In the summer, as my birthday approaches, I often begin to take special notice of my figure. Or my lack of it. The belly that used to be flat … a long time ago. The backside and thighs that seem to collect far more fat cells than any other part of my body.
If I could choose where I want those extra pounds distributed, I would have the perfect hourglass figure. But I can’t. So I don’t.
During the school year, with classes and teaching, it’s a challenge to focus on my diet. So in the month leading up to my last birthday, I decided to cut out junk food. It’s not that I eat inordinate servings of chips and donuts on a daily basis or anything. I simply hoped to re-calibrate my appetite. Losing a pound or two, or ten, wouldn’t be unappreciated.
Okay, so I wanted to get down to 150 pounds. A nice, even number. My pre-mommy weight, which I dropped down to within six months after each pregnancy, was below 140. My last pregnancy had been nearly eight years ago, and I was hovering dangerously close to 160 pounds (read: 159.8).
I wrote my weight in a blue dry-erase marker on my bathroom mirror, along with the date: July 18. A month to lose ten pounds.
For the first two weeks, I avoided chips and sweet drinks, processed foods and starchy meals. I drank homemade smoothies for breakfast / lunch. (Okay, so I also drank chai every morning, but homemade chai, with ginger … that’s good for you, right?) I tried to embrace that hungry feeling in the evenings, when I usually succumb to cravings of salty or sweet foods.
At the end of July, I took my weight and marked it on the bathroom mirror: 154.6 pounds. Halfway there.
A day or two later, something else appeared on my mirror. Lyrics to a few different songs:
He loves you more than the sun and the stars that he taught how to shine.
He lives in you.
Lyrics covered the mirror, except for a space in the center where a huge smiley-face was. And of course the top right corner where I had marked my weight: my slow progress toward a better figure.
A better me.
One of my greatest prayers for my children, especially my daughter, is that she will see herself as a beautiful creation of God. Flawless. A beautiful young woman made in His image and created for a unique purpose. I know how much the world and our own minds fights against this concept.
But sometimes, instead of encouraging that attitude, I focus on the opposite. Making myself better. Focusing on the externals. Sometimes, instead of teaching my kids, I need them to teach me. And that is what my daughter did with the song lyrics she wrote on my mirror.
I didn’t reach my weight-loss goal by my birthday. In fact, I gained back a couple of the pounds I thought I had said goodbye to. I look in the mirror, and I don’t see flawless. But if I focus on the words my daughter wrote, my perspective changes. Because I’m no longer looking at me. I’m looking at words that convey a different message. I’m looking at a truth I hope my children will always embrace. A truth they will use to bless others throughout their lives:
He loves you.
He lives in you.
He made you flawless.