I’m paraphrasing here, but I once read an interview with Gwen Stefani in which she admitted that she mainly stayed in shape because she loved clothes and wanted to be an-easy-to-dress size.
Beginning in middle school, I loved clothes, too. But I stayed in shape—if you could even call it that—because it gave me a sense of control when my world had gone pear shaped from my parents’ divorce. (I also desperately believed that, contrary to all genetic evidence to the contrary, I would be a 5-foot-10 runway model.)
Obsessed with being thin, I skipped meals, cut calories, tracked every sit-up, occasionally threw up and taught myself to love the deep pang of hunger.
I wish I could tell you that I had a sudden epiphany. That the Archangel Gabriel himself appeared to me as if I were the Virgin Mary and was like, “Girlfran, you unhealthy. Here’s a calzone.”
However, the only tangible “ah ha” moment I can recall is at 18 or 19 years old, seeing an early high school picture of myself and finally seeing just how thin I was. How much my clavicle protruded. (If you had asked me when that picture was taken, I would have told you I was fat, at 5-foot-six and 111 pounds.)
I’m not really sharing this so you can hear how I “beat” an eating disorder. I don’t even know how I got past it without deeper scars. And I do sometimes turn back into the 16-year-old me. My poor, dear former roommate once watched me have a borderline panic attack after I moved in and we ordered Chinese food. Jon has seen me have a silent meltdown in Noodles & Co. It happens.
No, I’m sharing this because we all at one time or another have a god, lowercase ‘g’, that we worship.
For so long, food was my god. It was all I thought about. I tracked it, read about it, wrote it down, added it up.
Which is why I’m so, over-the-moon thankful for a true God who patiently waited for me to find Him again and put Him back at the center of my life. Because of Him, I can always go back to what I know to be true. I can go back to real love that’s not a number on a scale.
Before the wedding, I started working with a trainer. My weight was pretty low from taking spin classes, and I wanted someone who would help me *gasp* gain muscle. And let’s get this straight—I am not what any rational human would call “athletic.” I grew up showing horses and taking ballet, but I do not, how you say (French accent), “sport”?
She is someone who has shown me that strong is absolutely gorgeous and that it’s actually pretty awesome if I lose my thigh gap. I’m slowly but surely making the mental shift from desperately wanting to be thin to anxiously waiting for new muscles to show themselves.
And how to show myself a little bit of grace in the process.
3 Ways to Show Yourself Grace
According to Kristin Neff, Ph.D., associate professor in human development at the University of Texas at Austin, studies have shown that self-criticism can lead to lowered self-esteem, anxiety and depression.
Not enough evidence for you? How about this: I believe that you were made on purpose and for a purpose. Do you believe that someone as powerful as God (you know, “creator of heavens and the Earth,” “Alpha and Omega”…that God) would make a mistake on his own creation? Nay, I say.
So how can you start to show yourself a little grace?
- Strive for progress, not perfection. I am a card-carrying perfectionist. It took me a long time realize that perfection is literally impossible, but progress is measurable and beautiful.
- Know that grace was already freely given to you. The first time I read this verse from 2 Corinthians in my senior year of college, it blew.my.mind. “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” You mean it’s OKAY if I’m weak, because God can WORK in those cracks?! That’s some really good news for crazy, broken people like me.
- Believe that you are here for a reason. If you struggle with your relationship with food, your body or any other “god,” know that you are infinitely loved by the Creator of the stars. He made you on purpose and for a purpose. You were not a mistake and you are here for a reason, dear girl.
If you can relate to this on any level, leave me a comment here or let me know on Instagram. I would so love to hear what your struggles are and how you’re working through them, or how I can help support you.