“Mirrors are perpetually deceitful. They lie and steal your true self. They reveal only what your mind believes it sees”
Lately, I’ve been thinking about my obsession with my body. To be clear, I am ALWAYS thinking about my body, but lately I’ve been thinking about that thinking. Oh, how I exhaust myself....
However, this thinking was different. My usual negative thought patterns were abruptly interrupted with a new thought. What if I’m actually perfect?
What?! What if all those things I’ve told myself all these years were untrue? Well, that stopped me in my proverbial tracks.
I dove in. What did this thought mean? “What if I’m perfect?” Now before you jump on ship and say "No one is perfect"...keep reading and allow me to explain. As soon as I allowed the thought to settle into my being and sink in for a bit.... I felt an immediate sense of relief followed by a sadness at a lifetime of energy spent on believing the opposite. I felt like I owed myself a deep apology.
I wanted to explore this so I sat down to start a list of all the “perfect” things about my body. I sat there. And I sat there. I stared at the blank page tapping my pen. I got up, walked to the mirror in my bathroom and stripped down...and looked. I still couldn’t seem to write anything. In fact, all my insecurities started screaming and reared its ugly head. In the past 8 years, my body has been through some pretty extreme changes. I lost the weight but the insecurities remained.... I could feel my mind chasing the original thought, trying to hold onto it before it slipped away and was replaced by this same tired refrain.
Most of us could list the positive traits of others with relative ease, but when asked to list positive qualities about our own bodies we might embarrassingly list a couple of things (maybe things we’ve been told by others) and then quit the game. What a shame. Think about it....
We have learned that we are good or bad, likable or not, worthy or unworthy based on our appearance since we were in diapers. We entered into a game where we (or at least many of us) constantly compared the “worst” in ourselves to the “best” in others. A perpetual cycle of coming up short, reinforcing the lesson.
The fact that I couldn’t even start a list suddenly felt like total crap (for a lack of a better word). I put down the first list and began another. I started by listing all the things I have experienced through my body. The list was long and glorious and included:
I have danced with abandon and felt the music flowing through my veins and beads of sweat poured down my body.
I have washed my hair and sat in warm appreciation under the sun as it dried and blew in the wind. I have felt the sun heat up my face as I smile up into it.
I have kissed and been kissed....I have fallen in love.
I have felt the dull ache of sore muscles the next day after a 18 mile run and the satisfaction that brings.
I have given birth naturally two times, and breastfed Bailey for an entire year. An entire year! I can't even begin to tell you how tough that was....
I have touched my children’s heads, transmitting love through my fingers as I caressed their hair...and rocked them to sleep in my arms.
I have walked barefoot in mud and sand and stone...
I have seen some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets....
I have ran mile after mile and even though in my mind I wanted to quit a million times....this body told me to keep going...
I have also experienced pain though my body. And as I began to list some of those experiences, including things I didn’t wish to remember, I realized that I was listing them with a sense of deep gratitude. I had moved through the beauty to the pain in a state of reverence for what my body was offering me. An opportunity to learn. This thought was transformative. Suddenly the body that I have both loved and despised my entire life was a tool. And it all began to come together.
My body shows me what I need to know. Physical pain is often a lesson in listening to intuition. My body saying, trust me, I know what you need. The beautiful experiences are teaching the same. You’ve got this.
Suddenly I felt less shame about the cellulite on the back of my thighs....the stretch marks on my stomach and sides....I wasn’t weak or flawed. I felt much less like comparing my butt in a pair jeans to her butt in a pair of jeans. I wouldn’t trade the experiences of this body, so why would I envy the other body at all? This body created this life I’m living. And I love my life. To not the love the body that delivers it to me every day began to feel like a crime that I was no longer willing to commit....
My body is perfect because it is doing exactly what it is meant to do. It is showing me the way.... My job is merely to listen. I’m perfect because I am a map of my own journey. Where I have been and what I have created is written all over my physical being. Every curve, every wrinkle, every pound, all of me. My own divine instrument.
From here I can find a place of quiet grace...and appreciation.
“We must see all scars as beauty. Okay? This will be our secret. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, 'I survived'...”
Anyone that has seen my legs can tell you they are full of scars. Each week I have a new bruise or scratch....or something that will eventually turn into a scar. I have often made the comment that I will never have pretty legs and I am ok with that. I have 3 little dots in a row on my left knee from when I was a little girl and I tripped on a hidden barb wire fence....Granted, I was running from my older brother because I am sure I aggravated him to the point that he wanted to kill me....but its a fun story to tell. I have a scar all the way down my right shin from when I was pregnant with Bailey and I tripped on a piece of raised concrete...I was 7 months pregnant and wearing heels... no, I shouldn't have been wearing them and gave them up shortly after that but I wore them for as long as I could. I have a scar all down the right side of my shin from doing Box jumps at the gym....I had already done 79 and was attempting the last one...and it got me. I whimpered and licked my wounds for a few minutes but then I placed myself right in front of that box and got that last one in. The newest addition to my legs are the scars on the inside of my thighs from my latest Marathon in Huntsville...my glide fell out of my runner's belt and around mile 13 I could feel my legs start to chafe. Of course I didn't have the glide to fix this problem so by the time I crossed the finish line at 26 miles....the inside of my legs were so chafed that I had blood running down my legs. It hurt...but I crossed that finish line. There are numerous other marks and I could tell you a story for each of them...... I am sure by the end of my lifetime, these legs could write a book.
Over the years, people have asked me about certain scars or where I got the latest bruise. I have never minded telling them what I did to get it....In a weird sense, I am proud of them. I would rather go through this life explaining my latest adventure on how I got it rather than a life of being to afraid to get hurt. These scars mean I have a story.
We all have scars....Some on the outside.....some on the inside. A scar means you have had something painful happen to you...and you have survived to tell the story. Some scars are still fresh and some have been there for years....Some are physical....and some are more emotional. It cab be caused by a death of someone you love...a broken heart....or just a really painful experience. Often time you will rub your hands or your mind over it and you might still ask the question as to why it happened...and why you....
I think we all deal with the question of why bad things happen, especially within the Christian faith. We think that if we live the right way, come from the right family, pray the right prayers, go to the right church, and be involved with the right things, that nothing bad will happen to us. It’s not something we think consciously, but when something difficult does come our way, we start to search for answers as to what we may have done that caused this awful thing to happen or what we may do to prevent it from happening again in the future.
But perhaps one reason we are given our struggles...our scars.....is so that we can tell our story.
Today marks 1 year since I was told my sweet baby had no heartbeat. In that moment on the table. I prayed. I selfishly prayed that God would produce a miracle, that the ultrasound tech was wrong. Surely, that kind of miracle could be used to glorify God. I wasn't supposed to have gotten pregnant and now that I had gotten used to the idea and was attached to this beautiful being in my stomach....it was being taken away. Why? I couldnt help but to ask. Why? What had I done? Was I too ungrateful? The truth is....I don't know the answers to those questions. I never will. I will never know why God choose to give me that baby and then take her away.....But if we don’t go through the grief, how can we understand those that do? After that day, I understood a whole new world of women who have been silently grieving for decades... Being open about my grief and loss allowed others to do the same which strengthened me...I had many people open up and message me about their story....their loss....their heartache...and their recovery. Why aren’t we sharing those stories more often? Why do we think that having it all together is going to reach those who are falling apart?
We need to fall apart. We need to have lives that aren’t all together. We have been editing our lives for so long, and it’s pretty scary to live life unedited. But see, when we edit our life, we are editing God as well. God isn’t some pretty cross hanging on the wall of an immaculate home. He’s a lot bigger and more unpredictable than that. Sometimes I think we forget that our job here on earth is to point to God. Not in some put together, simple wave in His direction, but in a desperate clinging to His side.
And you will be judged. By other Christians, by people of the world. Remember that Christ was judged with how he handled the Sabbath or who he hung out with. But if we tell our story, share our struggle, really live in the communities God has given us, then I truly believe that God will take care of the rest. God is going to use your words to reach that person who forgot that they still have value and worth, no matter what they have done or what they are going through. Because no matter what society says about how we look or what we accomplish, that doesn’t dictate our worth. Only God does, and He has given us great value.
That’s why I share my story. This life is hard. There are so many things on this earth that can wound us, physically and spiritually. But God’s love can heal those wounds. And the scars that remain are a reminder that we lived through it and overcame it....we survived. It’s a reminder to share that story with others whose wounds are open, others searching for the healing balm to their pain. Share the beautiful mess, the imperfect path, and the healing strength of a God that walks with us.
1 year later, I can't tell you I have it all together...I can tell you that it crosses my mind at least 2 or 3 times a week...I can tell you it still hurts...I can also tell you that I have faith that there is a reason...and I am trusting in the good Lord above that in his own time he will show me his purpose.
1 year later, I have a new scar....I have a story....and I survived.
I am a artistic soul that loves music, art, and anything in between. Readling a good book is the best, and I always get sad when it ends... I love shoes, watermelon jolly ranchers, and the beach..I tend to speak before I think..but there is always a truth to what I say! I have a 9 year old son that brings out everything that is best and worst in me..Sometimes when I look at him its like I'm looking in a mirror..Being his mother is my greatest accomplishment... I have been married to my best friend for 6 years..He truly amazes me everyday..I am not perfect and I love learning about myself day to day..some good and some bad...but all in all..I kinda like me.. :)