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Exactly How You Are, No Matter What…

Before I start, I just want to make sure you know that I don’t have this all figured out. I’m scared as hell to share this, but I’m going to share it anyway because it’s good for me and maybe it’ll be good for you too. I realize that everyone struggles with the black hole that is body issues, so forgive me if I slip up, say something insensitive, or just come off as stupid- I’m getting there. Let’s do this together. Be gentle to me, and to anyone else that gets involved in this conversation.

2010 to 2014

The picture to the left was taken on my wedding day in 2010. I weighed my lightest as an adult during this time, having eaten mainly spinach, black beans and brown rice for most of my meals for about six months prior to this day. Yeah, I know…. it was awful. Shortly before I moved to Lake City, Florida to plan my wedding, I was living in Central Florida, working a pedi-cab job. It was the worst job ever, but the one, incredible side effect of riding a bicycle with heavy tourists on the back of it down I-Drive was the awesome amount of exercise I got, and the EXTREMELY toned legs that I managed to keep until I became pregnant.

The picture to the right was taken a few weeks ago, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was speaking/singing at the Launch Out Conference and hanging out with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. When I first saw my pictures posted in our Facebook group, I’ll admit that I cringed a little.

I hate when pictures of me are released into the social media universe that I didn’t take, crop, edit and filter myself. When I have the control, I can manage angles and tricks that make me look a little more like the photo on the left, and not the real me, which is the photo on the right.

You know what’s sad? Even though 2010 Megan was the most fit I’d ever been, I was so unhappy with how I looked. I was at a great weight for my body type and structure, but I still hated myself. All of the “imperfections”- the little belly flab at the front, the butt that just seemed kinda boring, my untoned arms, the reality that I’ll always be tall and I’ll NEVER be petite. They all pissed me off. I don’t think I ever once looked in the mirror and felt ok.

5 years later? Battling the same self-loathing, painful insecurities, but with an extra 60 pounds.

Uggghhhh. That was so hard to type! But somehow I’ve felt like if I never say it (or type it) out loud, no one will know. As if other people don’t have eyeballs and CAN’T SEE that I’m obviously bigger than I was before.

God’s been slowly chiseling at this body idol for three years now. Year after year of starving, binging, work out fads, DIET trends, realizations, weep sessions on the floor, surrendering, starting over, failing again… the cycle on repeat, each time letting go a little more. For those of you who know me or have been reading my blog, you know this to be true. I am up and down and all over the place with my body.

But here’s the thing about that day when I saw my current pictures posted on Facebook- while I had that initial cringe-moment, it went away fast. Something happened (well, a lot of things happened) that weekend that changed the way I see myself. A something that finally exploded my body idol and sent the pieces flying every which way.

I saw through the extra 60 pounds, the mom jorts, and the messy hair and found my eyes. I found my facial expressions. My passionate hands.

I found my story. I found Megan.

The day prior to my presentation, a lovely lady named Amy Thames Latta, a personal fitness trainer, spoke about our bodies and our worth. I had literally met her two hours before she was up on stage, but as she was sharing, I felt like she knew and saw right through me. As she spoke, it dawned on me that this was the first time I had ever heard someone in the health and fitness realm say to a room of people all different shapes and sizes, “I’m going to stand here and tell you today that you are amazing, exactly how you are, no matter what…. I am telling you that you are worthy.” You can see her full talk here (do it- you won’t be sorry).

All of those precise, chiseling blows leading up to that one sentence that came out of Amy’s mouth. Looking at Amy and thinking that she looks perfect,wanting to be envious, those words flew at my gut and knocked the air right out of me (in a good way), flicking the tear switch on. I seriously just wanted to crawl up in a ball at Amy’s feet for the rest of her presentation and cry. That’s just so, SO CREEPY when you type it out, but whatever, you get it.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female, he created them. -Genesis 1:27

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. – Psalm 139:13-16

God- the Creator of the Universe. All perfect. All Knowing. All Enduring. The Weaver and Definer of love and beauty. The Master Potter. The Ultimate.

All of that and more… THAT is the image I get to bare. He is the one who holds, I’m talking LITERALLY HOLDS IN HIS HANDS my beauty.

My worth, in the possession of The Ultimate.

What does that mean for me? Well, it means that today I’m beautiful, even with an extra 60 pounds. It means that regardless of my weight, I’ll always have that little belly flab because I FREAKING BIRTH CHILDREN. My butt and my arms? They were fine in 2009, they are fine today and they will be fine 10 years from now. And my height? I’m tall, and that’s amazing. I get to have these long legs that carry me well and always make me a solid 6 steps ahead everyone else, and I don’t mean that figuratively. I’m seriously always walking in front of whoever I’m with. Their three steps to my every one step, it’s hilarious.

Now, I get to change that repeat lie from, “I’ll only be worth something if I eat well, exercise and lose weight” to, “ I can eat well and exercise because I’m worth it a million times!” I’m not under the naive impression that all I have to do is say that, and it becomes easier, because it doesn’t. But at least I believe the truth now. It’s just a matter of  submitting to the truth daily, saying it over and over to myself, retraining my brain to believe what is good.

Oh, and let me make something very clear. This isn’t a “praise the full-figured and shame the skinny” kind of blog post. I will admit- I’ve been guilty of saying some bitchy things about “skinny” girls, purely out of my jealousy and bitterness. As I’ve gotten deeper with a lot of women and have been building great friendships, I’ve discovered that every single one of us, size 2 to 22, struggle. The answer to changing the definition of beauty in our society is not to swing the pendulum to the other side that says, “Real women have curves.” Uggghh- that’s so mean!

Let’s be kind- first to ourselves, and then to each other. And that can only begin when we start listening to the truth.

You are amazing, exactly how you are, no matter what… I am telling you that you are worthy.

This is nothing new.

-MLW

Save-A-Lot

In preparation for small group on most Wednesdays, I usually end up having to go to the grocery store for an ingredient here or there. This week, as I was thinking about how this month is a tad tighter on the finances than others, Save-A-Lot came to my mind. “Well duh!” I said.

It was a really nice experience, as it usually is. I had a 5 minute conversation in aisle three with a White couple and a Black woman about the differences in chicken stock and chicken broth, to which none of us really knew any concrete answers.

As I walked down the back dairy aisle, a young man who was an employee there asked me how I was with a smile as he walked by.

Strolling towards check out, I listened to a Hispanic couple banter over what was in the cart in Spanish; and I understood a few words and smirked.

The cashier that rang up my items was an Older Black lady who seemed exhausted. It didn’t stop her from conversing with me over how cold it was, and followed that up with a genuine “have a wonderful day.”

I started to pile my food loot in a small box over on the box counter, and then realized a JCP bag was sitting there and opted for that instead. A Black man asked me how I was doing, and we talked about how the boxes always fall apart.

And then I was on my way.

As I pulled out of the Save-A-Lot parking lot, my inner dialogue began to kick in. “Why don’t I ever remember to go to Save-A-Lot? I save a crap load of money and I always meet someone nice.”

And then an uncomfortable wave of truth hit me. I don’t know why it didn’t happen until yesterday, because I swear I’ve asked myself that same question the few times I’ve left Save-A-Lot in the past.

But as I turned onto a road I was unfamiliar with, I realized something yucky: In my town, Save-A-Lot’s general customers are of all races and kinds of people.

And I’m a little bit of a racist. That’s why I don’t remember to shop at Save-A-Lot.

Even though I typed those 7 words last night, and probably am no where near my computer right now, I just felt all 6 of you that read my blog gasp in horror and judgement.

“HOW DAAAARRRREEEE YOU!” Well, calm down. Let me explain.

I don’t believe white people are superior than any and/or all of the other races.

The n-word absolutely repulses me, as well as other demeaning words used to stereotype and describe another race.

You will never see a bumper sticker on my car communicating to the cars behind me that other ethnic groups need to learn English (yes, I do think that is a subtle and incredibly arrogant form of racism)

The list could go on. I’m not a racist when it comes to some pretty obvious things.

I grew up in a home with a mom that was pretty sweet to everyone (including people who did not speak English, because she decided to learn Spanish to better connect with people in our town…) and a dad who claimed not to be racist, while saying some really racist things.

I lived in Miami, and on my first day of my freshmen year of high school, a group of tall Black boys came up to me. One of them grabbed my shirt and started to pull me towards a staircase, but in the nick of time a Black girl swooped in, grabbed my arm, and walked with me to my class (we ended up having the same first class anyway, which was awesome). I swear, I lived a real life “Save the Last Dance” situation, minus being a dancer and falling in love…. (and everything else).

I dated a Cuban guy, and my favorite thing about that time was being a part of his Hispanic family every now and then, soaking in how different they were from me and how awesome it was.

I was called “cracker” and “white girl” with a rude inflection tons of times, among many other things growing up. Every now and then I mustered up the courage to say something slick when someone said something rude to me for no reason, which led to several almost-ass kickings by swarms of Black and Hispanic girls. I also ended up being friends with lots of those girls towards the end of the school years. When you gotta sit in class with people for long enough, you realize you’re not that different.

My best friend in the whole world is a cornucopia of Hispanic heritages.

When Daniel and I were newly weds, we lived in a small house in Greer, South Carolina. Our quaint abode was a block away from a laundry mat, where I would walk with our dog Titan to wash our clothes. One time, as I was crossing the street, a Black lady in a car cut in front of me and told me in a generous amount of violent words to remove myself from the street or she was going to kill me.

KILL ME. For crossing the street.

I’ve had great and not-so-great experiences with other races. But the truth is, I’m a little skittish around people who aren’t quite like me sometimes. This is as uncomfortable for me to write as it is for you to read, but I would bet the majority of humans on earth would know this to be true if they were really being honest.

In reality, White folk have bruised me WAAAAAAYYYY more than any other race has. But white is more familiar. That isn’t so much true for my childhood, but it definitely has been for the past 9 years. I’m a white girl surrounded by a lot of white people a lot of the time. It’s what I’m used to.

So a white lady can be a big turd to me at Publix, and all the Black people in the world can treat me with all of the respect I [don’t] deserve at Save-A-Lot, but my inclination is usually and/or always  to go to Publix (or most recently Trader Joe’s, because #Awesome).

I am more comfortable with what’s familiar, and I sometimes equate “familiar” with “better” in my heart. Maybe not consciously, but it’s there.

That’s why I’m a little bit of a racist. I’m glad that I realized that while driving away from Save-A-Lot though, because I’d really rather not be. I’d like to be comfortable around all kinds of people all of the time.

I wanna make myself familiar with what I’ve become so unfamiliar with, because my Jesus made himself more than familiar with everyone.

This is where you come in. What do you think? How are you a little bit of a racist, or prejudiced at the very least? How do you want to change that?

Disclaimer: I’m absolutely not insinuating that only white People shop at Publix. That’s absurd. However, I do live in what is still considered a rural town, where there are still touches of segregation here and there, and grocery stores are where I’ve observed some of that. I know that in much larger cities like the one I grew up in, everyone shops everywhere.