I was tempted today, tempted to do something I knew would take me down a destructively familiar path, one of self-degradation, hatred, control. I was tempted to succumb to the belief, to the notion that my faith in myself, my confidence in my body was in jeopardy. I was tempted to resort to former ways, to crazy-making methods that dump me mercilessly on the moving line of never enough, of scarcity.
Today was my yearly physical. Twelve hour fast, foregoing the hope of early morning cups of coffee, blood drawn, nether regions prodded. The scale revealing a number I have not seen in decades (aside from pregnancy).
How can this number have as much power as it does, defining a day or a lifetime? Why does this number determine my livelihood? Does it differentiate how I’ve spent my days? Who I love? Who loves me? If it’s going to hold this much power there better be an itemized list somewhere parsing out each pound, every ounce.
Does this number take into consideration the blood flowing through my veins, the protein, the fibers, the composition of my muscles, the miles run, the weight lifted, babies carried, people loved? Does this number care enough to recount the enjoyment in a pint of beer, real butter, pizza with friends? Does this number reflect the laughter around a table or the dates I’ve been on with my husband? Does this number celebrate the engaging and challenging conversations with friends, rehashing life over a latte? Does this number reveal the meals prepared and shared together as a family around the big table?
In my shortsightedness this morning, the beauty enveloped in this life of mine was nearly thrown under the bus, flipped, and tumbled, down the unforgiving blacktop. I could have allowed the power of this number to redefine my existence, sending me into a spiral of loathing, shame, fear. I could have gone to the brink of my worth, to the place where I can no longer receive love, grace or provide love, grace, rendering me to hatred, hating myself in the purest of ways…in my body.
My body, what it has done for me, the gift it will continue to be! The stress it has endured, the ways I’ve starved and over fed myself, the stress, the diets, the fat-free and sugar-free foods, the intense and grueling workouts. My entitlement, disgusted I could not procure the image, the form I desired. The dissonance between the parts and pieces I beheld in the bathroom mirror compared with the perfection of magazine pages. My fantasies incomplete because my body was not compliant.
My legs have brought me through marathons, triathlons, countless bike rides to and from school with my children, hikes with my husband, running with a dear friend, beautiful treks into the wilderness. My arms have swum me for miles. My face has expressed my heart, sometimes betraying personal confidences, people closest to me reading it like a book. My smile has welcomed the hurting, and celebrated the recovery of the broken. My teeth chew the best food, assisted by my tongue and salivary glands, providing joy and nutrients, sustenance through night and day. My hands hold children, scratch their backs, ruffle their hair. My cold feet nestle in with my husband on frigid nights. My fingers can type and patter the keys to spell out words, sentences, thoughts. My hips have nested babies safely within, their width perfect for growing, sustaining three delicious lives. My belly stretched in all directions, silvery strands run lengthwise. My thighs strong and able, prepared for any adventure. My eyes seeing, responding to smiles with lines that easily know their place. My heart beating for so much, for you, for me, for the world both near and far.
Our bodies are wonderful creations, our lives are worthy, beautiful, valid because of our template: Imago Dei…the Image of God. We have been created, celebrated, cherished – which will remain so until the end of our time. I do not want to waste another moment, another minute incapacitated because of a number, because of a size, because of a skewed perception.
I know I will still wrestle and try to pin down the demons. This is my thing, my thorn. I used to fight them, their damned voices circling in my head. Most days, now, I let them do their thing, let them spin themselves into oblivion while I drink a beer enjoying conversation with loved ones, relaxing at day’s end, sun setting upon the efforts.
There is too much to do, too many to love, too many to be loved by. I want to be motivated by grace, by desire. I want to eat the food, savor the memories around many tables, remember the gifts I’ve been given, choose joy and be kind to myself.