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A Hard Journey

by Kristi Kunkel

This is not a success story. I want to own that right here at the beginning. This is not the story of how with just the right combination of hard work, prayer, and my own fortitude I have said good-bye to who I was, and it is now sunshine, glitter, puppies, and happily ever after for me.

This is a story about the struggle; a story about the process. And that process is ongoing. I don’t know what the ending will be or if it will be happy. I don’t know if I will ultimately succeed in letting my old habits die and living a new kind of life. This is a story about finding God in the middle of the work. It is a story about trusting God on the journey. For me, that is a daily struggle.

I learned early on that being big wasn’t OK. I was teased mercilessly. I believed what the teasers said about me was true. I got quiet. I tried to be as small and unnoticeable as possible. I tried to be extra good, to make up for my epic failure at being pretty. I wore my clothes large and baggy and tried to hide.

Along the way, I found some kindred spirits. Friends who felt as “not ok” as I did. We practiced looking out for each other. I learned to love the other parts of myself—that I am smart, loving, thoughtful, kind, and funny. I tried not to think about my weight. I boxed up the guilt and shame, put it away, and hoped no one would say anything to me that would shame me into paying attention to it again. For me, the “f-word” with power had three letters, not four, and I avoided saying it at all costs. This is how I survived, and it’s been a hard journey.

The Rev. Kristi Kunkel is pastor of New Light Lutheran Church, in Dundalk, Md.

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