devozine

Spiritual Practice

In the Mirror

Wendy LeBolt

I was a chubby kid, round in the middle and pudgy on all sides. Grandma called me “pleasingly plump.” My buoyancy probably helped me to become a championship swimmer. When I was eight, I hung out all summer long in my skin-tight swim team bathing suit. I didn’t realize I was overweight. I learned that my freshman year of high school, when the kids at the bus stop called me fat. I did the math: I = fat; fat = bad.

Wendy swim team2

I tried out for the high school softball team. The coach was making cuts; and I desperately wanted to make the team, so I started running. Soon, due to the running, the daily practices, or a well-timed growth spurt, I lost some weight. People noticed. “Hey, you look good.” That’s when I learned that thin = good. I left a whole lot out of the equation; but I only cared about the answer, which set me on the road to the battle of the bulge.

I met a boy who said he loved me. For a time, I shed pounds easily—for him, for us. Yet, inside, I was still the chubby swimmer, the fat girl at the bus stop, the high-achiever, the image-conscious girl, the one in the too-tight jeans. I didn’t particularly like any of those girls, but I saw them all when I looked in the mirror. How could God love someone who looks like that? I thought. I sucked in my gut and marched into my day, trying to be thinner for God and more appealing to the world. My image and I were enemies.

One morning, the weight of the battle became too heavy and I dissolved amid the futility of trying. In desperation, I spoke up: “I hate looking like this.” I did not shout it at the mirror; I whispered it to God. In that moment, I brought my shame out of hiding and I saw the deception I had been living. Finally, I turned to God for help. I could now begin healing.

Wendy chubbyI believe that God is a realist. God sees my pudge, bad hair, flawed complexion; and still God calls me lovely. God sees my insecurities, my past, my thoughts; and yet God knows me as loveable. God sees what I do, what I say, what I pray for; and still, by God’s remarkable grace, God calls me beloved. In God’s love, I can see myself as I am and love the me I see. Chalk one up to mercy!

Now when I read the words of 1 John 4:19 (CEV)—“We love because God loved us first”—I add to myself: We can love ourselves because God loved us first. Only then can we love others, even those who appear unlovable, even when we feel unlovable, when our bodies feel like the enemy. Then we can choose to take better care of ourselves—for God and for us, not to earn God’s love but to say thank you.

 

DIG DEEPER

  • Lord's Prayer stretch video imageCombine The Lord’s Prayer with a morning stretch. Follow along with the video at www.devozine.org.
  • Reflect on one or more of these scripture passages, and write down insights you discover about dealing with your appearance or learning to love yourself: 1 Samuel 16:7, Matthew 6:25–34, 1 Corinthians 12:18–26, Colossians 3:12–17, 1 Peter 3:3–4.
Wendy LeBolt takes the care of her body seriously. She faithfully practices fitness through Fit2Finish, the business she founded to encourage people to use their bodies well—recreationally, athletically, and professionally.

—from devozine (May/June 2013). Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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