Jenny is a wonderful friend and strong follower of Christ. She shares how her sexual identity was impacted by a seemingly minor situation that occurred during her adolescence. This “hang-up” around body image continued to follow her throughout college. To start at the beginning of her story, click Part 1. Here is Jenny in her own words.
During high school, I continued to try to believe that female same-sex attraction was untrue for me. I had an occasional crush on a few boys, but I remained single throughout these years. I was happy to play sports year-around and not worry about boys who were in my opinion still pretty immature. Much of my self-worth and identity were found in being a successful athlete.
My fear of attraction was not an every-day battle, but it certainly made my high school years difficult and confusing. Despite this, my trust in God was never shaken: I knew He loved me. I never let go of my identity as a child of God and a Christ follower. As Justin said in his Lead Them Home story, “thankfully, I never thought the solution was to accept a gay identity.” Like Justin, I knew that “this area of my life did not limit the vision of my greater calling to be a Christ follower.” I continued to do my best to grow in Christ.
When I began college, I immediately pursued Christian fellowship. I began a nursing program and decided against playing sports because I wanted to focus on classes. However this decision caused me to be terrified that I was going to gain the “freshman fifteen” due to my lack of exercising. To combat this fear, I continued to run 3 or 4 days a week with a friend.
During this time, I came to understand who I was as an individual separate from my family identity. I discovered how high achieving and driven I could be. Along with this personality type came a lot of anxiety: around academics, body image, and the pressures of maintaining faith in a New England collegiate setting.
Although my fear of attraction was still there, it was overpowered by my greater fear of becoming unattractive due to a lack of exercise. I had never realized how much of my worth I drew from my identity as an athlete. Having sports taken away from me, I felt so unsure of myself. I no longer felt confident about my worth as an individual.
Let me paint this picture very clearly for you. I was always an athlete. I routinely compared my body to the most athletic bodies in my school. My identity and self-worth were shaped around having a body comparable to the most athletic girls. Now, athletics were taken away from me. Not only did I lose a part of my identity that was attached to athletics, I also lost the time needed to keep my body in top condition. No wonder I began noticing all the girls who were thin; those dressing to show off their attractive figures; and those spending extensive amounts of time at the gym to maintain their weight. It became increasingly difficult for me to feel adequate; and so easy to compare myself to other girls – a habit that left me feeling very insecure about my body image.
Join me next time on Lead Them Home as Jenny continues to share her story.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION: This experience is very common for many young women. Have you ever fallen into the habit of finding your identity based upon a comparison of some personal attribute to others? To add your feedback or share other thoughts, simply use the comment form below. You may elect to comment as “Anonymous.” Share this article on Facebook, Twitter, Buzz or by email. Share Lead Them Home with others today.