woman, waiting for a bus in the frigid weather, spoke up to serve and encourage me. She could have stayed silent. Most people do. But God taught me through her. He reminded me how much a kind word matters. More than that, this woman, who could have judged me for my midday walk in clean clothes, who could have been filled with envy at my own comfy life, who could have ignored me or even glared at me, did not. Instead she chose encouragement. May these words also be true of me.

Anna Moseley Gissing (@amgissing)

Author Anna Moseley Gissing (@amgissing)

Anna Moseley Gissing is Associate Academic Editor of InterVarsity Press. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild, and her writing has been published in Let us Keep the Feast and Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and two kids, and she aspires to more reading, more writing, and more patience.

More posts by Anna Moseley Gissing (@amgissing)

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  • Jen says:

    I love how circumstances such as this break down the divide between women and just clear the way to cheer one another on. We all have struggles and when we can see each other clearly, as humans, all broken, all pushing through our faults and weaknesses and struggles, we make the seemingly oddest of connections. Or maybe we just see each other as God intends for us to; as sisters in Christ, all fighting the same fight called life. Great post! And keep up the walking and pushing and allow the hard to make you stronger!!

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