“I hate apples! Why can’t I have a normal lunch like everyone else? What’s the big deal Gram? Mom doesn’t make me eat apples. Just give me some money for lunch. Or maybe I could stay home?” Aphia pleaded, brown eyes opened wide.
“Aphie! We talked about this. I’m doing it for your own good. Don’t you want the kids at school to stop teasing you? Don’t you want to be able to go to school without being afraid?”
Troubled eyes sought the floor.
“This is the only way, Aphie. If you are going to live here with me, you must agree to try. OK?”
A sigh escaped before a resentful, “OK.”
At lunchtime that day
“Aphie Puffy, here comes the Stay Puft Girl!”
“Ohh! Look out, the table’s gonna tip! Run, run for your lives!”
Hurting eyes refused to blink, and let the welling tears overflow.
Same day at gym class
“Right. High jump for you lot. Except Aphie Puff. I don’t think we need to subject ourselves to that! You go over there and record the jump heights.”
Stinging eyes stared at one blurring patch of grass, before she shuffled to the bench, not noticing the shotput left behind. The air knocked out of her was the least of her humiliation as her gym skirt lifted up and she landed in the dirt, the unceasing sound of laughter ringing in her ears.
Lying on her bed that night
Eyes tinged with red stared at the ceiling. Tears spent, Aphie remembered.
Aphie Puffy. Blimp. Bigger than the Ghostbusters’ Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
The thoughtless nicknames were rarely original, but they hit their mark. She’d heard them all from kids, but a teacher?
A teacher making fun of her was new. Something clicked inside.
Gram is right. I’m just going to do it. It’s time. I’ll show them all.
She heaved herself off the bed, and waddled to the living room.
“Gram, I’ve decided to go to the meeting with you.”
With a discerning eye, Gram looked up from her open Bible.
Resolute eyes looked back.
Four months later
Moving more easily, Aphia sought Gram. After four months of watching Gram read her Bible every day, she was curious about her faith. She had supported Aphia through four months of healthy eating. Aphia wanted to repay her somehow.
“Gram, I think I’ll come to church with you this week.” Under Gram’s scrutiny again, Aphia’s eyes appeared hopeful for the first time in years.
Two years later
The stylishly dressed teen stood behind the podium.
Confident eyes shone with joy.
“Just over two years ago, I came to live with Gram.” Aphie’s warm smile was returned.
“I was overweight, depressed, and terrified of school. In the last two years, I’ve learned a lot. Healthy eating. I’m more confident. Most importantly, I’ve put my trust in Jesus Christ.
“I was asked to tell you about my journey. There’s so much to tell. I love apples now! I feel more positive. I have more energy. I can fit more clothes on the washing line!”
The laughter this comment evoked was warm, not derisive. It awakened no bad memories.
“I try to remember that it’s important to stick to the food groups.” Twinkling eyes looked out at the crowd.
“One is three servings of fruit a day. For me, that no longer means just apples, bananas and mangoes. It means the fruits of the Spirit too.
“My Gram is filled with love, patience and kindness. Her example prompted me to come to church, and that’s where I found Jesus.”
Brown eyes warmed the crowd, reflecting Jesus’ love.
“My weight loss increased my confidence, and changed my life, but if it weren’t for Jesus, I would never have found peace. Originally, I lost weight to spite people. Only after going to church with Gram did my motivation shift to the positive. My heart changed, and my body followed. Self control is a fruit of the Spirit too, you know. And to that God has added peace and joy.
“I am not special. You can do this too. But only if you face up to the fact that you can’t do it alone.”
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