Friday, February 24, 2012

Healthy Mind, Body and Soul 2-24-12

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. ~Psalm 139:13-14

This is a picture of me just a couple of months before I developed Bell's Palsy.  I wasn't the thinnest I'd ever been, but I was a respectable size for a 46 year old women with four kids.  I didn't feel okay about the size at the time, however.  I look at this picture here and I look at the picture I took yesterday and in my mind (at the time this pic was taken), I saw myself the size I am now.

I've always had a distorted body image.  I picture myself much heavier than I actually am and feel self conscious about my size, no matter what size I am.  This is something I really, really want to work on during this particular journey.  I want to love this vessel that God gave me to hold my soul.  I want to come to terms, once and for all, with what I have been given.

I no longer want to look at a picture and see something I wish I could change about it.  It's not just my weight that I mentally change when I look at myself either, it's my nose, my skin, my teeth, my feet, and now, of course, there are the imperfections left over from the Bell's Palsy (synkinesis).  So many things to dislike.  And yet, as on of God's children, is it not a sin to look at one of his creations and find such fault with it?

It's a struggle.  I don't know if we are born with these feelings about ourselves, or if circumstance and life bring us to a point where we begin to turn our pain inward and find such fault with ourselves.  Perhaps it's a combination of the two.  I know I've had my share of people telling me that parts of my body were substandard.  I also felt I was too fat in fifth grade because I weighed 100 lbs.  No one ever told me that was an acceptable weight for someone who was 5'1" tall.  I just saw the weight, and the fact that I was the only one in class who was over 100 pounds on weigh in day, and felt inferior to the rest of the class.  When we're young, it's hard to be different.  No matter what the difference is, and even if it's not obvious to anyone else, it can do a number on the young psyche.

Then, as we grow older we find that difference aren't always a bad thing; something to be shunned.  We can embrace our differences and set ourselves apart from the crowd, which can be very liberating, making us feel as if we have a special place in the world.  And it works wonders for the most part -- until something comes along to demonstrate to us that we're not so special after all.   Those differences become a millstone around our necks again, dragging us down into the depths.  Breaking free of that can be a daunting task.  Removing the millstone is an obstacle within itself, and then swimming to the surface, already tired from  wrestling free of the stone, can seem impossible.  Some days we would rather just give in and stop fighting.  It seems too overwhelming. 

What has really crystallized in my heart is this:  Being overweight is so much more complex that simply a number on that scale.  For me, at least.  Even when I was anorexic, and weighed 100 lbs, I didn't feel good about myself.  Separating the body image from the self image is a daily battle.  I know in my head that my body is simply a vessel that holds my soul, but my heart doesn't always get the message.

As with any journey, this one starts with the first step.  And then each day we must face the journey from a new vantage point.  The trick is to keep moving forward, learning lessons from the past, leaving behind strategies that haven't worked in the past.  No truer statement has ever been said than "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results".  I feel >this< much more ready to make some changes than I did yesterday, both in mind and spirit.  My prayer is that the trend of being more ready today than yesterday will continue as I press on.  My goal isn't to lose X number of pounds by X date.  My goal is to love myself the way God loves me and to see the beauty that he created and to take care of the vessel he gave me to hold my soul.