Ever since I was a little girl one of my main objectives was to be beautiful. I wanted to be Ariel with her long red hair, tiny waist, and perfect …. Seashells. This desire to be found beautiful is natural but as I got older it took on an unfortunate bent. In high school I was completely preoccupied with looking as good as I possibly could and drove my parents crazy with my vain and shallow pursuits. When I became pregnant with my son I was 17 years old and very slim. Everything about me was slim except for my very … er, generous, behind. By the time my son was born I had gained nearly 60 pounds and there was nothing tiny about me, the rest of me had finally caught up with my backside.
To this very young, self-absorbed, and shallow now 18 year old it was utterly unacceptable. I gave the whole ‘diet and exercise’ thing a flimsy try but I didn’t get instant results and within a few months I had become bulimic and was severely abusing diet pills.
The first five years or so it wasn’t even a fight, I had no problem with my eating ‘habits’ as I called them. It wasn’t true Bulimia, I reasoned because I could stop if I wanted to. I just didn’t want to. I had found the perfect solution. I could eat whatever I want and stay very thin. I scorned other women with their self control and diets. No, I had found a better way, I was sure of it.
All during this time I was new Christian, seeking God and trying to become more like Him, but it’s a process. I do not discount the validity of my Salvation back then just because I was stupid. It was sin, but at first I didn’t even know it! He is gentle and walks us forward into new levels with Him as we continue to draw nearer to Him.
It wasn’t until I had been a Christian for nearly six years that conviction began to really weigh on me. I felt God speaking to me daily telling me I was beautiful to Him and would remain so without my ‘special habits’ if I would just trust Him. It was another few months before I even made the decision to stop and found to my complete surprise that it wasn’t just a matter of deciding to. It took me picking up my sword, so to speak, and fighting with everything I had.
I brought everything in to the light. I told everyone; my husband, my parents, my friends, and life group ladies, anyone that I might possibly be around when I ate. I told them all my tricks to avoid detection and signs to watch for. I withheld no avenue by which I might later, in weakness, continue my destructive habits. But even so it still took several years to reach any level of freedom in that area and then came the really hard part … the part I’ve been wrestling with for the last two years. Accepting the weight I can healthily attain. *sigh*
For some reason I see beauty easily in others. I love me some plus size beauty, hotties with ample breasts, soft curves, and big backsides are easy for me to appreciate when I see them. I root for and cheer on any plus size woman I see taking on the entertainment world or stepping out in to the public eye. Even within my church I get really excited when I see women who don’t fit the size 2 mold on our worship team at church or joining the dancers for our annual Christmas musical at Gateway. You don’t have to be a tiny woman to know how to movvvvvvvve it.
But when it comes to myself all that evaporates and for the longest time I would get depressed and just SO upset when my clothes from before didn’t fit me. When I stepped into my latest level of freedom from eating disorders my weight settled at one size larger than before. It was just big enough of a gain that nothing fits quite right but not bad enough that I had the undeniable need to get new clothes. So I continued to try to ‘diet’ the right way and get back to my previous size. Over and over I would try to squeeze into my old clothes and barely manage- just to feel disgusting as the clothes squeezed all the wrong places and created bulges that just affirmed my feelings of disgust.
It wasn’t until recently that God began to show me that for the last two years I have been praying a prayer for less than His best in regards to myself. I had been praying for Him to help me lose the 10-15 pounds I had gained when I quit my destructive habits for good. I had been begging Him to help me fit in my old clothes again. I would strive and strive to try to get back to the weight I had maintained while Bulimic, eating the very minimum of what I could and still stay in the ‘healthy’ caloric count.
It was only within the last month that I began to see that what I need is to ask Him to redefine Beauty for me. Where did I get my definition in the first place? From Ariel. Perpetually 16 Ariel. Never having borne children Ariel. Ummm, I had never really thought about it, but that’s really stupid considering … She’s a freaking CARTOON! It makes me laugh but I had never realized that as a child I had set my ideal for beauty based on the Disney princesses with their long flowing hair, (but I am still SO not cutting my hair!) tiny waists, and perfect breasts. They have perfect skin and manicured nails; they have beautiful voices and always win the prince. To me that was beauty.
I’m not bashing the Disney princesses, I think they’re fun; the damage was done by me. When I became a Christian I never went back and asked Christ to redefine some very important issues for me. The main two being beauty and sexuality (but that’s a story for another blog). So I tried to fit my new self into my old definitions and it brought nothing but pain. The world’s definition for a lot of very important words is a complete mess.
So here I am, starting from scratch, asking my Father to help me discover what He says is beautiful. I am relearning and having to take every thought about myself captive and hold it up to the measuring stick I have in the Word to see if it’s a keeper or not. It’s a lot of work but I am confident that as I discover His truth, I will discover again that the freedom I have attained is only the tip of the iceberg- He has so much more for you and I!