Defeating the Body Image Bandit

Comments Off Written on April 5th, 2012 by
Categories: Alumni, General

Cherrie Herrin-Michehl 1995-96

I had dreamed of attending Multnomah after high school, but life circumstances prevented me from doing so. Instead, I graduated with a teaching degree from Central Washington University in 1985. I moved to California and later Arizona, teaching public junior high school for ten years. Some of the schools were on the federal register of poorest schools in the nation in cities where gangs, drugs, and crime prevailed.

A New Chapter Begins

Several years after moving back home, I drove from Seattle to the Jesus Northwest Festival in Vancouver. I prayed during the drive, and thought about what life might have been like if I’d attended Multnomah. Surprisingly, the Lord told me to drive by the school for a visit. "But I’m too old now, Lord." Yet his gentle calling continued. I answered the call, and ended up in the graduate certificate program a year later. What a beautiful gift!

Although I swam competitively for years and worked out regularly, I’d been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic arthritis. The disease flared while at Multnomah, and I could barely walk.  I felt disappointed on graduation day as my friends walked on stage to receive their graduate certificates, and I received nothing. Why would the Lord open this door, but leave me hanging without a certificate? I moved back to the Seattle area and re-booted life.

Cycling Accident

A year later, I married my best friend, George. Several years before, while riding my bicycle, a dog’s erratic behavior forced me to slam on my brakes. I tumbled over the handlebars and crashed onto the pavement. The doctor scrubbed asphalt out of my face, stitched it up, and said I would probably need skin grafts. I felt like Frankenstein because people gawked at me everywhere I went. Thankfully, I didn’t need skin grafts, and the wounds healed nicely. But my mom made me promise I’d never ride alone again since I was alone when I crashed.

When I moved back to Washington, I tried to find women to ride with, but none wanted to go more than ten miles or so. Two church leaders suggested I ask George because he used to race bicycles in college. He is considerably older than me, so I knew who he was but normally our paths didn’t cross. During the bike ride, I realized what a gem he was. Since I’d been in an abusive marriage years before, I was very careful about praying and listening to God. The Lord gave me great assurance that this was meant to be with several scriptures and signs. We dated for three years and married in 1997.

Counseling Degree

The same year, I was diagnosed with SLE lupus, a life-threatening illness. But I decided to pursue another dream of becoming a counselor despite the diagnosis. Dr. Dan Allender, a renowned Christian psychologist and author, started a counseling school in Seattle, and I graduated with a master’s degree in counseling from Mars Hill Graduate School in 2000. Today, I work with adults and am honored to help people navigate through life’s difficult waters.

I am also currently writing a book called Tooshie: Defeating the Body Image Bandit. Through this opportunity, God has graciously provided me with several speaking engagements on radio programs and in churches. I love to use humor, faith, and my story to encourage women to love the bodies God gave them. We were created for much higher callings than obsessing about numbers on scales. More than most people, I grasp that our bodies are amazing masterpieces. When I couldn’t walk, I realized how remarkable they are. After having my face stitched and looking somewhat like Frankenstein, I regretted all the obsessing I had done about my body image. At one point I would have done almost anything to have my normal face back. Yet years later, I realize I wouldn’t have developed a relationship with George if I hadn’t crashed on my bike and promised my mom I would never ride alone.

God always has our backs, even when we can’t feel it. On graduation day, I didn't know that I would end up counseling, speaking and writing. He always has an amazing master plan, even when we can’t see it through the heavy fog.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,”declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

About the Author

George and I have a lot of fun together, laughing and watching movies. We’ve chosen not to have children because of my health issues and his age. Our lives are very full and I know God had a unique plan for my life. I enjoy writing on my blog, called Rhapsody en Route, and sea kayaking in the glorious Pacific Northwest among the seals and salmon. I also love eating chocolate, creating beautiful jewelry and connecting with old friends and making new ones. If you have a questions/comments about my work, blog or would just like to say hello, please feel free to contact me at:  hope4today1@hotmail.com.

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