Yesterday I was looking through some photos online, and I came across one of a woman with two small children. They were all happy and smiling, and my first thought was, "How can she look like that and smile? What does a person overweight like that have to be happy about?"
Judgmental, right? Shallow? Self-righteous?
Well, maybe not that last one. Because the woman in the photo was me. The kids were Monkey and Lamb. The pictures were from Monkey's birthday party earlier that day. I am that woman.
Now, before anyone tells me that God made me and all that, believe me, I know and I am thankful for that. But the body I have now has NOTHING to do with the body God gave me, and EVERYTHING to do with my own destructive behavior.
For instance, today I was still so frustrated with myself for the way that I looked in those pictures (and worse yet, in front of my friends who were AT THE PARTY) that I decided to do something about it. Did I exercise? Well... no. Eat celery all day? Not exactly. So what did I "do" about it?
Welllllllllllllll... have you ever walked into a room that was so messy that it completely overwhelmed you, so you just started picking things up and throwing them around to make it worse?
No, of course not. That's just silly. But that's essentially what I did today. I was so upset with myself that I spent the entire day snacking on Doritos and leftover birthday cake. And I didn't enjoy ANY of it. It wasn't about enjoying it--it was about punishing myself.
Well, that really showed me. Ha.
How do I get into these destructive patterns? It's not limited to my eating, either. Once I woke up from my post-Roo-diagnosis-coma and realized that life with Down syndrome really is good (pretty great, actually), I looked in the mirror and saw how much I had neglected myself in that time... and I didn't like what I saw. And that's when it started--the destructive thoughts. "What the heck is wrong with me?" "Why on earth would anyone want to be my friend--to hang around with me--when I look like this?" "I just don't like myself." Yep, that's what I say to myself. Daily.
Now stop. This is not a big plea for people to feel sorry for me or try to make me feel beetter. This is me being raw, honest, transparent. For a reason.
Destructive behavior is a downward spiral. What's that saying? "Your thoughts become your words; your words become your actions; your actions become your habits; your habits become your character; your character defines your destiny." Yikes. I'm halfway through that list--my thoughts have become words, then actions, then habits. Is this really what I want to define my character? Ew. NOT who I want to be.
I wish I could just "positive self-talk" my way out of this one. I can say, "I like myself and think that I'm beautiful" 1,000 times a day, but that doesn't really matter if I know that I am lying to myself. And it's not about seeing myself as God's creation--I have no problem with that. I have a problem with what I, in my fallenness, have done to God's creation.
But I'm realizing... that's OK too. So often we want to just make ourselves feel better, so we make excuses. "I'm still beautiful inside." "I was under a lot of stress." "I am burning the candle at both ends right now--I don't know how to find the time to work out." You know what? Those things are all true, but they don't change the facts. They don't change the things that I think when I look in the mirror--or at a photo.
Sometimes we don't need positive thoughts. Sometimes we need true thoughts. Here is what is true: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body." (I Corinthians 6:19-20)
This isn't about me. It's not about what size clothes I wear or what other people think about me or even what I think about myself. I am not honoring God with my body. God made me for a purpose, and He gave me this body so that I could fulfill that purpose. If I'm not healthy, I'm not fully able to fulfill His purpose for me. If I'm consumed with distaste for myself, I'm not consumed with passion for Him. If I'm worrying what people will think when they see me, I'm not focused on how I can best serve God.
It's time for a change. A change in my thinking. I don't need to replace "I just don't like myself" with "I think I'm great." My new thoughts need to be, "It's not about me."
How can I honor God with my body?
Stay tuned. I'm learning.