An honest prayer for Thanksgiving

As we move into the season in which we seek to pause and give thanks, to celebrate God’s provision with a bountiful feast, I want to offer a meditation and a prayer. {While I also seek to acknowledge how this season can become an occasion for #thanks-shaming. I.e. Why don’t I feel more grateful for all that I’ve been given? I wish I was as grateful as ___ seems to be, etc. If this feeling of thanks-shaming resonates with you, read more in my series about shame here.}

May I lift my gaze to what is good in my life, for even the darkest of nights can be illuminated by a tiny pinprick of light, like a star bursting through the black canvas of of a night sky.

May I have eyes to see the beauty around me, hidden though it may be.

May I use Thanksgiving as a time of focused practice in noticing what I’ve been given.

And in giving thanks, may I see those with whom I am asked to share my abundance. May I see the poor, the marginalized, the orphaned, the widowed, and the ones at my own table who are lonely and carrying sorrows in isolation. May I be generous and open-handed with all I’ve been given, as God has so generously been towards me. 

stories of shame, part 3: postpartum body shame

As a woman writing about shame, I can’t get too far into this series without discussing body shame, which I define as follows:

“Body shame is the feeling that your body with its imperfections is something of which to be ashamed – something you wish you could hide or change.” – from “Clothed in Christ: Body Shame” in Unashamed: Healing our Brokenness and Finding Freedom from Shame

I will say that compared to the “typical woman,” I managed to dodge the body shame bullet for a long time. I attribute this to growing up with brothers, where the focus at meals was about how much you ate instead of competing for how little you ate. I also come from pretty awesome genetics that I can take no credit for – high metabolism – and a generation of women who loved their desserts (and it didn’t show #unfairIknow). My dad did nothing but praise my appearance, giving me an inward confidence that was such a gift during adolescence particularly. My mom was free of the dieting cycles many of my and her friends tried throughout the years. The result = a ton of resilience against body shame.

Until I got pregnant, gained a lot of weight with twins, and hit the awkward postpartum months/years when, yes, I’ve had people ask me if I’m pregnant because that’s what it looked like. Weight doesn’t come off so easily when you’re in your 30s. End result = first real personal struggle with body shame.

mirror

So what have I done? What do I do? I preach the gospel to myself. The gospel as applied to body shame is that I am redeemed from my deepest flaw (sin within), and that Christ has made me beautiful. The beauty that counts is within, and my struggle with my outward appearance is either increasing inward beauty or decreasing it.

  • Do I obsess to the point of self-centered focus?
  • Do I spend more time measuring myself by dress size and the number on my scale than by the truth that I am hidden with Christ in God?
  • Do I judge my worth by how snugly my clothes fit compared to a few years ago?
  • Do I look at the mirror on my wall more than the mirror of God’s Word?

The truth is that right now, this struggle is nearly daily. But I know freedom is possible, and I have tasted it in glimpses. What I pray is that more and more, I will be more focused on loving others than on how I appear or what I don’t like about my body. I pray that I will be more and more radiant with the beauty that comes from being with Jesus instead of becoming obsessed with wearing the right clothes, makeup, and being my “ideal size.”

I want to see myself as God sees me, not as the message given to me by the culture, the mirror or the scale.  And God calls me beloved and beautiful, because I am clothed in his Beloved Son, Jesus, by faith.

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You can read the other post of this series here: part 1 & part 2.

 

 

 

 

Five Minute Friday: “reflect”

She peers into her new mirror, eager to catch a glimpse of the princess ballerina in her pink dress. Changes clothes again and runs over to see how her reflection has changed.

photo credit: ayearwithoutmirrors.com

photo credit: ayearwithoutmirrors.com

Somewhere along the years, these girls who are delighted to see their indelible God-beauty turn into teens obsessed by the imperfections and then women who never quite like what the mirror reflects. And so plastic surgery is a booming American industry. And clothing and fashion and cosmetics and magazines, as we women seek to change the image reflected before us.

What if, instead, I peered into the perfect word that gives freedom? The Word of God that reflects who I am truly? The beauty that is indelible because of Jesus and because of God’s image stamped upon me, his name written on my identity, his authorship of my story. If I gazed deeply into this never-ending glory of truth that rings real, of promises that beautify, of love that is never-stopping-always-pursuing … would I reflect the Beloved more fully to a world desperate for a glimpse? Whose attempts at this love, this beauty, fall far short of reflecting the Truth they falsely emulate?

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I’m sneaking in my Five Minute Friday post, an hour before midnight, as a way to join a group of writers spontaneously and artfully and freely pouring words onto paper for five minutes every Friday.