I have spent my life uncomfortable in my own body. I have always been tall, and that fact was accentuated by a mother and best friend who were both very short. I also carry a large frame, and people who meant well were not helpful when they said things like “You aren’t fat, you’re big-boned.” Add to that high schoolers who called me an Amazon, and when I reacted, tried to cover by saying “The Amazon women were beautiful!” Yes, I’m sure what you were getting at was my unparalleled beauty. Hm… And then there were boys who warned one another to be careful or “She will beat you up!” Looking back, I should have.
I didn’t struggle with weight until I began having children. Since then, my weight has been a stronghold, bordering on obsession. It was especially hard when I gained 40 pounds in three months on chemo.
When you are a Follower of Jesus, the enemy will take any insecurity and run with it. I have struggled with thoughts that my mind knows are unfounded but that my heart can’t seem to get past. I wonder if people will love me more if I am thin. Maybe people will find me more likeable if I wear a few sizes smaller. Maybe deep down, my husband wishes I looked like the models and is sorry he is stuck with me. And so I diet. And binge. Try this. Try that. And at the end of it all, I feel like a failure and fight depression. And then I’m sad, so I comfort myself with food. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Yesterday, a revolutionary thought came to me. I have birthed six children. I have survived cancer. I have a devoted husband who loves me and never makes me feel inadequate. Maybe the size and shape of my body isn’t that important. Huh. THAT is a thought that brings the promise of freedom. Of course, I want to be wise. I want to continue regaining my health. I do not want to give cancer easy roads back. But I want to be free. I want to just be happy and comfortable in my own skin. I want to enjoy a dessert, without beating myself up. And enjoy salad, just because I really do enjoy salad, not because it’s all I should eat.
And so begins a journey within a journey. Maybe I can begin to model balance and acceptance and contentment for my daughters instead of self-loathing and never-gonna-measure-up falsehoods. Maybe I can let go of emotional baggage I have carried far too long. Mayne I can truly find freedom.
Freedom sounds pretty good to me.