Thursday, November 17, 2011

Standard of measurment~

{Click for larger photos, if you like.}
I have to tell you something about me. Maybe some of you know it already. Maybe some of you have seen this particular issue I struggle with in person. Maybe some of you struggle with the same thing.
It's that little thing called self-image.
You know... the way we see ourselves.
Well, the truth is I don't always have a nice picture of myself in my head. I don't always feel inside like the person others sometimes see on the outside.
I honestly can pinpoint certain times in my life and events that really shaped- or should I say 'mis-shaped' the person I am.
It certainly didn't come from my parents. Or my extended family or even close friends. Nope. Those people have loved me for who I am and have been for my whole life. My parents always made me feel that I was unique, important and most assuredly let me know they loved me and God loved me. From the earliest age I have memories I already knew I was loved.
I was even likable and funny most of my school years.
But in middle school I most remember not liking myself. I was a great student. I was a class clown in a lot of my classes. But I was slightly chubby for my height. I was almost always the shortest kid in my classes and certainly felt "bigger" than a lot of the pretty girls I went to school and church with. My older sister was always- ALWAYS- taller and thinner than me. Even if I went on more walks than her.
It was hard not to compare myself to other kids around me...and you know what? It sometimes still is hard for me to not compare myself to others. Thankfully I have grown up a lot, matured a little bit (what? I have!), and learned to love me for who I am. All grown up.
But there are lots of areas besides my weight, height and hair color that I can compare myself to others- things like how big my house is; are my kids happy like other kids? Do my spouse and me have as much time or fun or happiness as other married friends do? And the list goes on and on.
We live in a world that loves to compare and contrast. It loves to measure people by monetary standards, and happiness standards and success standards and... I think you know. If someone can measure or compare it, it happens. Whether consciously or subconsciously. We stack our stuff- our bodies and looks and pocketbooks and families and divorce rates and home values and whatever we have or are gets put on some sort of scale.
I sometimes feel overwhelmed as a mom of 6 kids at home, that I have to shield my young kids, or at least be responsible for the pressures they feel or will feel to "measure up" in this world. I sometimes feel a weight on my shoulders that I know I can never be big enough to lift. I just don't have enough power or ability to keep the messages and comparisons that inevitably will come their way at bay. The media is a big source for many of us for setting our measurement "standards". It's why advertising does or doesn't work that well.
Where am I going with all of this anyway? I'm not 100% sure, but I will say this...I think it's a big deal and I really wish it wasn't. I will say that I have gotten much better and more realistic about my standards of measurements over the past several years too. I feel very lucky and blessed to be married to a husband who loves me at size 6 just as much as size 16. He loves me when I make waffles too many nights a week for dinner just as much as when I make Greek Spaghetti. I am lucky to have been raised and loved by family, friends and to know that God sees me as lovable and worthy ALL THE TIME.
I feel lucky and blessed that I don't have to wonder about my self worth. I know nothing can make me a better person- things like plastic surgery or a new pair of shoes or owning the biggest diamond with the highest degree of clarity. I know that "stuff" can't change who I am and should never be the standard for which I try to measure up.
I guess I am pouring out my heart on the subject because sometimes it seems like we need reminders in life about these sorts of things. I am writing to remind myself. I am writing because as Thanksgiving approaches I want to be conscious and grateful of things that truly ARE blessings in life. And not just making a check-list of things I am grateful to have. I don't want to create a spreadsheet to document the things that society seems to want us to measure our worth by.
These thoughts come in large part to our upcoming move and all the details that we are working on right now. Things like de-cluttering and looking at our next house and the schools our kids will go to and just being mindful that even though I don't cook the best meals, or keep the neatest house, or even have nice family photos taken with just the right amount of natural sunlight and flare in them doesn't add or take away any of my worth or the worth of anyone around me.
I want to look at myself and like me for me. No.
I want to love me for me. For those scars I blogged a few posts ago. For the trials that I have endured and yet somehow have still managed to find ways to smile and love in life again. I want the people around me to know the real me. And love that paerson too. Not just the one they see with make-up on and seems to have it all together. I want my kids to know I love them- no matter their test scores or if they can even walk a flight of stairs or use the potty by themself. I want them to know that our standard of measurements are different than the ones they will likely encounter in the world. I want everyone to know that God loves each of us- not because we are perfect- but because we are imperfect and we recognize we need Him in order to be complete.
Whatever it is that you feel inadequate about today, I hope that you will pause and take a look in the "right mirror" and see if maybe you are judging to harshly. I am ready and feel like I am on a path of feeling more free, more happy and more ready to let go of needing to measure up. In lots of areas of my life. I'll never be the tallest or prettiest or smartest or richest or lots of other things. But I know that I can still be the best me I was made to be.


Jo-Lyn said...

great post <3a

jenny said...

Jody, you bless me so much. I wish we lived closer (I'm in Idaho). I think we could be great friends. Thanks for this post. I needed it today.

Nilsa said...

Thank You Jody! This has certainly helped. God Bless!

LaVon Baker said...

May I recommend the movie "7 Days in Utopia." You'll understand why. A great date night movie.

Magnoliawhispers said...

it's amazing how hard we are on ourselves, when God loves us simply just because he loves us and somehow we don't think that is good enough, like we must prove to Him why He should. It's just how you love your kids, you just do and nothing will change that.

Blake said...

I feel like this is what I blog about every day. Sometimes we need to see that we're not the only one that struggles with this. Awesome, awesome post.

Desiree Chandler said...

SO true! I agree with EVERY word!! Thank you for the reminder! :) Hope you have an EXCELLENT day!

Anonymous said...

Great post just as Jo-Lyn said! I think we women ALL struggle with self-image and it sometimes takes a life-time to actually come to terms with that. Contentment...that's a tough thing to come by. (I'm old enough to be your mom)...I once was asked how I became "contented" and I had to actually think about it. I think it came so gradually to me that I didn't realize I (for the most part) had it. Christ-in-me had alot to do with it I'm sure. PLUS maturity! After a life-time of struggling with weight issues, financial struggles etc. it might have also just been a mind-set.

What I actually came on the site for was to see if you'd had time yet to post stuff about Northfield and your house-search!!! :-)

jenny said...

Missing you, Jody. I know you're moving and y'all are in my prayers, but I just wanted you to know you're missed. God bless.