I know all about messes. I created one whale of mess for myself by continuing to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. Eventually I gained up to 430 pounds. It’s kind of like my Papaw’s pigs.

When he went out with his gum boots on we knew he was wading out into a really stinky mess. One time my brother and I went with him just to ride on the corn wagon and help feed the pigs. One time was enough.

Papaw Walter Carr helps my brother, Randy, and I feed the pigs. Last time I ever did that!

Papaw Walter Carr helps my brother, Randy, and I feed the pigs.

When I asked how he could stand the smell, he said, “It’s the smell of money.” I’d just as soon not smell that kind of money.

Most messes aren’t worth money, but most messes are worth something. They strengthen us and build our character once we are on the other side.

It took me a lifetime to create such my huge mess and I left a trail of messes in the wake. Eventually I figured how to clean up my mess and lose over 250 pounds, well actually 263 pounds now but who’s counting?

Writing is in my blood and always has been. When I felt God tapped me on the shoulder and said, “It’s time. Let’s write a book,” I was more than willing.

The hard part, though, was what kind of book to write. My mess had been cleaned up, but some of what got me there and the people who invaded my life leaving the scars, had not been cleaned up.

Do I tell the story, the whole story and nothing but the truth or do I leave parts out? Do I  clean it up? Do I just make it a fiction based on fact story? How do I tell the truth, the real truth when there are others involved?

I started from the fiction angle, but it just wasn’t the same. Part of the pull of the story was the truth of it.

Truth is stranger than fiction. It is also stronger than fiction. I knew the story had to be a memoir. It had to be my story.

In essence, a memoir is what we used to call down at the Pentecostal church where I grew up, a testimony. Sister Forsee with her long white hair tucked up n a bun would always say, “Your testimony is the only thang that’s truly yours. No one can ever take it away from you.”

When I started to tell my testimony of extreme weight loss, I realize there were some who might not like the messy parts. A testimony should be all nice and pretty. Parts of mine were not pretty.

Things some would just as soon I ignore I felt were integral to the story such as molestation by a family friend, come-ons by “godly” men, mom’s emotional difficulties and some issues early in marriage.

As a journalist for over 30 years, in grappling with these issues, I decided to do something totally unjournalistic. I decided not to give anyone else’s side of the story. In doing so, I didn’t have to guess at what others felt, did or said. I just focused on me, what I felt, said and did.

This approach freed me to write my true story, from my heart, no holds barred.

I am a very transparent person, so I shared openly about the mess I created and how I climbed out of the deep, dark hole I’d dug for myself.

I learned a lot about myself as I clawed my way to life. I learned I have resolve. I learned I can do some things that I always thought were impossible. I learned that just because I crave something, I don’t have to cook it, eat it or drink it.

I learned there are things more important than the cinnamon rolls and cheesecake I once thought I could never do without.

I learned that when I start walking out of failure and towards the light, God brings all His power to support my efforts. He doesn’t do it for me, but He does support me with His strong arm.

My mess was worth something after all. Where I had thought I was a victim, I finally became a victor. Where I was broken, I became whole. Where I had used works to try to earn a status with God, I finally saw it was totally to no avail because all along I had grace.

These are lessons many others have learned with much greater ease. For this hard headed journalist, my mess didn’t have the smell of money. It had the much more aromatic smell of freedom.

To download a free chapter of my memoir, put your name and email in the header at the top of this page. Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor is now available on Amazon. Kindle and audible versions will soon be available. To order, go HERE.

Teresa Shields Parker
Teresa Shields Parker is a Christian weight loss author, coach and speaker, who has lost more than 250 pounds. Her book, "Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor", is the number 1 Christian Weight Loss Memoir on Amazon. Her other books include: "Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy", "Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off With God's Help", "Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation" and "Sweet Hunger: Developing an Appetite for God".

She also offers Overcomers Christian Weight Loss Academy and VIP one-on-one coaching program, both available under the weight loss tab. To book Teresa for your next event, check the Speaking tab on her website. Also check out her blog and Sweet Grace for Your Journey podcast under the tabs by those names.