Confession: one of my deepest weaknesses is my self image. Namely? My weight. Big surprise, right? I'm a woman. It seems more & more women are vying for that enviable post of "I lost x-amount of pounds and now feel GREAT!" And whereas I will be the first to tell you that yes, I would love - love - to lose some weight, I've come to the conclusion that first, I must work on my perception of who I am from within. We were on a family vacation. Russ & I had just started dating, and the entire family was trying to hook me up with this youth pastor from Gaffney, South Carolina. Not that he wasn't a great guy, but um...I was dating Russ. And desperately in love. This guy was...boring. Sitting in the living room, taking a bite of delicious chocolate cake, a comment was made that forever burned itself into my soul:
You know, Elora, if you lost 30 pounds you'd be a beautiful girl.
My heart stopped. Wait. I know these clauses. It's one of those if...then statements, right? The implication cut deep. If it took losing 30 pounds to look beautiful, then what did I look like now?
There have been other flippant remarks made by my family about my weight. And not just recently, either. I have grown up under scrutiny from many people - been labeled as "big boned" in disdain with those judgmental eyes only capable through the female species. I have been sized up & found not wanting, but excessive. Because of this, I have constantly compared myself to siblings, family members & friends.
This is dangerous, dangerous territory to find yourself.
Because, when you're staring at yourself in the mirror, or when you see yourself in pictures with family & friends - you get that sinking feeling. They're right, you think - I really would be prettier if I lost some weight. Just look at her - so thin. And happy! Thin=happy & beautiful. Me? Grotesque. Un-lovely.
Wrong. Right? Right.
It's so easy to find myself trapped in that terror of thinking I don't measure up. Gratefully, Russ is absolutely incredible. Never...never have I ever felt as though he judges me based on my weight gain/loss. He, more than anyone else, has seen my flaws. And he loves me. Adores me & accepts me completely. This has done wonders for my soul. Years of fighting make it hard to forget, though.
My most recent breakdown was earlier this morning. I was on facebook & realized a friend had tagged me in some pictures. Curious, I went & took a look & was disgusted. My perception of beauty had been foddered by my past experiences & the image staring back at me didn't fit that stereotype. I grimaced & thought about de-tagging myself, but decided against it & just moved to a different page. That's about the point where I was hit with one of those realizations that smack you upside the head. His still voice beckoned me to listen, and the lies became louder & louder, trying to drown Him out.
You're beautiful, His voice whispered in my ear.
No you're not! You're not. You're a failure. You can't lose weight & you can't find a job & those comments you hear muttered under family's breath? They're talking about you.
I love your heart for my children. Your desire to see orphans & widows loved & taken care of is straight out of my desire for your life. Your sense of justice? It echoes mine. Your weight? Doesn't change my intense love for you.
Back & forth these voices beckoned & raged, until slowly the lies got quieter & His voice became the only voice I heard.
My weight does not determine my worth. For now, the battle is over. For now, my happiness doesn't hinge on whether or not the number on the scale drops below a certain goal. Because for now, my focus is on my heart. For now, I will let Him love me. I will let Him heal me.
Because change, true lasting change, must come from the inside before it even remotely begins to stick on the outside.
This goes for you, too. Despite what anyone has ever said to you - know this: you.are.beautiful.