Like most of America, I'm overweight. Fat, even. I don't like it, and I always have somewhat vague intentions of doing something about it.
While I am quite confident in my intellectual abilities and my professional prowess and my social skills (well, mostly) and my mothering and even crazy things like public speaking and performing on a stage, I, like so many other women, have internalized the message that fat = something very, very wrong with me. Because of this I avoid pictures of myself. I don't necessarily avoid having pictures taken--I know my kids love me and my friends love me, and I don't let my image issues get in the way of the people I love having pictures of a person they love (me). But you can bet your sweet booty that I avoid looking at pictures of myself. Also, mirrors and doors and windows that reflect me back to myself. If I forget to look away in time and catch a glimpse, I wince.
So, in a recent effort to once again shame and guilt myself into getting with the program and back to the gym, I decided that I needed to face the photos. I decided to sit down and stare at every picture taken of me in the past few months and confront that dreaded fat lady. I just knew, in the back of my sad little brain, that I would be so grossed out and horrified that I'd be instantly motivated to cut out sugar and trim calories and give up my already-non-existent sleep to get more exercise time.
I braced myself.
I opened the pictures.
And I started to cry.
You guys, I love this lady. SO MUCH.
I didn't see fat.
For maybe the first time in my life I didn't start going through a mental checklist of everything that's wrong with me.
I saw happy.
I saw peace.
I saw brave. Tough, even.
I saw vulnerable, mixed with indomitable.
I saw loyal and kind and fierce.
And I saw love. Oh my goodness, so much love. I saw a deep, deep reservoir of powerful, tenacious, so-intense-it's-almost-unhinged kind of love that takes down mountains and crosses oceans and changes the world because nothing can stand up against that kind of unselfish and unconditional love.
There are so many things wrong with this silly lady--and only a few of them are physical.
But there are so many things RIGHT.
I love her.
I have fought so hard to become her.
The fat will go away. I'll figure out how to incorporate a regular exercise routine into my crazy busy days. I will eventually start to get more sleep, and it will be a little easier to eat right and have energy and invest a bit more time in my physical self. I know this.
But I won't wait--until I'm thinner or my skin tone evens out or my hair has more volume or whatever flaw-of-the-day goes away--to love myself.
I'm plenty of awesome already.
There's a quote circulating the internet, whose provenance I couldn't find, that reads "If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies, how different our ideals of beauty would be."
I regularly, nearly daily pray that God will give me eyes to see the good in people, to see them as He sees them, to catch glimpses of the Divine within us.
I never realized that He wanted me to start by seeing me.
*Mad props to Julie Roper and Sindea Horste for the most excellent photography skills showcased in this post. The love and happy oozing out of the photos is all me. The skill to pull it out via camera--that's all them. Very talented friends are one of my favorite blessings in life.