As I began to approach the age of 40, about six months prior to that, weight started creeping up on me out of nowhere at an increasing pace. All of my life I was the type of person that could eat whatever I wanted, however much I wanted, never diet or exercise, and always stay the same tiny me. But as I began to approach this new decade of life, my whole body changed, and so did my way of thinking. I was disgusted with myself and embarrassed for anyone who had known me before to even see me...or anyone at all really). I stopped going to church and to my church groups, stopped going out for coffee with friends, stop doing outings with my kids. For the first time in almost 20 years, I actually had to buy bigger sized clothes. I sunk into somewhat of what I would describe as a light depression, barely leaving my room and never wanting anyone to come over, not even wanting to run up to town to the grocery store.
Funny thing is, no one else seemed to notice. My family did not blink an eye, my friends made no notations as to any difference in me, I still made new friends everywhere I went, and my children still hugged and loved on me like always. You see, I was the only one who noticed my jeans size went from a size 5 to a size 8...no one else did. Others were too busy focusing on the REAL me. My smile, my hugs, my bubbly laughter, my passion to serve, my love for my children, my excitement at packages in the mail, my scrumptious goodies I bake up and love to share with people wherever I go. Yes, they were seeing the real ME. Not some superficial hope or vision, not a jeans size, not a bigger-than-I-used-to-be person. Because to them I am still normal size, somewhat small still, actually. It was MY vision of myself that was causing pain and disruption in my life...a vision that no one else seemed to see.
One evening as I laid in bed watching yet another episode of House Hunters (TV seemed to be all I did anymore), I felt The Lord touch my shoulder and the Holy Spirit began whispering truths of Scripture into my ear and heart:
"Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the I fading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." (1 Peter 3:4 NIV)
"Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the fear-of-God." (Proverbs 31:30 MSG)
"The Lord doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but The Lord looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7 NLT)
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well." (Psalm 139:13-14 NIV)
You see, I was the one who had stopped loving myself simply based on changes in my physical appearance. This girl, who has wanted all of her life for people to just love her regardless of what's on the outside, had stopped loving herself in that same way. My family felt no differently towards me, neither did my friends. My God certainly felt no less towards me. My heart did not change, only the temporary vessel that houses it did. Jesus reminded me of that. He reminded me that even if I'm pale white, full of stretch marks from birthing 6 children, have a freckle or mole here and there, or even 20 extra pounds. With all of these imperfections I am more beautiful than I ever was at a size 5 with perfect skin. Because I have the love of Jesus in my heart now. I have accepted him as My Savior, and he finds me undeniably and seamlessly beautiful. That is the way he always has seen me and always will. That is the kind of beauty I want to strive for, beauty that radiates The Lord...and each day leaves less and less of "me". Those who will shutter at my outward appearance or imperfections are not those who are looking at me through a heart of love in Christ, and that is one way God shows us who to weed out of our gardens.
I am grateful for my imperfections, I am grateful for finally being able so see myself as Jesus does. I may work on shedding the new pounds attached to me over time, but right now I love exactly who I am, and I am embracing all of the changes this new season is providing. It may mean I stay single forever if a potential mate can't look past the fleshly imperfections...but it means I will never truly be alone again because I am beautiful and favored through Jesus. So yes, I may work on losing these extra pounds someday...maybe...