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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

All Grown Up

Yesterday, my five year old came rushing in the kitchen with a big smile on her face. "Mommy, I feel all grown up now!"

"Why?"

She waved me into the front hallway and stood by the mirrored closet. "Because I look in the mirror before I go out~ just like you." She proceeded to turn around and inspect the appearance of her backside.

I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Laugh because she was so proud to be like me. Or cry because she’s already picked up on the subtle (or not so subtle) clues that I don’t like the mirror’s reflection.

After three babies my body looks more like cottage cheese with a droopy cover than the exercise gurus I mistakenly think I can look like if I just try hard enough. Some days I have a little breakthrough and realize I look okay. Those are usually times when I stay home and avoid the mirror. Other days, when I go out and see flat-tummied mommies with three or more kiddos, my mirror and I don’t get along. At all.

Why is that? Why is it most women are trying to either lose weight or “tone up” what looks just fine? My best friend says the same about me. I disagree. I see where I can stand to lose thirty pounds. Wish it were as easy as simply working out, and ta-da… I lose weight.

It isn’t.

I’ve tried.

More than half my life.

I truly want to be comfortable in my own skin. I just don’t like there being so much extra of it. There are days I believe God is thwarting my weight loss just so I’ll chose by faith to believe what He says about me.

“The King is enthralled with your beauty” (Psalm 45:11)

“He rejoices over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17)

There are days I do go there. But far too many more I look around the Mall or the magazines at the checkout counter and wish I could look like what I see. Then I start to think, “If all I ate was a salad for dinner, I could look like that.”

Every time I’ve tried, I was so cross my daughters plied me with compliments and said, “Mommy, you don’t have to lose weight at all. We like you just like you are!”

Wish I did.

Maybe the sheer fact that I’m fighting the world’s view (even if I’m losing the mental battle most days) shows a tiny step of maturity on my part. That and canning those workouts from the dark side where I feel a trip to the ER is in order after I’m done.

But I think there’s more to this longing to be beautiful than a size 2 dress or six-pack abs. What if outer "perfection" is just the bill of goods the enemy has sold us as the only way to find validation? To know we matter, that we make a difference, that we’re worth something we have to be a “perfect ten.”

So we rank each other at parties or on Sunday mornings. If we look better than most, we’re okay. If not, we’re depressed. Or we let male attention be our measuring rod.

I’ve lived long enough to know neither standard works. So what’s the answer? How do we get comfortable in our own skin? How do we accept in our hearts, and not just our words, that our beauty doesn’t come from the outside, but it’s our “inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.”? (1 Peter 3:2-4)

I think the answer is simple, but not easy.

It starts with asking God what lies we’ve bought into and why we’re letting them determine what we see in the mirror. For me it’s a painful journey back to fifth grade where I ballooned out when my classmates shot up. I remember vividly my mother and grandmother’s terse comments about how I needed to exercise more. I knew I wasn’t acceptable the way I looked and felt totally helpless to change.

And I’ve spent fifteen years trying to perfect that fat faced fifth grader. But it hasn’t worked. My fifth grade pictures remain unchanged.

Maybe being “all grown up” has more to do with looking into God’s final word on our worth than working hard to achieve a “perfect” reflection in the mirror.

My mom and grandma didn’t and don’t have the authority to say I’m not acceptable. Truth be told, they never said those words. But I felt them. Maybe my ten-year-old reasoning was off target. It could be that they saw my chubby cheeks as an indictment on their worth and a painful reminder that someone said they didn’t measure up either. Maybe it really wasn’t about me at all.

Could it be that TV, magazines, and Hollywood don’t have that authority either? That the only One who can speak truth about my beauty is God? And His Word has already spoken… He’s enthralled with my beauty. Your beauty. The beauty He gave us. Beauty that shines from our eyes and our smiles and invites people to relax, to know they’re beautiful too. Of great worth in God’s sight.

That’s what true beauty does. It invites. It welcomes others into the presence of God. To rest in the fact that they are beautiful, they are loved—not for outside perfection, which is fleeting—but for who they are.

Daddy, help us to see with Your eyes. Help us to grow up unto Christ and believe the truth. You have made us. You rejoice over us. The breathtaking beauty of a dazzling sunset doesn’t hold a candle to Your light and life shining through the unique people You created us to be. Please help us see our beauty, and in so doing reveal Yours.

Maybe one day soon my five year old will announce she feels all grown up and run over to the dining room table instead of the mirror. “Look, Mommy! I’m all grown up~ just like you!”

Then she’ll pull out our family Bible and smile.

8 comments:

Tricia Goyer said...

Amy, I'm with you sister, ever battling the bulge. I feel I could have written this post.

"The king is enthralled with your beauty." I like that! Thanks for the encouragement.

Tricia

Amy Wallace said...

Tricia,

Thanks so much for giving my blog a read! I really like that verse too, even if I have to read it over and over to give it more than a mental nod. I'm a work in progress, especially in this area.

Amy

HeyJules said...

Count me in, too. But sadly, I have not born three beautiful children and the body parts still look like cottage cheese.

What I have found is that the more GOD's opinion of me matters, the more I matter and the more I matter, the more other people's opinions about me don't matter.

Does that make sense?

I'm still overweight (okay, fat) when I look in the mirror but I'm starting to think "health" instead of "6 pack abs." I am trying to concentrate on making my body be God's temple instead of worrying about being man's "plaything". I wasn't built that way and all the dieting in the world isn't going to give me Julia Robert's legs or Jennifer Aniston's hair.

And that's starting to be okay with me. : )

glimpsing gal said...

Great post, Amy. You nailed what most of us think, feel, and experience. Hollywood has sold us a raw bill of goods and we need to unite and accept what God made. Don't you imagine it hurts Him when we ridicule the very vessel He created?

Love ya!

Staci

Amy Wallace said...

HeyJules!

Sounds like we're on the same journey. You make perfect sense and a wonderful point!

I'm still mulling all this over and wanting to rest in the place where I exercise for health and accept what my temple looks like~ for the glory of God, not six-pack abs or anyone's attention.

Like you, I'm heading in that direction. Thanks for sharing the road with me.

Amy

Amy Wallace said...

Hey Staci!

I honestly hadn't pondered what God feels when I look in the mirror and despise what I see. Thanks for making that point. I need to give that some thought.

I'm all for uniting over some chocolate and a good walk while we remind each other to accept what God created as good. Very good in fact! ;-)

Love ya too!
Amy

Heather said...

Amy,
Thank you!! I needed this today as I put on my "fat" pants...I'm so impatient with my postpartum body (well, my body in general) and DO NOT want my issues passed on to my kiddos!

Amy Wallace said...

Heather,

You are beautiful! Even if you don't believe me, listen to God. Postpartum body and all, He says you are captivating!!!

I don't think we have to pass on our issues to our kiddos. If we bring our beliefs into the light and allow our kids to join us on the journey by explaining where we are and what the truth is we're seeking to believe. That's my prayer for my girls, that they'll hear me honestly share about my struggling, but also see, even more, God and His truth.

Love,
Amy

 
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