November 22, 2011

Grateful For Trials

I wanted to do a post about gratitude, since it's Thanksgiving and all, but I didn't want it to be normal post that anyone/everyone could write... I wanted something more personal/meaningful to me as an individual. So here goes...

At church a few weeks ago we had a lesson about gratitude that got most of us thinking. There are so many things to be grateful for, such as:
I am grateful for an outrageous hospital bill, because it means I have health care.
I am grateful for being so tired I can't see straight, because it means I have a BABY.
I am grateful for dirty dishes, because that means I have food to eat.

Anyway, you get the idea. It was very inspiring. I don't much talk about the happy things in my life. It's not that I'm a negative person, although it might seem that way... it's really because of a couple things combined. First, I'm superstitious (sp?). You know how some people "knock on wood?" Well, I just don't chance it at all. If I speak out loud that something is going well, it's sure to fall apart immediately. And seriously, who needs that? LOL. Might sound silly, but I honestly feel that way. And conversely, if I complain about something being bad, it's not only cathartic but it also means that it should get better... right? *Okay, I seriously need therapy.* Haha.

While those are two small reasons, I also have two big reasons. First of all, most people hold their griefs and sorrows inside and show a mask of false happiness. That usually means they are too ashamed/afraid/whatever of sharing their pain. I am just the opposite. I refuse to feel ashamed of my hardships and trials. They are something which I experience, not something that I AM. They are not part of my identity. I can stand in the rainstorm and get soaked to the bone, but I am NOT the rain itself. Eventually I will dry off and it will be just another experience that I went through. I don't let my pains define me. Also, sharing your struggles almost always opens the door for someone else to share theirs with you, someone who might have otherwise suffered in silence... and because I share my pain, they share theirs, and both of us gain support.  I consciously make an effort to be open about my trials in order to open that door to others.  BUT my joys and happiness are extremely personal to me. I hold onto them down deep in my soul, and I do not like to share them with others very much. They are too personal and sacred to me for that. Still I often wonder if all this makes me seem ungrateful. I am not. But I digress.

Back to being grateful for my trials...
I am grateful that I have trials and hardships, because they make me turn to and rely on my Savior.
I am grateful for a heavy load, because trying to lift it makes me stronger.
I am grateful for tears, because they cleanse the soul.
I am grateful for mastitis, because it means that I was able to breastfeed for a while.
I am grateful for difficulties in my marriage, because working through them makes our marriage stronger.
I am grateful for the pain of death, because it means that I have love in my life.
I am grateful for difficult experiences, because they give me empathy.
I am grateful for when my trials become too much to bear, because I know that God will make all things possible and either make me stronger, lighten the load, or carry it for me.

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13.  Even more profound for me on this subject is Romans, chapter 8. Go and read it, it's too long for me to type here. :)

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Be grateful for all that you have... joys and pains, because they go hand in hand.

February 14, 2011


I've never had much of a self image problem. I mean, I was a horrible nerd growing up, seriously a big big nerd. But I liked me. It used to be so hard for me to understand why people couldn't just accept themselves. I mean, who cares what anyone else thinks, right? Then my body had a civil war.

I know that I've talked about this a bit before, and it's not the point of the post, so basically... After a full year of being misdiagnosed, and being treated like a lazy fat cow by medical "professionals," I finally had a doctor actually listen to me... and discover my that my thyroid was killing itself. Being on medication has stabilized my weight.... But in that year of unchecked thyroid craziness, I gained a full 100 pounds. And I just can't seem to lose it. I've tried and tried. It's just not budging.

I don't know if anyone else knows what that's like exactly. Next time you go to the store, pick up 2 pair of jeans. A size 10 and a size 24. Hold them up next to each other and appreciate the difference. I was a size 10 at the beginning of the year, and a size 24 by the end. I feel like I'm stuck in a fat suit and can't get out. This isn't my body, is it?

It's been about 3 years since the big fat event, and sometimes I can actually like myself when I look in the mirror. At least I can think I kind of look cute, or not so bad... as long as I'm alone... as long as no one is there to tell me otherwise. But inevitably, on those "good" days, some "helpful" well meaning person will say or do something that cuts me so deeply that I remember why I hate what's looking back at me in the mirror. I mean, why even try to look nice when the best you can look is just "good enough." I never feel pretty anymore. I never think I look nice. No matter how cute the clothes, no matter how much make up, I'm always in there looking fat and ugly. You can only do so much, and most days I just roll my eyes and say "this is just how I look now... this is as good as it gets."

I guess I'm thinking about this today because of some helpful comments from close friends and family. You know the kind. You love them and they are wonderful people, but they just don't understand. People who are disappointed in me for being pregnant because it means I can't continue to diet... and those who think that pregnancy makes no difference, I'm so fat I should diet anyway and surely the baby will have ample fat storage to live off of for 9 months. Nevermind that it would be seriously harmful for the baby, they are sure that I'm fat enough that it wouldn't matter. I have now lost a full 10 pounds to morning sickness. I guess I just expect people to feel sorry for me, or even slightly concerned, or maybe just to smile knowingly and say something encouraging or meaningless. But not to say they are "so proud" of me for being able to lose the weight, and to encourage me to "keep it up."

I get it. I'm fat. I need to lose weight. But I am more than just fat. I am loving. I am funny, or at least I think I am. I am a mother who sacrifices every day to do the best I can for my child. There is so much more to me than the fat. There is so much more to being beautiful than looking nice, or being at a certain body fat percentage, or fitting into the right clothes. When I'm around people, I hear so much negative about myself. SO MUCH. I wonder what they hope to gain by saying such things. Do they really think I don't know I'm fat? Do they really think that saying those things will HELP me lose weight? Don't you think I could at least get a break during pregnancy? I can't wait until I'm far enough along that people will think I have a pregnant belly, not just a fat one.

But when I'm alone, I hear another voice, deep inside me. It speaks of real beauty and real worth. I remember how beautiful my grandmother was, and how nice it was to get a soft hug from a pillowy person. She was beautiful, even if she was a little "soft." She was beautiful because she loved. She sacrificed and worked and loved. You felt better just being around her. It didn't matter if she had done her hair, or changed out of that ugly dressing gown, she was just beautiful. She was real. She was warm. She was soft and overweight and loving and PERFECT.

Those women in the magazine that are so "perfect" and "beautiful" seem so cold. There's no warmth coming from them. Their eyes are glassy. (I'm not saying they're bad people. I don't know them and probably some of them are beautiful inside as well, but that isn't what's being advertised.) I don't want to be like that. I want to be real and warm and soft. I want to be beautiful because of who I am and what I do, not because of how much I've starved myself or how much I've spent on my clothes.

Losing weight would be great, and I'm not saying that I won't try to be healthier. But it is not the most important thing in the world. I guess I feel like I just want to be happy and content... grateful for what I do have, not constantly berating myself for not having, or being, something different.... and I'm just wishing that other people could want that for me too... or at least shut up about what THEY want for MY life. I can accept that I'm overweight. I can be okay with it. I can like myself and move on with my life. I can do good things, and be a good person. I can love and be beautiful because of who I am. I can look in the mirror and see someone who is hugely blessed with a body that works, that walks, that thinks... that makes babies!!! I can feel beautiful because when my little boy looks at me, all he sees is someone who loves him. And that's really what beauty is all about...