When I reached middle age and still hadn’t gotten married or even had a long-term relationship I started to ask myself a question:
When will I be enough?
You see, I’ve been on a diet since I was 12 years old. When puberty hit so did the realization that boys would never want a “fat” girl. I use quotation marks because I wasn’t fat. I was tall and strong and bigger built – and yes, I had baby fat around the middle, but by no means was I overweight.
(Let’s get the “f” word out of the way, right now, okay? I hate when people say individuals are fat. It’s wrong. The truth is they HAVE fat, perhaps more than others. Who they are is represented by their character and actions, not by the percentage of adipose tissue stored on their bodies.)
From that age, I began to ruthlessly judge myself by superficial things. If not my size, it was my cartoonish profile, or the way I dressed, or my clumsy walk. My belief in myself was based on comparison with those I saw as “perfect.”
As I grew older I eventually discovered no one was perfect. We all had flaws. Yet, deep inside, something dark embedded itself into my soul.
“I am not enough”
So. Here I am, 47 years old, still asking if I am single because of the superficial. Am I alone because I am “bigger” or have short hair or don’t have the right wardrobe? As I write this the idea seems ludicrous, yet there remains a nagging at the back of my brain: “Boys don’t like fat girls.”
At this point, I could write about how my worth as a woman shouldn’t be contingent on romantic relationships. Or how being alone has been a blessing in many ways – I learned so much more about myself. I could spout off something about God’s timing and peace in the moment…
But it wouldn’t be honest. Because I really want relationship, to share my life with someone. And I really want to know if I’m single because I’m not conventionally attractive.
Proverbs 31:30 New International Version (NIV)
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
I’m not naïve – men are attracted to all different types of shapes, sizes and hair lengths.
But in all my focus on my outward beauty (or lack thereof – or so I thought) amidst all the pain I have endured – ruthless self-criticism and body hatred – I took God out of the story.
“God says: You are enough.”
I took God out of the story when I judged His creation and deemed it flawed. I shut Him out when I made my attractiveness about the outward. I denied His gifts when I hated my body – my continuously healthy, vibrant body.
The truth is I have a great body. Not by society’s standard, not at all. Yet, I have had remarkable health and vitality. Thick hair. Clear skin. Virtually no wrinkles at 47. Yes, I have more fat than I’d like, but I’m exercising. Eating better. Cutting out sugar. Moreover, I’m learning to love my body as it is.
And yet, the lingering fear: I’m just not attractive to men.
At this point, it’s an issue of trust.
I have a favorite saying, a Polish proverb that goes: “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” Basically, I can’t take control of what is not my issue. That’s what I think God is saying to me in this circumstance – “This isn’t yours, I have it in my control. Work on your body, sure! But work on your character too! Love people unconditionally. Embrace who I created you to be and don’t sweat what I have in my control.”
As to not being attractive to men? That could be a whole other blog post and maybe one day I’ll write about it. But you have to know, I have no idea what I’m talking about.
Before the creation of the world you formed the idea of ME. And you had perfection planned. Forgive me for hating your creation. Restore me what you intended. Help me to love my beautiful body, soul and spirit.
Help me to let go of control. Remind me that you have Your best will in mind and until your timing I must rest in your way.
Remember me and the desire of my heart. I am in awe of You and your ways.
So be it.