Here I am in week 3 of the Proverbs 31 Made To Crave online Bible Study…
This week I wanted to tackle a topic that is very dear to my heart and has been the most underlying reason that kept me from really allowing myself to experience Gods love for most of my life. That’s a pretty bold statement I know. My topic – Is it possible to make peace with the realities of our bodies? If yes, how?
I was born 31 years ago with several “birth defects” or “disabilities” or even identified to me as “special gifts from God.” I was born with my right arm and hand significantly smaller and shorter than my left. I was missing a left ear canal and my right ear drum was punctured which resulted in profound hearing-loss. I have calaboma in my left eye (a condition where the eye does not complete the formation process which results in blindness) and strong stigmatism in my right eye.
And I loved my body so much…
I remember so many evenings after taking my shower, standing in front of the mirror and waiting until I could get my eyes to focus on my face. In my mind I would replay the loneliness I felt during my day at school. Reliving the moment I had vulgar notes thrown into my backpack and written in red marker all over my school books. Feeling the pain of being pushed, tripped, spat on and even kicked into a wall. As I watched tears fill my eyes, roll down my cheeks and into the bathroom sink, I felt so bitter, so disgusted…so afraid of God. Why? Because I believed that He purposefully gave-up completing me. I felt as if He started well, but for some reason, he decided completing me just wasn’t worth His time. I called myself a Christian. I had hope that one day, somehow I could earn favor with God and could really experience the love I read about in the Bible. But as each year passed, I only grew more determined to overcome my “weaknesses” to get noticed by this obviously preoccupied God.
Bad picture there, right?
My weight was everywhere showing my internal battle for significance. I grew-up overweight, partially to keep others away. I grew so tired of feeling like I couldn’t fight back – eating became a way to make a buffer between myself and others. In college, however, I met my fiancé. We got engaged and due to work circumstances, we were forced to spend our year engagement on complete opposite sides of the country. So…miles away I was now into the reality that I was getting married and no longer found this buffer needed…at all. I started jogging, eating right and lost an incredible amount of weight in a year’s time (in fact, my wedding dress required alterations to look better with my new slimmer figure…twice!).
Fast-forward a few years…enter in kids and a few dozen moves…and suddenly the weight was reappearing. Though I wasn’t as heavy as before, I found that it was impossible to keep that healthy for my husband.
That’s right…it seemed impossible for me to eat right, get up and exercise…for my skinny, can eat anything he wants and get thinner husband! (I love him, but we are on complete opposite sides of the weight issue here!).
Right when I decided to try jogging again, I got sick and begun my battle with GBS and double brain cancer. Due to the intense chemo and radiation, I lost half of my body weight in a matter of months. Most saw this as a dangerous issue…I was so disoriented, I became absolutely thrilled with the fact that I needed new clothes. Yes…I was fighting for my life and I was excited to have others bring me smaller pants to try-on!
Right when I was healing from the treatments, I was hit with the news that I was pregnant! I gained every pound right back in a matter of months and seriously cried the entire pregnancy.
You would have thought I would have gotten the memo by now…right?
The way you see yourself in the mirror is defined only by the words whispered by the heart within the reflection.
The way you see yourself is NOT defined by the mirror itself.
We choose to allow the following to define us…
– How people treat us at our school/job
– Words and actions from our family
– Whether we have found our significant other
But rarely will any of these sources of worth be able to promote a permanent lifestyle change. None of these sources can make you love your body completely. Why? Hello….we base our identity on the words and actions of people exactly like us…others craving the attention, significance and worth that God placed in our hearts to be filled by nothing but Him.
True life change requires looking not into a mirror, but continually drawing near to His love and His purpose.
Bethany, I saved you by My grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from Me. Salvation is not a reward for the good things you have done, so you can’t boast about it. For Bethany, you are My masterpiece. I created you anew in Me, so you can do the good things I planned for you long ago. (Ephesians 2:8-10 NLT).
A few months ago, I found myself at a retreat, looking into the mirror again and through prayer and guidance, I was able to allow God in to the corners of my heart where I felt unwanted, where I felt alone, where I felt hopeless…where I felt abandoned. And…He loved me right there. He didn’t ask for anything…He simply held me…not the disabled me, not the angry me, not the overweight me or even the skinny me…but he held me, a child of God in His arms and I have been growing closer everyday since!
Peace comes by knowing you no longer need to wait for the mirror to accept you because He already has (and that acceptance and love is unending…just FYI).
Peace is having the power to make healthy choices because you know He has great plans for you. (Re-read the verse above for proof!)
Peace is knowing that those skinny “chemo” jeans of mine do not define my worth – because He doesn’t define our worth by our works.
Peace is the ability to see my Abba Daddy chasing diligently after me my entire life for that moment that He knew…yes, He knew I could accept His love fully…and finally find freedom.
Peace is the ability to sleep at night knowing I’m securely in His hands.
Peace is knowing He knows me and loves me unconditionally.
Hope you find peace this week friend!
…and the journey continues….