My New Identity

This is a story about how deciding to answer the call of Jesus Christ lead to a transformation I never imagined.

The digital numbers climbed in milliseconds, and as quick as I stood on the scale they came to rest at 324 pounds. I wish it were winter and I had a coat on so I could try to claim a few lbs less, but the light business shirt and slacks I was wearing didn’t justify a subtraction. I knew I’d been over 300 pounds for a while, but I stopped getting on the scale to find out. It was too depressing. It was unsettling that I was already closer to 400 lbs than the 210 I weighed in high school. The nurse noted the weight and they had me sit back down in the wheel chair and wheeled me to my room. My blood pressure had made it so that they didn’t want me doing any more physical activity than I had to. “How on earth did you drive yourself here?” I remember one of the nurses asking me.

I had woken up in a fog that morning. I just felt off, and I had a splitting headache on the left side of my head. I hadn’t had anything to drink the night before so I knew it wasn’t a hang over. I passed it off as dehydration, and got ready for work. I started getting dizzy while driving, but – being the tough man that I was – I just fought through it. Then I missed my turn to work. I don’t even know how. It’s not one of those turns that you can just drive by. So I made a u-turn and made my way back to the intersection. Then when I got into work I turned into the customer parking instead of heading back to the employee parking. At the time I was working at a car dealership, so there would have never been a time for me to drive to the customer parking area. I started to think something might be wrong. When I got into work a coworker tried to talk to me and I couldn’t even mumble out the words that were on my mind. They just wouldn’t come out. I started to do the math of all of the things I was experiencing, and I thought I was surely having an aneurysm.

Now as far as my fear of doctors had been at the time, I did the mental checklist and determined I could possibly die (the only reason I’d go) if I don’t go and its an aneurysm. So I went to my manager and told them I needed to go to the hospital because something felt very wrong with me. I took off and that leads me to where this story started.

Now, for someone who is terrified of doctors, and who had never been to an ER before. This was trial by fire. I got poked and prodded more than I ever had with all of the physicals growing up combined. I got an IV, multiple blood tests, and all kinds of weird contraptions plugged into me. If I had an 11th finger they probably would have had a machine to attach that to. It turns out when you get to the hospital and your blood pressure is 190/120 they go into critical mode trying to figure out whats going on with you. The doctor confirmed that they were indeed looking for an aneurysm, and they needed to do one more test to make sure. A spinal tap. Did I mention this was my first ER visit?! They had a specialist doctor come in. Clearly someone who was a master at operation (you know, the buzzer game), because he told me I am not allowed to flinch no matter how much it hurts. He explained to me that a few millimeters one way or the other with the little drilling needle could be disastrous. Let me tell you, no matter how much they tell you not to flinch, you do. Of course I was all numbed up, so I just felt the pressure. I don’t care what anyone says though, that doesn’t make the thought of what is happening to your spine anymore pleasant. I will spare you the gross details. I’ll just tell you it isn’t fun.

As they finished up with the procedure the original doctor who had been working with me the whole time came in, and told me they figured out what was wrong. Now, a normal blood sugar count is somewhere between 80-100(ish.) Mine was 350. Essentially I was on the brink of a diabetic coma. It wasn’t an aneurysm at all, but they were glad that I got there when I did. (I didn’t mention the doughnut I took from my managers desk before I left.) I had let myself go to the point that I was now dealing with type 2 diabetes. My numbers dropped enough that they released me finally, but I was not okay. I knew my life had to change. I knew my life depended on it.

Just before this story started, in mid September 2018.

I needed to get my life in order, but I didn’t know how. I started working out, and I resolved to quit smoking. Obviously, now that I was diabetic that meant a whole shift in my diet. Do you have any idea how hard it is to figure out how to only eat 60g of carbs in a day? In 3 months the first 40 pounds dropped pretty fast, but if you are following along in my blogs then you already know something else was about to happen. I got fired from the dealership, because as it turns out I am just too kindhearted to be a car sales man. Not to say all car salesmen are evil. I just didn’t have that flare to spin that an effective car salesman needs.

My first “gym selfie

In an effort to not repeat myself twice in the two blogs I would direct you to my last post, My Imperfect Faith, to get caught up on what happens next. I had spent the past 10 years trying my best, in different careers, to be a “sales professional.” I sold everything. Furniture, chips, wine, cars. I tried my hand at so many things convinced that I could make it (key word, “I”). I had to face the reality with the loss of the car sales job that indeed, I was not a sales professional. So I picked up ten years of my life and started over. I became a server again. There was something that hit hard as old co-workers from previous sales jobs came in and sat down at the restaurant. “Oh, you’re here now. Well at least you found work,” I remember one of them saying. Others you could just see by the looks on their faces that they indeed felt sorry for me. I didn’t want them to feel sorry for me. It hurt more seeing people feel sorry for me because I knew that they were casting me in a lower light than them. What I didn’t know though, was that God had placed me there to humble me for what was to come. My loss in identity, as it turns out, was completely intentional, and it was only the first of many identities I was about to lose. I lost relational identity, identity of my past, and pretty much every other identity I really ever knew to exist, and a lot of those happened after the musings of my last post.

As I started serving I realized there was a double bonus to it. I started to appreciate humbly serving others. I started to appreciate being able to share a smile with people who, clearly, were not in a good mood before they got there. I realized God was putting me to work to, at the very least, cheer people up. As I cheered them up, It also made me feel better about the whirlwind of a storm going on in my life. The double bonus, however, was that I was now walking (sometimes professional speed walker speeds) roughly 4-10 miles a day (depending on single shifts or doubles) so I was getting a killer workout each day. Things were starting to shape up for me, literally.

After starting as a server pounds just started to fall off.

Now I wish I could say this was all healthy. Most of it was, but there were times during this that I was so depressed that I just couldn’t stomach food. There were also times that I chose to fast for a day to practice a little spiritual self discipline with God. Before I knew it though I was 265, then 255, then 245. I couldn’t believe it. I had made a promise to myself, when I left the hospital, that I would lose 100 lbs. I was almost there, and I was blown away. I was regularly at the gym at this point, sometimes for an hour and a half; even two hours when I had nothing better to do. I’ll be honest, this was the first major goal I had ever really set for myself, and I couldn’t believe how close I was! As I built up my identity in Christ, He was also helping me clean up His temple and make it a place fit for the Holy Spirit! Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying you cant be heavy and filled with the Holy Spirit, but I know that when God decided to strip my identities down, one of them was my fat guy identity.

I think that at this point it is fair to note that somewhere around the 265-255 range I noticed that the diabetes seemed to correct itself on its own. Thank you Jesus!

I was starting to actually love myself because I loved the transfiguration on the inside that God was performing in me. Like a master surgeon, He continued to remove cancers from my life, and replace them with the wisdom I was begging for. He wasn’t just watching me from afar, He took my hand and said, “Here is where we are going.” As I followed Him closely I couldn’t help but want to improve the outside appearance of myself as well. Something else was in the works though. In following him, I ended up leaving the service industry (hopefully for the last time,) and going to work for my church as the “lead custodian.” (I am the only custodian, but it sounds cooler.)

Lets take a moment to step back here. Remember when I said I was starting to realize that God had placed me as a server again for a reason? This is what I am talking about. Had this position at the church come up a few months earlier, my pride would have never allowed me to be a, gasp, janitor. The audacity of someone even mentioning such a thing to me would have been an unacceptable slap in the face, but here I was. A server, newly humbled by Christ, and listening closely to where he wanted me to go next. I accepted the job and I could not be happier.

I was (and still am) loving my job because as a person cleaning a church all day, you get all day to spend with God. Talk about a huge perk! If it weren’t for all of the other storms going on in my life I would say that life was good, but that was exactly what I was doing there. When you work for a church, not only do you spend time with God all day (if you choose to, because I could also have just listened to heavy metal instead), but you also have emotional and spiritual support, the likes you cant find in any corporate job. When I needed a day to clear my head, my pastor had no problem letting me do it. When I needed someone to pray for me I was surrounded with options to go to. I was (and still am) in the best possible place for the season of my life. I needed to be there and God knew that.

In the beginning of August I was down to 235, and had just a month before I could claim that I had lost 100 pounds in a year. I can’t even begin to describe the push I made. If I wasn’t working, I was working out. I pushed and pushed and pushed. I pushed myself so hard that it didn’t take a month. On the 16th of August I got on the scale and the bright red numbers read:

To say I was jumping for joy was an understatement. I couldn’t believe it. Tears were streaming down my face! I had actually achieved a goal in my life. God had lead me on a path, gave me the strength, and molded my identity so that I could love myself enough to want to make a drastic difference in my life. And here was the result! I had never felt more accomplished in my life! I can’t even begin to explain the feelings of joy in that moment. I was proud, but I know I had nothing to do with it. I’ll be honest. When people ask me how I did it. I wish I had a sound answer. There was a perfect blend of trauma, self love, eating properly (not necessarily even always healthy; just the right portions) and heavy exercise. Through that perfect mixology God performed what I can only describe as a real life transmogrification in me. Don’t get me wrong. I took it one step at a time, made the right choices, and did all the necessary things to achieve it. When people ask me how, though, I don’t know because it was the first time for me, and I forgot to take notes.

The same shirt as the first picture, a year later.

As my walk with Christ continues, I am not done yet. Now that the junk has been cleaned out of the temple, now I am working on the fine details. I continue to strive to make the outside match the inside. I am honored that God resides in me, just as he resides in so many, through the Holy Spirit. I have made a personal choice to honor that faithfulness by being the best version of me I can inside and out! As I write this I am actually sitting comfortably at somewhere between 215-220 pounds. I don’t see myself getting much smaller than that to be honest. I am truly thankful that God showed me how to love myself enough, and how to love His love for me. I really hope to be an inspiration to anyone who felt like me. People who have been stuck at an unhealthy weight need to know that it is possible. It takes hard work, it takes a change of perspective. It takes a belief that it can be done, but you can absolutely do it! As I share the love of Jesus one blog at a time I am determined to tell people that I know God loves me, and if he loves me, I can guarantee he loves them too! In this journey of weight loss it is also in the same category of the unrealistic happening. If I could set my focus on this, I believe that anyone who wants it bad enough can also!

Me trying to look like a tough guy, eh.

I would love to hear your stories. I would love to talk to you about your journey. I would love to know who you are, and where you want to be. I would love to help you get there! Reach out to me and I will be there. Thank you so much for reading this!

Published by Brandon

I'm passionate about spreading the love of Jesus Christ in everything I do, say, and write. I am by no means perfect at this, but I strive to be better every day as my walk with Christ continues.

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