Body Image

I’m turning 55 this year, and my body shows it.  I’m definitely in shape – round is a shape, right?!

I’m apple-shaped – the worst design for heart health, with all the weight around the middle part of my body. As far as I know, my heart is strong, but this place of carrying pounds is not recommended by health experts.

I like my face and neck, and I like my legs. It’s the mid-section that causes me grief, from boobs to butt!

Of course, I can’t really complain about it, because I’m not doing anything about it.  I’m still eating frozen pizza once a week, still daily eating dark chocolate pieces (healthy, right?!), and drinking wine. I have increased my vegetable intake, which is healthy. And I readily reach for fruit, but those of course have sugars in them, which is probably why I prefer them to veggies.

I do want to walk more – my goal is 3x/week, or more if I get my headphones on and listen to podcasts. I want to be ready, endurance-wise, for a trip to Europe in the Fall. But I’m not going to the gym; I’m not even doing my stretching exercises anymore, which I had done nightly for many weeks, faithfully.  Funny how quickly I can get out of a habit.

So, age 55. At what point do I accept my body? Not to say that I give up walking, but at what stage – or age – do I say that I am okay with how I look?

I’ve recently found a website with clothes that compliment me, and I’ve purchased several things from them which flatter my body. But I weigh more now than I ever have, and while my weight isn’t increasing, it’s not going down either. How do I look in the mirror and say I’m okay with what I see?

God looks at the inner part of me (“…The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7b, NLT), which is definitely growing in closeness to Him. He sees my heart, which is full of love for Him, and gratitude for His gifts of eternal life, for the Holy Spirit, for His Word, for His faithfulness to me.

So while God wants me to take care of my body (Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your bodyI Cor. 6:19-20, NLT), He’s not angry with me about my body shape. He loves me just the way I am.

Now, to love myself – and my body – the same way that God does.

 

 

Anxiety Revisited

So I got news yesterday that concerned me. No, more than concern. It brought worry and anxiety. My mind raced eighteen steps ahead in my worst-case-scenario storyline. It was not pretty.

I haven’t had anxiety for a long time, other than a single moment a few weeks ago. But that flash of anxiety was just that – a flash, momentary. It lasted long enough for me to recognize it, but my thoughts immediately turned to God’s truth, and the anxiety was gone – snap! – that fast.

This time, it’s lingering. I’m worried about something in the future that I can’t control. That’s where anxiety looks – ahead. Depression looks back. This is why it’s so important to stay in the current moment – so as not to entertain anxiety (future worry) or depression (past regrets).

Anyway, this fear for a future moment is for an inevitable event; I just don’t know when. And the not-knowing scares me.

Anxiety presents itself in my body in both my belly and my lungs. My stomach feels hollow, and it’s hard to catch my breath. It’s a physical reaction to an emotional response. My stomach hurts and I can’t breathe.

I hugged my husband tonight when he got home, and told him I was scared – he didn’t even ask about what. He knows what worries me, even though I’ve been careful not to dwell on the future or even express it. As if expressing it out loud could make it happen – which it can’t.

The sermon on Sunday was about peace. I’ll go back and review my notes, because I need them right now. I need the peace that Jesus brings. He says, “I leave the gift of peace with you—my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts—instead, be courageous!” John 14:27 (TPT)

In other places in God’s Word, it says:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Colossians 3:15 (NASB)

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭4:6-7‬ ‭(NIV‬‬)

I was thinking about that word “guard.” God’s peace will guard my heart and my mind – will protect it, keep it from being attacked by outside forces. By anxious thoughts.

At this time of year, we celebrate that Jesus came as a baby. The Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

May He reign in my heart and yours. Right now. Because we all need His Peace.

Explaining myself

A writer should always ask, “Who is my audience? For whom am I writing?”

Some bloggers say they’re writing for themselves, and they don’t care if anyone reads their stuff or not. To which I wonder, “Then why blog? Why not just journal?” I’m not questioning their motives so much as I’m trying to understand.

When I write, I have an audience in mind. Maybe it’s just one person, or maybe it’s a crowd. But I can picture a Christ-follower, usually a woman, who struggles with depression, anxiety, or another mental illness. Who wonders if she’ll ever be well. Who thinks she’s the only one in the world with these feelings. She’s me, or who I used to be, or who I could be again.

I know I have family and friends who read my blog posts, and that delights me. I like expressing myself in this way to them, hopefully giving them a little insight into thoughts that I might not express outwardly. But they’re my friends – they care about me – and I want them to know how I feel.

I’m also grateful for followers and readers of my blog who I don’t know personally. How awesome that they would take the time to read my words, to consider my experiences.

In both cases – with both groups of readers – I hope that I express the struggles of depression in a Christ-follower. I hope by writing about it, I help to diminish its stigma, especially within the Christian community.

I try to write honestly, from a place of transparency and authenticity. I might write about my current situation, or I might be recalling a time in the past. I try to make that distinction clear as I put my words on the page. Occasionally, I’ll write about the future, and I want those posts to be hopeful and not full of dread.

But the reality is that I have some anxieties when I look to the future. I wonder about relapsing into depression. I think it’s always in the back of my mind that it could happen. So I don’t look ahead too often; I’m trying to live in the moment, and write from this place.

For a long time in my dark depression, I anticipated and feared the future, the changes that I was inevitably going to face because of my maturing family. I wasted two years worrying about things that I couldn’t clearly foresee, and I certainly couldn’t control. I “pre-grieved.” I anticipated change and mourned it before it even happened.

All that did was drive me deeper into depression and anxiety, and rob me of the joys of the moment. Such are the beasts of these mental illnesses. A focus away from the present.

So I write what I’m thinking today, what I’m feeling at this time, or what I’m recalling as my emotional status in the past.

And I’m writing to explain my thoughts, emotions, moods and experiences with depression. What it’s like to live with it, when being battered by it, or when it’s in remission, like it is right now.

And I always feel better when I’ve written my thoughts down. So maybe I am my own audience, after all.

Thanks for reading!

Satan is the Accuser

I was struggling this morning with lots of negative self talk. I was blaming myself and my earlier depression for one of my children’s current situation.

I kept telling myself that it wasn’t true. I prayed about it, asking God to replace what I knew were lies with His truth. That I am beloved, a child of the King. That “...there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” Romans‬ ‭8:1‬, NLT. And I know I belong to Christ Jesus. So where was this condemnation coming from?

My feelings wouldn’t catch up to this verse, and I began crying. I couldn’t internalize God’s truths and reconcile them with my feelings. And my feelings were so negative – full of guilt and shame. And self-blame.

Until I heard the word “accused.” I was being accused. And right then, I recognized the source of the lies. Satan gave himself away by accusing me. Because I recalled immediately that he is known as the Accuser in the Bible (Revelation 12:10).

These were lies from the devil. Besides Accuser, Jesus called him “the father of lies.” John 8:44, NLT. He was lying to me, blaming me, accusing me. Telling me that it was my fault that my child has made these choices.

But that’s not how God speaks to His children, and I am a child of God. He speaks to me with love, with tenderness. Even if He’s disciplining, He does so with gentleness.

So these harsh words couldn’t be from God. They had to be from the devil. And I will not agree with the devil!

I admit, this may be an ongoing battle for me, to recognize the lies of the devil, to distinguish his accusations from my own thoughts. Such is the nature of depressive thinking. It’s in my head, so it feels like it’s my own thoughts, that it originated with me. Depression lies.

I pray that God will give me the discernment to recognize the enemy’s voice, and replace it quickly with words of love from my Heavenly Father.

Feeling Sad

I’m feeling sad today. With no particular reason why, though maybe I know what prompted it. Hard to discern.

I had great prayer time and conversation with my best friend this morning. So that was good. Then I got ready for work, and ran some errands.

The sky was overcast, and the temperature was dropping. Snow was in the forecast, and I could feel it in the air when I got out of the car. Ironically, I was picking up a bathing suit from Target!

The satellite radio station was playing songs that took me back to a few years ago. Back to days of depression, when those songs ministered to me. Melancholia set in.

I’m missing my long-time therapist, again. I miss him often. This time, I think it’s because I’m looking for a new counselor. I like my current therapist, but she’s not a Christian, which is becoming increasingly important to me. While she respects my beliefs and when I say they are important to me, she doesn’t really understand the depth of how my faith affects my thoughts and feelings, the scope to which my beliefs define me and how I relate to my family and the world around me. And I think there are some spiritual issues that I need help working through, which I don’t think she can do.

So I’m in the market for a new therapist. Which is not an easy place to be – to start all over with someone new. One name pops to the top of the list when I google “Christian therapists near me,” and my pastor gave me the same name. So I left a message in his voicemail to see if he’s accepting new clients. I’ll have to give him a try and see if we’re a good fit.

I know it’s important for me to have a therapist in my routine. I need the talk therapy as well as my medication. To help me process my thoughts. But also to know me well enough to help me if I descend into depression again.

Back to my opening statement – it’s hard to feel sad. I know emotions – even unexplained ones – are part of life. Sadness included. But in the back of my mind, every time I feel sad, the thought flashes across my consciousness that this could be depression. An overreaction, I know. But it’s real. It happens. And I have to tell myself that sadness is just an emotion, not a harbinger of doom!

I think I need to chat about this with my new therapist, as soon as I find one.