An inanimate object. Yet one we ascribe such power to.
We look and see in our reflection not enough or too much.
We see lines, scars, imperfections, pounds glaring at us.
We experience self-loathing or self-love.
It can depend on the day, even the hour. We study, we compare, we analyze, we dismiss.
I remember a talk from when I was little. Although, I don't remember the whole context, I remember hearing how those two letters have the power to change us. To change how we see ourselves, see the world.
The speaker commented on how we should limit the use of those letters attached to the ends of words. Find another way to describe, to build up and not tear down. To love and be loved without ...er.
This is hard. Our culture, our lives, our goals often times hinge on ...er. I've got to be bettER at sales, prettiER than the other applicants, strongER than the competition. It comes down to either or. We don't allow room for both.
I've been there. My struggle with self began early.
I'm not lithe. I'm not obese. I started ballet at the age of 8. My body type is not meant for ballet. I'm too tall, I'm too muscular.
I began to see quickly that I didn't fit. My thighs rubbed together, my feet were big. I didn't pirouette well, but man could I jump.
I longed for the men's roles. The ones full of power and strength. The ummph. But I continued. Remember, I have this thing about challenges. Nothing is going to beat me. :-) But, I also continued to compare. I wanted to be ...er. Better, stronger, prettier, smoother, gracefuler(I know it's not a word, but it has to work for the flow. Though I think more and ...er say the same thing) :-)
I persevered, I began to hate my body. Hate that it wasn't what others were. I saw the eating disorders, I saw the issues, but I still strove. Strove for something I was never meant to be.
Fast forward about 10 years. Barely 20. Still struggling with who I am. What my body is, how it defines me. I struggle with eating, not eating. I compare myself to pictures in magazines, when I am hungry I think of what I am "supposed" to look like.
I look in the mirror and I see lack. Lack of beautiful skin that shines, lack of the right proportions, lack of beauty and I pursue the ghost of "should be". Funny thing is, it changes. It changes sometimes before you can blink. How are you supposed to keep up?
But finally, my meeting with my maker arrived. I had put so many things in front of Him. Myself, my drive to please others, my chasing of mortal things.
July 4, 1995. Yes, I remember the exact date. A good day. Though I was REALLY hungry. I was starving myself. I wanted to be loved and believed the reason I wasn't finding "the one" was because I wasn't pretty enough, good enough, thin enough, endowed enough...
I had been through these eating battle struggles with friends and family.
I thought I could do better.
I knew when to stop.
Only I didn't.
So this particular day was spent with friends. I think I had eaten a couple of chips that day and was puffed up by the admiration of those who saw my discipline. By the time I headed home, with half a leftover cake I had made, I was so hungry I couldn't think straight.
Here I am driving down highways and back roads sticking my hand into the pan, putting handfuls of cake in my mouth. By the time I reached my apartment most of the cake was gone.
I quickly ran into the house and into the bathroom.
I knelt in front of that toilet bowl and I heard Him.
"As long as you are kneeling in front of something else, you are not kneeling in front of me."
I sat there stunned. I thought all this time I had been pursing God. Pursing the things He wanted. I was just trying to be healthy while I did it, right? I don't consciously remember choosing my "self" and all its flaws over Him, but I had. Every day in countless ways.
That was the end and the beginning.
The beginning of trying to see myself through His eyes. To love what and how He loves. To give more and take less. To not worry so much about ...er. Do I still struggle? Absolutely!
But, and this is a HUGE but, I know I was created for more. More than a number on a scale, more than an image, more than what the mirror can see more than comparing. I was created to love and to be loved just like you.
My body has run a marathon and countless other physical endurance's, it has carried and delivered 3 beautiful children. Three precious gifts from a God who saved me from myself. Who saves me each time I look in the mirror and think I am too much or not enough.
Through His eyes, I am whole. I am beautiful. I am loved. No ...er required. Through Him I am made new and fearfully and wonderfully made.
I pray for my daughter especially, I pray for my nieces. I hope for all the young girls I come into contact with to see who they are through God's eyes, not the world's. I pray that my experience, my failures, will pave a better road for them and others I meet. One that leads to loving Him first and knowing that whatever else comes, nothing on earth will ever compare to the gifts He gives. True beauty, true peace, true love.
After all, it isn't what we do for Him, but what He did and does for us. Every day, in countless ways. Because I am His, I am enough. Not too much, just enough.
We weren't meant to be compared. We are each unique. Totally and utterly priceless and valuable. We don't have to struggle against ...er. We are enough and it is good.
"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them." Psalm 139:13-16