Saying goodbye

A little over a year ago I wrote a blog post entitled “Baring it all.  It was by far the most read post I have ever written.  Prior to that, on a good day, I had maybe 100 to 150 people read any given post, and after that post, pretty much I am lucky if I even hit 100 (with a few exceptions here and there).

Not that any of this matters really because I genuinely write for myself more than anyone else. It’s my way of decompressing and at times even processing what is happening in the world or in my own life.  Of course, it’s always a bonus when my writing impacts people too.  I want to inspire, impact, and challenge people with my writing, but I know there are many writers out there doing that already and probably doing it much better than me.

What was just shocking to me, and really still is to this day, about that particular post was just how it really struck a chord with my readers. I had people that I hadn’t talked to in a really long time writing me and sharing about how they too had long struggled with finding beauty in how God had made them.  It was a really incredible experience for me, and what I find really ironic is that I have never thought less about a post as I did that one. 

The day I wrote that post it was because I was just DONE with how I had been feeling…done with trying to pretend like I didn’t feel the way I did deep down and done with trying to teach other young girls about good body image when I was in this deep, dark pit myself.  I needed to just get it off my chest.

And I am so glad I did. I found so much freedom with that post.  It was like the chains had been broken, and I had been set free.  This lie had no hold over me because I had suddenly let hundreds of people in on my secret.  It was amazing.

Last week, though, I wrote another post that touched some on the situation in Syria but also just on the prejudices that I think deep down we all have and don’t acknowledge.  You can read it here if you are so inclined.

It was a piece I was really proud of. I wept while writing it, and I felt so fulfilled having had the opportunity to speak a truth that I don’t think is always readily accepted nor appreciated even.  But hardly anyone even read it.  It was one of the least read posts I have ever written, and to be honest, I was starting to get really upset by that. It wasn’t so much that I needed approval or praise of others.  It also wasn’t that I only find value in writing when others also applaud it. 

No, it was none of those things.  I was upset because I couldn’t quite figure out why a piece on body image was more impacting to people than the refugee crisis that is happening all over the world (Syria, Iraq, Africa, Latin America just to name a few).  Why do people respond more to my confessions of not feeing beautiful or feeling overwhelmed by life more than truly painful and horrific things that are happening in the world? 

I just really wanted to understand.

Feel free to enlighten me if you have any thoughts on this, but here is where I arrived just yesterday.  I think there are probably several reasons, but for time’s sake, I will just name a few.

1.  I think that other people (like Ann Voskamp to name one) are writing way better stuff on the topic.  They are writing better researched and just all the way around better pieces about this, so really I am not adding much to the conversation.

2. I think that by nature we respond to authenticity.  When someone is willing to “bare it all” so to speak and just let us into their dark spaces, we feel freer to do the same too.  Sharing our truth invites others to share their truth too.  So when I wrote that piece about literally never feeling pretty ever in my life, I think that spoke to people.  They thought, “Hey if she can feel that way, its okay that I feel this way too, and it's okay for me to speak out loud for others to hear my truths and struggles too.”  This is good.  Let’s keep being truth tellers.  We empower others when we are willing to come out from behind the masks.

 3. Finally, I think that some of you are just feeling tired of reading about all the pain and suffering.  You know its there.  You feel sad its there, but you feel completely helpless against it.  My post was just one more of many reminding you that life is hard and that we should be more thankful for how we have it…blah, blah, blah.  I so get that sentiment.  I feel exactly like that some days. I want to just bury myself under a blanket with a warm cup of joe and watch back to back episodes of Gilmore Girls.  I want to pretend that the way they live in the idyllic town of Stars Hollow is how everyone lives and that the only bad thing in life is running out of coffee.  I so hear you because this is a struggle for me too.

But as I was doing all this heavy thinking yesterday, I was simultaneously getting ready to leave.  So I was standing in the mirror, only half dressed, blow-drying my hair, and I just kind of had an epiphany.  I was looking at myself and thinking back to how I looked last summer around the time I wrote that famous post on body image.  Honestly, I don’t look a lot different.  I have lost a little bit of weight since then.  I certainly have toned some areas, and I have developed a few better habits, but physically speaking I really look about the same.

So I took a picture. I took a picture because I needed to once again get vulnerable with you guys.  Here I am in just some leggings and an undershirt…it’s the least amount of clothes I will ever wear in a picture that will be posted on the Internet.  There is no filter…it’s just me.

I have a long way to go still.  I am still overweight. I still need to practice better control over my eating habits.  I still make excuses. 

But on the inside I am totally different.  I am not battling like I was last summer.  I feel so much more peace about who I am and how God made me.  I see myself for what I am…a woman that still needs to do some work but is beautiful because she is exactly the way God wanted her to be. 

I was reflecting on that change, and I realized that it happened when I stopped focusing on it.  I started becoming more passionate about other things.  I dove head first into my life here and just trying to invest better and more fully into the people God has placed in my life here in Guatemala.

I started reading more news articles in both Spanish and English so I could be more informed on what was happening in the world, and I started praying about those things and talking about those things in conversations. I started trying to find ways to be a part of the solution instead of a bystander. 

I began reading books that inspired me and challenged me.  Instead of being intimated by the success of others, I started looking to them as an example and asking God to instead show me how He could use my unique gifts instead of wishing I had those of the one next to me. 

And little by little as I started caring more about my tribe and my people as well as the world I am living in, I cared less and less about the fact that I am never going to look good in skinny jeans.  It didn’t matter that I would never be able to rock certain styles because of my curves.  I realized that I found MYSELF more beautiful when I was less focused on my flaws and more focused on how I could be an inspiration to those around me. 

In a phrase…it became way less about me and way more about them.

On the way to caring more about others and truly learning how to love others better and more fully, I found a peace and contentment that I had long been searching for.  I had found freedom when I gave a voice to my fears, but I found joy when I decided that they were no longer important.  When I realized that God could use me to be a blessing to others no matter the size of my pants, I suddenly no longer cared what that size was anyway.

So yesterday I decided that I didn’t care if you don’t feel as moved or impacted by the refugee crisis, abortions, poverty, the breakdown of the family…or whatever else I am passionate about but really isn’t important at all to you.  Your passions may not be mine either.  It doesn’t matter because our journeys are never going to look exactly the same.

But, what I can tell you is that if you are looking for freedom from that inner turmoil and struggle, I suggest that you start looking up and out.  Once you start focusing on others and their needs and just pouring yourself out on their behalf, you find a gift that no self-help book could ever give you. 

You find passion.  You find joy.  You find peace.  You find fulfillment.  You find inspiration.  You find a voice.

I will take passion, joy, peace, fulfillment, inspiration, and a powerful voice over size 4 jeans any day of the week. 

So here’s to saying goodbye to that girl of summer’s past and embracing the woman that I am today…every single beautiful part of the me that God wonderfully made.

Debbi Smelser  – (September 6, 2015 at 3:46 PM)  

This is so beautifully written and I can understand why you would be upset that people, me included, didn't read or respond to that blog as you thought we would. But you are also correct in that sometimes I can't process anymore of the stories in the news. I try to be aware of what is happening in the world. I have been trying to keep up with what is going on in Guatemala but most stories are in Spanish so I am limited. I have to be very careful getting too emotionally involved in world wide crisises. I get overwhelmed and it takes me to a place I don't like to be. I have had to learn to only focus on what I can handle and feel like I can have an impact. I know this is making excuses but this is how I keep myself from sinking into depression. I even have to step back and ask God what specifically He wants me to do concerning Casa B and the kids. Being aware of all their needs and not being able to do anything about most of them is hard to deal with. God has taught me that I am only responsible for the parts He sends me to do. A perfect example was out trip this Summer. Last Fall God made it very clear to me that we were not to take donations down and pay for the extra luggage. God wanted us to take money down and do some project that He had for us. He then revealed to me that the project was for Fran and I to make curtains for Casa Albanza and Casa Ester. Have you seen them? We were only able to do that because I did what God instructed me to do. I have been able to be at peace about all the needs of a place the size of Casa B knowing that I have done what God wants of me.
Also, I am so glad that you have found peace with who and how you are. You are one of the most beautiful people I have ever met. I want to be you when I grow up.
Love you,

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Some bits and bobbits about this blog...

This blog is mostly just ramblings by yours truly. I talk about my ups and downs being a wife, mother, and missionary in Guatemala. I have a tendency to get off on "soapboxes" as those who love me say but it is my desire that this blog can be a place of encouragement in each of your pilgrimages with Christ. At any moment if this blog becomes more about me than about Christ, than it will be done and please help me stay accountable. To God be all the Glory, Honor, and Power!

Books I am currently reading...

  • Eight Twenty Eight
  • Interrupted
  • The Connected Child
  • This Momentary Marriage
  • Unbroken

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