Not so long ago, I was standing in front of the mirror and facing a six hundred and twenty five pound giant. He was an angry giant. He was also very scared and sad. He felt he had no purpose, no value, no reason to live, and I wanted to slay him just like David slayed the giant (Goliath).
It wasn't easy to face him. I had to gather up all my strength and courage just to look him in the eyes, and when I did, I wanted to knock him to the floor. I wanted my victory, and I knew I had it, the minute I saw the big man begin to cry. For awhile I watched myself, crumbling before me, with an unforgiving heart. Yeah, let him cry, I thought. He deserves to feel all the shame and hurt he's caused me. Look at me! I'm huge! And as my anger passed to grief, exhausted, my composure returned and I looked deeper into my own eyes. I forced the giant to finally see me--the real Dan, struggling for every breath under the weight of what I'd become. I was in there, somewhere. I had not died- not yet.
It was shame and anger that brought me to my knees that night but it was compassion and forgiveness that gave me hope. The question I asked myself was simple: How bad did I want to live?
I didn't know if I could win the battle but I sensed I had at least one more good fight left in me. I knew this giant looking back at me well. He could change, if he could just let go of his anger and move one step forward. If he could forgive himself as easily as he forgives others, he may even win.
What was it that finally got me off the couch and to that mirror when nothing else could? ME! Not my family--and they did try--not my wonderful friends who loved me. Not God (So, I thought, because I didn't believe in him anymore).
I bonded with that giant and had what I've often called my "Mirror Moment". It happened suddenly. I didn't have a plan before, nor after the mirror moment, but once the initial anger and emotion subsided, we had formed a team. I'm not going to tell you we were a well organized team because we were a mess. We were as low as a person can be, but with God's help (Yes, the God I didn't believe existed at the time) and some last-ditch human grit, we knew we had to try to get out of HELL--if it was the last thing we did, which was now a growing reality.
That was 20 plus months ago but I think about it often. In fact, last week, I was speaking in front of a crowd of Hagerstown, Maryland's, elite--the doers and the shakes of the community--and as I spoke I began to look around at not just the immediate faces seated in front of me but every face in the room. A woman, studiously performing her duties by collecting the dirty dishes, paused in her work. Arms full of table wear, she was listening. Then I glanced over to a a smartly dressed man in the front row. He was highly educated and no doubt respected by those seated around him. He was listening. All were listening, making eye contact with a one-time Giant.
Fact is, we all know someone who is, or we are our selves, suffering from Obesity! Take a look at the sobering numbers in America alone.
- 10-15% of all Americans suffer from some type of serious eating disorder.
- 61% of American adults are either overweight or obese.
- One out of every five US adults is classified as obese (BMI of 30 or greater).
As I spoke that afternoon, I realized how indiscriminate this was and it merely reaffirmed what I know to be true--you must fight yourself to win. In the beginning you will be your own worse enemy. You will worry about the foods you think cannot live without. You will doubt yourself and you will talk yourself into starting "tomorrow" rather than "today". But in the end, you will have to look you in the eye. You will have to face yourself in that mirror and slay your own beast. Until you do that, you won't have that new life that you so deserve.
After the talk that afternoon, people came up to me. They shook my hand and I even got a few hugs. And when I got back to my room, I felt so good, I went in to the bathroom and faced that man in the mirror. I really looked at him, just as intently as I did before. Sure, the face of the man had changed--thinner and healthier-- but the soul was the same. He was smiling and inside those eyes, I saw a man of value and purpose. I saw a man who was touching people. I no longer wanted to hit him; I wanted to hug and high-five him. I never thought I'd see the day that I could actually say that I was proud of that man in the mirror but I am. And though the Giant is no longer around, I remember him well, and I thank him. For he helped make me the man I am today.
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