Friday, June 19, 2009

Distorted view...part 1.

I've had some thoughts going through my head about perfectionism and self-image and how those things affect our joy and contentment level in life. At least there seems to be a connection between them as I look at my own life. So I'm going to blog some of my thoughts and they may turn into a mini-series here if I get them all out of my head. I just don't know how coherent or meaningful they will be to you. But feel free to read along with me as I 'talk outloud' and as always, I'll read your comments and reflect on those too.
The pictures here (aside from the one of Crew, which I posted just to show you his grin and adorable tongue again...ha!) were some I forgot we took during spring break when our family visited the Grand Rapids Children Museum. Apart from waiting outside for about 35 minutes in a chilly breeze, we all enjoyed the activities and fun that took place in early April. The family picture we got in the ripple mirror just happens to be one where we are all looking into the camera at the same time. Isn't that the way it goes? The one time we actually all have our heads in the same direction is the one time we're standing in front of a mirror that takes at least 4 inches off your height and adds at least 25 pounds! But look at our smiles! We were all having fun and actually smiling more because of our mishapen bodies.
Which brings me to one of the points of writing this post. I'm well beyond my middle school and teen years in which I had such low self-esteem, and yet sadly, years later, I still find myself seeing my 'flaws" first and most obvious each time I look into a mirror or see my reflection somewhere. I'm wondering when and if that ever goes away?! I've fully come to accept my short height (I'm 5-2) and know that I'll never be a size 2, and that doesn't bother me. I've been size 8-14 for several years now and have found little correlation between the reading on a scale when I step on it and the happiness I experience in my day-to-day life. Don't get me wrong, I can get crabby and find myself grumpy about food when my weight starts to tip the scale more than I like, but it certainly doesn't hold true all that often. I've been my lowest weight and also been most unhappy too, so it's obvious to me that numbers don't determine happiness.
Just as true about weight is money, if you ask me. Having more of it doesn't automatically mean you'll be happier. Some of the people I've been around that have money/material wealth also have had a lot of heartache over 'stuff' and broken relationships too. More often than not, it seems to me that having money just adds to stress levels in life. As someone once said, the millionaires are striving to become multi-millionaires and the more you achieve, the more work it takes to try to achieve the success you are aiming for. Once you've arrived where you want to be you find there's another world awaiting you and you start climbing the ladder to the next level of success. It's never-ending and certainly doesn't get easier on the way up.
But that's sort of another topic all on its own.
What I've really been thinking about is how God loves us as we are- whether we've accepted His grace and love in our life or not. Other than asking Him for forgiveness and inviting Him into our hearts and lives, there is nothing we can do to earn His favor.
That reality- that God loves us as we are- is such a comfort to me and one I've been trying to think about as I go through my day-to-day activities, oftentimes doing the same tasks over and over, feeling as though they really aren't that significant in the scheme of life. But it's in the very ordinary, mundane tasks that I feel most affirmed in who I am too. It's crazy how that works, but I'm beginning to finally accept that I never will be {or ever claim to be!} SuperMom or SuperWoman or SuperAnything, and that's perfectly okay. It doesn't mean God can't use me or that I'm failing in my life. My faults, downfalls and inadequacies actually build in me more humility, more empathy, keep me dependent on God and serve to remind me that I'm forever a work in progress.
I know this is getting a bit long, but I have one more thought to get out of my head. I've been thinking about some of the "stories behind the stories" that I grew up listening to and now share with my kids from the Bible. One of my favorites has always been the story of the loaves and fish. Do you know the one? Jesus was teaching a great multitude of people and the day got longer and longer and soon the disciples realized that the people were going to need a dinner break. They went to Jesus and told them that they had no food to feed the thousands of hungry people and they asked him what they should do. Jesus basically said, "feed them". With what, the disciples wondered? So they went through the crowds and in the end found only one little boy with a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread. They brought it to Jesus and many of you will recall that Jesus not only multiplied the little lunch, but there were 12 baskets leftover too!
Recently, as a mom, when I read that story again, I couldn't help but think about the mother who packed the little sack lunch for her son. The Bible doesn't tell us anything about her, but I just wonder if she wasn't an overworked woman with household chores and duties that seemed never-ending and even a 'waste of her time' most days. Yet, she made sure her son had nourishment and she sent him off to hear a teacher one day and went about her business. I wonder what she thought when her boy came home full of excitement and out-of-breath, anxious and tripping over his words as he retold the story of the miracle Jesus did with his little lunch. I wonder if her heart was forever changed from that day on as she went about her day-to-day chores. What had once felt mundane and like drudgery, now served as a reminder that God didn't need her to be a superhero or even do anything all that significant. What He did was take what she had, which in this instance was a boy who was willing to share his lunch that his mom had made- she obviously had taught him to be generous and the combination of his little lunch and willing heart fed thousands.
I get overwhelmed at times- not with the tasks that I have to do each day- but more often than not, it's from a distorted view of who I am and what I should be doing. I thank God that He can take what I have to give- no matter how big or small my gifts may be- and He can use them and even multiply them in my life and others. How great is our God?! He has proved Himself in my life and others to be faithful and good, time and time again. I'm so glad that He doesn't demand perfection or even some crazy, expensive payment in order to receive His grace and mercy. He'll take whatever it is we have to offer. And He has the ability to turn it into something great. That's just who He is.


Lauren said...

I don't even know you personally, but I just flat out love you!!!!

Enough said!

The end! :o)

Southern Gal said...

Oh, you spoke to me. The weight thing is foremost in my mind these days. I've got to focus on the God who loves me instead of the me who can't love myself or anyone else without Him.

I get so involved reading blogs of seemingly superwomen moms I feel horrible. Got to quit that, too.


Me! said...

So....I definitely needed to hear this today and have needed to hear it for the last few weeks. Body image has been a huge struggle for me for a really long least 13 years. And, I haven't been on a good path. I was doing well and not taking part in any eating disorder behaviors for almost a year...but it's changed again and I've really been struggling over the past few months. Because of that, one of the things I loved doing has been taken away from me until I can get things under control. I want to change so badly, but I just can't do it. It's so deep within me that it's going to take a lot to get it out. I know what I need to do...I'm working on it, but it's going to a long time. And, it's never going to go completely away.

Anyway, thanks for sharing...pray that someday I have a peace about the body that God gave me and that I can move on past this horrible disease.

Heather said...

Wow I can't wait to hear more of what's in your head. You are wise. skipping the whole weight issue...I'm trying to loose weight too. been there done that. Lost it and still wasn't happy gained it back still not happy.(about my weight not my life however) **grin** Its a roller coaster But the thing that makes me want to thank you for is your thought on the loaves and fishes miracle. I really never thought in depth about the story like you've done. I never really thought about the mom who made the lunch and the boys willingness to share. You have given me some insights today Thank you.

Must.Be.A-Follower. said...

OH my goodness, I sooo needed to hear this today, I'm near tears!! It's amazing what (and who!) the Lord will use to speak to us.. thanks so much for being that open vessel and walking in obedience to Him!

Anonymous said...

Oh Jody,

I always get "something" out of your "talking out loud"...thanks for sharing. I agree, God will take us where we're at and we need to accept that.

I also struggle with the mundane chores of being a mom, but now that my kids are 11, 14 and 15, I keep thinking about the short amount of time that we have to impact them directly and it keeps me going...not always fast, but going.

Take care and have a great weekend-it's going to be BEAUTIFUL!

Lisa in Wisconsin

HEART said...

Yet again you spoke to me.
I have been down a strange path, wanting another baby and not being able to. Then wanting to lose weight and work more on my self esteem. To find out I am pregnant litte did I know they were linked!
God does take care of us and take us where we need to be and when too ONLY ON HIS time not ours. this last bit I just learned
ok I think that is all I have for now
Heart ~ Hugs from Ohio
The mechanical shark in the 1975 hit movie Jaws was named Bruce.

Marie said...

Just like some of your readers have said, you spoke to me today. I too have a weight problem and I am at the lowest I have been in 15 years but I need to lose about 70 more pounds. You are an inspiration to me.
Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

Your blog is "very" meaningful to me! I'm old enough to be your mom but I can relate to what you write about. ALL through my pre-pubiscent and teen years I viewed myself as "FAT"!! I was about 5'3" and weighed between 112 and 125 depending on when I weighed myself...oh and back then the sizing was different but I wore a 13 or 14. If sized now that would have been about a 7 or 8. Then I married had children and life continued. I grew a bit (at one time I was 5'4" but now am 5'3"'s an age thing). I also "grew" in my circumfrunce...well we won't go there now. BUT the thing I want to share here is I'm so content with my life and where I am. Though I'd LOVE to lose weight (I'm insuline-resistant and it's tough) but still I'm content. Where does THAT come from? It has to be God!! God has filled in that void in my life and my self-esteem has also grown, but only from Him! He's my all in all! Just wanted to share this!
WSL ;-)
Blessings to you and your family Jody! Love the pictures too by the way!

Anonymous said...

Oh...and I'd have never thought that you'd be shorter than me! (laugh) appear to be much taller!! Also a cute size 8 or 14 (depending)! Our society really distorts how we "should" look and I wish we could go back to a time where that wasn't so much the case!!

Anita said...

Jodi-I heard an an amazing radio broadcast about the loaves & fishes. The woman basically challenged the listeners to give their "lunch" to God. We may not feel that we have enough to offer the world, but if we give Him our lunch, he can multiply it and bless it to His glory - not ours.
I often "hear" God whipering, "Do I have your lunch?" Sometimes I want to say no, but there is such blessing in surrendering & obeying that I want to say, "Yes Lord. It's not much, but here's my lunch!"
I think this was a Focus on the Family broadcast, but I'm not sure. I just know it really touched my heart.

Anonymous said...

Preach it Sister... that's why the Word tells us to renew our minds daily... we MUST see ourselves as Jesus see's us. Glory to God
Love ya
hugs all around .. and an extra one for Crew

Jan said...

"God loves us as we are...there is nothing we can do to earn His favor. Nothing."

Soooo beautifully written, Jody. I love to read along as you "think out loud". And that statement above (my condensed version) is where I put down my anchor and build my foundation.

I stake my life on the fact that when God looks at me, He sees the precious blood of His Son - and it's all love all the time.

I didn't do one thing to earn it - and THANK YOU, GOD - I can't do one thing to "un" earn it.

This is the essence of the joy that I can find in the midst of whatEVER size I am, whatEVER I think about my own self on any given day and whatEVER cruddy 'ol situation I'm in. His unconditional, sure and secure love of me - as I am - is what gets me through.

There's NObody else on this earth that's ever gonna love me like that. Nobody. Ever.


Gina said...

I don't know how I found your blog but I'm so glad I did. You always seem to write exactly what I need to read! Your words minister to me.

I have 2 babies 14 months apart. Gained way too much weight. So I'm the largest I've ever been and staying home being a mom. I'm cherishing ever moment with them especially after reading your story about your daughter. BUT, there's lots of changes to adjust to!!
Please keep writing and we'll keep reading!
Take Care,Gina

Anonymous said...

Never feel that your life is not being used in mighty ways! We've never met, and God has used you so many times to speak volumes into my life through this blog!

I have 3 children under 4, and I could have written some of this post.

I LOVED thinking about the mother of the little boy packing that lunch. Thanks for that reminder. I really needed it!

Love, Kristin Amato