As touched on in About This Blog (see left), I began to care about loving people from the inside out as a result of having known and loved my late fiance, Ron Knope [pronounced kuh-NOPE].
What is "loving from the inside out"? It's taking the time and making the effort to get to know people for who they are inside before determining how you feel about them. It's refusing to judge others based solely on how they appear on the outside.
As you can see, Ron was severely obese--and that proved to be the ultimate cause of his death. After he passed away, I knew that I wanted to bring some good out of such a terrible tragedy, but for a while I didn't know exactly what that would be. I considered working to raise awareness of obesity itself...but I found that just too difficult. At some point I realized that I could have even more passion and could more easily express it if I worked on motivating people to look past appearance--and to appreciate others first and foremost for who they really are.
Two things primarily led me to this passion: One, I got to know Ron online before I even knew that he was obese. It wasn't something I felt he deceived me about; it just never came up. My introduction to his true size was seeing a new, full-length photo he posted on his profile. And while I was shocked at how big he was, I already knew and cared about the person inside...and the thought of not continuing in friendship with him never even occurred to me. I know that if I'd met him in person or seen the full-length shot first, I would have rejected him, focusing on his weight to the exclusion of all else. Just that thought breaks my heart. And--if I'd done that, I would have missed out on being loved by the sweetest man I've ever known.
Two, Ron told me a little about the abuse he suffered at the hands of strangers and even sometimes at the hands of friends. For example, when he would eat in a restaurant, he'd have to request a table instead of a booth because he couldn't fit into a booth. Sometimes when he was with friends and requested one, someone would ask, "Why do we need a table?" and then "Oh..." when they realized it was because of Ron's size. Whenever he and I ate out, I'd just ask for a table and be done with it--and he told me how much he appreciated that. Imagine having such a "small" thing become the occasion of a stinger....Hearing that broke my heart.
I've started this blog because I want to document and publicize my efforts to open peoples' minds and hearts to see beyond the outside, to relate to others based on who they truly are.
I'd love it if you would join the cause. How can you do that? I'll post specific ways here as I discover them. But you can start by asking yourself, "Who am I overlooking because I've made an assumption about them based on their appearance? Who am I missing out on knowing?"
If answering those questions leads to any stories you'd like to share, feel free to comment on this post and share them. I'd love to hear about your journey as well!