Sunday, October 14, 2012

On vanity and love

Two things God has been trying to work on in me recently are vanity and love of self. I know that sounds a bit conflicting, but bear with me.

Recently, while on vacation, I went to an event for some friends. While I was in town, I let them copy the event photos from my camera's memory card so they would have them, fully intending to post them to my own Facebook page soon.

But since I was on vacation, my Internet availability was spotty for a while. Before I knew it, one of my friends, in excitement, posted all of my photos to her page and tagged me in them before I could get to it. And I'm ashamed to say I threw a little tantrum about it. I knew as I was venting to my best friend how stupid and petty I sounded, but control had been wrested from me. There were photos of myself that I wouldn't have posted at all, much less tagged, because I felt I looked fat in them. Or others that had too much light exposure, so I would have tried to work them somehow, or cropped, before posting.

"What if some hot guy sees them and thinks I'm ugly?" I wailed to my best friend. "And I can't post them now because they'll be duplicated and people will think I'm stupid for posting photos that are already up," I added, pouting.

My very sensible best friend proceeded to talk me off the proverbial ledge.

"What hot guy are you thinking of?"

"I don't know. But there might be one."

"Ok, let's say there is a hot guy. Do you think his, or anyone's, first thought when looking at these pictures will be to immediately think 'Who's that fat girl'?"


"Of course not! And who looks through all of someone else's photos anyway? There will be plenty of people who haven't seen them. Just post them again."

"Ok, I guess."

Ultimately I realized how juvenile I was about it -- so vain to think that what I post is so interesting to every single one of the people who are my Facebook friends -- and let the issue go entirely. But as my vacation continued, I found myself asking the friend I was traveling with to -- here and there -- retake certain snapshots because I didn't like the original picture and thought wouldn't look good online. And that stopped me short. But Facebook wasn't ultimately the culprit. Sure, social media can feed the fire, but it was really the devil, whispering in my ear that I'm not good enough, that society is right and that only the thin are beautiful.

Generally pretty athletic all my life, I have struggled with my weight for years, most recently because of a hormone imbalance that makes it really hard for me to keep weight off. I can do it, and have done, working my way several years ago to losing 67 pounds. But it plagues me that, after succeeding so well, I managed to backslide and regain 30 of them. Work was stressful, I was (and still am) there a lot, my gym changed classes and some instructors left. Then there were months I didn't get to the gym at all, and my smaller clothes are now in Rubbermaid bins under my bed. Some days it feels like defeat, but at the same time I'm determined not to let it become one. It will be a challenge to regain that ground, but I know I can do it again.

The Lord knows our weaknesses. I sometimes forget to offer them to Him, to ask for His help, thinking I can do it all on my own. And that's the point where I usually trip up. For you it might not be weight. You might think you're too tall, or too short, or you hate your ears/nose/thighs/feet...insert any feature. It is so hard for us as women to love ourselves for who we are, or to think that anyone else, any man even, could possibly find us lovable and attractive, too.

And yet God created us in His image. It is something I, sadly, have a tendency to forget. I am His child, as are you. His love is always with me. God reminds me, with His grace, that I am so much more than a number on a scale. I am a daughter, sister, cousin, friend, and godmother, someone who's ability to love and comfort and laugh and sing and listen and advise and do my job well has absolutely nothing to do with that number. Should I try to be healthy? Of course. But should I let what size jeans I'm wearing determine my worth? Never. 

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