It was the end of a difficult time for me, and although the circumstances had passed and the problems were over, I was still hurting. Things the people I love said or did would trigger me to react in irrational, senseless ways, and I would resent them and hate myself in response. A simple word would trigger a thought process that sent me spiraling into a deep well of guilt and worthlessness. Worst of all, I didn’t know why it was happening or how to stop it.
Then I read “God Loves Ugly,” and it changed my life.
Christa Black’s book is healing, and although my situation is very different from hers, our problems were very much the same. Black’s story starts when she was molested as a young girl, leaving a pain she carried with her throughout her life without realizing its cause. After becoming addicted to success, perfection, approval, drugs, alcohol and food, she was accepted to college and realized her irresponsible behavior had to stop. When she ended her dependence on drugs and alcohol, her addiction to food grew and developed into an eating disorder.
“I was living a life that had been haunted by the past,” Black said in a phone interview. “Still living under the power of things that had happened to me.”
She hit rock bottom when she called her father and told him that she didn’t even have the guts to kill herself. Within weeks she was being treated at a treatment center for eating disorders.
There, Black became empowered by learning the cause of her addiction. However, she was also told that she would be dealing with this issue for the rest of her life, an idea she could not agree with.
“One thing I want to get across in my book, and I’m sure there’s treatment facilities that teach this — that there is a way to complete healing,” Black said.
The book is not just her story, however. It is a guide that shows how Black completely overcame her past and her addiction and potentially how others can do so as well. She lays out the steps that helped her in order to help readers overcome their own traumas.
“A lot of times, people work overtime to bury the past,” she said. “Sometimes just acknowledging, ‘Hey, I hate myself and there’s a reason why. It’s because this thing happened’ — turning around and facing it and saying, ‘You don’t own me anymore.’ It loses a lot of power.”
In the middle of the book, Black discusses how her relationship with God helped her overcome her addiction. While she understands many readers’ hesitance towards the subject of God, she only asks them to do one thing.
“Test Him on it. Just ask Him to show up,” Black said. “‘God, if you’re really there, then show me.'”
She asks the reader to give it a try and see what happens. The rest is their own choice.
Although Black was raised a preacher’s daughter, she believes that God and religion are two separate things.
“I’m not a fan of religion,” she said. “It’s the love of a law as opposed to the law of love. We say you can only encounter God through church, but I think he’s so much bigger and so much greater than that.”
It was God who gave Black the unconditional love she needed in order to begin loving herself.
“It’s very difficult to say, ‘I’m going to love myself today’ unless you’ve received it from a different source,” Black explained. “You can’t just turn around after hating yourself forever and say, ‘I’m going to love myself today.'”
The one point I’d make about the book is that if someone is not religious, the steps involving God are harder to follow. However, since the book is about Black’s healing journey — a journey that involves God — it makes sense and doesn’t detract from the book’s value.
In a way, Black’s story parallels the story of anyone who has gone through a major life crisis — a divorce, a death, molestation — anything that can really hurt you. You might get depressed or get angry at things that don’t make sense. You might start to hate yourself, yet you don’t understand why or how it’s all happening. You just know that something is very wrong.
Black gives you her story and uses it as a model to help you write your own. While this book might not be for everybody, it has the power to help people who have been hurt in the past.
I can’t express how grateful I am for getting to read this book. I’m not kidding when I say that it changed my life. I’m actually happy now, and I have this book to thank for it. For that reason, “God Loves Ugly” receives 5 out of 5 stars. It can help people, and it deserves to be read.
As Black herself said, “It’s the story of being loved into wholeness.”
Cara Hillstock is a sophomore in English and theater. Please send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org