Sometimes when one is in the midst of a struggle it is difficult to see how God is working to make good come from even the darkest of times. It has taken me years to understand why I was the one who struggled the most with body image and self-esteem issues in my teenage years (and still now) compared to the rest of my peers. However, it was on Feb. 22, 2018, that I finally grasped how God was using my struggle for good.

91.3 WCSG was a sponsor of Embracing You Events, and the specific conference I took part in was called “Seeing You.” The focus of this conference was to start a discussion on the effects that media has on body image and Leslie Goldman, who is a well-known women’s health writer, speaker and body image expert, was the main speaker. After Leslie spoke, there was a panel of five women who talked about their experiences and I was fortunate enough to be one of these women. The audience consisted of 800 people who could ask the panel questions about how media has affected the way we view ourselves.

When I was first approached about being on the panel, I hesitated to do it. In all honesty, it was scary to think about making myself vulnerable and sharing my personal issues in front of 800 people. I had self-doubt and worried about what people would think of my struggles. However, God continued pressing it on my heart and one day spoke to me through one of my friends who said to me, “It is not about you Baylin. It is about other people who may be having these issues that you could help by telling your story.” It was after she said this that I felt a sense of peace and knew I needed to follow where God was leading me.

During my time on the panel, I talked about how my body image and self-esteem struggles started in middle school and worsened as I made my way through high school. From comparing myself to the 5-foot-9-inch-thin-arms-no-cellulite girl in high school classes to beating myself up over eating a slice of pizza, my everyday thoughts were consumed by what I looked like and what the number on the scale said. I constantly compared myself to the “perfect” women on T.V. and Instagram and always had wished that one day I would wake up and miraculously like what I saw in the mirror. After a few years of this everyday battle, I received the professional help I needed and have since come a long way in my journey.

After sharing my story and hearing the responses from different women who talked to me after the conference ended, it was blatantly obvious why God put me on this panel. My friend whose comment had resonated with me was proven right when a woman approached me after the event and said, “It is comforting to know I am not the only one who struggles with these thoughts.” In that moment, God let me know that my past hardships I once viewed as negative now transformed into a positive outcome for this woman who no longer had to feel alone in her struggle.

Because of my issues with body image and self-esteem, I was able to connect with people of all ages who were experiencing the same things I was. If I had not experienced these problems when I was younger, I would not have gotten the privilege to have these intimate conversations with others and create a stronger sense of community. I would not have gotten to be a part of something that was bigger than myself and most importantly I would not have gotten to see how God can bring good to any situation. Whether or not we are aware of it, I strongly believe He uses our struggles and transforms them into a beautiful ending to bring good to this world. How comforting is that?