I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined I could be a candidate for the sin of vanity. In fact, I might be a good choice for the category, “She just doesn’t care.” Or maybe, “It’s not the outer beauty that counts” award. I was good at caring just enough to make sure I didn’t go over the imaginary line I’d set for myself. After that, I could do what I wanted and it didn’t matter what others thought of me.
I didn’t think much of me. Why should I care what anyone else though?
However, something drastically shifted in my thoughts, about six years ago. Something that changed my perspective on beauty and aging and the human body in general. I don’t want to call it a wake up call. That would imply it was a good shift. Although what created the shift was good, the thought process, I’ve found to be damaging and unhealthy, especially if I linger too long on those thoughts.
I had my first child six years ago and some odd months. With my little bundle of joy came a massive weight gain (eighty-five pounds of it), decrease in energy levels, a hormonal apocalypse that sent me into alternating degrees of depression and mania. I found gray hairs, hairs in unwanted places, wrinkles where there had been none, and my body (which wasn’t enviable to begin with) no longer resembled ANYTHING of the young college student I once was.
See, I have always struggled with my weight. Due to recent diagnoses after years of searching for answers, I now know WHY I struggle. It doesn’t make the struggle any easier though. So I still fight every stupid pound that grows on me if I even LOOK at that chocolate cupcake.
The topping on the sundae came when my husband and I started our third Daniel fast in as many years. The first two were a breeze for me. I felt healthier, I felt stronger spiritually, and I lost weight. I know weight is not the main focus of a fast, but it’s still a great thing for a woman who has been clinging to those extra pounds she never lost after her first baby.
This third time was great spiritually. But physically, I’ve felt exhausted, I’ve gained weight instead of losing it, and I’m ALWAYS hungry – craving coffee and cheese mostly.
Last night, I finally broke. I was getting ready for bed and caught a glimpse of my figure in the mirror. And I realized just how vain I’d become. No longer did I care less about myself.
Now, I care too much about what my outward appearance says.
And my outward appearance last night said, “Unlovable, ugly, overweight, wrinkly, frumpy, unwanted, undesirable, unnecessary.”
Fortunately, my husband was there to catch me as I fell. I don’t want to know where that particular dark road would have led. I’m still reeling from it this morning as I try to smile at the kids and pretend I don’t feel old and faded.
Thing is, I’m not that old. I’m thirty, still relatively healthy, with hopefully many more years ahead of me to live and enjoy. I have a beautiful family, a Good God, a great community around me. I have everything I will ever need.
So why does that woman in the mirror, looking back at me, scare me so much? Why do the wrinkles and gray hairs and aching joints send me into an emotional tailspin? Why should it matter to me so much, that I break down and cry over a few extra pounds and curves in places only I can see? I’ve cared about it before, but not enough to make me hysterical.
I’m well aware of the natural progression of things. You get older each year you’re alive. You go gray, you start to sag, you wrinkle, and sometimes you lose your mind.
When I broke down, I cried harder because I couldn’t remember if I was thirty or thirty-one. My husband did the math for me, but for some reason it didn’t help. I just cried harder.
I don’t have pat answers or a ready comfort for those of you who suffer from this issue. I’m going through it and it’s too close for me right now. I’m just trying to remind myself that these emotions and feelings will pass and my husband still finds me attractive and my God still loves me no matter what.
Those sentiments will work eventually. But for now, I’m grieving and that’s okay too.