Posted in "Normal", Body Image, Family, Learning Confidence, Motherhood

My daughters make me beautiful

 

I still don’t know if I genuinely believe the title I just typed above…but I’m trying.

It never really hit me when Viv was born how she would feel about me or herself. I mean, focusing on keeping the tiny infant asleep and/or fed was more than enough for my brain to handle at the moment. But being pregnant with another daughter now while watching Vivianne grow into a smart, walking, talking, little person has really opened my eyes to my concept of how we identify beauty in ourselves and in others.

There are endless posts these days about mothers accepting and loving their stretch marks. Recently, I’ve also seen a lot of mothers suggesting that the are working on loving themselves mainly because little eyes and ears are always around us. Those little eyes and ears will soak in that negative body image you have of yourself faster than a sponge. And right now, both of those sentiments are hitting me pretty hard (and probably only about half of that is because of the pregnancy hormones)

I’ll admit, loving my outer appearance is not my go-to. I hide from pictures, focus on flaws in the mirror, and complain about my looks to my husband probably more than the average gal. And it has been that way ever since I can remember learning the words “thigh fat”. I’m not proud of it and I’m not done with it, but that’s where I find myself. Especially now as my oldest is giving my eyes dark circles and my youngest is pushing the baby bump she is creating in place of my “waistline” a little further out every day.

Recently, though, after apologizing to my husband for the billionth time about looking like a bum in public, Vivi caught my eye and I realized…she doesn’t care. She doesn’t care that my eyeliner isn’t perfect. She doesn’t care that my hair is more dry shampoo than follicle. She doesn’t care that more of me jiggles than I’d like…and in fact, she likes laying on Momma more than Daddy most days because I’m “softer”. She loves her Momma for so much more than those things and the way I look probably doesn’t even factor an ounce into that love. (Coincidentally, she also hasn’t looked in a mirror and is completely herself with wild hair flowing, stained romper outfit and skinned up knees. But I couldn’t love her any more either.)

I also know that, despite all my work and constant reminders to myself and to her about what beauty actually is, eventually this culture will teach her that she has to care. That she has to always look a certain way and dress a certain way and act a certain way. I’m terrified of that day. There are so many things I want to freeze for her now including this genuine love of people despite appearance. But here in this moment, I am settling on the vow not to add to that overpowering voice.

I will love myself for her…and for her sister…and for me.

I will stop dwelling on scale numbers and acne scars.

I will praise God for the beauty of my body that has carried children and groceries and the weight of the world at times.

I will revel in true beauty that comes directly from God and do my best to give that beauty back to Him and the people he has trusted into my care.

 

Your adornment should not be an external one: braiding the hair, wearing gold jewelry, or dressing in fine clothes, but rather the hidden character of the heart, expressed in the imperishable beauty of a gentle and calm disposition, which is precious in the sight of God.

~1 Peter 3:3-4

Posted in "Normal", Faith, Learning Confidence

I am a horrible person…an ongoing saga

This thought runs through my mind several times a day. Sometimes several times an hour. Most recently, I overheard a coworker talking about how wonderful her daughter, someone I know, is at being a working mother and reflecting deeply on her experiences and on and on and on. She is a proud mom, I get that. But my automatic response was 1)Insecurity 2)Inadequacy 3)Jealousy 4)Anger.  These are old friends who visit me often…and I hate them.

IIJA (I don’t feel like writing the words every time so let’s go with this) is something that pushes me in a hole that takes me forever to work my way out of and has so many triggers. My housemates, people from my past, my saint of a husband, work criticisms…really anything. I’m so susceptible to these enemy attacks.

And I know without a doubt that is exactly what it is: an Enemy attack. And, boy, is he good at it.

I haven’t figured out a good counter-attack yet. I’m trying my best to pray for those who trigger me and hold the spotlight of my anger. I’m trying my best to “keep my eyes on my own paper”. I’m trying my best to love myself as God loves me.

I’m trying. I’m usually failing. But, with the loving support of my family, I move forward and try again.

Pray for me as I pray for you.

Posted in Faith, Humility, Jesus, Learning Confidence

The Sunshine Transition

 

Has anyone ever told you that  “things will look better in the morning”?

I was never a fan of that saying…I’m not a huge fan of any of those phrases that people throw out there when they really don’t know what else to say. “It is what it is.” “Whatever will be will be.” And don’t get me started on “everything happens for a reason”…gag

But, getting back to the hand at order, I’m so bad at see things better in the morning. In fact, its usually the opposite for me. I’ll have all my great ideas and dreams in the evening and, come morning, when I’m reviewing them in the shower…where all good reflections occur… I begin to crumble. My resolve weakens and, when faced with the actual idea of putting my thoughts into actions, my confidence plummets.

I’ve termed this personal phenomenon the “sunshine transition”, as if any ray of light that touches my hopes and dreams turns them into the scared mice I try to ignore the signs of in my pantry.

It happens more than I would like it to. Apparently, I’m a very brave person after the dinner hour and can solve all of the world’s problems, but only in theory. Because when the sun comes up, the doubt comes with it.

What if I don’t have all the facts? What if the person I need on my side doesn’t agree? What if I make a fool of myself? What if I fail?

The last two are the hardest: failure, or even the appearance of failure, have kept me from many things and still haunt most of my decision making processes. I feel that today. I will probably feel that in some way 20 years from now.

But what does failure do? It proves that I’m flawed and broken and vulnerable. It shows that I’m not in charge. It reminds me that I’m in desperate need of a Savior.

So, I will try to choose to let the sunlight in and not be afraid. I will remind myself that it’s not my job to be perfect, it’s my job to try. And, most of all, I will once again surrender to my calling to let Jesus be my Savior, because I would be a really bad one.

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Posted in Faith, Learning Confidence, Love, Marriage

I hate the Internet

I know today is about love. I get that. I also (obviously) don’t really hate the Internet…I’m being dramatic. I’m a girl on Valentine’s Day, totally to be expected.

But, at the very least, I’m not very happy with parts of the Internet at them moment. And, like most of the times when I’m angry or hateful, it’s myself that I’m actually mad at and not the person/thing/website.

And here’s the deep dark secret: My name is Jen and I’m a Comparison Addict. (“Hi, Jen,” say the disembodied voices in my head) It’s horrible. I can go to the darkest hole of pity and self loathing with the snap of your fingers. And the biggest obstacle is the fact that I spend a (much too) big portion of my life looking at other people’s lives on a screen.

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I think I would have done better in a life before the Internet. Granted, I wouldn’t have traveled beyond my street because my sense of direction without a GPS can be equated to that of toddler who was just spinning in circles for 18 minutes straight. But, I yearn for a time when I didn’t have filtered, perfect smiles mocking me and my unwashed hair. I need to be able to get through a day without someone having a thought that makes me question my own existence. And the cheesy couple posts…ugh don’t get me started. If it’s possible, I couldn’t loathe/love anything more.

Case in point: My husband sent me roses today. Now, I believe that my husband is the most perfect person in the world and, if I didn’t have Jesus in my life, my love for my husband borderline idolatry. But did I thank him as soon as I said good-bye to the delivery man? No, the first thing I did after receiving this beautiful gift: I took and posted a picture of it. I needed people to see what had happened. I needed to be noticed. I needed to prove to myself that I was important enough to be included in the blizzard of heartfelt pictures and declarations of love happening on Facebook today. (I did eventually thank my husband.)

And this happens more than on holidays. There are times I can find myself hours deep into looking at someone’s vacation pictures from 4 years ago because I need to convince myself that, in some way, it wasn’t perfect. Or that my thighs look smaller than that woman’s profile picture from 2011.

It’s bad for me. I know it’s bad for me.Sometimes I state out loud in my empty office how bad it is for me while I click the next link. But it is so easy to get caught up in. And its so hard to stop.

It feels a lot like being a child and screaming for your mom to look at you. Over and over and over and over until you get her attention. And why? So that she can praise you or smile and nod. So that she can love you and accept you and so that you can be known.

Listen to Me Sign Person Tries to Get Attention in Crowd

See where I’m going with this yet?

Someone is watching. He’s always watching. Even when I’m not selfie worthy and even when I’m down the rabbit hole of hating myself while studying the most minute detail of someone else’s profile, God is watching. And He’s loving me. And I am known to Him.

And He is sad that I don’t realize that. That I am beating up what I consider to be unworthy in myself. That I am tearing down His child.

And with His help, I’m working on it. I don’t have all the answers. Heck, I don’t have any of the answers. But my tactic of praying my way through the darkness, is getting me closer.

So, I’m praying for you, couple who just announced their pregnancy. And you, person who ate a really pretty looking salad last Tuesday. And, most of all, I’m praying for you, unsure little girl inside of me who is longing for attention. We’ll get through this.

PS How pretty are those roses?!

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Posted in Family, Learning Confidence, Motherhood

Called to renew

I fear I only turn to writing when I’m hurting…or trying to prove myself. I want it to be more than that. I want to write (or paint or say or sing or…) something that matters. Something that makes the world better, even if that betterment is just in encouraging myself. I want to remember that this blog exists and do so more than every few (ok, many) months.

 

Especially now with this little one around, I want to be and do better in every aspect of life, including this digital account of my life which no one may ever read. Challenge accepted.

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Posted in Body Image, Learning Confidence

I matter

I’ve realized that I spend a lot of time convincing myself I’m not good enough…and I need to stop that.

It’s odd, because I always thought that I lacked confidence or self-esteem, but I’m realizing that may not be the case. My gut reaction is always to stand up for myself or fight to the death for my stance. But as time goes on, I talk myself down. I make myself believe that maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m not thinking clearly, maybe I don’t understand. Similar thoughts include things like “of course they know better than I do” or “who I am to be able to _______”. I talk myself down a lot with the mistaken notion that I don’t matter as much as other people do. This can be a form of humility, or this can be a crippling form of self-doubt…mine is definitely the latter.

I’ve been doing this a lot at work lately. Second guessing and backing down, not letting myself count. It’s not working and I’m miserable. And I think that’s mainly because I don’t truly believe the lie I convince myself of. I matter…and I’m going to start acting that way.

Posted in "Normal", Faith, Learning Confidence

It’s a down day

I want the weather to be nicer for August. I want the sun to shine. I want it to be oppressively hot.

I want to love my job. I want to find passion in my work. I want my work to mean something. I want to work with people I respect and can’t wait to see in the morning. I want to feel confident in what I present to the world. I want to believe in the mission of my office. I want to interact in meaningful ways. I want my old job. I want my degree.

I want to communicate better. I want to be thinner. I want to be prettier. I want to be liked. I want to be loved. I want to sleep more. I want to have everything in a neat orderly setting. I want enough money to be comfortable.

I want a lot of things and today it doesn’t seem like I’m going to get any of them today. So far that means I’m having a bad day.

But I woke up this morning in a beautiful house with the man I love. I used clean water and ate my fill of breakfast and used a car to get to a job that gives me a salary and benefits. And no matter how bad I feel, I have a God who never leaves me. I may want a lot of things but I have everything that I need. And my prayer for today is that I focus on that instead.

(Originally posted 8/27/2015)