After we figured out my food issues and I was on the road to recovery, I continued to research for months, trying to find answers to my many questions. I wanted to learn everything I could about proper nutrition, my new diet, and anything else that might be related so that I could not only care for myself, but help my family and friends as well. You would think it would have been a positive turning point, and from a physical perspective it has been for the most part, but no one could have prepared me for the pain that would also accompany this new revelation. 

As I began to share what I was learning, I was met with a lot of negativity. People can be harsh sometimes and I was really hurt by some of the words and reactions that came my way. I was trying to share what I was learning and what had literally changed my life, but there were several people in particular that belittled me and left scars with their callous actions. I'm not going to lie - for the longest time I was hurt and part of me grew bitter. 

I carried this burden with me and somewhere down the road I began to believe the lie that if people disregarded my story and experience, they were disregarding me as a person. It wasn't until my counselor gently called me out on this lie that I was able to let go and forgive all of the people and broken systems that had brought deep pain to my life. 

Here's why this thought is so dangerous: our experiences shape who we are, but they don't define our value.  I was equating my story and experience with the essence of who I am, and that's simply not truth. Our circumstances don't define us. Our struggles don't define us. Our heartaches don't define us. Other people's words don't define us. So when I say, "if you disregard my story, you disregard me," I'm forgetting that my story and my identity are two completely different things.

So friends, remember this: You are more than your story.

Your story is important and it's part of you, but it's not WHO you are. While criticism of our stories and experiences can sting and bring true pain, these people are not disregarding who you are. They can't! So don't let the criticism of others hold you captive or let lies about your value fester. 

Who you are - your true self - cannot be touched, defined, or disregarded by another human being. May this truth set you free.