You’re fat. Lose weight.
Well, I’m paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it. I stared at the letter in disbelief as the tears started the trek down my hot cheeks.
It had arrived in the mail from an anonymous friend who’d said she’d noticed I’d put on some weight and suggested I lose a few.
“Anonymous” obviously knew me. Within the last year, I’d had a baby, my fourth child, and I still couldn’t zip my pre-baby jeans.
The note confirmed what I already believed about myself but didn’t want to say out loud. I’m fat. I wore the fat on the outside. Everyone could see it.
The note spoke to the feeling I wore on the inside, where no one could see it: I’m not enough.
I Knew I Had To Lose Weight
Well, the “friend” turned out to be a weight loss company. The letter? Part of an ad campaign. The company had sent out “anonymous” hand-written notes from “friends” with an ad for a weight loss product attached.
The success of the campaign depended on me–and people like me–feeling bad about myself and wanting a change.
The note had hit its mark.
After reading it, right on cue, the insecurities thinly concealed by a thick layer of skin came crawling to the surface.
I made a plan. I’d go to the gym five times a week (two times a day). I’d restrict my diet to 1,000 calories. No sugar, no white flour. I’d only drink water. And I’d keep my house cleaner, fold my laundry, and cook dinner every night. It’s amazing what shedding a few pounds could do. It would give me a sense of worthiness, change my life.
Insecurities Don’t End With Body Image
It’s been years since that day in my kitchen, but I still remember that desperate, girl with 14 pounds of left-over baby weight, who never felt like she measured up. I eventually lost the weight, but the girl still lived inside me. The number on the scale was the only thing that changed. My house wasn’t cleaner. My laundry wasn’t folded, and the pizza guy still rang my bell a few nights a week.
I was still plagued by doubt, rejection, and fear. Still plagued by a lack of self-worth the letter had initially tapped in to. I was still frustrated by trying to live up to other’s expectations.
And, I was still riddled with envy and self-loathing when I compared myself to women who never seemed to struggle with laundry, cooking, weight . . . or confidence.
Why did everyone seem to be able to do it so much easier than me?
Dear Younger Me…
I wish I could’ve told that girl in my kitchen that day all she suspected was true. Her house would never be clean enough, her laundry would never be folded, and she should buy stock in the pizza company.
But that doesn’t mean she’s not enough.
I would’ve told her when she imagined other families sitting down to a home-cooked, Pinterest-worthy meal as the pizza boy rang her doorbell for the third time that week, to remember Romans 8:1, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (NIV)” and know she’s worthy.
I’d remind her–when she’s tempted to feel bad about herself when she logs on to Facebook and reads someone’s endearing love letter to their spouse on their anniversary or when she sees someone whose kid was inducted into National Honor Society when her own kids struggle in school– to stop and remember she’s not striving to someone else’s standard.
Through God’s Eyes
My challenge is to embrace the standard of the God who made me. And strive to live His way.
I’d tell her to have faith to dance in the ashes instead of being defeated by jealousy.
I’ll never measure up in my own eyes, so I have to evaluate myself through the eyes of Christ.
Through His lens, my imperfections make me who I am. And that will always be enough. And 14 extra pounds of baby fat, or unfolded laundry or fast food meals will never change that.