There is a picture of me when I was 12-years-old. I’m standing on the side of a pool, wearing an unflattering swimsuit. Taken from the side, you see my belly sticking out. My head is down, my fingers are in my mouth. I’m told by my friends that I look scared in the picture.
I make fun of the girl in the picture. I make fun of how huge her gut is and the way it sits so conspicuously. But I realize she’s only 12. Just a little girl. And she does in fact look scared.
When I visualize myself, this is the picture I see. I see a girl who’s chubby, awkward, and scared. A girl who hides. Who feels as though she’s on the outside looking in. A girl who so desperately wants to be part of something, but she’s too fat so she hides and she excludes herself because she doesn’t feel as though she belongs.
I have been self-conscious of my body since I was 7-years-old. I was 8 the first time I locked myself in a bathroom and cried because of how large my thighs were.
My entire life, I’ve stood quietly in the background because I thoroughly believed that I was “too fat” to be part of what my soul really wanted. I wanted friends, I wanted connection, I wanted to be part of something. But I believed that I was too fat, too awkward, too ugly, too this and too that.
I was too much, and therefore I was not enough.
I’ve come a long way since that 12-year-old girl standing on the side of that pool with her head down and her fingers in her mouth, looking desperately for a place to belong.
It’s been a bumpy ride of trying to force myself to be whatever it is I think people expect me to be.
And then I realize: the best gift I can give anyone is the gift of my truest and fullest self. For years, I tried to hate my body into something different and something more beautiful. But what I came to find out is that hate does not serve me, and hate is much too heavy of a burden to bear. I learned that it wasn’t my weight, it wasn’t my personality, it wasn’t my humor that kept me on the outside looking in. It was the way I saw myself as less than, the way I hated who I was and wanted to be something different. Hate kept me in the background and outskirts, kicking up gravel while my heart longed to be over there. Hate kept me stooped in my walk; hate kept me looking to the ground as if I am not good enough to raise my eyes to greet the world before me.
What my body needs is care, not change. I get to take care of this body right where it is without trying to make it into something I think it should be.
I had to let the hate go. I had to let it clatter to the floor. I had to make space for something different.
This photo is a picture from a different day. This is a picture from the day I refused to believe I am too fat to be part of good and lovely things. This picture is from the day I decided to engage with the world as my truest and fullest self, without any regard as to whether or not I am good enough. This is the day I soaked up the beauty around me–the beauty of the landscape, the beauty of the people.
This is a picture from the day I chose to believe that I do belong, that I have something to offer.
And this is the day I enjoyed. I enjoyed the water, I enjoyed the air, I enjoyed the beauty. I enjoyed God. I enjoyed these wonderful and magnificent people.
What if we do not have to hide?
What if we do not have to carry the burden of believing we aren’t good enough?
What in life do we miss out on thinking we are too much or not enough?
What sights and stories do we miss out on when we believe we are too fat?
What if God delights in who we are?
What if we get to serve the world around us by being exactly who God has made us to be?
Let’s celebrate. Let’s celebrate who we are, who God has made us to be. Let’s celebrate who God is and what he’s made true for us. Let’s celebrate each other. Let’s spend more time focusing on who we’re with and less time on focusing on what we look like. Let’s pour our lives into the souls around us. Let’s stop, let’s enjoy.
Jesus delights in me. Jesus delights in me.
Nothing motivates me to take care of my body more than that truth.
Taking care of my body is a form of worship as I am caring for what God loves.
Let’s tend to what he cares for. Let’s take care of what he delights in.
Let’s pray a prayer of bold celebration.
Lord, today I celebrate.
I celebrate who I am. I celebrate the beauty you have given me. No longer do I grieve what I look like or sound like. I am not that girl on the outside looking in and I release her from the curse of hate and shame. I am a woman full of the glory and essence of You. I am loved, I am cared for, I am safe.
I am not the fat kid. I am not the fat kid. I am not the fat kid.
I am Lauren. I am a Daughter of the King. I am kind, I am grounded, I am open. I enjoy. I delight. I let go of impossible standards of beauty and I accept the beauty of who You are.
By being open to myself, I am open to others. I let go of the need to hide and I get lost in the stories of those around me. I am part of their story, they are part of mine. We celebrate who You have made each of us to be.
We are beautiful because You have declared it to be so.
Today I celebrate.
To read a little more of my story of health and wellness, check out the article I wrote for mindbodygreen.