When I found out I was pregnant last December, I remember having a weird thought one day in the shower: If this goes south, I need to blog about it.
Kind of bizarre, right? Not the thing an excited mom-to-be usually thinks about. But I felt this weird conviction in my soul about it.
When things did go south in January, I felt that same pull to write. I knew I needed to put into words what I was struggling with, to share our very private struggle publicly.
As life has continued to throw me challenges, I’ve continued to write about them, openly and honestly, in all of their ugliness.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about why exactly I write about the hard stuff. This quote popped up on my Facebook feed last week, and it’s stuck with me. It puts into words why I feel I’ve been called to write.
You have been assigned this mountain so that you can show others it can be moved.Mel Robbins
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t have it all figured out. I lost 40 pounds – then gained it back. I have PCOS. I still struggle with anxiety. I’m still grieving the loss of my dad. I had a miscarriage – and still don’t have a baby. Trust me, I’m a hot mess.
But what I do know is that there’s power in sharing that mess with others.
See, all of the things I’ve gone through lately are stigmatized. People don’t talk about mental illness, weight and body image issues, pregnancy loss, or grief, and I don’t blame them. No one wants to be called fat, crazy, or receive people’s pity.
For whatever reason, be it due to bravery or stupidity, God gave me no shame when it comes to these things. I’m not embarrassed to talk about the hard stuff, and the awkward stuff, and the stuff most people wouldn’t even tell their friends they were struggling with.
You’ll hear me call myself an advocate, for mental health, for body positivity, for people struggling with infertility. It’s not because I think I’m a savior or something.
It’s because I feel comfortable speaking up and sharing my story, and by sharing, I know I represent all of those who, for whatever reason, can’t share theirs. It’s an honor I take seriously. Advocacy, or whatever you’d like to call it, is the only thing in life I can say with certainty that I’m passionate about.
As I struggle to make peace with the painful hand we’ve been dealt lately, I feel that at least part of the purpose was to write about it, to show people the mountains I face (and they do too) can be moved, even if moving the mountains only means finding the strength to get out of bed and face them, one day at a time.
That’s why I write about the hard stuff, and why I won’t stop writing about it. Even if it’s awkward.
I felt the lump in my chest grow and the tears well up in my eyes. Someone else was slowly dispensing the good news to family and friends. Someone else was dreaming big dreams and making big plans and basking in the almost surreal joy of it all. Someone else was pregnant, and it wasn’t me.
When I got the news of yet another person I know having a baby a few weeks ago, my first instinct was to text my squad, the people who have walked with me through all of the hard things lately. I would probably ask for prayer, but what I really wanted was validation, that this sucked and that I had every right to pick up a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, plop down on my couch, and cry for a bit.
But something stopped me.
As I picked up my phone to text that first person, I heard God loud and clear from somewhere in my heart: People aren’t gonna cut it.
And immediately, I knew what He meant.
I knew in that moment that no amount of platitudes, of sympathy, or of pity partying could actually change anything. While we have the best support squad around, I knew that texting another friend about yet another disappointment wasn’t going to heal my heart, give me lasting peace, or fix my situation.
As I stood in my kitchen, phone in hand, it became clear what I needed to do: I needed to seek the one who can do all of those things. I needed to seek God.
In John 4, Jesus tells the Samarian woman, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.”
I realized in that moment that I had been drinking too heavily of the wrong kind of water. Instead of drinking from streams of grace and from fountains of peace, I’d been gulping gallons upon gallons of water from this world. By relying too heavily on people to give me peace and make it all okay, I stayed thirsty.
While God gave us people who can help us bear our burdens, they can’t give us the lasting peace that He can. They can’t provide a steadfast spirit that can endure incredible heartache. They can’t give us an eternal perspective that allows us to see past the challenging now. They can’t promise us that everything will be okay.
We can have all of those things. We just need to stop drinking the wrong kind of water.
I remember when my sister and I were little, and we used to wrestle with my dad. Almost inevitably, our wrestling/tickling matches would end with Dad doubled-over in pain from getting kicked…in the you-know-where.
I don’t have a you-know-where, per se, so I can’t really speak to what getting kicked there feels like, but if there’s a spiritual equivalent, I’m there, doubled over, wishing such thing as a spiritual athletic cup existed.
Y’all know I’ve been through a lot. Since I blogged last, my dad passed away (more about that later – not sure what I want to say yet). Since I blogged last, I also found out, after some weird symptoms, a bunch of tests, and a lot of waiting, that I have PCOS.
If you’re not familiar, PCOS is some real BS if you ask me. Basically, my hormones are all out of whack, affecting my ability to get pregnant and causing all sorts of liver and blood sugar issues, including diabetes, in the long-term if not managed.
Yay. Just what I needed.
If that wasn’t bad enough, here’s the real kicker. You know what the main way to manage PCOS is? Diet and exercise, specifically weight loss.
Some people would say that’s great news. It’s manageable! It’s not a death sentence! It could be so much worse! For me, it feels like a big spiritual kick in the you-know-where.
The last six months or so, I have been working super-duper hard on how I think about myself. Since last fall, I’ve gained back a lot of the weight I lost a few years ago, due to stress, a new job, changing my diet, and the circus that has been my life lately.
At first, I was really not okay. I felt like a total failure. People aren’t supposed to lose the weight and then gain it back. That’s not how this works. I looked in the mirror and felt depressed. I put on clothes that no longer fit right and felt defeated.
Through working with a health coach over the last few months and a lot of hard work, I came to a place where I accepted the new me. Bodies change as life happens, and I started to truly believe that the size of my body said nothing about my worth, my health, or anything else.
Then, this happens. The one area of insecurity in my life, the one thing I’ve worked so hard to overcome has to become my main focus. I was becoming completely okay with my weight, and now my weight is undeniably the problem. Losing said weight is the only way to solve it. Oh, and all of our hopes and dreams are riding on my success.
I have been walking in faith since my life started falling apart last year. I have dug my heels in, doubled down on my faith, and tried to trust God as best I could through everything.
But, like my dad, who I’m sure was thinking “Please kick me ANYWHERE ELSE,” I feel like this is the one area of my life right now I just didn’t need to struggle with. I’m already crying on a pretty regular once or twice a week schedule given everything else going on in my life. I really don’t need to feel like crap about my weight, too.
I’m still metaphorically doubled over in pain at this point. I’m devastated. I’m frustrated. I cry a lot. I don’t get why this happens randomly and why FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD CAN I NOT CATCH A BREAK??
I’ve started doing some research on how to manage my symptoms and live with this new diagnosis. Plans are in the works for a potential half-marathon in November to give me a goal that’s not related to weight.
I haven’t yet figured out how I’m going to manage this weight loss thing while not going into let’s-freak-out-over-everything-I-eat mode. And honestly, I’m terrified that I can’t do it.
But I’m praying. A lot. And at this point, prayer is the best spiritual athletic cup I can think of.
Have PCOS? Any tips? I’ve read that low-GI diets can help too so if you’re diabetic and have any recipes or eating tips, please please let me know. And prayer is always appreciated.
It is now 10 PM on Easter Sunday as I begin typing this…nothing like waiting until the last minute to write something about Easter.
I spent this last week leading up to Easter reading through the different gospels’ accounts of the Last Supper, crucifixion, and resurrection. I always like to do this to put my heart and mind in the right space before Easter.
The other night, I was reading Luke’s account of the Last Supper, when something jumped out to me that I hadn’t noticed before.
Jesus had just gotten done speaking about the bread and wine, and how they would take on new meaning soon. This is a pivotal moment in Scripture; the disciples didn’t realize fully what was happening, but Jesus was turning Passover on its head. Passover would no longer be about the lamb, but the Lamb of God. No more blood on doorways. No more focusing on God’s deliverance from Egypt. There would be something much bigger to celebrate, and the disciples were hearing about it first.
Jesus delivers some heavy news: someone among them will betray him. They all begin to think about who among them might do this…and then what do they do?
Check this out:
“…The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” 23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.Luke 22, NIV
24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.
Right after Jesus spends his last meal with the disciples and lays out how he is completely changing what Passover means (and foretelling of his death, which is THE POINT OF ALL OF THIS), the disciples do what? They start a petty argument about which disciple is the G.O.A.T.
When I first read this, I had to laugh. What idiots! History is being made as Jesus is about to change the world forever and the disciples have front-row seats. Instead of pondering the meaning behind Jesus’ words and absorbing the gravity of the moment, the disciples are like “cool dinner party, Jesus” and get caught up in who among them is the “best disciple.”
The more I pondered this, though, I felt called to examine my own life.
I’ve been focused on a few things lately: my health journey, getting my house set up, making new friends here in Parker, and work. I’ve spent a lot of time praying over all of these things, and measuring God’s movement in my life based on how well He delivers on those exact things.
The disciples’ odd reaction to Jesus’ words reminds me that God isn’t just working in those areas I’ve asked him to focus on. There’s a lot more happening beyond what I see in my daily life.
It’s so easy to miss what God is doing in our lives when we’re focused on the stuff of everyday life. From jobs to money to friends to our looks, there are so many things vying for our attention. None of these things are bad, but when they become our focus over and above Jesus, what gets lost is what God is doing in our lives. We’re so busy praying for new jobs and friends and tangible changes that we forget to pay attention to what else God is working on in our hearts and in our lives.
When we focus on the clutter, we miss the cross.
Maybe God is sitting at the table with us, like Jesus did with the disciples, trying to tell us about all of the good things He has planned. We’re not really listening, instead caught up in thinking about our grocery list, how we’re going to pay the bills, or why God hasn’t answered a prayer yet.
We’re focused on the petty stuff. He’s got so much more planned.
Imagine how much we’re missing.
As I’ve wrestled this week with unanswered prayers, I feel challenged to look beyond the black-and-white of my clutter, the trivial stuff that gets me worried from day to day. Instead, my goal for this week is to ask myself what else God is doing in my life. Maybe He’s strengthening my faith, teaching me patience, or doing something entirely different that I can’t see but I know I need to trust.
If God is sitting at the table with me, I don’t want to be caught with my head in the clouds or checking my Instagram notifications. I want to be there, absorbing what He has for me in full.
You with me? Let’s focus on the cross, not the clutter.
Happy (almost belated) Easter to you and yours!
Have you ever had that thing happen where you notice something and then you see it everywhere? Like you’re car shopping and thinking about buying a Honda, and suddenly you notice that everyone’s driving a Honda.
Well, that’s kind of how it’s been with fear lately.
As most of you know, my 2019 started out like, well, like total crap. I totaled my brand-new car on New Year’s Day (not my fault) and had a miscarriage a week later. By February 1, 2019, I was already ready for 2020 to arrive.
Having a miscarriage brought fear to the forefront of my life. I was deathly afraid of miscarrying again or of never being able to conceive.
Being aware of this fear slowly made me aware of all of the other ways I was constantly afraid: afraid of dying, afraid of someone I love dying, afraid of getting hurt, of failing, of not meeting my full potential, of a million other things.
Reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown highlighted even more ways fear was affecting me, and the more I mulled it over, the more it bothered me.
Maybe it’s because I’m a control freak, but I don’t like the idea of fear ruling my life. I want to rule my life, you know?
That’s why I’ve chosen an anti-word of the year: fear. The opposite of fear, in my life at least, means so much more than just courage, and I want to be the opposite of fearful in all of those ways.
So what IS the opposite of fear then?
The opposite of fear is courage.
There are a lot of words I’d use to describe myself, and “brave” isn’t one of them. Witty, maybe, depending on who you ask. Talkative, ABSOLUTELY. Brave? Nah.
So many situations already this year have put me at a crossroads: either I can be brave, or I can be fearful.
I remember very little of our drive to the hospital the night I miscarried, except for what was playing on the radio: Stand In Your Love by Josh Baldwin. In case you haven’t heard the song, it’s a Christian song and the chorus goes, “Fear doesn’t stand a chance when I stand in your love.”
Somehow, in the midst of total crisis, I knew this song, and this message, was going to be incredibly significant going forward. I knew this year was going to take a lot of courage. And it already has.
Speaking publicly about my miscarriage took courage. Thinking about trying to have kids again has tested courage. Besides these things, I’ve seen a need for courage in other areas of my life, too.
Case in point: church. We’ve had so many new people come to our church this year. I want to be that kind of person who welcomes new people into our church family like people so graciously welcomed us. But I’m always stopped by fear. What if I’m too young to welcome people older than me? What if I haven’t been here long enough? What if I’m just incredibly awkward?
Lately, I’ve been trying to push this aside and to be unabashedly friendly to newcomers at church, despite how awkward I feel sometimes. This verse has often to mind: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
Courage doesn’t come naturally for me, but I’m practicing it in the small things.
The opposite of fear is joy.
“The dark does not destroy the light; it defines it. It’s our fear of the dark that casts our joy into the shadows.” – Brené Brown
I had a lot of epiphanies when reading Brené’s book, but the biggest one was about joy. She describes in her book how when she came a mother, she found herself sabotaging her own moments of joy. When she would find herself looking at one of her babies and experiencing pure joy, she would quickly tamp it down with thoughts of something bad happening to her children. She was afraid to be joyful, because what if something bad happened? Joy was dangerous. It was risky. It was vulnerable.
When I read this, I was, as the kids say, shook.
When I was a kid, I got this awesome (read: awesome in the early 2000’s) fuzzy leopard print coat. I was so excited about it… so excited that I never wore it. Why? Because I was too afraid that I would ruin it somehow. I was afraid to enjoy this stylin’ coat because the coat could be ruined or lost. It seemed easier and safer to never fully experience the joy of wearing my coat than to experience joy and lose it.
That pretty much says all you need to know. I have lived so much of my life, I now realize, in fear of joy.
This year, I’m leaning in to moments of joy. When I find out I’m pregnant again (fingers crossed), I’ve decided I’m going to feel that joy in full. I’m not going to shy away in fear of what could happen again. Because what if that baby is born healthy and I realize I spent my first pregnancy terrified and anxious instead of joyful and excited? The cost is too great, and life too short.
The opposite of fear is life.
I mentioned in a previous post that I’m working with a health coach. I hired her earlier this year because I was tired. I was tired of counting calories, of worrying about what I was eating, and of constantly worrying about losing weight – or gaining it. I wanted out. I wanted to JUST EAT and neither feel out of control nor worry about every little thing that went into my mouth.
After the holidays + multiple crises in January, I was also struggling with gaining back weight. Yep, I’m putting it out there, y’all. I’ve gained weight. And in January, I was really struggling with it. I was discouraged and disappointed in myself.
I’d been reading this health coach’s blog for awhile and had tried many of her recipes. Earlier this year, I listened to a podcast where she talked about the focus of her practice: helping women ditch the diet cycle and discover a healthy relationship with food. That’s exactly what I wanted. I was in.
It’s hard to summarize everything I’ve learned, but what I’ve learned so far is that disordered eating, or having an unhealthy relationship with food, comes from fear. It comes from a fear of gaining weight and of not being “thin” enough.
Sound familiar to anyone else?
When I was on Weight Watchers and constantly worried about gaining weight or not losing weight, I was letting fear get in the way of living. Basically, I was worried about whether or not I should eat the cake instead of enjoying the party.
Brandon once commented on how he wished I’d be less worried about eating healthy and just enjoy eating stuff, after I spent ten minutes at the fair debating whether or not I should order deep-fried oreos or not. At the time, I thought he was just being ridiculous. Now, I realize he was pointing out the exact problem that later would make me so unhappy: in my “healthy” diet, there was no room for “living.”
In 2019, I’m gonna live.
This doesn’t mean I’m going to eat ice cream for every meal; I’m just going to focus less on the scale and on conforming to our ridiculous societal standard of wellness and more on living my life. Food and eating and health is going to be a part of it, but it isn’t going to rule it.
This is the first year I’ve chosen a “word,” but it’s seemed too present in my life to ignore. So here’s to a year of being less fearful, and more courageous, joyful, and full of life.
Do you have a word of the year?
If you’ve been following for awhile, you know I started Weight Watchers over 2 years ago and lost almost 50 pounds, then decided to quit late last year in favor of a life of less restrictions and more real food.
When I quit WW, I thought I’d achieved a state of self-love. I was happy with myself most days when I looked in the mirror, and felt proud of what my body was doing and could do.
Fast forward to the end of January. Getting used to life without counting points and the holidays combined with some serious grief eating from a rough month led to major weight gain. I realized that pants were starting to fit tight or not fit at all, and that my face had gained some of its roundness back. I’d lost a lot of my progress as a runner, and workouts were harder than they were before.
Did I look at my body in the mirror and glow with pride at it, still accepting it as it was and giving it love for what it had gone through that month?
Instead, I went right back to hating it.
I went from being excited to get dressed to staring at myself in the mirror in frustration every morning as I got ready. Every time I put on pants that didn’t fit as well as they used to, I wanted to cry. Every time I went to the bathroom at work, I stared my face down, hoping my glare would melt some of the squish off of it. Everything reminded me of how I’d gained weight and how unhappy I was about it.
I felt inadequate and unattractive. I felt like a failure.
These feelings took me a bit by surprise. I thought, after all, that I’d learned to love my body. When I was at my lowest weight, I was still 20 pounds away from my goal, with lots of lumps and bumps and still no abs (does anyone even have those IRL??) and was incredibly happy with how I looked. Didn’t that mean I’d learned to love my body?
No, I’d just gotten thin enough that I felt it worthy to love.
I’m working with a nutritionist and food mindset coach (more about that later!) and talking about these issues with her has made me realize that losing weight didn’t fix my problems with my body. It just made them less noticeable.
Here’s the thing: I was going to gain weight eventually. Whether it was being pregnant or going through a stressful time, something was going to cause me to gain weight at some point during my life. I might gain weight and then lose it again, but I wasn’t going to be able to maintain my weight exactly as it was forever. Life happens. Bodies change.
The truth is that self-love isn’t created by losing enough weight that you can love your body, and then never ever gaining weight so you can maintain those warm and fuzzy feelings.
It’s created by loving your body exactly as it is, even if that changes. It’s loving you and the body you were given and all the things you can do with it because you are worth it, and because life is full of grand challenges and adventures that are much more worth focusing on than how you look in horizontal stripes or a bikini.
I’ll be honest – I have a long way to go. Getting dressed in the mornings is still hard, as is looking at photos from last year or seeing people I haven’t seen in awhile.
Right now, I’m starting small – I’m working on talking to myself more kindly and seeing my body for what it is and can do, not what it isn’t and can’t. Some days go better than others, but I’m trying. (Having a husband who forces you to start every day by saying “I am super pretty” helps. 🙂 He is such a keeper.)
To all the women I know who want to lose weight: please, please don’t confuse weight loss with self-love. Self-love doesn’t appear when you hit your goal weight. It’s earned daily by loving yourself even as you are right now.
If you’re struggling with something similar (isn’t that part of being a woman??) please don’t hesitate to reach out so I can pray for you and cheer you on.