I started quietly thinking about my body while we were driving to the store. I had eaten a lot throughout the day. I recounted it, which is what usually happens in my brain on big eating days, it's like all the food I ate stares me right in the face, shaking its head and pointing its finger at me for eating so much. Big bowl of cereal for breakfast. Bigger than normal. Extra snack. Big lunch. Extra bread at lunch. Chips. Big dinner. Chips again after dinner. I didn’t mean to eat so much but I felt unusually hungry so I just kept going. Being on my period is probably most of the reason for my monstrous appetite this week, which answers the question that some of you were thinking... no, I'm not pregnant.... but regardless, the big eating day had my mind whirling.... "big eating" means "big body".... the fear was starting to settle in.
We stopped at Rite Aid and Lay's BBQ Stax were on sale for a dollar, the kind that come in the Pringles type can, Shaun bought them excitedly because of course it was a great deal, and he gave me a few chips. I ate them and silently regretted it. I was thinking to myself, “...I was supposed to be jogging now, instead I am eating Lay’s...”
The slices were New York style so “one slice” was actually more like 2 or 3 normal slices anywhere else. Mine had spinach and ricotta on it, my favorite. I had to keep to reminding myself how much I loved it because the fear of getting fat was growing louder and louder in my head.
We found a bench outside by the street because the pizza place was closing. I ate most of my pizza, leaving only a little piece to take home. Shaun and I had a great conversation. We laughed a lot and talked about important things and silly things and I chose to be present. I chose to enjoy him and to enjoy the creamy ricotta and the fluffy crust and the perfect California weather. It was a choice and I knew it. A choice to quiet my fear of getting fat and to be alive to Shaun in that moment. Thankfully I did it.
When we got home I went for a walk around the parking lot of the church. I listened to music and prayed and I surrendered my body to God, again.
If you have spent much time on this blog you know that I am someone who values health. We only have one body and it is important to take care of it, physically, emotionally, spiritually. You know that. But my post today is not about that. I don’t need to remind you to eat well and exercise. I don’t need to tell you that drinking water is important and vegetables are important, and the occasional ice cream or late night pizza date is important too because health is holistic, and emotions and relationships with people are just as important as our diets. No, you already know all these things.
Today I simply felt to remind us that being beautiful is about so much more than our appearance. If I could make you a coffee and tell you this stuff in person I would, but since we are here and I'm staring at a screen instead of into your gorgeous eyes, I'll trust that you will hear this like I feel it.
New mama. I could see you rocking your new baby last night on your front porch as I was walking around the parking lot of the church. It was beautiful. I wanted to tell you that it’s okay if your body doesn’t look like it did 10 months ago. Give yourself grace. You will get the hang of this mom thing and your body will adjust to her new role sooner than you think. You are working miracles right now in nourishing that little one with your very being. You may not look like you wish you did, but I see you, and I think you are exquisite. Beauty is not about having a tiny waist. Beauty is more alive than that. It nourishes and blesses. It comforts and soothes. It loves tenderly even when no one else sees.
New bride. I hear you. You worked so hard to feel beautiful in that dress and then on the honeymoon you relaxed. The only trouble is that relaxing felt like “getting fat” and now you are home and he wants your body but you want to hide it because you are mad at it for getting bigger. I know sweet one. You’re okay. You are beautiful. Beauty is not perfection. Beauty is more alive than that. It welcomes and invites. It radiates with joy and allures with the authentic self, not the perfect self, but the broken self that is dearly loved anyway.
Girlfriend. I know. All the songs make it seem so good to be you. "Feeling 22". But mostly you feel lonely and confused, smiling on the outside, aching on the inside. No dinner again tonight, because you’re “not hungry.” So hungry. Painfully hungry. Hungry for encouragement. Hungry for someone to see you and know you and remind you that you have what it takes. So you skip meals hoping that even with all those other things missing, at least if you have control, you will feel better. Pretty girl. Beauty is not controlling. Beauty is more alive than that. Beauty confesses. Beauty acknowledges the need to be loved and it is a lover too. Beauty dreams and believes and tries and fails.
We all long to be beautiful. We were created to be beautiful. But we are daily bombarded with this idea that beauty is an outside thing relating only to our size and skin and hair and clothes. So we get anxious on days when we eat more than we wanted too, and we get deceived into seeing our wonderful seasons of life as our "fat seasons". We find ourselves anxiously trying to rush through them rather than slowing down and soaking them up.
But beauty is available to us here and now. It is not something that will happen to us once we change this or fix that. It's not a number on the scale or a smaller pant size. Beauty is more alive than that and we have the opportunity to choose beauty today. Exactly where we are. Exactly how we are. We can eat the pizza. We can rock the baby. We can invite people into our story. We can allow the good stuff and the bad stuff and the everything else stuff to just be. We don't have to hide, because hiding isn't protecting us anyway, it is stealing the joy that could be ours by poisoning us with fear. Like the fear of getting fat. Let's reject that fear and choose to be present in this moment.
Let's come alive friends. Because alive is beautiful.
in light of fall arriving, a photo from last fall taken by the ever lovely Sarah Grunder.