It was an overcast day, with the promise of rain. I slid my arms into my favorite sweatshirt, and reached for my camera. I had a date with one of my besties, and a load on my heart. After pulling in, we embraced like girls do, and started off, in search of lines, and light, and photo-worthy scenes. We quickly fell into an easy rhythm, talking about things with depth and playing with our cameras simultaneously. She already knew my story, so it was easy to talk about my feelings. She knew where they came from and we dove in to the hard stuff challenges are made of. Ironically, she was working though some similar things so we quickly touched on common ground, and spent the better part of the next hour buoying one another up, encouraging, pointing out truth, squashing lies, and chewing on the topic.
The topic was of course... body image. I've tried so many times to write a post worthy of this topic. I've even written whole pages, pouring out my own story, but in the end, I can't put all those words out there. The reasons are vast, but boil down to the fact that my struggles began from the hurt I received at a loved one's thoughtless words, and I can't bear to dredge it all up for fear of hurting them with the re-telling of it. I did at one time struggle with what I see now looking back, was a control-based eating disorder. The love of an amazing man and an even more amazing God pulled me back from an abyss that would surely have swallowed me whole if left to my own devices. I've been released from that place for many years now, and forgiveness of the original hurts further freed me, but I do still struggle with my internal thoughts and have been working hard on seeking healing in that particular area. I wonder if you can relate to that? I think I can safely say all women, (especially those of us staring at airbrushed magazines in the grocery store check out aisle) at some point, struggle with not feeling "enough."
As I talked to my friend that dull, gray day, something began to take root in my heart and I want to share it, though the message may come out inadequate at best. In my head, it goes something like this: I want to be the thinnest, fittest, prettiest, funnest, most well loved/liked person on the planet. I want everyone to love me most. I want to be everyone's best friend and first choice. I want it all. Who doesn't if they are truly honest? And because I can't be all of those things (no one can or should) I tend to feel inadequate, unworthy, insecure and often... like a failure. But the truth is... what I really want when I want all those things, is to be worshiped. My friend pointed this out and it about knocked me sideways. I feel like I'm not good enough, because until I have the worship and adoration of every single person alive, and birds sing to me from my window sill, I'll never feel like I've achieved it and life will always be an empty striving for unattainable perfection. Because I'm making that a priority by wanting all of those things.
After I let that sit for a couple of weeks, I decided to write this post. It's not a post filled with my personal body issue war stories. It's not a post filled with my successes, the diet that might work on those last ten pounds, or the jeans that might make you finally like your rear end. What I'm hoping is that this is a post that will make me (and possibly even you) really chew on the words of my darling and wise friend. When I'm comparing, complaining, or wishing for something else... will I be able to stop and ask myself the hard question- Am I just wanting to be the best because I want to be a god?
My prayer is that the second those thoughts of inadequacy, or negative self-talk about thighs, or gray hair, or stretch marks, or any other body part I'm picking apart come up, I can immediately recognize my selfish desire for perfection, and the rejection I'm giving to a God who designed me (and you) as He planned. As an artist with a beloved creation. And maybe instead of separating all of my flaws out, like ingredients for a soup, I can lump them all in with the good things, and appreciate the whole thing for the work of art it is. Cause the kind of little old lady I'm aiming to be, is a sweet, caring, selfless, tender-hearted, compassionate, godly woman who embraces all the messy parts of life including a few extra pounds around the middle, and pours out into others, what overflows from inside.
Only one way to get there. And it begins here, by making peace and letting God be God and letting me be my intentionally imperfect self.