Growing up I learned quickly that beauty came from what I looked like, and the skinnier the better. I grew up surrounded by the diet culture of the 80’s and 90’s.

As a child who had two older sisters who I believed fit the world view of beautiful when I felt I didn’t, I struggled with self-esteem at an early age. I struggled throughout my childhood when cousins gave us hand-me-downs and they would fit my sisters but never fit me.

It affirmed that something was wrong with me.

This struggle led to many other issues such as fear of rejection, fear of failure, poor choices with boys, anxiety, and depression.

Through a mentoring relationship in 2014, I decided to begin my journey to wellness. What I did not know at that time was my journey to wellness would be a roller coaster and include more of God and less of me.

What I had planned was, I would work out and eat healthy, and I would lose weight. This would lead to the joy I was looking for. I was wrong. What God taught me is that I needed to love the body that He had created. I had never been able to love, admire, and be thankful for the body I was given. I was unable to look in a mirror without disgrace.

Psalm 139:13-16 states exactly how God created me. He knit me together in my mother’s womb. If I believe that God is perfect, then I must believe that I am not a mistake as His creation.

By focusing on this verse, I have found freedom in loving the body I have been given. Instead of criticizing my thick thighs, I can reframe the thought and say — thank you Lord for providing me with such strong legs, because I love to lift weights.

I have also learned not to work out as a punishment, or to lose weight, or because I ate too much, but simply because I love my body and desire to take care of the gift God has given me. This has led to freedom in eating. I was the queen of food restriction, which would ultimately lead to binge eating (and the cycle would continue.) Now, I can allow myself the freedom to eat because my value is in Christ, not in my looks.

I am LOVED because He chose to intricately make me, and then sent His Son to die for me. I am UNIQUE because there is no one else just like me. I am STRONG, not just the physical strength that He has gifted me with but also because of the trials He has allowed me to go through. I have persevered.

I am able to honestly say I AM ENOUGH because God created me and He does not make mistakes.

Choosing to view myself as God views me is an everyday struggle. Choosing to see my qualities as gifts rather than weaknesses takes effort. I am a work in progress, and I am not always successful. However, it is through the prayers and mentorship of many friends and professionals, as well as The Holy Spirit, that I have gotten this far.

I hope you enjoyed Kelly Pullen’s Story; she is a sweet friend of mine here in Dallas. May her story further empower you to experience freedom in Christ. –Juleeta