We’re now in the midst of the Gymnastics Olympic Trials. The men finished up a few weeks ago and the women’s competition starts this weekend, which means a 2 am wake-up call to watch the results live. /Thanks West Coast./ Gymnasts are the picture of health. The way they eat, the way they fuel their body, their mental stamina, and for many a reliance and faith in God that inspires all who listen to their story.
These competitions remind me of my first nationals with USA Gymnastics. It was August 2014 and I was in the media room where we had ample free food available at our command. And I ate and I ate and I ate. 2,3,4 pieces of cake a day and I didn’t even shutter. But running a meet of that magnitude requires stamina of a different sort and I was exhausted. My joints screamed under the mass amount of weight I had allowed to build up over the years. My pants ready to burst at every turn and movement. And then I saw them: The gymnasts. I’ve been around gymnasts for a long time but never surrounded by the elite this world has to offer and I wanted to change. Right then. I wanted to be healthy, to not worry if the only pair of pants I could fit into were going to burst on national television, to not have the non self-control that had plagued me my whole life feeling guilty at church potlucks for over eating, for sneaking candy, for drowning my sorrows in food.
And so I did just that. I made a commitment to change my life, my view about food, and my reasons for wanting to change. That’s been one of the best parts about Germany. My move here has changed my view on how to be healthy, specifically on incorporating small healthy choices into my daily routine that, over time have had an incredible impact on my health.
Some days I don’t see the change. I still see that girl with the broken body looking in the mirror and then I receive little love notes from God, ( or so my mom calls them.) The picture on the left , (which popped up in my facebook memories,) was from 2 years ago today (prior to my health commitment,) and the picture on the right – from just two weeks ago.
As my body has become healthier, as the weight disappeared, I had an expectation that the negative comments surrounding it for years would similarly disappear. They haven’t, in fact just the opposite. They’ve increased.
- You’re prettier with make-up on.
- Why do you hide behind your glasses?
- You’re prettier without make-up on.
- Why do you wear make-up? You look fake.
- Your arm still hangs down.
- If you would only put on a little make-up and change your clothes maybe men would notice you.
- Don’t you want a husband? You’ll have to dress better than that.
- Try wearing a different bra.
- You can’t do your make-up very well, so why bother?
These are ACTUAL statements people have told me. MANY in just the last 3 weeks or several months. But some I’ve hear for a good deal of the last two years.
They sting but my identity is in Christ and so my outward being doesn’t define me.
But what I am learning, is that my outward and physical being DO affect my spiritual being. It’s not a looks thing, though it may have started out that way… It’s a health thing. And more than a physical health thing, it’s a God thing.
And so while strong-willed and firm in my identity, in addition to being solidly set in a consistent two-year journey, I may be able to brush things off easier than others, (although comments about my face still affect me more than they should,) may I attempt to encourage you to not comment on each other’s appearance in a negative light?
Aside from close – I’m talking very close – accountability dealing with matters of unholiness, telling me, or your sister, or girlfriend, daughter, or husband, or whomever that I or they look better with/without make-up, or hair down, or that they should lose a few pounds…WHATEVER, Don’t. It’s not appropriate.
And quite frankly, it says more about what is inside your heart than the struggles and sin and or body issues they may be dealing with. Perhaps it was all they could do to get out of bed that morning. Perhaps it was the first time they’ve ever looked in the mirror and learned to love and accept the body they have. Perhaps they are proud of the muscle they’ve developed even if the definition of it isn’t “Magazine Perfect.”
If you’ve said these things to me, I’m not looking for an apology. If you’ve said or thought these things about others, don’t feel guilty. I’m not on a pedestal looking down because I’m guilty too. And I’m most definitely am not aiming to make you feel bad, in fact, quite the opposite. I aim to encourage you so that you may in turn encourage someone else, because you never know when those words might be a turning point of some magnitude in someone else’s life and in turn for the kingdom of God.
In truth, when we are healthy and without physical distraction, how much more effective can we be?
For me, my end-goal isn’t wordy descriptions of beauty. My end-goal isn’t a certain size on the one pair of jeans I will ever own. My end-goal is not a husband.
My goal is God and my aim is living this healthier life now for me to serve him better.
I am a cherished and wonderfully made child of God and so are you! And treating me or anyone else as anything less undermines God and his creation in us. For his masterpiece is found in all shapes and sizes, both inwards and out.
This time in Germany has presented me with both the most uplifting and the most challenging moments of my life. I have no family here to run to. I have only God. And what a blessing that is because my choice is to lean on him or fail.
I feel bold enough to speak on this because I believe that my story, my faith, and my experiences can hopefully be able to give back.
So much love. So many Hugs. And as always blessings to my friends and family both far and near!