Vandalia United Methodist Church

From the Pastor's Study

Words Matter

Throughout my public-school years, I was overweight. It made me the target of a lot of thoughtless comments, cruel remarks, and bullying. By the spring of my eighth-grade year, the bullying made me become a nervous wreck. That triggered a bout with an autoimmune disease, and I spent several weeks in and out of hospitals in Canton and Peoria. I finished out the school year at home with a tutor. Because of the steroids used to treat what was eventually diagnosed as Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, I returned to school that fall bigger than ever. What was the first thing I heard after getting on the school bus for the first time? The school bus driver commenting on how big I had gotten. Thanks a lot! My best friend could eat whatever he wanted and was skinny has a rail. I could look at something and put on pounds. I used to tell him that I hoped he got fat; and he would respond, “Not as fat as you.” My weight peaked during my senior year, and I was miserable.

Health Class was a semester-long, required course for all seniors. I took it during the spring semester. It was taught by a coach who was recruited from Peoria to turn the basketball program around. That made him controversial. He was an outsider. He was an extrovert, and I was intimidated by him. He was loud; I was quiet. He was a jock; I wasn’t. He was fit; I was fat.

The class didn’t go the way I expected, however. I found this outgoing, athletic teacher to be inspiring. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but it sparked a fire within me that made me believe I could turn my life around. I examined my eating habits and made changes. At home there was a thin book on a shelf that talked about the “LC” or “Army Diet.” It was an early form of a low-carbohydrate diet, and I started to follow its guidelines. I started to walk twice a day, once after school and another tome before bed, up to six miles a day.

By graduation day I had lost twenty-five pounds, and people were just starting to notice. By the beginning of the fall semester at our local junior college, I had lost another twenty-five pounds. For the first time I was buying clothes off the rack, fashionable clothes, and enjoying every minute of it. Classmates from high school didn’t recognize me right away. Was it the weight loss or the clothes? Probably both. A year later I had reached my goal. I had lost seventy-five pounds and eight inches from my waist. I had gone from wearing XXL shirts to wearing mediums.

I credit God for working through Coach Knapp to inspire me to do what I thought was impossible. Words do matter.



9:30 AM Worship Service
10:40 AM Sunday School

First United Methodist Church of Vandalia :: 618.283.3684