Warning: Some of you are not going to like this post. I can almost hear the comments rolling in now. I am not trying to make anyone feel badly about who they are and I am not trying to start a comparison game. I am simply sharing one of my experiences, one of my current struggles.
I’ve always been little. When not slouching, I’m 5’3-&-3/4”. (And yes, that’s how I tall I say I am, as if I’m a child counting every teeny centimeter.)
And other than the freshman fifteen and two pregnancies, I’ve always been average or below average weight-wise.
But then I went through a divorce in my early 40s and I lost weight. I was pretty pleased, actually, except that my clothes weren’t fitting and my doctor told me to start eating protein bars every day. (First-world diva problem, I know.)
And then life happened.
- I got older, as one tends to do. (weight gain)
- My metabolism seemingly plummeted. (weight gain)
- I met a man and fell in love and we ate out a lot and I was no longer super-stressed all the time and I was happy. (weight gain and weight gain and weight gain and weight gain)
- And then we got married and I went on the pill. (weight gain)
- And then some bad things happened. And I went on an antidepressant. (weight gain and weight gain)
- And every winter I hibernate, not getting in my daily walk or bike ride. (weight gain)
And in two years I have gained twenty pounds. I’m getting close to the upper end of normal weight for someone my height, and if I keep gaining ten pounds per year for the rest of my life, well, that would be very, very bad.
And for the first time in my life, my clothes don’t fit. And I’m embarrassed and feel shame. And I don’t like what I see when I look in the mirror.
I am going through a little study on my own about embracing who God created me to be and it’s been good but painful.
The author has asked us, “How can we love our neighbors as ourselves if we do not love ourselves?” Ouch and true.
And she pointed out, “Berating ourselves for our flaws and weaknesses only serves to undermine our strength to become.”
I have become a berater of my flaws. A daily berater. And it’s not good.
She asked us if there were anything we needed to repent of to Jesus regarding how we treat ourselves. Before I could even finish taking in a deep breath and barely get the prayer out asking Jesus what he thought on this matter, I felt him say clear as day to my heart, You have stopped liking yourself.
I started crying because I knew he was saying something true. I look in the mirror and roll my eyes. I try to put my jeans on (my fat jeans no less) and I frustratingly pull them back off and hang them back up and grab leggings and a tunic to hopefully camouflage my tummy and my butt that are both becoming larger.
So, here’s what I’m doing.
- On a practical level, I am drinking more water.
- I went off my antidepressant.
- I am getting outside every time the sun peeks out.
- I am cutting down on my eating a bit (though, sadly, I don’t eat a lot… I wish that were the case, so I had something huge and tangible to point to and stop doing).
- The other day, when given the choice between a nap and a walk – when I was super low-energy and kinda sleepy – I chose the walk.
- And I have put my too-tight jeans in the linen closet (hopefully for just now, but maybe for good), and I bought myself a pair of jeans that fits, that don’t literally hurt to wear, that don’t emotionally hurt to zip up.
And on an emotional and spiritual level, I tried something new. Out of the shower, getting ready the other day, I started thanking God for my body. Out loud. Listing things.
Thank you for my long hair. Thank you for my Mom’s green eyes and good genes. Thank you for my height, I like being small. Thank you that I can see and smell and touch and taste and hear. Thank you that I can use my hands. Thank you that I can walk. Thank you that I could run if I wanted to not that I want to. Thank you that I can ride a bike.
And then I shifted it a bit.
Thank you for my tummy. Thank for the stretch marks from having my two babies. Thank you for my periods that remind me I’m a woman. Thank you that they’re becoming irregular that points to a new season of my life coming. Thank you for the extra weight because that means I’m not lacking for food. I’m sorry for not liking myself right now. Please help me with this. Please help me like myself.
You may have something like this in your life. It may not be a body-image issue. There could be any manner of things for us to not like about ourselves because, well, we’re girls and we’re kinda known for being hard on ourselves.
But let me leave you with this thought final thought from Stasi Eldredge:
Our hope doesn’t rest on us finally getting it together. OUR HOPE RESTS IN JESUS. And Jesus has proven once and for all, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he loves us. The center of his heart is fiery devotion, love, commitment, and a passionate pursuit of you. He not only loves you, HE LIKES YOU. And you get to like yourself too.
Sweet girls, repeat after me: "I am fearfully and wonderfully made." (Psalm 139:14)
We are loved, we are loved, we are loved.
Elisabeth Klein lives with her sweet husband, Richard, in Illinois. Together, they are parents to five children, fifteen through twenty-six. They attend Community Christian Church in Yorkville. She fills her time with writing, speaking and mentoring women. She has written several books, all of which are available on her website (www.elisabethklein.com). She also offers e-courses and private Facebook groups for women in difficult marriages or those going through divorce. You may contact her at email@example.com.
Photo credit: ©Thinkstock/Manuel Faba Ortega