Friday, May 29, 2015

joy in the midst of the battle

I wish I could say the battle is over and I've won when it comes to the body image tug-o-war my heart and my mind push/pull over.

The truth is, the battle is real and still very much alive.

That said, I have gotten to a place where I am more content with myself than I ever have been. With myself and with my life, as it is and as my story book reads.

I now accept my curves as symbols of physical strength to play with my young-ins and run distances to see the glorious view. I look at these curves as providing "reserve" to my body in the event that I ever get physically weak from sickness.Most of all, these curves are symbols of freedom to eat what I enjoy and to not restrict myself like I often did with rules upon rules for what I can or cannot eat and when.

I now accept my edges as symbols of my "need" for Grace and Christ's strength that is given power through my own prideful, rough, tense, judgmental, and sometimes terse way. These edges can come across as demanding or belittling or a bit too forthright, though they are softer and even I am surprised sometimes.

My weaknesses are a humbling opportunity to be reminded I will always be human. On a fairly every day basis I am reminded the battle is real.

When friends or acquaintances comment on my growing belly and how I am carrying this pregnancy, I try to soak in their words. I am human and like most people, I appreciate all the wonderful comments. The truth is, though, those comments eat me up. There has been a time when I've wanted more and more and was never satisfied, like an addiction.

When someone tells me the weight I've gained only appears to be in my ball-shaped belly, I fear the coming weeks when my face might blow up and I'll be rounder in more places than just there. Where will their comments be then? Will people just lie?

As I appreciate all the comments -- I really do! -- I have sometimes wished folks would steer clear of always commenting on my physical appearance as the first thing they say. But, they don't. And it's my problem, not theirs.

A few months ago I started to just give thanks for the way folks say that I "glow".

I decided to hope it's Joy they see, as if it is seeping out of my pours. 

Joy was a hard-pressed thing for me to receive, truth-be-told. I wish it wasn't, especially given the long and painful journey of aching for that which I hoped for, believing in my soul it would be and yet having to wait for so long to see it realized.

I went through years of anger and doubt, confusion and anxiousness. Friends who didn't have children when I had my first have since had a handful, and all the while I sat by and watched, waiting for my day for just one more.

I assumed something was wrong with me or I wasn't good enough for the dream I held so close to my heart and couldn't shake no matter how much cajoling or convincing I did to myself. No matter what, the dream I carried was so hope-filled, even though I couldn't make a speck of sense out of it.

When I learned we were actually expecting a second child, I was so afraid to receive it and tried to protect my weary heart from premature joy. Yet, I knew in my soul there was something to be joyful about. There weren't any guarantees I would actually hold or raise this babe, though there was life, as it was. Even now I remember this with only a handful of weeks until the due date and after a night of having a dream we lost him. There is life, Now -- as it is.

I choose joy, because, this matters. 

     Even the journey . . . 
     Even my aching and weary heart . . . 
     Even my struggle with compliments . . . 

The process of pregnancy and parenting is realizing just how not in control we are. It's a wrestle of self and we often sabotage our opportunity to see something beautiful in an attempt to be good and to get it right (whatever that means or looks like).

So on days when I want to crawl into bed and throw the covers on my head (if it weren't so darn uncomfortable!), and I walk down the hallway at work with my head hanging low and mumble to my colleagues in a less than enthusiastic tone, I reach for Grace.

On days when I meet up with a good friend and she says with a smile, "the baby is growing!" and points to the evidence of my increased belly size and I just scrunch up my nose, I reach for Grace.

These are the days when I'm reminded I am a human who is loved, as I am. 

When I'm moody, tentative, or insecure, I remember I am no better or worse than another person. Even if someone else doesn't share the same struggles as me, mine aren't to be denied or dismissed; we all have some. thing.

Might this alone be enough to give us comfort in community? 

We all have a shared frailty as humans. I remind myself of this, constantly. This is what helps me to let my rawness be seen and to be real about my struggles.

It isn't with everyone I open my heart to, it's those who ask with a genuine heart and those who I sense really do care.

I try not to judge or be angry at the ones who aren't honest and who aren't as invested in going there -- to the heart of the soul

I remind myself how difficult it is for me on a daily basis, sometimes most especially with those who know me and can see right through my tendency to want to tuck into my turtle-shell.

I don't have to perfect a lesson or even perfectly loose my issues, even though I make unfair expectations and grow impatient and annoyed with myself.

For so long I was tethered to negativity, self-criticism, and anger. The ties have been cut and the contentment and joy I experience deep in my heart is so much richer these days -- this is enough, as it is.

God brought me here and it's Him I give thanks. With each struggle, I am becoming ever stronger.

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