The New York Times recently reported that the West is exporting its ideals of beauty and body size to developing nations, including our stigma against overweight people. We are, it is said, globalizing the "fat stigma." It appears that our prejudices have so proliferated that they're even infecting those societies that traditionally preferred larger bodies, such as Puerto Rico and Samoa. And our notions aren't just affecting women; increasingly more and more men are suffering from a negative body image or what some have called "body image distress." The term manorexia has arrived in our vocabulary.
These reports turn my thoughts toward Sandra,* one of our family's dearest friends. Together, she and her husband Matthew* were hospitality incarnate. Their home was open to myriads of people. From kids in our youth group to church folk, from grad student jazz musicians who endlessly wailed on the piano and other instruments through ungodly hours of the night, to their peers, to neighborhood kids and folk—anyone looking for a heart-warming, welcoming place to call home found it with them. Shawn and I were, like others, invited to walk in anytime, whether day or night, without knocking or needing to unlock the door.
Hesitant to take them up on the too-good-to-be-true offer, at first Shawn and I balked, but Sandra insisted. She meant it. And since she and Matthew, like Jesus, were so magnetic because of their love, we happily spent much of our time with them. Christmas Day was the only day reserved for their immediate family members. It's no exaggeration to say that from her home, Sandra directly influenced thousands of people in the name of Jesus—and plenty more indirectly.
Sandra was morbidly obese.
She spoke freely to ...1
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