The truth of the matter is this: I am still at war with my body. It is no longer a physical battle – I am physically stable and healthy and functioning (aside from an occasional case of the-deliriously-fatigued-college-student haha). But there is still a bully in my mind that picks fights and make suggestions that lead me down dark paths. It isn’t what you may be thinking that it is: I do not wish to be smaller. I do not wish to shrink away in size and consume less space with the hopes of never being a burden. I do not feel the constant urge to prove my worth to others – to earn the approval of every single living and breathing thing that surrounds me. I do not feel threatened by competition or frightened over the idea of loving others and being loved (typically). I have not yet reached perfection in my healing process involving all those things, but I am on my way.
This is the honest truth: I wish I were more. I wish I were more capable of keeping up – both physically and mentally – with the world behind me. I feel out of shape and out of reach. Don’t ask me to run a marathon – I get winded running down the steps to take the dog outside after a long day at school. Not only am I physically (and literally) one step behind the rest of the human race, I feel so…out of place. I am 23 and surrounded by 20-21 year olds all day. Don’t get me wrong – there are many times where I forget that I am with people who are younger than me. But sometimes I find msyelf constantly taking on the mothering or care-taking role – and I love that, when it comes to my friends. I want to take care of them and love them in whatever way they need at the time – but I also want that for myself. I want to go out for drinks with friends and be dating and doing all those typical “early 20’s” activities. More than anything, I want to look my age. When I signed my lease for my apartment almost a year ago, the woman asked me if I had someone who could co-sign because they “don’t allow minors to sign for themselves.” UHM EXCUSE ME, I WAS 21 AT THE TIME AND I DO NOT APPRECIATE THAT! The only way I feel a though I can even come remotely close to looking my age is when I slather makeup on my face and wear fancy shoe. Is it because I’m so tall that I have to wear leggings under every dress in order to prevent the world from a free show that, trust me, they really don’t want? Is it my round face? Is it my body – the way it’s shaped, where things are (or aren’t?), or the way I carry myself?!
I don’t know what it is, but every part of my brain still screams that I am inadequate. I am not fit, I don’t do yoga or run or do pilates every week, I look young – which I realize, 10-15 years from now, I may finally appreciate – but healing doesn’t always mean what we think it means and it doesn’t always look how we think it should look.
3 years ago, healing – for me – meant gaining 40 pounds and learning to have a healthier relationship with food. For me and where I’m currently at in my life, healing means acceptance (and yes – still working on making that relationship with food even better and healthier!). It drives me crazy when people on instagram and tumblr and facebook (and all the other plethora of social media venues) argue or suggest, “love yourself” “Be proud of who you are!” and I could go on and on with all the mantras we’re slammed with day in and day out. What if I can’t manage to love myself the way they suggest I should? What if I never quite get there? That’s just one more area where my bully of a mind can cling too when it thinks it can swoop in and convince me that I am inadequate and will never be good enough. “Who are you? You can’t even manage to love yourself. What a failure. How will you ever love anyone else the right way when you can’t love yourself?!”
Buckle your seat belts because I am about to make a WILD suggestion: Maybe we don’t HAVE to love ourselves. Maybe, just maybe…maybe we can learn to accept ourselves as we are and allow ourselves to be content with knowing that we are enough. Maybe we don’t have to believe that we think we are the best thing ever, that our bodies are amazing, or that we are these untouchable-remarkable people just because, dang it – we love ourselves so freaking much! Maybe knowing that we are fine, safe, and enough – call me crazy, but maybe that is acceptable.
Beating myself up because I feel incapable of LOVING myself is just one more weapon that I am handing over to Satan when I give in to the belief that society throws at us that we must love ourselves. I may never love myself or my body – but I know I am fine. I know that, despite all the things that I would change about myself, my appearance, my thoughts, etc – I know that I am enough and I know that, when I can’t manage to love me, others still can. And more than knowing that others love me – I know with all my heart that I am loved my the Almighty King. What more proof or affirmation could I need?!
My heart is content knowing that I am loved by the King. I have found through past experiences that our worlds (and our bodies) can change in an instance. But our souls remain. God looks at our hearts – not our outward appearances. God sees our intentions and our goals, dreams, thoughts, and the true love and momentum behind how we live our lives. People see the outside – people see failure where God sees intentionally mercy. People see ugliness where God sees divine endless grace. People will see what they want to see, but God will always see the Truth.
I refuse to be distracted by the prize of acceptance by others and the world around me. I refuse to ignore the emotional depletion that takes place when we tear ourselves down and when we allow the world to convince us we don’t and can’t ever measure up. It’s amazing how something that seems so positive (example: the “love yourself” stuff we see plastered everywhere that the internet exists) can actually be detrimental if we spend too much time dwelling on it and internalizing it.
Yes, we should love ourselves. In an ideal world, every human being would be able to recognize their worth, love themselves regardless of their appearance, and they would be able to see that they are wildly amazing and outlandishly loveable combinations of DNA. But we live in a fallen world. We live on an earth where sin runs rampant and pain is ever-present. We live in a place where Satan is actively wreaking havoc on lives and crushing spirits. There is a constant war going on for our souls. So, maybe acceptance is enough.
I know that God loves me. I know that He created me for great works and with a great purpose. I know that He designed ever inch of my body to be just as it is – and not only that, but he paved my path before me and He knows the number of hairs on my head. And for me, right now at this very moment in time – knowing, believing, and accepting that is ENOUGH.
I am still healing – it just looks different than before. Part of my healing is accepting that acceptance is enough. I am good enough. I will be okay. I have a Savior who sent His son to die on a cross for my sins – I have been forgiven and my slate has been wiped clean. I have a heavenly father who believes I am beautiful in every single sense of the word – inside and outside, He knows me better than I will ever know myself because He designed me and chose me before the beginning of time.
And for me, that is more than enough.
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you. Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
Psalm 139: 13-18; 23-24
“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater.
But sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.
That is the sort of bravery I must have now.”
― Veronica Roth, Allegiant
“A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.”
― Josh Billings