2015 is about to make it’s exit. It’s been filled with ups and downs, and, as with every year, that’s just life. As 2016 rings in, shortly after, I will hit the big 40. So where am I? Where am I going?
I can’t tell you where I’m going, because I have no clue. I do not know what has been planned for me, how my children or marriage will fair, what friends I’ll make or maybe even loose. I don’t know what our bank account will look like or the size of my jeans. (Well leggings) We aren’t privy to the details. I can’t even guarantee we will be living in the same house, it may burn down or blow over. I just don’t know.
Right now, I can tell you these few things. I am married. I have four boys. I live in the great state of Oklahoma, in a small town I adore. Quirks and all. I adore the school they attend and the friends they’ve made. I love the people I’ve met and can call friend. We’ve found a church we can all learn and grow in. Yes, even the ever resistant hubby.
Instead of ringing in the new year with the traditional “resolutions” I’m going to reflect on what I’ve learned. Because, let’s be real, how many resolutions do we actually keep? Diets? Yeah right, they don’t work. Lifestyle change does. Really, if they were that important, and you were really ready to make some changes, January 1st or the year would play zero part in that.
I’ve learned a few big things this year. Actually year to year and a half. I’ve realized my two largest points of pride and ego are my largest issues. Two things I never want to face is being “poor” or “fat”. Like, never. Don’t count your money or lack there of in public, never let it be known you struggle in that area. It’s a face flushing embarrassment for me. Also, don’t be fat. Don’t photograph fat, look fat, be fat, eat fat, etc etc etc etc etc…….
Guess what!? I am both. Ha! Here’s the kicker, in my biggest struggles, I’ve learned the most.
Let’s talk money first. Money makes the world go round, makes life easier, more adventurous, more exciting, gives you more freedom, right? Yes. Here’s what money doesn’t do. It doesn’t teach you how to be kind. It doesn’t teach you humility. It doesn’t make you a loving or giving person. It does nothing for your character. It doesn’t force you to stay home and spend time with the ones who matter most. It allows you to go do “stuff” together and that is fun and creates memories, but it doesn’t replace that precious one on one, the time of real connection. It does not force you to slow down and focus on what really matters. What is most important to you? Is it your bank account? Your car? Nice house? What makes you happy?
It makes me happy when friends drop by and all the boys have an impromptu wrestling match in my living room. That’s free. It makes me happy watching the boys attempt to make a snowman. That’s free. It makes me happy to have conversations with other adults, as we get to know each other or laugh or share memories. That’s free. It makes me happy when the house is clean and laundry is done. Free. It makes me happy when my husband is driving and he holds my hand. Free. It makes me happy when my 9 almost 10 year old asks me to lay with him at night. Free. Or when our 5 and 3 year old want to sit and read books. My 20 year old calls, on his own, to talk. ALL FREE. Those are the moments and things I’ll look back on, the feelings I’ll remember years down the road. Not, my account balance. Keeps you humble. Do we struggle? Yes. We may always struggle, but my husband and I work our butts off (not literally see next paragraph) to make it work and that’s not something to feel ashamed or embarrassed of. It’s ok to need help sometimes. It’s ok that we don’t run off on weekend getaways or travel everywhere, eat at the fancy places (our kids would have us kicked out anyway) or have every latest gadget. Even if we don’t have a lot of money, we have a lot of heart to offer. We have a multitude of free awesomeness to share! Surrendering to the very simple truth of this is a load off.
Let’s talk FAT! Body image. Discontent. Self loathing. Being self conscious. Critical of yourself and how you look.
We’ve all been there. Most of us have fluctuated throughout the years, up, down and all around. Right? We all look at ourselves, and think, if just this part was different. Thinner, smaller, taller, smoother, less scarred, less loosey goosey, I’d be happy. If I could just drop these 20lbs……..I’d be happy. What if my arms didn’t flap, or stomach was off my knees, (along with the boobs), my face didn’t turn into the look of crumpled up paper when I smiled?
What if it’s even deeper than the outward appearance? What if you feel your body is failing you through other means. Illness, infertility, pain, and things like anxiety or depression. What do you do when the disappointment, pain and frustration feels like it is suffocating you? The mortification when you see yourself FINALLY in a photo? Even the anger…….or sadness how do you get past it? How do you get past a life altering injury that affected the rest of your life?
Truth is, I don’t have all those answers. Every day, I struggle with self image. Every day. Every day my husband gets up, goes to work, works out, works with his boxing trainer and pushes through a myriad of permanent injuries and he overcomes. Every. Single. Day. After being told he may never walk again, he will be walking into a ring in a few short days for his boxing debut. That’s the real story right there. Not whether he will win or loose come January 9th, but the journey in to the ring. The journey from broken car and broken man on the side of the road to the strong determined one in the ring.
The real story lies with the one who knows it’s not about the waist or bra size or the image in a photograph but the memory it captured.
I may wear on this body of mine 3 sizes larger than what I WANT it to be, but that body found an awful cute outfit. That earring adorned head can think through a crisis. Can dream and imagine wild possibilities. Can rationalize with an irrational toddler. It can be filled with words of encouragement, guidance, love, correction, praise and sorrow. It can kiss my husband and my boys goodnight or good day. It can spit on a thumb to wipe sticky off your face. Read the instructions on your medicine. Watch you with loving eyes. Admire you from the other side of the room.
That larger sweater and now flowing tops cover the heart of the body. The soft place to land. The arms that hold you when you’re hurt. Tickle you. Spank you. Make your bed or cook your meals. Hold your head when you’re sick. It’s the place where you like to sleep. Inside is where you heard my heart beat. It kept you safe while God was knitting you together. My hands are where I wear my ring symbolizing an eternal commitment. Those same dry cracked hands can answer a distress call or send you a funny picture to lighten your day.They buckle you safely in the car. Pull you out of the bath tub. My body is what loves on everyone who is precious to me. It is their safe place. The numbers on the tag, covering this body, do not matter.
These larger jeans (or leggings), they are the pants covering the legs that come running when you fall. Drive you to the doctor. Separate fighting dogs. Carry me through my days. They rise up early in the morning with me. They wrap around you while wrestling or hold you tight while loving you. They allow me to travel through this life. The sore feet carry you on the ice because you are afraid to fall. They hold you up high so you can fly like an airplane. They ache at times, but they work.
This “oversized”, soft, squishy, body is home to some. It’s the vessel gifted to me.
When you change your perspective, when you surrender, you become empowered. Every scar, stretch mark, bout of happiness, sorrow, pain, number on the scale represents a part of your story. A part and place in time of who you are. Try embracing that. Try surrendering your expectations and start recognizing your assets. Your gifts. Enjoy the ones around your table, the store brand sausage and the pie!
The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will REJOICE over you with
He will quiet you with His LOVE,
He will rejoiceover you with