Tuesday, March 28, 2017

"The Scale"

The cursor on the screen is blinking at me, almost as if it's a steady heartbeat, patiently ticking away the seconds, telling me to spill out my words upon the page. I am in a season of busy days, which often leaves me little time to write and a head full of lessons being learned and thoughts needing to be sorted. But as the cursor blinks at me, I find it hard to formulate what I want to share.

 Perhaps because there are layers of lessons through which I am wading right now. None of which are life-shattering, but all of which run deep in the waters of my soul. Diving in to them can sometimes drudge up the dirt at the bottom of the ocean, create waves I'm not sure I want to navigate. And yet I know that there is always a calm after the storm, even if that storm is only one which I can see. And so I will wade into them.

 For the season of Lent, I have mentioned in previous blogs that my church has encouraged the practice of giving something up (or perhaps doing something more, depending on the perspective.) As this has been a newer practice for me, I don't always know what to do. This year as I thought about it, I had a recurring thought on this. I hesitate to write about it, to be honest. And when people would say to me, "what did you give up for Lent?" I really avoided answering. Because my answer will seem awfully silly, but between me and God, it has made sense. So I hesitantly write and share about it today. In part because I am processing how this season is teaching me new lessons, and writing helps me process.

 I "gave up" getting on the scale.

 To some that will sound like a very silly, very minor issue. Lent and giving up "things" should be about something deep, something that makes us go deeper into our walk with God, to focus on Him more intensely through this season. But I want to share, because these weeks of not getting on the scale have been a time that has become a reshaping area.

 I think all people struggle with body image to a degree - how they view themselves or worrying how others look at them. I wish I could tell you it's not an issue for me, that I love who I am and how I look. But I wrestle with this as much as the next person. I just don't talk about it much. I would find myself getting on the scale and feeling so discouraged after doing so. Which I know many will find crazy because I'm not overweight. In my heart I know that, but my head so often will shout other thoughts about that number that looks back at me.

 And so as I thought about what to give up, I knew I was living in a place of putting too much focus on my body and so giving that up would (perhaps) help me to rearrange my priorities.
  The world places such value on the body. The commercials scream at us, even if subtly, that we need to be thinner, prettier, wearing the latest clothing, following the latest trends. Movies promote women with picture perfect bodies. Running magazines are filled with shiny pages of women with toned abs and muscular arms, leaving me feeling like after 9 years of being a runner perhaps I am doing something wrong because I look nothing like that! The point is, the struggle with my body image and how I feel about myself in those regards is real. I don't like it and I don't write about it a lot, but it is something which I am working on shedding, so it's time to talk about the struggle a little.

 Perhaps some of the ideas come from a variety of comments I hear around me, be it from men in my vicinity or comments made by men on tv, but I feel like I have to meet this standard or I won't be pretty. Maybe it comes from jokes that have been made that say "you're a runner. you ought to be 110 lbs! " (I most definitely am not that.) And while what I hear I know isn't true per say,  the words are difficult to erase, and so I wrestle with it. I don't feel pretty enough, thin enough. Somehow my brain became trained to say things like "I'm fat" when in reality that is not true. Or I play the ever ridiculous comparison game to the women around me, which is such a horrible thing to do.

 So as these weeks of lent have gone on and I have not gotten on the scale, I've been working to retrain my brain. I have been working to find balance with my thoughts. I have been working with God to embrace the truths about me rather than the falsely promoted lies that dance around so frequently.
 I believe in taking care of myself. But obsessing over how I look isn't a healthy mindset. Getting on a scale is ok, but going into a frustrated mindset when it isn't the "ideal"  number isn't healthy. Working out is a great thing for me, one which I highly promote and believe in.  But working out (for me) should not be about needing to be skinnier. For me, it is about time with my maker. It's about being a better me, the best me I can be. Not because I feel the  need to meet an unrealistic expectation, but because I feel better and happier and healthier when I do it.
  And if I get on a scale, it's a gage that helps me recognize I'm on track or not on track, but should not be a gage that says beautiful or not.

 Through this time, I have been learning to embrace my image, while still working to be the best I physically can be. I know when I'm not eating right and I know when I'm not healthy. Yes, I feel better when my pants are loser or go down a size. But life isn't about that.
 It's not about how I look on the outside or how much I weigh or what my size is. It's about my heart. And so I have been focusing on my heart.
 Sifting out the temptations and difficult things that get in the way of being the best me. Saying no to those fleshy desires. Denying myself.
 I have been reading passages in the Bible that remind me how much God loves me for who I am.
  I have been working on becoming the best me I can be. Physically... sure, to a degree. But I've been putting more focus on my heart matters. Eliminating those ugly things that get in the way of the beauty that God has created. When I shine the beauty He has made, He can use me more. And I shine that more when I am focusing on what He says about me, not what the scale says about me.

 Does this mean I don't still run and do TRX? Nope. In fact, I'm finally back to training again (blog to come on that soon). But truthfully being the best me physically can only improve when I'm being the best me spiritually. To deny myself is to find myself. (Matthew 16) I am happier when I am healthier. And I am healthier when I am not worrying so much about what others say I should be. Or If I look like those picturesque women (I don't.... nor will I.... )

 So, giving up getting on the scale may sound super silly to some people. But for me, it's been about digging deep and tapping in to the inner beauty God has given me and letting that shine through to the outside.
 I will always work on myself physically. That is ok, and it's part of who I am. But there are lines, or should I say there is a balance to doing so. Getting into a tizzy because the scale doesn't read like I want it to... not healthy.

   I am created in His image. He knows every hair on my head. He holds every tear I cry. He formed me and knew all my days before I do. He has plans for me. He loves me for me.
   And no number on the scale will ever tell me those words. But He tries to tell me them every day. I just have to get out of my own way and let Him.

 So that is part of what I have been learning. Perhaps body image will be a forever struggle. I hope not, but I don't really know. So long as I am growing and learning and applying, though, I want my beauty to be about His beauty. Not what the world says is beautiful. (And it's ok to remind me about this, friends, if/when you hear me slipping and complaining about myself.) One day at a time... I am learning to be the healthier me from the inside out.

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