I want to write a million blogs about the bits and pieces of freedom that I've found from self-loathing. I really do.
Most of these urges rise up in moments where I notice something that I used to buy into that I just don't anymore. It happens when I find myself shockingly unaffected by things that used to absolutely BURY me.
One of these things? Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving; a holiday mostly centered around feasting, has left me feeling all kinds of conflicted and stressed in the past.
This Thursday, in between chopping, prepping and sipping on Mac N Jacks African Amber ( my favorite beer in the world, only available in Washington) I checked my instagram feed. I found countless examples of people posting photos of either working out, or of their food with tags heavy with tones of... guilt. Those who worked out posted about how relieved they were that they could eat their Thanksgiving feasts without guilt. Those who were posting about the meal hash-tagged all kinds of non-sense that let you know that they were eating each bite with their tails in-between their legs.
As most of you know, this year I committed to allowing God to transform and heal my relationship with myself. This meant tossing out all kinds of habits that furthered feelings of shame about who I am, and how I'm shaped.
Let me just tell you, God has done the miraculous in this area of my life. I have no idea how much I weigh, or how many calories go in and out each day. I know that my body has fluctuated a lot but, as I stand today, I love myself. I'm making good friends with myself. I'm learning to dispense more grace to myself than I've ever felt like I deserved because there's a God who has an unending supply of it for me, and I call Him Lord.
So when I see this nonsense, my first instinct is to fight back and shout "NO! You shouldn't be feeling guilty regardless! What you eat is not tied to your worth. beauty or identity!" However, I know that's not the way to fight this battle.
People don't tend to find transformation after someone posts a really insightful comment on a social media forum.
These things take time. They take time, and they take the desire to be free.
This year, as I sat back with all my pent up heartache at the ways those dear to me carry guilt when they eat, constantly calculating how much they'll have to work out to "burn off" or "earn" their food; I also felt peace flood my heart.
Yes, I see years ahead of me full of tough conversations with beautiful women in my life. Yes, I find myself downright angry at the way they see themselves and the way they feel shame for enjoying food.
But now that I've tasted it, I look forward to years of freedom in my own life.
I fought really hard this year to not serve that nasty voice inside of me that, when my jeans got tight and I ate one too many appetizers, tried to convince me that until I worked it off, I was disgusting or undeserving.
I worked really really hard to listen only to what my Heavenly Father says about me and let those insights anchor my identity.
Do I want to treat myself well by staying healthy and active, nourishing my body with good, whole food? Yes! Absolutely!
Do I think that there's value in fitness and learning the art of self control and balance?
But, when I fail? Grace.
When I gain? Grace.
When I change and shift? Grace.
& This was the goal. I didn't want to be careless, and treat myself like crap. I wanted to be so rooted in Christ's love for me that no matter WHAT I looked like, no matter how I vacillated, the way I felt about myself didn't change.
I think I'm finding myself there.
I've seen food labels recently that read "Guilt-Free". One of my favorite things about this new season of learning for me is that...Every item of food could have that label on it for me. I in no way support over-indulging in all the buttery holiday goodness but, ah, to eat a slice of my mother in law's unbelievable pecan pie-Guilt free? Without any less sugar or butter in there than usual...it just means I can savor each bite of my piece with gratitude and joy, not weighed down by how many crunches I'll have to do to work off this shame.
The shame isn't there! Not because I don't think health is important, but because my identity and worth are no longer in my size or my daily calorie count.
Its good. Its so good that every time I feel that voice start to bubble up beneath the surface, I fight HARD to choose the voice of grace and love. I fight hard in the face of a culture that one million times a day tries to convince me to do whatever it takes to fit a mold marked by perfectionism.
I hope one day that all the beauties in my life are set free, too. But I think the best way to invite them there is to live it out, myself.
So cheers, to a heart full of Thanksgiving, and a life that is surprisingly guilt-free by grace, alone.
Until Next Time,
Carly Calmes the First