The Weight of the World
It’s a stressful time to be alive. There’s no doubt about it. Being someone that absorbs the emotional atmosphere around me, I find my body buzzing with tension in the air almost everywhere I go. I feel it on the roads where it seems like everyone’s temper is on a tripwire, I feel it in the supermarket where I rarely see anyone attempting to smize above their mask any longer, and I most certainly feel it online.
The litany of bad and contentious news is overwhelming; COVID has worsened with new and more severe strains, Afghanistan is crumbling, Haiti is suffering, the Pacific Northwest of the USA is burning-up and drying-up simultaneously, and the climate report is projecting even worse decay than was earlier realised. It’s heavy.
I think one of the things that I feel the most at this time, is a collective sense of powerlessness. We want COVID to dissipate, but it’s gotten worse. We want people to do the right thing, but we have no power to change anyone else’s mind. We want large corporations to start showing genuine social responsibility, but we’re ants in a giants’ world. We want the world to be taken care of – fed, loved, sheltered, and safe – but we have trouble just keeping our house plants alive.
It is this sense of powerlessness that can erode our sense of purpose and meaning in life. It feeds off our energy, and drains our emotional reserves. It’s like the totality of my resources is a wee krill, and the problems of the world are a blue whale – completely swallowing all I have to give.
When Delta came barging into our lives recently, I immediately recognised the feelings of angst in my body. My cells remember this feeling well. But this time, I decided, something has to be different. I’m not going to get through the other side of this never-ending story with my nervous system in shreds like I did last time.
You see, even though we feel so powerless, we’re actually not. We have more power than we realise. We have the power to make very practical decisions to ensure we preserve our emotional and mental health. Some of the things I have been implementing are:
– Muting friends that post a lot of information that I find stressful.
– Limiting my intake of news.
– Deciding that it’s not worth getting angry at people at the store not wearing a mask – it’s not going to affect change, and it’s only hurting me.
– Practising mindfulness – making set times throughout my daily routine where I intentionally focus on my five senses and being in the moment.
– Taking action. Doing what little things I can to make a difference to those around me – I may not be able to lobby corporate America, or house a thousand Afghan refugees in my spare room – but I can go out of my way to be kind to the checkout guy.
I actually think it’s been really important to remember what God has asked me to do: live in a way that exhibits the heart of Jesus in every little daily moment. He’s not asking me to singlehandedly fix the climate, or change the government, or carry the weight of the world on my shoulders. He’s only asking me to represent who He is in the limited sphere of my life right here where I live.
So I’m choosing to zoom in. I will be aware of what’s going on in the world, I will pray, and I will do what little I can to help, but I will mainly focus on the handful of people and situations that I do have influence over.
Here’s a little mantra I wrote myself for when the state of the world is getting me down, and maybe it will help you too:
I am just one person.
I have limits, and today I accept and honour those limits.
Even though the world is in chaos, it is not my responsibility to feel the collective turmoil.
And when I do, I will pray these feelings into my hands, and blow them into the wind, where they can be picked up by the One who has the heart that can hold them.
I am just one person.
And as one person, I have the power to love those around me, exercise kindness, patience, understanding and compassion.
I have the power to choose my actions and reactions today, and that is all that I can do.
I release myself from the obligation to do the impossible and I empower myself to do the possible.
I will stay in my lane, listen to my Guide, put one foot in front of the other, and let Him carry my backpack.
Love you friends, we’re going to be okay.
My First True Love
For Valentine’s Day this year, Caleb bought the 500-piece puzzle version of the Jaws movie poster for us to do together. Firstly, good man. Secondly, it was ridiculously hard – so. much. water. And thirdly, it rekindled in me the love I had for doing puzzles when I was a tweenager. So, when COVID kicked off, I was all over those puzzles like a rash; I was buying them, borrowing them, and harassing the local shops for when they might be re-stocking, like some kind of junkie.
Seeing as taking that trip down memory lane was just so satisfying, I began to think about the other thing I adored as a 12-year old; my first true love. Was it, Jesus? You ask? Uncle Jessie from Full House? Jordan Knight from New Kids on the Block? All very good guesses, but no. It was Rollerblading.
I had a pair of ex-rental Rollerblade Zetra 303s with a fancy set of new wheels. You know, as well as I do, that I had to tell everyone that they were Rollerblade brand blades, to delineate them from the $30 Warehouse blades most of the kids were using. Which, I know, is SO annoying….but I was the kid that had major brand envy as a result of my hand-me-downs, and only ever had one Billabong long-sleeve T-shirt, which I wore at every mufti-day and anywhere I was likely to be seen by anyone ‘cool’. (It was then, as you can imagine, a day of many tears and much dismay when I tripped over on the railroad tracks and ripped a hole in it. It also shouldn’t surprise you by now, that I still kept wearing it, hole and all.)
My rollerblades gave me life. I loved the fact that I felt like I was flying. I could put my Walkman on, leave the house by myself, and head off on my own little adventure. So, I did a little research, discovered you could still purchase Zetra blades (huzzah!), and I now spend several afternoons each week whizzing around my local park. I. love. it.
Although rollerblading, is, admittedly pretty (very) nerdy, and my husband has basically disowned me (‘Babe, the neighbours will see you!’), something about reconnecting with what I loved at a time in my life where I didn’t love who I was, has been really healing.
In trauma therapy, the goal of counselling is to help people integrate their trauma into their whole person. And although my adolescent years weren’t ‘traumatic’ as such, there are still parts of my younger self within me that I’m tempted to disown. She wasn’t very cool. She was really desperate for acceptance and affection and inclusion. She would sell her soul for a bag of lollies. But she was me. And what she needs from me more than anything, is the love, acceptance and affirmation that she always needed.
The amazing thing about getting a bit of perspective and self-awareness, is that we have the ability to re-parent our inner awkward younger-selves. We can introduce such a beautiful wholeness into our present lives if we will just sit down and eat lunch with our inner lonely kid. Or buy them an ice-cream. Or join in their Mariah Carey glo-stick party. Because no matter how nerdy, you’re the only one who truly knows how rad you really were.
Love you friends!
PS. A couple of insider tips if you’re thinking about getting Rollerblades:
1. Don’t FaceTime your parents and Rollerblade at the same time.
2. Watch out for children on bicycles – not only does it hurt SO bad to crash at high speed at the age of 37, from the haunted look on that kid’s face when I grabbed him before going down, this is going to be one of his traumatic memories in the years to come.
Frankly, being in the middle of a pandemic is really bizarre. I vacillate between, ‘It’s totally fine, it’s just the flu, we’re all going to be fine,” to envisioning life in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. I begin chastising myself that we didn’t buy a 5-acre self-sustaining plot instead of this suburban dwelling where, if we had to live off the land, we’d probably survive three days on dead grass and the scraps of decaying afternoon snacks left behind by the boys.
I haven’t succumbed to the bunker mentality…yet, but I must admit, while I haven’t stockpiled the loo paper, I would be lying if I said I didn’t add a few extra cans of beans and some hand sanitiser to this week’s shopping list (if we do end up having to live off what’s in our cupboards, let’s just say the meals are going to get less and less yummy by the day).
I experience a level of generalised anxiety on a day-to-day basis, due to varying factors, and this situation has definitely turned the volume up, as I’m sure it has for many of you. And while I can remind myself that this is unlikely to take my family out, and we’ll survive the economic fallout as we have before, the reality is that a worse case scenario is always a possibility.
What amazes me in situations like this, is how it highlights where my trust truly lies. It first came to my attention five years ago when we first moved to the States; I was thrown off-balance by realising that my safety-net of a familiar government that would take care of me if I was in hospital or we lost our income, was no longer underneath me. I was forced to intentionally put my days in the hands of God – a place where I had previously thought they were.
Once again, I find myself feeling off-balance. The comfort of relying on the conveniences and necessities that I do everyday suddenly seems less certain. The assumption that all is well, is, well, not so well.
I like to picture it like sonar – I go through life sending out pings and getting my equilibrium from hearing the reassuring returning sounds from the places I expect things to be. When all is as I expect it to be, I swim through life with a sense of safety and certainty. But in times this like, it becomes all too clear that my requirement for peace relies heavily on external things – the certainty of health, ready access to food and utilities, a guaranteed paycheck.
I hear an invitation in the midst of all this uncertainty. It’s an invitation to surrender. An invitation to relinquish control – the control which feels so important for my survival, but in reality, is only an illusion. An invitation to remember that a certain quality or length of life on earth has never been promised. An invitation to remember that my hope lies in eternity. An invitation to remember that Jesus sits right beside me as I type this, and his love and presence is as close as it ever was. An invitation to accept the unknown.
So, if you’re cool-as-a-cucumber and feeling not a worry, good for you. But if you’re a red-hot mess quivering in your apocalypse shelter, maybe, just maybe, something really beautiful can come out of this for you. Maybe this is the start of a peace you never knew was possible. So why not join me as I pray, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Love you friends,
Dreams, Dreams, Dreams
(Originally posted on Sheology.co)
If I’m to be honest, I have an ambivalent relationship with dreams. Second only to my dream of being the sixth, only female (and spectacularly mulleted) member of New Kids on the Block, my very greatest childhood dream was to be locked in the local Foodtown Supermarket overnight. While other kiddos were counting sheep, I would lie in bed at night and plot my route from the choccy biscuits, chips, pick’n’mix, fizzy drinks and chocolate bars. Needless to say, neither of these dreams was ever realised, and my childish dreams gave way to the more realistic dreams that maturity brings.
The most heartfelt dream I ever possessed was that of being married. My mum got married at 20, and for some reason I had my heart set on also getting married at 20 (Spoiler alert – I did meet the love of my life and got married one month shy of my 29th birthday). I remember a preacher once saying that the gap between expectation and reality is tension – and each year that passed my ideal age of marriage, the tension and sadness within me grew.
The problem was that my dream had turned from the proverbial dangling carrot – something providing hope and motivation, to a whip that taunted me with reminders of my inadequacies, failures, and inability to control factors which were outside of my control. I got my priorities out of order, and gave my dream the power to make or break me. In many ways, my dream became an idol and sat in the place in my heart reserved for Jesus.
We live in a cultural climate where oftentimes our hopes and dreams are given the same sort of gravity as the quest for the Holy Grail. In some circumstances it is even considered noble to sacrifice everything – our relationships, obligations and moral code, in the pursuit of our aspirations. Yet, when we allow the pursuit of our dreams to surpass our pursuit of Jesus, they become the breeding ground for dissatisfaction and blind us to the joys of the present. I could kick myself now for allowing myself to waste so many of my child-free, care-free, responsibility-light, and time-rich years wallowing in the misery of my singleness.
Taking a moment to get a little curious about what is driving the pursuit of our dreams is an excellent way to ensure they stay in healthy perspective. The answer to the following question can bring us huge insight: “When this dream has finally been realised, I will feel ____________.” Because when it comes down to it, a lot of the time that we are chasing ‘dreams’, we’re actually chasing a feeling. We want to feel accomplished, vindicated, satisfied, secure, loved, smart, acknowledged, happy, settled, or any combination of a million different feelings. It’s not bad to want these feelings, heck, I certainly do! We just run into trouble when we look for any of these feelings from a source other than the complete love and contentment that is offered to us in Jesus.
The feelings that come to us when a dream is fulfilled are lovely, but ultimately temporary. When we see a dream realised, we enjoy the feelings for a while, but the underlying need in our soul is only temporarily satiated, and it gets hungry again – so off we go in search of a differing feeling/dream in the hope that we will find a more permanent satisfaction.
The beauty of putting our quest for Jesus above our quest for anything else is that He has the resources, ability and desire to meet our deepest needs. When Jesus is meeting the cry of our heart, our dreams are free to become a life-giving, motivating, colourful and enchanting part of our story.
And in fact, I have discovered that when I am chasing first Jesus and His Kingdom, he provides me with the fulfilment of dreams that I never even knew that I had. One beautiful example of this is my job writing for a counselling app – not only would I never have dreamed that a job like that even existed, I also get to work from home, helping people from my kitchen table, while earning enough to pay for lovely little luxuries (like holidays to New Zealand) for my wee family. Jesus, in his kindness, knows better than I do what will feed my soul and light up my life.
It’s best to remember that our dreams are there to serve us, not enslave us. So, friends, let’s put our dreams in the correct place in our priorities, and allow them to put the icing on the cake of our lives of pursuit of Jesus. Because he will never leave us empty, or dissatisfied – He will fill us with the contentment, satisfaction and joy that we are seeking.
Love you friends,
What if Freedom isn’t all it’s Cracked up to be?
I have been eating up the work of John Mark Comer and Mark Sayers lately. They have a Podcast called, ‘This Cultural Moment’ (I HIGHLY recommend) in which they look at what it takes to be a disciple of Jesus in our current cultural climate. In the episode I listened to this morning (at 6.00am while hiking up our local mountain – which has to be mentioned, because I forgot to take a selfie) they mention that for human flourishing, three ‘tanks’ need to be full; freedom – as in freedom of choice, individuality, expression etc., meaning, and community. I’m sure one could argue for other tanks, like food for example, but at the risk of indulging my contrarian nature, I shall digress.
They go on to say that in our current Western climate, the freedom ‘tank’ is full to overflowing, and as a result, the ‘meaning’ and ‘community’ tanks are suffering. This got me thinking about how true I have found this to be in my own life. Parenting is a prime example; it is, as I often say, the very worst and the very best. In this framework, you could say that this is because while the freedom ‘tank’ is totally plundered by my tiny baboons, the loss is well made-up by the massive deposit in the ‘meaning’ tank…but you can’t have the meaning, without the loss of freedom.
Another example of this is prayer; I have found a liturgy of prayer to be extremely meaningful and peace-making in my life, however I feel the restraint of sticking with it and am legit tempted to grab my phone at regular intervals. My free time is, by my own choice, being used towards a discipline from which I reap substantial benefits, but it takes the loss of small freedoms in order to achieve the reward of meaning.
The point that I take away from all of this, is the reminder that the constraints we face in life can actually be for our benefit. I know that sounds like some form of heresy given the world in which we live – a world in which unlimited personal freedom is Mecca. The problem is that we so often can’t enjoy the beauty and simplicity that God has provided for in this life, unless we have something with which to contrast it. I have never enjoyed sitting in my back yard, breathing the clean air and watching the trees so much as since I have battled with chronic illness. The restraint of physical symptoms has allowed me to find meaning and beauty in things I once took for granted.
Creativity is another such area which flourishes under constraints. We have a buddy that wrote and produced one of the most creative, intricate and peaceful albums I have ever heard using just his voice and one old electric guitar. The limitation of instrumentation brought his creativity to a remarkable place. Similarly (although not comparing my cooking to the aforementioned album), the elimination of grains, sugar and carbs from my diet due to health, has caused me to get really creative with inventing meals that are within the confines of my diet, but still taste delicious…(well, I think they’re delicious, however getting Caleb to try one of my keto ‘treats’ is like pulling teeth – and I gave Judah some of my keto ice-cream once, to which he responded, “Mum…is this an actual treat?”)
So, let’s be encouraged today friends, that whatever constraints and limitations we find around our lives, it’s possible, just possible, that our lives wouldn’t actually be as meaningful without them.
That Attitude of Gratitude
I’ve been thinking about gratitude lately. It used to be one of those buzz words that annoyed me. I felt like it was the sort of word that people would throw out there to minimise people’s pain and use as a kind of silver-bullet-cure-all for any ailment from depression to the hot runs. I found it to be the domain of the Pollyanna types that lived in a Technicolor world that seemed so far removed from real life. And maybe it’s because in the church I have had many experiences where the message I received was that I should be grateful for areas of my life where things didn’t seem fair. Which kind of felt like someone leading their dayglo tambourine parade past my wheelchair and telling me to get up and dance – invalidating, and insensitive, and patronising.
But I’m seeing things differently these days. The really beautiful thing I’ve discovered is that gratitude has started creeping up on me. Instead of wielding a stick and trying to force gratitude, it’s been tapping me on the shoulder and delighting me with an infectious smile and a warm hug. I don’t think it’s just a spontaneous lucky break that it’s started happening, but as a result of engaging in practices that have taught my mind and spirit to look for the lovely. For the past several months I have been regularly meditating, practicing mindfulness, and becoming more present in my body. As a result of this I’m seeing joy in the small things I once took for granted.
I was putting the groceries away after a trip to the super a while back, and as I was putting food in the cupboard, I was overwhelmed by such immense gratitude that there was plentiful, healthy and delicious food to feed my wee family. I found myself holding the peanut butter in both hands, close to my chest and with tears in my eyes, whispering, “Thank you peanut butter.” (And it winked at me and whispered back, “You’re welcome Ma’am.”). Then I began thanking each item of food before it got stored away. Me of five years ago would be reaching for the barf bag about now, like, seriously, how cheesy can you get? But it wasn’t cheesy, because it wasn’t rehearsed or forced or staged, it was a genuine expression flowing from heart, and it just felt like the right way to respond at that moment.
The more we allow gratitude to win our attention, the more we will become aware of how much there is in our lives to be grateful for. Our brains are super cool – we have a thing called a Reticulated Activating System (RAS) that acts as a filter for the innumerable amount of data that we receive. The RAS is attuned to whatever we deem important, and it will filter out other data, and present to our attention the things that we have trained it to present. A perfect example of this is how when you buy a White Ford Explorer, it suddenly seems that every second car you see is a White Ford Explorer – your RAS has been taught that this particular car is now important, so it filters out all the other cars on the road, and zooms in on the pertinent vehicle. As we become more grateful, we will train our minds that this is important to us, and it ends up becoming an ever-increasing cycle of goodness that adds colour and music to our lives.
Allowing gratitude to become an active part of my life has genuinely brought me so much joy. Genuine gratitude doesn’t try and keep the lid on my grumpy-groozleness, or ignore the despair I feel when my head starts hurting again, but it contrasts those moments with such rich and fragrant and fresh and life-giving joy. I feel like I’m coming alive.
Love you friends,
An Ode to Little Deb
I’ve been thinking a bit about my inner child lately as a part of a personal/spiritual growth course I’m taking at the moment. I’ve come to realise that there are parts of Little Deb that I have abandoned or rejected because she experienced these very feelings and I don’t want those feelings to be a part of my now life. The problem with that, is Little Deb won’t experience the healing needed until I extend my Big Deb love and kindness to her – so, let me introduce you to one of the quirkiest, coolest, most loveable little girls you’ll ever meet.
Little Deb rocks the mullet like no-one else rocks the mullet. No-one believed her when she got older and she told them that she had sported the most worthy fe-mullet for ten years of her life. That was, until, they saw the pics and were completely awe-struck. One of the funniest moments of her adult-life was finding a photo at her BFF’s house of said BFF with an almost identical childhood mullet – only to discover that they had shared the same uber-lovely, but not-so-gifted, mobile hairdresser.
Little Deb’s sense of fashion pretty well matches her amazing haircut. She occasionally has a moment where she thinks about being cool or trendy and risks mortal peril by stealing an item of her sister’s clothing in order to experiment with fashion. But for the most part, Little Deb is a total creature of comfort. Her favourite outfit consists of a threadbare black corduroy black A-line skirt and a pair of jelly shoes that are broken at the heels. Her mum tried throwing the skirt out once, but thankfully her sister told her about it, so she was able to rescue her most treasured item out of the rubbish sack before it could be permanently ripped from her life.
Most kids are quirky to some degree, but Little Deb really takes the cake. She loves to swim and would spend all day in the water if she could. The only problem is that sometimes the water gets up her nose, and it really hurts. But it’s ok – she’s discovered that if she bobs up and down breathing out on the bob-down, it soothes her wee sinuses and it feels really good. She kind of knows that people are looking and laughing when she’s on her bob-round the pool, but she really doesn’t care. In fact, she kind of feels sorry for them that they’re missing out. And she cannot for the love of Pete figure out why her mum won’t let her ‘mail’ leaves and stones in the neighbour’s letterboxes when she’s playing ‘postie’. So unfair.
Little Deb has an incredible imagination. She has managed to convince some of her friends that if they wrap certain dead flowers in their leftover morning tea glad wrap and leave them in a certain bush for a few days, they will turn into real gold. She’s also started a lunchtime game called ‘The Handicapped Four Eyed Geeky Express’ (she’s not terribly PC). Her very favourite game of all-time is the Bee Clinic…all you have to do is stand on a bee until the white stuff squishes out, then you ‘operate’ on it with a stick until it’s all better. It’s a miracle she hasn’t been stung by any of her patients yet…although to be fair, they’re not terribly active once she’s finished with them.
Little Deb has two great life ambitions. The first is to become a famous singer (however, believe it or not, she’s not that good a singer), and the second is to be locked in the Foodtown supermarket overnight by herself. She lies awake at night figuring out which aisle she’d go down first, and which treats she’d consume, in what order. Needless to say, she’ll do almost anything for a bag of lollies.
If you’re looking for a fun, imaginative, loyal friend, you need look no further than Little Deb – plus as an added bonus, she’ll almost certainly make you look more fashionable. She’s such a cool wee girl, and I love her to pieces.
Until next time,
(Big) Deb xx
Confessions of a Recovering Smugaholic
I have become aware in recent times of what I can only call an indulgent sense of smugness. Some of it manifests itself in a self-satisfied Cheshire cat-like enjoyment of my nice house, nice family and cosily heated car seats. Some of it manifests itself in the sort of attitude displayed by the old guy that reminds any complainers that he used to have to get up at 3am to walk 20 miles to school, barefoot in the snow through bear-infested woods. It shows itself in the form of my firmly tied tubes smirking at people recounting the torment of sleepless newborn nights. It’s the little piece of me that is in danger of giving out slightly patronising relationship advice from the warmth of my happy marriage.
All-in-all it’s really pretty ugly. I had always put it in the category of pride up until now – and while that still may be a part of it, I have become more convinced that for many of us, smugness is the cushion on which rests the still traumatised parts of a past experience. An emotional and mental barrier between where we’re at and where we once were. An illusion of being protected from ever having to return to that place or those feelings.
You see, when I consider it, I am most prone to smugness in areas where I have come through a significant struggle. The nightmare of having a severely-refluxy newborn that won’t stop screaming, the many years of singleness that were so desperately unwanted, the intense work of dealing through my inner mess – my bitter acquaintance with these things has resulted in an almost ironic mingling of compassion and smugness towards others facing similar issues. Which only goes to show, that there is a measure of brokenness evident.
For me, there are two main reasons to be aware of smugsville. The first of which is that it is terribly unkind to others. You know that feeling when people are patronising, dismissive, or know-it-all about a situation you are facing – it’s the very worst! Our smugness leads us to assumptions about others’ experiences and blocks us from truly being present and compassionate. And secondly, it’s an indicator that there’s likely some part of me that is needing a bit of TLC.
When we encounter a traumatic event (which doesn’t need to be ‘traumatic’ by any objective scale – it’s all in how our minds perceive it), our brains often segregate the traumatised part behind a wall in order to help keep us functional. While this is super handy to keep living life, there comes a time, usually once the trauma is well behind us, when the injured part of us can start to be disruptive to healthy living. In order to experience wholeness, the wounded part of ourselves needs to be integrated back into our lives.
Put it this way, the part of us that has experienced trauma is locked up in a cell so it’s not able to incapacitate us by running rampant through our minds. But, eventually, it will start to make its presence known. At that point, we have a choice. We can smother the tin-cup-on-the-jail-bars noise with a big pillow of smugness and rest our weary bones on top of it. OR, we can undergo the often-painstaking process of integrating our injured cellmate back into the society of our life. How we go about that will differ based on varying factors – including the severity of our trauma, other stuff going on in our lives, and past experience of working through mental and emotional issues. We may simply need awareness and a few moments of reflection or journaling – or we may need to get help from someone qualified to walk the journey with us.
I don’t want to be a smuggerton any more – the only cushion I want others to experience with me is a soft place for them to rest their stories for a bit.
Love you friends,
She’s Really Let Herself Go…
It was a couple of years ago that I first wrote on the subject of body image, and it’s time for another go-round. It’s been on my mind a lot lately. Since that time, my weight has fluctuated with the different migraine meds I’ve tried. I monitored it weekly or so by dragging my scales out of their not-so-hidden hiding place in the garage, almost guiltily jumping on the scale in a furtive fashion, and dealing with the emotional aftermath of my new number. Until, finally, a couple of months ago I decided I was over it. The scales had a hold of me that I was just done with. So, I bit the bullet and frog-marched them out the wheely bin. Good riddance. Or so I thought…you see, because I know where my parents’-in-law keep their scales…and one of my good friends also has a scale in her bathroom…and there’s one at my local pharmacy… so…
It is for this very reason that I realised I needed to make a more full-scale assault on this sense of needing to fit into society’s ideal of fit, healthy, beautiful, acceptable, or whatever you want to call it. It’s super sneaky. It’s ALWAYS in our faces. Always. So, forgive me if you feel like my words are a wee bit strong here today, I intend NO offense, but I need them to be strong to stave off the onslaught of shame that keeps trying to infiltrate into my world.
You see, once I got rid of my scales, there was a period of time when I was in the middle of transitioning migraine preventatives, and I could tell my body was changing, but because of lack of said scales, I couldn’t actually tell if it was getting bigger or smaller. But my health was much improved and I felt, surely, my body was beginning to reflect this. Until I ferreted out a secret-squirrel scale at someone’s house, and to my horror, I had packed on several kilos in a matter of a couple of weeks. What I experienced at this time was nothing more than a whirlwind of shame and despair. I expected to gain weight during pregnancy, then while breastfeeding, then on different migraine preventatives, but now, while eating gluten and sugar free whole foods, exercising six days a week, and generally in much better health? Nope. But it turns out that my new med, which is doing wonders for my head, is a weight-gain drug for me. Hooray.
I was chatting with one of my friends at this time, and said something to her that unwittingly set me on the warpath against the shame; “The problem is not that I’ve put on a few pounds – the problem is that I live in a society that says that that’s not okay.” Bingo. So I started to find some resources that would give me ammo for the battle. Firstly, I watched Taryn Brumfitt’s excellent doco ‘Embrace’ (on Netflix here in the US, but I don’t think in NZ as of yet…but you should find it somehow!! It’s SO GOOD), and listened to a body positivity podcast featuring Jes Baker, who is an advocate for body liberation, and a super onto-it chick.
What I have learned over this time, is that to simply start to love my body is great, but in essence, it’s simply trying to stretch the rules of acceptability in order to make myself fit. It’s changing the rules of the game so that I still feel okay playing it. It’s a wider (literally 😉) margin for the same old tactic of seeking belonging, approval and validity by external measures. Instead, I’m taking myself out of the race. Those rules can’t apply if you’re not in the game. My body is so useful in getting me around in this life, and for this, I am so grateful. But, it does not represent my value as a person. Not one little bit. So, whether it’s toned and slim and sleek, or a wee bit wobbly around the edges (or a lot wobbly), it makes NO difference to the way God has called me to live.
(As a slight aside here, I know that the old ‘but you’ve got to be healthy’ thing comes into play for a lot of people here. And I agree that health is essential. But I also agree, that it’s none of your business. My health is between me, my doctor and my conscience – which, btw, is totally clear.)
We’ve all heard the completely hideous phrase, “She’s really let herself go!” Well, it’s time to redeem it. I really am learning to let myself go – away from unkind, ungodly, media-perpetuated rules that tell me that how I look is the measure of my worth. I’m letting myself off the hook to spend my limited time, energy and money on things that bring life, love, wholeness and the Kingdom of God into this world.
Will you join me in letting in yourself go?
Love you friends,