One thing I have been wanting to talk about for a while is my weight. The kind of thing that feels icky and you don't really want to talk about, but I feel like I need to. The unhealthy, self depricating, man-lover part of me feels like I need to "explain" my weight, whereas the Jesus-seeker, desperate hungerer, wrestler, thinker/writer part of me just wants to process this...and maybe encourage someone else along the way?
I laugh when I think back to my thoughts of my teenage self. Confidence has never been a high point for me and I remember thinking (and being told my classmates) "My boobs are too small! My thighs are too big! I'm too tall! I'm fat!" Oh it's so laughable to remember those things after all these years. I have never been a "skinny" girl, whatever that means. God gifted me with height and meat on my bones. But I was never, and I know it now...EVER fat. I was never a size 0 or 2 or 4, but my body was not meant to be that shape. I did well in a size 7/8 and how I would love that body back (despite my dislike of it back then?!). I was healthy, I danced, I was active. It was good. I remember gaining some weight when I was at the height of my endometriosis struggle around the age of 16-17, but even then, I was not fat.
I had healthy pregnancies, gaining about 30 pounds with each one. I remember after giving birth to Cayle that within a week I had lost 25 pounds and within the month I weighed less than I did when I found out I was pregnant with him. That was the smallest I remember being in the last 10 years. I felt good though, even after I had Alaya. I was never excited about how I looked and have always had hang ups about my thighs, my hips, my acne, my hair...but I felt okay about myself/my size/my weight.
And then I got cancer. Devastating blow to the self esteem. Lost the breasts: check. Went into pseudomenopause and gained 20-30 pounds: check. Had a total hysterectomy: check. Had radiation and developed hypothyroidism: check.
That 30 pound weight gain has been hanging out with me since 2008. At first I thought it was all the surgeries. Then I thought it was because of the estrogen/fat cell problem. (i.e.: Estrogen lives in your fat cells. I have no ovaries and cannot have estrogen therapy/soy/etc. because that is one of the hormones my breast cancer fed on. The other was progesterone. I'm screwed in the hormone department. The theory is that your body wants to hang on to fat because it derives estrogen from that fat and tries to replace what is not existent otherwise.) I still believe my thyroid issues play a huge role in all of this and am essentially having to do my own research and be my own advocate to try to get to the bottom of this.
I've tried eliminating food groups: the problem with this is that it is extremely challenging to do for the long haul. I have five kids. I am busy. Gluten free/vegan/vegetarian/sugar free eating all the time is just not practical. Judge me if you want, I've done all the research, but I know myself, my body, my family. Moderation is good and needed but I just don't think I could stick with one of those diets for long. I've gone radical with the hcg diet. It was HARD. Probably the hardest thing I've ever done and stuck with. I lost 25 pounds and I didn't go crazy eating poorly afterward, but I gained every bit of it back. I refuse to yo yo diet anymore. I have worked out 4/5 days a week, killing myself at the gym, biking, walking, running--every time I can't lose the weight. My muscles do get stronger, and this is good, but the scale eludes me.
Why am I talking about this? I think I walk around in this perpetual state of nervousness that I have blown up like a whale and everyone judges me for this. I know it's ridiculous but I feel that way. I feel like I have to explain myself. I am not confident. Truth be told, after I read my friend Sharla's blog the other day, I said, "God help me love this body." Therein lies the problem.
I think I hate my body.
I think. I hate. My body.
My body. This wonderfully and fearfully created, nay crafted, bit of bone and flesh and muscle and hair. The curves and angles of all the perfectionate hand of God Almighty, who formed me, knitted me together in my mother's womb. The One who lives inside me and loves every ounce of me, made me. He holds me together. He sees these scars and He has healed the dark depth of cancer inside. He has used doctor hands to form new mounds of chest over my barren and bony one. He has graciously allowed my clothes to fit again. He has healed my wounds. He has given me life. He has given me breath. He. Has. Made. Me. Alive.
And I hate this body?
What in the world is wrong with me? Why do I choose to look in the mirror and see lies, instead of believing truth? That He made me perfectly. That He loves me.
He loves me.
All of me.
Honestly I have worked so hard, wracked my brain, beat my chest, repented and been broken, felt judged and beaten down...all in the flesh over how this body looks. In truth I worry far more about that than my heart's condition and that's such a terrible waste. "Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart." Food is certainly a temptation to sin, but when I look at the grand scheme of my life, I know I'm not gluttonous.
So where to go from here?
The only place I know to go is to Him.
I want to be strong. I had that thought today. What if I could wrap my mind around being strong? Being strong so I can run my race well? What if the scale didn't matter to me? What if I stopped worrying about these stupid bumps on my face? What if I stopped thinking I'm unlovable because I'm not a size 2 or 8 or 10? What if I could walk like a daughter? Like His daughter? What if? What if I started loving this body? How would that change things?
How would it change the don'ts and can'ts and shouldn'ts?
How would it change the voices and the lies and the fears?
How would it change the striving in vain to eat this or that or work and sweat this much?
How would it change me?
How would it change you?
God would you do something here? Would you do something in this moment that marks me, that marks a change. That marks the others who read this and feel it within the depths of them? God help us see ourselves through Your eyes. God help us stop striving in vain. God help us to seek to honor You alone. God we need You. Thank you for making us perfectly and for being wholly in love with who we are. Overwhelm us with that lovingkindness. I pray You would drown out all the lies of the enemy with Your Voice of Truth. Make us daughters that are strong and walk with a warrior confidence in our King. In the matchless Name of Jesus we pray...