I stand on this dirt patch that my son likes to dig out of, feeling the damp cold underneath my toes left from the incessant amount of rain that happened over the weekend. It’s humid out here, but not the sweat-my-ass-off kind. There’s a slight coolness to the small breeze that passes over my face, bringing the aroma of summer grass mixed with the first stages of autumn leaves. It’s coming, I can feel it. Fall is almost here. It arrives late for us Floridians, but it arrives nonetheless; especially in North Florida.
The sound of dragon fly buzz accompanied by the songs of two different species of birds rings just loud enough to create an accompaniment track for outside speculating. Not too strong, as it often is in the woods, but just as you would expect for a rural part of town where nature collides a little less manicured with the modernization of human creation.
The muted sky is overcast, but the sun still shines through the clouds enough to make me squint, and I succumb to my closing eyes, taking it all in with my other four senses.
If I accomplish nothing else today, which may very well be the case, I can at least know that I’m valued. I believe it to be true; His Word tells me so. But He is reminding me with the dirt, and the breeze and the buzz and the light.
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.
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.
Ya’ll… I KNOW you remember this song. I’m sure some of you hate it as much as some of you love it and feel all 2005 when you hear it.
I have a necessary relationship with “Bad Day” by Daniel Powter.
2005-2006 was pretty rough for this chick. While 2005 was the year I graduated high school (which to this day was one of the most relieving and liberating days of my life), I also went through some rough transitions. Earlier in that year I was broken up with, which just SUCKED SO BAD at the time. It was the worst! And thinking about it now, I feel silly even bringing it up. But at the time, it was so devastating to me. (You can read all about it in my LiveJournal…. if you can find it).
So “Bad Day” along with Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You’ve Been Gone” got me through most of that. Oh, and Jesus… I guess. Or maybe it’s better put that Jesus allowed those songs to keep me going, since I really wasn’t going to surrender anything to him, even though I claimed that I was a Christian.
I also did a semester at FIU, which I was not excited about at all. So, 2005 was weird, but kind of normal life. Then 2006 happened. I can look back at 2006 and pinpoint what may have been the beginning of the #RealLife Sanctification process.
My family started falling apart at the seams. It was one of those things I think I always knew was going to happen, and it was like a waiting game to see when the shit would finally hit the fan.
It hit, and the fan flung suffering all over us.
An argument turned into chaos on the front yard which pushed me to slam pictures on the terrazzo tile inside because I couldn’t contain my sorrow and rage anymore. My sister disappearing into the dark night as my brother cried in the garage while begging me not to go stay at Jessica’s house.
(It is really hard for me to share those last two sentences, because it forces me to relive them. I’m still forgiving myself for leaving my little brother in that hell).
The rest of that year is still one of the most painful years I’ve ever known (although the past 6 months are really trying to top that). The chaos only kept on coming, to the point where my mom and I never knew if everyone was going to be alive by the next day. People at church treated me and my sister like outsiders. My life was literally falling apart and all I got was a lot of religious platitudes.
(Disclaimer: if we went to church together during this time, please don’t hear that as a condemnation on you or our Church. I was just as guilty of doing to others what ended up happening a little bit to me, so there is no judgement coming from me. We’re all sinners in need of grace).
For the sake of everyone’s dignity, I won’t share much more details of that year. But this song… this song stuck with me. Back when Motorola flip phones were cool, “Bad Day” was my ringtone for everyone. I just wanted to hear it anytime, all the time.
One of the only redeeming moments of 2006 was when I had to spend the day in Downtown Miami to 1) go to court over a parking ticket and 2) visit my dad in a psychiatric ward. So pretty much the two worst things ever. After court, I had time to kill, so I took the Metro Rail to Dadeland mall, and let someone put makeup on me in Macy’s. I don’t even know why I did that, but it made me feel better. I got back on the Metro Rail to go to the hospital, and my phone kept ringing…
Cause you had a bad day You’re taking one down You sing a sad song just to turn it around You say you don’t know You tell me don’t lie You work at a smile and you go for a ride You had a bad day The camera don’t lie You’re coming back down and you really don’t mind You had a bad day You had a bad day
I didn’t answer it. I wanted to keep hearing the song. In that moment, listening to “Bad Day” on the Metro Rail with my face fresh with makeup and strangers all around me, I felt like I was going to make it to 2007. I even started giggling, and said, “how bout you’ve had a bad year,” and giggled some more.
So, it’s 2014, and I’m still alive!
Maybe one day, ya’ll can convince me to talk about my closet ZAO obsession in 10th grade.