I then began to plead with God to heal me. I don't even think that I realized that I was continually pleading with God to remove my weaknesses and make me the way that I want to be....not surrendering to His will, but requesting that things go my way and then feeling angry, depressed, anxious and frustrated that He wasn't answering my plan. I did catch what I was doing to myself within about a month's time and realized that I was slipping back into the unhealthy habit of 2-3 glasses of wine and/or vodka each night and that it was me that was hurting me; my own inability to see my stress level and to deal with in in a healthy way. And then something happened;
I went away for 3 days to a retreat with 23 other women of all different ages, sizes and shapes. There were 20 to 30 year-old mothers of young children who struggle with raising them. There were women in their 40's and 50's who struggle with issues of anxiety and health. And out of all of these beautifully different women, I found myself thinking that I belonged in the 20-30 something age group. I didn't think that I had issues with my age as I approach 46 this September, but this week I learned otherwise. I am happy to have had the experiences that I have lived through and the gained wisdom, but I found myself wishing for those 20-30 year old bodies. I coveted them. My confidence shrunk around them. My self-talk told me I was huge and gross and that I looked like I was wearing a circus tent for a shirt.
As I spent time with each of these women, while portraying a facade of confidence, I heard them speak of their hobbies, husbands, health and their worries and stress of raising their small children. I felt even worse as those that I thought that I belonged with sounded like great mommies and I could only recall my selfishness and neglect in raising my own kids years ago. My confidence plummeted as I felt that I didn't fit into their group.
That night we split up into small groups and some of us confessed some of our weaknesses and the conversation began to move in to "idols" and what is considered an "idol". The debate whet deep into statues and activities when I confessed that I make myself an "idol" when I focus on all of my short-comings and weaknesses. I told them of how I get tunnel-vision and then am no longer focusing on building others up, but am focusing on bringing myself down.
As I spoke I began to realize that I am not of that 20-30 generation anymore. I am now another generation. I am of a generation with experiences, wisdom, and a responsibility to model to the younger generation how to grow, live, be a wife and be good to one's self and others.
Just then one of the other 40-something's, who exuded confidence, spoke about her weight and at that moment I realized that this wasn't about my weight at all. This is about knowing who I am in God, having the confidence in who God made me to be, allowing myself to settle healthfully into my own generation and to be ready, confident and present to mentor or be an example to those 20-30 year olds. I realized that my generation is supposed to be role models for that generation and instead of focusing on that....I was focusing on me; my dissatisfaction with my weight, my lack of confidence in who God made me to be. I was being part of the problem that we women have when it comes to self-acceptance, vanity and love. Ugh!
So, I jumped back into my Gratitude Journal this time remembering to also focus on Graduate Gratitude (being grateful for things that aren't as easy to be grateful for). I am learning to be grateful for; this able body that God designed just for me, my limitations and weaknesses, my need to quietly restore after a full weekend of getting to know 23 other women, to appreciate the wisdom that comes with my age, and to quickly recognize when I am getting sucked back into self-absorption. Oh and to not shrink back down when a someone calls me ma'am.
2 Cor 12:10 That's why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak then I am strong.
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