Swimming vision. Silent labels. Stifling perceptions. The numbers lie to me. But their weight still sinks in. How did we get this far. Where did it even begin? Sharp pain and blurred mirrors. Frustration.
Welcome to my journey. I’ve been fighting this battle for a long time, but sometimes you need a fresh start. The uphill climb gets to be too much to handle, and so you let yourself rest. Up and down and back and forth. Lots of starting and stopping, wishing and changing. Learning to love and value my body, to treat it well so that I glorify God in how I use it, has been one of the hardest lessons. And it is lifelong.
As a little girl, the world is purple ballerina tutus, tea parties with dolls, climbing trees, superhero capes, and play houses full of dreams. You hope for sparkling happily-ever-afters, glitter raining like confetti from the sky, and want to be just like the big girls.
Somewhere along the way to becoming one, you discover the world has standard for beauty. Silhouette ideals, shapes and sizes and glamorous looking pictures. And you find yourself trying to chase perfection. But what even is that?
Cue a journal entry from March 2014: Perfection is an ever-changing label constructed by society. Your worth is not based on the distorted and unrealistic views and expectations. You are not defined by numbers and size but by the character of your heart and the size of the love inside. Beauty shines from the inside out. Love who you are and the unique way God has shaped and created you, even when it’s hard. Even on the days you want to cry from the haunting mirror reflection that lies. Choose truth; every day, every struggle. Learn to find the beautiful balance between obsessing over image and not respecting and caring enough for the body God has given you: ABOVE ALL, remember that you are not defined by the outside and you ARE beautifully made.
Reading that over again, it pulls me back to my gymnastics days. Those days of cute little leotards and evaluating every move your body makes. Built more powerfully/muscular than the average gymnast, I was somehow oddly better at the graceful side of the sport. I remember a LOT of great times and growth from my days in the gym, and I also remember struggling with insecurities and accepting who I was.
Learning to embrace, and maybe even love my body type has been a constant struggle. And having an unhealthy relationship with food has always been lurking behind that battle. Dressings rooms, scales, and mirrors have proved my worst enemy and undoing. Efforts to improve have fallen flat. My own desperate desire to change my nutrition and fitness habits clashed with my lack of drive to follow through on the hard days.
Today, the struggle is still there. I fight with myself, spend life at war with myself over my choices, over self-perception, over learning that because I am made in the image of the glorious Creator, I am art. What I eat and how I look do not define me, my identity comes from Christ in me. And how I live and treat my body and health should come out of that desire to glorify God with everything I have. I know I can’t do this on my own, and I fail miserably every single day. But nothing lasting ever comes through my own strength anyways, so I turn to the One who entrusted this life and body to me.
Here’s to grace that runs far deeper than our imperfections and flaws, and goes beyond our perceptions. Here’s to all of us girls, who wake up to face the mirror, the numbers, the sizes, and just need to be reminded that just as you are, you are beautiful today. Here’s to living well and glorifying the One who created us with both body and soul. Here’s to creating healthy habits and making change, only through a power far greater than our own. Here’s to learning new perspectives and learning to love every messy, unlovely, lovely, and broken yet whole part of our design.