I remember getting dressed up and spending way too much time on my hair and accessories. I remember seeing my imperfections through a magnifying glass and totally blowing it out of proportion. Can you believe I still have those tendencies? These days I just don’t have the time to worry about things like this, but if there was time, I bet I’d fall back to a degree of those critical thoughts toward myself. In a way, I’m thankful for the distractions. I’m definitely less superficial and I see how much of a waste of time it all really was.
Right now I am around 25 lbs over what I’ve weighed for most of my life. This is now my third time dealing with being very overweight after a pregnancy. Those suppressed insecurities come seeping out of the woodworks when that happens. I’m actually kinder to myself than I would have been years ago. How many times have I said, “OMG, you’re so fat” “How can anyone look at you like this, so gross.” “Don’t even leave the house without that mask of makeup on because you’re just hideous.” “How can you even walk with those nasty legs, you need some kind of surgery to fix that major problem.” Thoughts like these try and raise its ugly head every now and again but thank God I’ve learned to not entertain thoughts like these. I now know those come straight from hell to make me feel hurt and empty. Back then I was actually full of youthfulness and vibrancy. There was nothing to be embarrassed about, but I can remember feeling it eat away at me, almost all the time. This battle in my head about what to believe about myself was always raging. Not a soul on earth would have ever known about it. I remember after someone would compliment me I would never really believe them. I would say thank you but just thought they were so nice to say something so not true to make me feel something I wasn’t. It’s pretty comical looking back on it all. I don’t think I met a girl in high school that was not starting a new diet, on a diet, struggling with a diet or figuring out what diet to go on. The constant emphasis on image and desirability was so exhausting. Who could keep up? I even remember wishing I was someone else and thinking I had nothing to offer. For such down trodden thoughts you would have never known. I think I appeared fairly grounded, but yet the battles of the mind remained. My faithful mom would try and persuade me to believe how beautiful I was, but I just couldn’t believe it… not compared to this person or that person. The comparisons were so burdening!
When I went away to college I met the best of friends- as Anne of Green Gables would say, “Bosom friends.” I slowly felt loved for who I was. Gradually I began to see God in it all. I saw the beauty and uniqueness in others and maybe for the first time just appreciated it in them without desiring it for myself. Sounds so simple, but what a long time it took to do! I started to see the gifts that God had given to others as gifts for them and then I started to actually see the gifts within myself. This is an ongoing journey, as these gifts manifest itself in different ways based on the season of life I’m in. So I would say during my college years my eyes began to see something that I was very blind to before- real beauty.
During my first years working as a teacher I had an epiphany that I’ll never forget. I was sitting with some of the other teachers in the teachers’ cafeteria and another teacher was talking about how she needed to lose weight and get fit. She went on and on about it. What she was saying was nothing really out of the ordinary. But just then and there my eyes were opened and I almost said out loud, “Oh my God, it never ends!” It was like I just realized the same insecurities, dissatisfaction and self improvements just never end. Here this teacher was in her 60’s and she was still struggling with the same issues I was when I was a young teen. I remember feeling so sad. Not necessarily sad for her or me, but for all the woman out there. The culture we live in is so pervasive, it’s so strong and it infiltrates everything. We literally cannot get away from the messages they are sending. Messages that this is what beauty is, this is what’s desirable, this is what men want, these are the things you have to say and do… Who could measure up? Women are unknowingly in bondage to this made up standard that no one person can attain.
This is why knowing God is so important. He tells me who I am. I don’t have to guess or wonder. He calls me His beloved, His child. He rejoices over me with singing and has set me apart for Himself. He picked me up from the grime and placed me in the heavenly places. His spirit intercedes for me and He sends His angels to guard over me. He sticks closer than a brother and gives us the ultimate gift of Himself for eternity.
As I hold my precious little baby in my arms, the love I have for him just cannot even be measured. It is insurmountable. I would die right now to save him from harm without even a bit of hesitation. To even imagine that anyone could love more than this is really unfathomable; yet the way God loves is so much deeper than this. It’s beyond the human capacity to understand. It’s something to always be in awe about.
I feel like I knew that God loved me my whole life, yet I still struggled with such deep rooted insecurities. I knew this truth in my head but not in my heart. In my core I don’t think I really grasped this agape love or understood the magnitude and depth of it. It is so great!
Now that I’ll be 30 years old in exactly 9 days and as I sit in my favorite sofa and reflect on my life, I can actually say that I am finally content. Yes, I’m at least 25 lbs overweight, I still see all my “imperfections”, I have the smallest wardrobe of my life, my shoe collection consists of sneakers and flip flops, and my stretch marks are forever ingrained in my belly. Being the prettiest person in the room is no longer my aspiration. I just sit back and am amazed at how far God has brought me. Every hurdle I’ve gone through, every person I’ve met, every friend I’ve had, every disagreement I’ve experienced has led me to this point. I can honestly say that when I close my eyes at the end of each day I know who I am. It has nothing to do with my husband, my kids, my family or friends. It has nothing to do with my fashionista ways (or non-ways), my creative projects or my skill level in writing. It has everything to do with knowing and believing what the Bible says about me. I believe even as grown women, we need to constantly be reminded of it in order to keep the freedom of living a contented life- 25 lbs heavier or not.