Laura Laughman wrote to me last October and I was so moved by the raw honesty of her story that I begged her to let me share it with you for our month of No Sugar Coating. This is Laura’s first time sharing her story– in so doing, she is being brave and vulnerable, and ministering to each of us– be sure to comment with a word of encouragement and shameless love. I, for one, am praising God for her courageous voice!
Laura is a mother, wife, day care provider, an artist, and a singer. She is surrounded by beautiful children every day and wouldn’t have it any other way. She juggles many hats, but is centered in Christ and is learning to enjoying life every day!
I am 38 years old and have been living in shame my whole life, but never really realized it. I grew up in church and was saved at the age of 9. Even so, I can’t remember a time not being ashamed of my body. I’ve been heavy since birth. As a result, I was the butt of many jokes in my family. I always smiled on the outside but learned to internalize my feelings. I just accepted that there was something wrong with me.
At 12, my family moved from Baltimore to Pennsylvania. No one wanted me there. The kids were mean. There was a boy who sat next to me in every class — he didn’t just tease me about my weight, he ridiculed me. He would touch my hands and put his arms around me pretending that he liked me as a joke. I hated it. I cried myself to sleep every night.
I began starving myself and sometimes went for days without eating, then would binge and throw up. At 13, I lost my virginity to a random boy I’d grown up with that didn’t even care about me. This began years of promiscuity that lasted throughout my teens. I spent time drinking and experimenting with drugs without any regard to my safety or my health. I bounced from one bad relationship to another and was cheated on by every boyfriend I had.
When I met my husband, I was convinced it would end up like all the others and was just waiting for something terrible to happen, until I got pregnant. Again, I waited for him to leave me, but he married me. Even on my wedding day, I vowed myself to him not expecting forever. Not because I didn’t want it, but because I didn’t believe I was worth it. Sixteen months later, we were blessed with one more son and motherhood, once again, allowed me to bury those feelings and just go through life. It’s sad, but I don’t remember a lot of things that most moms do because I was so numb for so long.
As my children grew, my husband and I grew distant. I returned to church and found a new relationship with God. I begged Him for change, but every day, I’d wake up to Satan finding a new way to tell me that I wasn’t good enough — and I believed him. At the age of 36, I sunk back into my eating disorder. By then, I was over 200 lbs and no one, not even my husband, suspected it.
Finally in 2014, I sought help from a Christian therapist. I opened up to her about things I’d never told anyone. I went through the 12 steps with her and WON! I relished in the victory, but still found myself forever changed. Once outgoing and friendly, I withdrew from everyone, even church. My husband tried to understand, but he never had the chance to, because I was so bound and determined to protect my secrets and to conceal my shame.
Then, a few weeks ago I prayed for release and begged the Lord to deliver me from myself. The next day, I found Aubrey’s book. I suddenly saw my life in a new way and finally understood that all these years, I wasn’t wrong. I wasn’t a bad Christian. God wasn’t punishing me for my earlier behavior. He wasn’t mad at me. All this time, I was ashamed of the person He had made, that all my sin was not truly forgiven because I had forsaken the one constant in my life. I turned my back on Him when times were hard and because of that, I could never be as good as anyone else. It wasn’t a failed diet, or a bad boyfriend, or even a bad choice that led me to where I was. It was shame.
I am proud to say that I can see myself in a new light. I AM enough because God made me to be just the way I am. I no longer have to punish myself because God has already forgiven me and Jesus died so I no longer have to carry my bag of shame. I truly have been set free.
This is the first step I am taking to share my story–but there is more to come. I may have not lived for the first 38 years of my life, but with the rest, I am going to thank God every day for making me exactly who I am, flaws and all.
If you are feeling buried in shame- anything from life trauma to everyday insecurities, or you want to support a friend who is- find out what it means to be set free from shame through the gospel. Grab a copy of Overcomer: Breaking Down the Walls of Shame and Rebuilding Your Soul (Zondervan, 2015), available in paperback or e-book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Lifeway Stores, ibooks, Christian books, and more.