Oh my gosh, two posts in one week. Is this the Twilight Zone? I don't know what's happening. Just roll with it.
I wanted to share something that has been on my mind lately.
But probably not the way you're thinking.
This wiggle of a thought started last month, when I opened my home to host the "Leap Into Love" Bible study written by Havilah Cunnington - one of my favorite preachers. I started researching this study after answering a personal challenge from my pastor to disciple (we will save that for another post) and was excited about having ladies in my house, but a little curious to see what God wanted to teach me specifically through this study.
See, while I'm as insecure as the next gal, I don't really struggle with body image - not in the typical sense of the word anyway. I shrugged it off and figured the study just caught my eye because its pink, I like the font, and I'm a sucker for good graphics.
Then, while watching one of the videos, something ticked in my heart. I couldn't put my finger on it, so I brushed it off and continued on with my day.
Later that afternoon, my friend Melissa over at Adventures of Frugal Mom asked me if I would be interested in participating in a series that she was doing on Body Image. I sort of laughed to myself about the coincidence between the themes and happily agreed to post.
Here's what I wrote for Melissa's page:
"When Melissa asked me to be a part of her Body Image series I was excited. I thought to myself, “I can help in this area because I don’t have many body image issues. I’m usually happy with photos despite my obvious flaws. I like me!”… Then, like a slap to the face, Ms. Reality said, “Giiiiirl, you like yourself, but you do NOT love your physical body.”
Did you read it?
Okay, welcome back!
This whole social-media pressure for a perfect body isn't just about round butts and six-pack guts - its also a pressure to do the following:
"Sleep when I'm dead!" - Whatever you do, never sit still.
"Work hard, play hard!" - Shame on you for staying home.
"No excuses!" - Your reasons don't count.
"Overwhelmed is not allowed" - You should never ask for help.
Friends, can I just say that some of the greatest things happen when you quit striving? Most of you know that I was extremely active (and successful) in direct sales for several years. Then, one day, I quit.
I had been inactive with the company for about 6 months because of major medical issues and an unexpected move from California to Arizona. Finally, I was all healed up from surgery, got my house squared away, made arrangements for childcare, drove 4 hours, to attend my first regional training in my new state. I arrived to the hotel and took a seat in the very back row of a conference room with 1500 other people. At the end of the event, out of the corner of my eye, I saw one of my coaches. I hadn't seen him in months and didn't expect to see him at this event, so I waved to him. He came over and gave me a huge hug. Then, he said the following statement:
"Are you going to get to work or what? I don't want any more excuses out of you."
He didn't ask how I was.
He didn't thank me for coming to his event.
He didn't compliment me on my success since the last time I'd seen him (I managed to promote in that time frame.)
He didn't even stop to notice that I was in the wrong state.
And right in that moment I thought to myself, "You know.... I think I'm done."
I had worked myself ragged - even laying in a hospital bed! - trying to meet my monthly goals and promotions. Driving back home I was angry at him, but I was also angry at my stupid body for rejecting its own organs. I cried to my steering wheel and later to my husband, "I could do more if I wasn't stuck with this body! If only I had a healthier body I could do more, work more, post more, sell more, speak more, write more... Go, go, go, go, go! I can't keep going like this anymore. Its not worth it."
He hugged me and reminded me of all I'd done. He reminded me of what my goals had been before Direct Sales swept me away. And he admitted that he was thankful I was done.
Then he made me tea.
I am proud of the time that I spent in direct sales. I found my voice. I made incredible friends (not that guy though) I learned to talk on the phone (it was an issue). I paid off all of our debt. I gained new skills and confidence. It is a great industry! But I needed to draw a hard line in the sand and it was a line that I knew my leadership wouldn't accept. I'm so glad that I did.
Since that day I have tried to live knowing that rest is a non-negotiable. I emphasized "tried" because this whole resting thing is a constant struggle. Just like an alcoholic will always struggle with the drink, a workaholic will always struggle with the drive.
But I think its more than that. I think I struggle against the pressure to strive. When I stare Striving in its ugly face, I think its actually fear.
Fear of not being enough.
Fear of not being believed.
Fear of not being qualified.
Fear of missing out.
And you know who Fear is right?
Fear is the Liar.
This verse has been in media a lot lately regarding abortion, but I reread it the other day regarding my body.
"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made"*
My body now - not in the womb - but right here.
This body that gets chronic migraines and fatigue.
This body that is scarred with the memory of 8 surgeries.
This 38 year old body that is full of caffeine, cheap makeup, and not enough vitamins.
This body that gets fever blisters and ingrown toenails (sorry - but fo' real - anyone want to get pedis this week?).
THIS BODY is wonderfully made.
Made with WONDER.
Lets own that, Friends.
(As if you need more proof of "wonder" and "fully" - here's a photo of my daughter dancing on the seashore -
the little baby who didn't have hands or feet or brain development. The little baby who may not be viable.)
*Psalm 139:14a "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made"