My Progress!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Every Morning's Sunrise...

As a prelude to today's post, I share the following video with you:

I’ve had a rough couple of weeks.  Like anyone, I have good days and bad.  In my old age, I’ve gotten better at finding perspective and coping with the bad, but I won’t lie…I’ve had some difficulty bouncing back recently.  I went to bed last night dreading the storms forecasted for this weekend because I knew it wasn’t going to help my mood.  This morning, I woke up to a room that was darker than it should be and blaming the clouds I assumed were the culprit, I grumpily made my way to my patio for my daily prayer-time.  I opened to door to a beautiful sunrise amidst some rather ominous clouds and smiled at finding some beauty at the beginning of my day.

In the last 4 years, I’ve often been accused of seeing the world through rose colored glasses.  I’ve been called a “Pollyanna” by some. Friends often chastise me for being a “doormat” because I often give people the benefit of the doubt way beyond what they deserve; I’m often told that I need to handle particular situations in my life with a “firm hand” and take more opportunities to “give people a piece of my mind.” 

Some see this aspect of my personality as a weakness; a character flaw to be dealt with and remedied.  I used to feel the same way.  In younger years, I learned a lot of hard lessons because of my rose colored glasses; that people will take advantage of you…that life will often disappoint you…that sometimes people will never rise to the potential you see in them no matter what you do or how supportive you might be.

In my 20’s I was much thinner than I am now.  I worked out like a fiend so I was very fit, but never petite.  I look at pictures of myself then and see a beautiful girl, but I remember what it was like to look in a mirror back then.  I didn’t see that girl looking back at me.  I noticed her flaws…that her face was chubby, that her eyes squinted if she smiled too big (due to healthy cheeks ;), that her thighs were dimpled, her hair a crazy mess of curls, her boobs were ridiculously oversized, her butt flat as a pancake, her tummy never quite flat enough…you name it.  I couldn’t take a compliment and assumed anyone who complimented me had ulterior motives for doing so.  Even worse, I would often discount their compliment with some negative statement “Thanks, but my hair has a mind of its own today” or “Thanks, but I’ve actually gained 5 pounds this month.”

I know now, my inability to see an accurate reflection in the mirror had nothing to do with what I was *seeing*, but with what I was *feeling*.  That young girl felt ugly inside and out.  She felt unworthy of praise because if they knew what she looked like on the inside, they wouldn’t have offered that compliment so easily. 

Over the years, I continued to experience a life that was anything but easy.  I put my rose-colored glasses away and began to believe that inner voice that reminded me of my flaws on a daily basis.  I “toughened up,” let a lot of things get to me, held on to offenses, found it more and more difficult to forgive and forget.  Nobody was going to use me as a door mat anymore or take me for granted.  I thought I was a stronger individual for these changes.  Despite this assumption, I grew increasingly unhappy and bitter with life in general and my body became a visual representation of what was going on inside it.  I wish I had the courage to post one of my “before” pictures.  Who knows, by the end of this, I might find the courage.  If I do, I think anyone would be able to see the sadness in my eyes, the utter hopelessness I felt at that time.

Fast forward to now…yes, I’ve lost over 200 lbs, but I’m still not as thin as that pretty young girl in her 20’s.  However, in the past 5 years, I’ve come to terms with a lot of what was going through that young girl’s mind; come to terms with a lot of what made her feel so thoroughly unhappy with the reflection in the mirror.  As I shed each pound, I discovered parts of myself that legitimately needed some work.  Some of my discovery was that other parts were fine just the way they were no matter how someone else might define them and I learned to embrace those aspects of myself; nurture them and watch them blossom.  About a year ago, I was taking stock of my life and posted this on my blog:

“In the last two years I’ve gone from wearing 8x tshirts to squeezing into 18-20’s. I’ve gone from carrying a chair with me when I go shopping to canoeing down a river with my son and planning a trip to Fiesta Texas where I plan to ride every ride with him. I’ve made a ton of new friends, dated my heart out (almost literally) and learned that ultimately, the most valuable opinion of my self-worth is what I define guided by my creator.”

In short, even though that girl in my 20’s was probably prettier, thinner, more fit, had fewer wrinkles, etc. I realized writing the post referenced above that I wouldn’t trade the Michelle I am today for the Michelle I was in my 20’s no matter how much better she might have looked on the outside.  The Michelle I am today is leaps and bounds happier than the Michelle I was in my 20’s DESPITE having challenges the younger Michelle never dreamed would present themselves in her future. 

I attribute this perspective shift largely to my renewed relationship with God.  Luckily, I began to rebuild that relationship around the time I started to take a good hard look at myself.  I say “Luckily” because he’s helping me find a balance.  He encouraged me to get those rose-colored glasses out of the drawer and showed me that they were a gift from Him.  They allow me to find joy and beauty in each day no matter what the day might bring; and trust me…he knew I was going to have some days when it was going to be very difficult to find the joy.  He reminded me that it isn’t weakness to find the saint within the sinner or expect more out of individuals than they might currently demonstrate they are capable of, because they can often surprise us…we can often surprise ourselves. 

In the best interest of balance, I’ve also learned to rely on him to help discern the reality of the situation from how I might wish to see things.  While there is value in finding the silver lining, we can also hinder growth when we refuse to see the truth of a situation or circumstance.  There can be valuable lessons to learn when faced with challenging circumstances or trials. 

He’s taught me that there is forgiveness when I, or those around me, fall short of His vision for us as long as we don’t mind his gentle and sometimes not so gentle nudges when we get off the path he’s laid before us.  Finally,  He’s taught me to accept and embrace the person I am, the person He created me to be…to see myself as He sees me and ultimately define my worth based on His vision and not on my sometimes flawed vision or the flawed vision of those around me.

While we may begin this journey with an exterior that reflects our insecurities, each pound gained often represented by some negative emotion or circumstance we experienced, hopefully each pound lost will help us uncover the person, inside and out, we were meant to be.  Most of us know, it isn’t easy.  Not just to lose the weight, but to come to terms with how we got there in the first place.

Today I’m grateful for my rose-colored glasses and the true happiness I feel even when the forecast predicts thunderstorms because I know there is a beautiful sunrise in my future.  Today I choose to remember the promise of the sunrise and be thankful for the cleansing nature of the rain to come.

This is the sunrise from my patio this morning:

Psalm 139: 13-14

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.

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