My mom has been gone now 2 years. Mother's day is coming up, and it's a very natural time to be thinking about her and missing her. Today, as I was vacuuming ( a house chore I was in charge of growing up) I caught myself in deep thought about my mom and all the lessons she taught me. So, in regards of mother's day coming up, and the fact that these are good things for me to be remembering, I will share (potentially each day) something of a life lesson I learned from my mom.
I write to remember . I need to remember. But I also need to remind myself all the time of these life lessons mom taught me all while growing up, and as I entered womanhood and motherhood. And perhaps another woman (or man) who catches a glimpse of my blog might also learn or remember a lesson in the midst of reading what mom taught me.
Today I want to write to you the lessons mom taught me about self image.
My mom was not thin. I don't say that to share an embarassing image of my gorgeous mom. I share that to preface the lessons she taught me. Mom had bad knees. Mom loved to cook and she loved to bake....and she was good at it. Mom wore glasses-trifocals at that! (I'm doomed as I grow older, laugh out loud). Mom wore clothes that were given to her. She never bought herself new things unless it was one of our weddings or out of necessity. Dad liked to buy her things, though, and that's usually what he did for her gifts (unbeknownst to her, he always surprised her) for holidays. BUT SHE EMBRACED ALL THAT. SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL. And she taught me those things. Things I have tucked too far in my mind and not allowed myself to live by on a regular basis.
And for me, I never was embarased by it or by her. I never cared about her hand me down clothes or that she was overweight. I never cared that she wasn't up on fashion. In fact, I loved that about my mom. She wasn't dirty and she didn't "not " care. She just embraced different areas of life. She embraced that beauty comes from within.
1 Samuel 16:7 says that "the Lord does not see as man sees; man looks at the outward appearance, but He looks at the heat."
He knows my motives. He knows my thoughts. He knows my heart. He does not care about my size. He does not care if I'm up on fashion. He does not care about my awkward portioned body. He cares about what's in my heart.
I struggle with this. I'm not fat. I'm not ugly. Yet I struggle with this, as most every woman (and probably man, but it's different for them, I think) does. Why? Why do I struggle? Why is such a battle for so many of us?? Because the world looks at the outward appearance....and it is flaunted in our faces daily .
Buy this wrinkle cream so you don't have any.
Join this program to lose weight.
Wear this dress to look sexy.
Get fake replacements.
You husband will like you more if you look this way.
It doesn't matter how much we "know" pictures are airbrushed. Society throws pictures in front of us all too often, many times causing me to feel like I need to be better. I hate this. My mom did not live that way. Why should I? I need to remember what she taught me.
It's not to say mom always loved her body. I am sure she struggled with it at times. However, I didn't hear her saying negative things out loud. And I don't recall her ever comparing herself to other women. In fact, I saw her living her life out of joy; not out of comparison. Because she lived the fact that God looks at the heart. And mom's heart was one of joy and love and sacrifice.
Last week I was chatting with a couple of young ladies. I was working through cleaning out some things when I came across all my "skinny" clothes. A few years ago, I was a size 4. 119 lbs. It's crazy. I didn't really try to become that way, but it happened, and to be honest, I loved my body then. However, hindsight, my heart wasn't right. It was clouded with struggles and sins. I pondered that as I talked with these ladies. They taught me something somehow in the midst of the conversation. I shared with them this.....Now, at size 10, 150 lbs, I struggle more with my self image than I ever did before. However, that is so contrary to what God says, because to be honest, my heart with God at this point is so much more clean and in the healthiest place its been in years. I love Him more than I ever have and I am learning more from Him now than I ever have. Therefore, I should be happier now at this size than I was then, because my heart is what matters. Not my size. so I took my skinny clothes and put them in the pile to go to Goodwill. That wasn't easy. It meant letting go of the idea I might ever be that thin again. But somehow, it was cleansing to do that, too. It was a step forward in seeing myself through God's eyes.
Now, that doesn't mean I don't work at trying to shed a little bit or tone up. It just means I am taking a new perspective on it all. And learning to embrace it. It was in those moments that I also remembered many things my mom taught me.
"Rachael, you are beautiful. You don't need the world to tell you that."
"Rachael, embrace God's word. Do not embrace the image of what others tell you to be. Embrace what He is making you to be."
"Rachael, God looks at the heart. Make sure you remember that. "
My mom was always encouraging to me. I don't say this to put her up on some crazy pedestal that doesn't exist. She really was that way. I'll be honest with you. When I was growing up, I was not insecure. If I had a zit and someone stared, I thought it was their problem. If I wore hand me down clothes and a person wanted to talk about me, that was their issue. I have never worn makeup (still don't). I have never been up on the latest fashion (still am not!). I embraced the truths of what mom and God said. Somehow along the lines I lost that somewhat. I started that awful habit of comparing myself to other women. And so I sit here today, reminding myself of mom's words to me. And reminding myself of God's truths. Because if she were here, she'd be saying this to me. It's time I embrace it again. I know it won't be easy. I know it will take me a long time. But I will embrace that God looks at my heart....and that is the important piece of me; the one that truly matters most.
Thank you, mom, for living that out. It is a rare quality found these days.