Wednesday, July 16, 2014

It's Okay to be Broken - Challenging the BEAUTY MADNESS

So, this week of Challenging the Beauty Madness - has it seemed to come out of left field to you? Let me fill you in on a little backstory...

You have heard me say before that I had an eating disorder. My little life was a bit of a perfect storm - I am not ready to go into all the details, but suffice it to say I went on my first diet at the age of 11. The reaction I received solidified that I was valuable in others' eyes when I was thin. So, the programming of my quiet, sensitive mind began to take of sharp twisted turn. In a time of confused preteen emotions, this was something I could control. Always finding ways to skip meals and what began as a triumph over the scale, became a slavery to it. It was never enough.
This was me at age 17. I wore loose clothes, because I thought I was so fat. I was hovering around 110lbs at this point, and I knew I was heavier than everyone else. I didn't show it, but I was embarrassed at how big I was, because I had not been able to get down below 100 again... Now, I'm like look at those skinny thighs! What was I thinking?!
There was never a number low enough; there was never a moment where the person in the mirror was good enough.
When I went to college, the severe dieting ended; I knew it wasn't the right way. I began to eat healthier and push all that aside to try to start anew.
What I didn't realize is this: even if you have stopped the destructive eating habits, the way you think about yourself can still be disordered. My thinking had been damaged far more than I realized. God has been working on me for a while and I really am in such a better place than I was so many years ago, but just recently, as I worked to lose baby weight once again, the old ghosts came back to haunt me. With what fury did my mind hurl negative attacks at my postpartum body, and I was startled and alarmed by the force of it! I realized I needed help.
You would think I would have realized it before, but I thought I was okay. I'm a happy person generally. I don't have depressive thoughts about myself as a whole. I am confident in a great number of my skills and my ability to relate to, understand, and love others. Yet, God showed me myself - imagine a hand-held paper fan, all fanned out. That was me - such beautiful colors and designs - I was quite impressed with myself! And then there was this dark line. And that line was my twisted view of my body image.
Did you ever see the movie "A Beautiful Mind"? Do you remember how he had to accept that what he was seeing wasn't real? He had to rely on his wife to tell him what was real. I'm that guy right now. I realize that what I see is not real. (Because I still see the not good enough self...) My mind has been twisted - I can't see the real me. That was a tough pill to swallow. My husband would say nice things and I'd think "Okay, sure, honey. You have to say that!" I thought I knew it all. I thought I was seeing truth. It was difficult, and yet freeing, to realize I have to listen to him. I have to let go of what I see in the mirror.
We chucked the scale - it again had become a source of control over me rather than a tool I was using. And I have gone back to a humble mode of returning to the source and working with God to pull out the root of the problem.
I am not alone. Whether it is a full fledge disorder or a struggle with their body image, women everywhere are feeling the weight of the Beauty Madness. (yes, pun intended :-) ) Beauty Madness is the thought that your outward appearance = your worth.
But God has a different view! I would encourage each and every one of you (whether this is a big problem for you or just a passing thought every now and then) to consciously embrace and seek out how God sees you. My goal is to see myself as God sees me. I'm far from it now, but I read the scriptures to lean on Truth I can be certain of. "...for the Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart" (1Sam 16:7).
You are made in the image of GOD! Not the image of secular opinion - let us continue to challenge this Beauty Madness so that we might pass on the True Beauty to our children. The truth is that our beauty comes from our Maker, and all his works are wonderful! (Ps 139:14)

xo
Me with the man who I must trust to see my beauty for me for the time being. The man who loves me because of who I am and not just what I look like nor what I can do for him. I am humbled, honored, blessed to be his wife.
p.s. - if you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder (or struggling with the leftover twisted thoughts), please get help. Two books I have found very helpful have been Hope, Help & Healing for Eating Disorders by Gregory L. Janz, Ph.D., which is a clinical, holistic approach and Weightless: Making Peace with your Body by Kate Wicker, which is a Catholic pov. It's never easy to admit you have a problem, and even more difficult to deal with it. But you are not alone. God is right there with you, waiting for you to give Him a chance to go into those difficult moments and heal you... I will pray for you!

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