Monday, March 28, 2011

poor, black, and fat

Before I share with you what I am getting ready to...don't over think this. These are simply reflections. I embrace it all, for it is my journey with God. It began last week when someone interviewing me for a school project asked me to identify the things that made me who I am today growing up. Three quickly came to mind. First, I grew up poor. I'm not going to break out "when I was a kid" speeches (I've used those all on my boys). Simply I remember Christmasses with one present under the tree. We had our electricity and gas and whatever shut off because we couldn't pay the bills. I went years with only one pair of pants. People from our church gave us food. I don't ever remember being bitter about this or caring too much about it. We had family and Jesus and I don't think we ever lacked for anything. I think this has taught me that I can live with or without. It is my reality. I don't worry about money or future. It can't get worse than I've already lived...and I was happy growing up. Second, I was black. This is not to make light of all of my african american friends (my friend Kevin says, "I'm from the 80's I'm black!), it's just that I grew up in an inner city school in Indianapolis that was well over 90% black. That means that I grew up black. If you knew me in 1982-83 at Arlington High School, you would either call me "REV" (everyone knew i was going to be a preacher) or "TYRONE" (my friend, Stephen told me I needed a black name, so he called me Tyrone and it stuck). I listened to Grand Master Flash, Sugar Hill Gang, Debarge and Michael Jackson on WTLC 105. If you don't know these artists...well. This experience has helped me in many formative ways. I was a minority in Jr. High and High School..that gives me a small insight into what minorities go through (I mean small insight). Also, I grew up with no prejudice. I know people don't believe this when I tell them, but I have absolutely no racial prejudice in my body. I just don't. Somehow God allowed me to have this upbringing. Finally, I was fat (I know there is probably a politically correct way to say this better...but oh well). I mean I was fat. Way overweght (as was my whole family - excepting my little brother). I became the outgoing, big personality type to compensate for how much i hated how I looked. Still people made fun of me and I dealt with that. Before marrying Sara, I lost about 65 pounds (in between Freshman and Sophomore years at college) and I've pretty much kept it off - though my wife will tell you that I still think I'm fat and struggle with that part of my self-esteem more than anything else. It's still a journey. Anyway, because of this I have a heart for those who are made fun of and ostracized by others because of how they look. Well, that was pretty heavy stuff huh? Thanks for being my's a lot cheaper this way :-)


Connie Douglass said...

Mike--It is so weird to me that we grew up in Indy 15 minutes (less than 10 miles) from each other, but were worlds apart. I was well-off, my schools were 80% white and I was nicknamed "chicken legs." Inside and outside of my family, I was in regular contact with outright racist people. I learned to FEAR those not like me. God has so changed my heart, but my life, at times, is still a mishmash. Within the span of two hours this past Friday, I was in Indy and heard a family member make a racial slur--then two hours later I was in Champaign hugging on my two nieces who just arrived from Ethiopia. God's ability to mold our hearts and our lives is amazing. Love you, Mike

Anonymous said...

I am in constant amazement of how socially acceptable it is to make fun of "fat" people. I have been heavy most of my life. I have had times when I was "pushing maximum density", & times when I have been "less dense". I have seen the look of disapproval in the eyes of others. I have discoveref people felt the need to offer their advice "to help me". If I had a quarter for every single time I heard "you would be so pretty if only you were thinner", Eastview woud be set for life! This is something that has impacted my own self esteem. I struggle with self acceptance every minute.
I have become poor. This economy has ruined this area of security in my life. So, here I am "poor and fat"! Self esteem destroyer's!
Too fair skinned and country to be Black...but I did hear of Michael Jackson (lol). I attended high school with white and hispanic kids. I know we didn't have a clue. Despite this, my mom brought us up not to see color, but each person's heart.
Thank you for being so honest and revealing about your life. It is one of the things.I treasure about you.
I say if Sara is happy with how you look...and you know she a friend to yourself. I would never have thought you had an insecurity in your body!

Anonymous said...

And God used YOU to save my life and for that I am so very thankful for YOU - every day. I love your sweet self no matter what you see when you look in the mirror and I will always carry that in my heart. Hugs to you!