I was walking out to the stadium in a sea of fire drill induced students last week. As I rounded the corner I heard it. One girl to another “I am like going to get soooo fat this semester.” I didn’t have to turn around to know that the girl probably weighed less than 125 pounds. Only skinny girls say that. Only the ones who don’t actually have to worry about anyone else commenting about their weight. Why in the world was she concerned about her body fat? If I still had that metabolism I wouldn’t be wasting time saying “I am going to get soooo fat” when I could be shoving copious amounts of peanut butter m&m’s in my mouth.
This came just hours after I had had a mini break down in my closet because I couldn’t find a work-appropriate-Friday-casual-sweat shirt to put over my post baby body. I looked in the mirror and all I could see was what was wrong. My pull over was just too tight for my vanities comfort. And dress pants are less than forgiving as well. The “bottom half” part of dressing every day is not something I look forward to.
And yesterday, a girl in the special-ed class pointed at my stomach as we were passing in the hallway and said “you are going to have a baby!” Wow…..that…felt….awesome… I couldn’t even yell at her for doing it as developmentally, she is just in that stage right now.
In high school and college I never thought I had body issues. I mean, not the looks kind. No matter whether my body could get me out of bed and to school on time, It turns out that at 5’6″ and 120 odd pounds you do have body issues, you just don’t realize it because society approves of your body. But it turns out I have them. And having babies back to back has brought them out in me.
It is ironic in the worst sort of way. I have never been healthier. Truly. I am stronger than I have ever been (thanks to the healthy weight of the Peanut and five pm toddler dance parties). I don’t wake up every day in pain or so exhausted I am literally puking. I have the freedom to make plans without saying “as long as I feel up to it.” I can grow and birth babies with comparatively minimal difficulties. My body works great. And yet, I have never been harder on it.
When I tell my daughters that it is what is inside that counts, I want to mean it. When I tell them they are beautiful, not they would be beautiful if….I want them to believe me. I want to be conscious of my diet and exercise because I want to be able to play with my girls, not so I can fit into all my pre-baby clothes. I want to live out for them “beautiful and healthy comes in lots of shapes and sizes” not “it matters what the boys think, and they like skinny bodies.”
I know that I am slowly making my way back into my clothes, but I also know that my body will be different than it was before. And I want to be okay with that. Proud of that even. I don’t like the way my students talk about their own bodies as the enemy at the ripe age of 15. How did that happen? How did a 15 year old in a size 0 come to fear an extra five pounds above all else? How did a 28 year-old who was miraculously healed of a disorder Dr.’s still don’t even know how to diagnose come to loathe a healthy working body that has fed and housed two beautiful babes? How did that happened?
Could it be that this world offers very little grace? We are told that good enough isn’t good enough! Perfection is the new good enough! That if we only tried harder did more we could and would reach the standard that is in fact impossible to reach. And not just in our physique, in our jobs, as parents, as friends and Christ followers. I feel like the world is screaming at me: If you only tried harder you would do better! You aren’t enough! Bad parent! Bad wife! Bad teacher! Bad, bad, bad, step it up!
It is time for me to tell the world to shut it. There is no longer space in my thoughts for those lies. God says I am enough. My body is enough, whether it fits into my dress pants or not. I am done running on that treadmill that gets me nowhere even as it increases in speed and incline. I will instead stroll hand and hand through the day with my savior, whose burden is light. I will do the best I can, and trust His grace to see me through. Rather than depend on my own efforts. And I will be kind and gracious, even to myself.
This body of mine seems to be ground zero for me when it comes to my year of giving grace to myself and others. And I am starting to understand why. It is the thing I can’t hide. The thing that is out there, not explained away. It isn’t perfect, and that is okay, imperfectly perfect even. Yes, I think we will start calling it that instead. After all isn’t that what Paul said? Something about God’s perfections coming through from my weaknesses?
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Yeah, that. I think that sounds good.