Warning: If you take religion seriously, I mean really seriously, do not read this blog! If you are an Atheist and think anyone who thinks God is real is a bumbling idiot, do not read this blog! If you are 100% secure in your own skin and think anyone who isn’t is simply a waste of space breathing in air that could be better used elsewhere, take another shot of wheat grass, finish running your 20th marathon and please, do not read this blog!
As my dear friend, Linda once said, “Lent is not a diet”.
Lent started on Wednesday. In the past, this is the day I would begrudgingly give up desserts or wine or both. I would tell myself every time I wanted to cave and cheat that, “Jesus gave up his life for me so surely I can give up this one tiny thing for him.” My friends have suggested that in my moments of chocolate angst, I should pray or do a devotional and place the focus on growing closer to God instead of on the gallon of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream calling my name from the freezer. The thing is, as hard as I try to redirect my attention, I just get pissy and, to be honest, a little annoyed at God for making me do this Lent thing in the first place. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE God! I totally dig her! The Woman Upstairs is my favorite (that was for you, Linda!) It is just that, over the years, I have begun to wonder if I really need to torture myself for 40-days to achieve a better relationship with God. And given how cranky I can be, I am sure God struggles with HER desire to have a relationship with me. So this year, I refuse to deprive myself. I am going to try something, which will no doubt prove to be a struggle, but I think the G-Man and I will really connect through this process and I will gain a better understanding of just how much the Almighty loves everyone on this planet, even little ole me.
I am a bully! I am embarrassed to admit this about myself, but, yet, it is a fact. I am very mean to me. I am also a hypocrite. Over the years when my boys would complain about their lack of height or their dimples I would remind them that God made them and God does not make mistakes. I, however, never extend this same grace to myself. Continually, I beat myself up and have really mastered the art of body shaming. Seriously, peeps, I can be downright nasty! I am so ashamed of my behavior, especially, because my body has been very good to me over the years and it does not deserve the constant harassment. Mostly, I am ashamed because God made me and, in being so critical of my body, I am being ungrateful. I have come to realize that my inability to fully embrace my body and love myself, has acted as a barrier to letting God into my heart. I mean, He is the one who gave me this body after all and, truth be told, if I want a better relationship with God, I need to be kinder to the woman I see in the mirror.
For purposes of this blog, I want to call my body, Stella. I think Stella is a rock star of a name and, to be honest, over the years, my body has really put on quite a performance for me (I know what you are thinking. Stop! This is about Lent remember! Get your mind out of the gutter!). To start, Stella grew me from a cell no bigger than the size of a pinprick. She divided cells and organized chromosomes and gave me a healthy start in life. Stella taught me to hold up my head, crawl, talk, and walk. She continued to divide my cells, turned on my reproductive system, and grew my brain, all while, I was off focusing solely on me, and, well, Prince. While I have already admitted to verbally slaying Stella day in and day out, she has also suffered through some pretty hefty physical abuse. Stella grew muscles and adapted to accommodate my swimming and dancing. She only slightly complained when my dancing, with a little help from a few tequila shots, got a little less coordinated and a lot more eccentric. Speaking of alcohol, Stella would wring out my liver and send toxins to my kidneys, expelling the self-ingested poisons from my body. She would sometimes send those toxins the other direction and would fight to bring me back to “functioning mode”, while I rested my cheek on the cold, hard lid of the nearest porcelain goddess and swore out loud, “I WILL NEVER DRINK TEQUILA AGAIN!” (Stella would kindly cross two fingers behind my back because she knew, THAT WAS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!). Stella heats my body when it is cold and makes me sweat like a pig when it is hot. She fights off illnesses like a champ and helps me to reboot after a rough day or night. Stella loves to be hugged by her parents, family, friends, and her boys and husband. When I first met Andrew, Stella gave me a little nudge suggesting that I may be onto something special. She made my heart flutter with our first kiss and the thousand others that followed. Stella is secretive, too. She planted tiny eggs into the walls of my uterus and tenderly started growing my babies weeks before I even knew I was pregnant. Isn’t that awesome! She shoved organs up under my rib cage and expanded my torso creating enough space to accommodate a missile head and, then, pushed those babies out of my body and into my arms. I think you get the point. Stella is amazing! She is super-duper amazing! So the questions beg to be asked, why am I so mean to Stella and what does any of this have to do with Lent?
The reasons I am mean to Stella are ones that you all already can list out for yourselves. Society, the media, Hollywood, Kim Kardashian, etc., etc., have spelled out what constitutes the perfect Stella, and, I have taken the bait – hook, line and sinker. This year for Lent, I am going to work on being thankful for my body – the one that God created for me. I will try to be thankful for the stretch marks over my hips that surfaced during a rapid growth spurt, and the ones that line my belly because Stella needed to make room for two baby boys. I will try to look past the wrinkles that line my forehead and are almost deep enough to hold a pencil, as well as, the skin that is slowly losing its elasticity so that one day, in the near future, I might be mistaken for a rather tall Shar Pei. I will make healthier choices like eating better, drinking less alcohol, and exercising regularly — not because bathing suit season is on the horizon, but because I want to be kinder to Stella. She deserves it! On this point, I will also indulge my cravings on occasion because clearly, Stella wants me to. I will try, however, not to use the latter as an excuse to overindulge because Stella really does not need to eat an entire gallon of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream in one sitting. Lastly, I will try to look at Stella as though I was studying a piece of art with its Creator. Even if I don’t fancy the style, I will appreciate the brush strokes, the creative use of color, and the millions of complimenting layers that work together to create a whole. I will praise the artist for Her amazing talent and ability to design such a unique piece of art. God will say, “thank you” and, probably whisper under His breath, “it’s about time”. We will then have coffee together, chat about our day, and head out the door to go on a Costco run. Lord only knows, in a house full of boys, we go through a lot of toilet paper! Hmmm, I think I just got an idea for my next blog post!