By Elizabeth Brunette, freshman at the University of Minnesota
I have had the tremendous opportunity to become involved with St. Paul’s Outreach and Catholic Students United through Gopher Catholic Nights, Sports Committee, and other events around campus.
Long story short: Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist transformed my life.
Every little girl dreams of finding her Prince Charming, and I was no different. However, I didn’t believe I deserved a Prince Charming- after all, that girl was thinner and the other funnier, so who would love me? My desperation for love heightened in the eighth grade, and, consequently, I decided that if my personality wasn’t enough, my body would have to be. That way, my classmates would like me and my yearning for true love would be fulfilled.
This distorted thought process continued throughout the changes my body went through in high school. “Boys like curves” and other comments about my body from classmates, friends, and extended family members convinced me I really did need to lose weight. I actively avoided mirrors because I knew I would be disgusted by what I saw, and the only word I used to describe myself was “gross.” A fear of food crept in, and I felt guilty and ashamed every time I ate. The summer after my senior year of high school was the darkest time of my life. I was utterly obsessed with calorie counting and exercise, and I lost thirty pounds eating no more than 800 calories a day and exercising at least five or six times a week.
Despite my dramatic weight loss, Prince Charming didn’t come, but I did get a lot of positive feedback about my “new” body. Finally, after five years of obsessive calorie counting, dieting, bingeing, and self-hate, I thought people would like my body, and, therefore, me. I thought I would be popular. I thought my longing for love would be filled.
It wasn’t. I came to college still yearning for love I thought could be filled by the people around me. I joined CSU and got to know the SPO missionaries. They all had the peace and happiness I longed for, and the communities I found in these groups gave me the true friendships I felt I had been missing. As soon as I left CSU and SPO events, though, I felt the longing for love again.
I went on the “Walk with Me” retreat sponsored by CSU the second to the last weekend of October, hoping to find the love I wanted through the new friendships I would make. Jesus had different plans when He brought my three roommates and me to Adoration at 4:15 on the Sunday morning of the retreat.
I knelt in front of Him begging for peace with myself, for happiness, and for love. I opened my bible, and it opened to the twenty-seventh chapter of Matthew at the very beginning of the Passion. Woah. What I had in my mind of what true love is was so shallow. Love isn’t Prince Charming sweeping me off my feet. Love is Jesus Christ dying for me, knowing that I would reject His love and hate His creation- myself- for five years, and you know what? That whole time, when I lost weight from starvation and when I gained weight from bingeing, He found me beautiful, desirable, and lovable.
Then, He told me to look at myself. I very reluctantly agreed, and I got up to look at myself in the mirror. For the first time since I was thirteen years old, I didn’t see a “gross” girl who needed to lose weight. I saw a woman who looked happy, peaceful, and- dare I say- beautiful. I fell in Love with Jesus that morning, and I realized that He loves me more in one second than a person could in an entire lifetime.
I am so grateful to have the opportunity to share my love and build much-needed friendships with the SPO missionaries through the community at St. Lawrence. God has great things in store for His church here at the University of Minnesota!