I’m going to be brutally honest. I took this photo as a “before” picture last summer. But here’s the deal, I don’t have an “after” picture. I pretty much look the same give or take a few pounds. Want me to be even more honest? I haven’t gone home to see friends and avoid getting together at times because I know I don’t look the same as I did two, three, or four years ago when I last saw them. I’ve gained a pants size and wear loose fitting clothes to hide my new insecurities, like the fact that my thighs touch, and that I don’t have a 20” waist. All signs of being happy and comfortable in marriage, and if they’re my friends, then they wouldn’t care, right? I mean, one would only hope.
I don’t know how I grew up with basically zero “body image” problems. I just didn’t understand girls who picked themselves a part almost every second of the school day. I often made up things I didn’t like about myself just to fit in, because hating on your legs and stomach was what all the girls did in the bathroom between passing periods. It truly is beyond me on how I came to a place of such positive self-acceptance through middle school, high school, and college, since the first man in my life constantly put myself, my mom, and my sisters down about our looks.
“Marisa, why would you go job hunting with your friends? You know employers hire the prettier applicant, and you would obviously have some competition.”
“Well girls like you don’t usually end up with that kind of guy, might want to stay with people in your league...”
“Your the shortest girl on the cheerleading squad which makes you stand out so awkwardly compared to the other girls who were obviously picked for their good looks to be on the team....”
And there’s plenty more where that came from, but I’ll save you from any more jaw drops than you might experience in this post.
Let’s skip over college, that’s another story for a different day, and then I found “the one” and got married. You think you marry someone who is going to love you for you forever, because that’s the promise you made in return. Your bodies change, your habits change, your jobs change, you move states, you get new cars, and new friends. Life continues to go on, happily, until suddenly it stops. Without warning. Without any kind of inkling, going about your simple life, you don’t consider that forever might change in the blink of an eye before you even had a chance to notice.
A week ago, I heard the words “I’m just not in love with you or attracted to you anymore.... ”
Blindsided. Rejected. Shocked. Speechless.
Before you condemn him, I know he at least partially feels that way because of things I’ve started to say about myself. I put myself down, I cover myself up, and I hide. That’s not me. That’s never been me. Why is it me now? I see girls who look like me in bikinis and I wonder why that can’t be me wearing a cute two-piece on vacation, I see women with curvy legs wearing short dresses looking FAB, I see ladies with curvaceous booties wearing form fitting skirts, all the while wishing I had their confidence. Why is that not me? Comparison is an ugly game where you’re always the loser. I recently went through a “purge” where I unfollowed and unfriended people who made the comparison monster rise up inside of me. It wasn’t them, it was me. "You were never skinny enough to be a pageant queen." "You weren't the perfect wife today." "Why can't you be sexier instead of awkward?" "I wear "teacher clothes" and don't show enough skin like them." "You failed you diet plan this week...." ABC.... XYZ. I’ve fed myself all of the lies hundreds of times.
Need more honesty? I wish I was a runner. I wish I was motivated to work-out every day. I’m not. That’s not me. That’s really never been me. Maybe it will be someday, but today, in this moment, it’s not. Guess what else? No matter how hard I might try, I can’t force someone to love me or be attracted to my looks. Who’s to say that if I change my hair and lose 40lbs my husband would love me again? What good would it really do? My body is going to change 60 more times in the next 60 years so, in my opinion, you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. I refuse to force myself into a mold of expectations for perfection, instead of working through reality. When did looks become more important than someone’s heart? When did we start valuing someone’s looks as something we “love”? Teaching children. Loving pets. Worshiping at church. Reading the Bible. Leading a LifeGroup. Belly laughs with family. Creating. Sharing struggles. Being real, honest, and genuine. I thought those were things that made me attractive and lovable to my husband, and that my looks were just a decent bonus. Why can't that be enough?
So where do I go from here? Poor pitiful me, right? Not really. I will pray he changes his mind and heart about me because I’m hopeful in the fact that marriage is a forever commitment. The truth is also that our physical bodies should be taken care of but, should not be idolized, and that love can find its way back to even the hardest of hearts. I’m not, I cannot, and I will never be the main source of any ones happiness except for myself and God. Happiness is a fleeting feeling that comes and goes as quick as spring weather and should not be held onto like its the best thing in this world you can find. The good news is that despite this trial I’m going through, I’m going to keep following Jesus. There’s peace in my heart knowing that there are things I can mentally and spiritually change, which is way more important than any temporary body changes I may go through. But, most of all, it is not in my ability to change someone else. Instead of gossiping, screen saving this and sharing it with 10 of your closest friends (unless of course this has been a source of hope and inspiration to you or you know someone who needs to hear this), will you pray for me? Pray for me to have a clear mind and focus during state testing at school and finishing the school year, it’s been a week and my kids can tell something is different or just a little “off” about me. Pray for the wounds my heart is feeling, because they are heavy and I’m hurting. Pray for my family because they have always been around to put back my many messy pieces. Pray my eyes are opened to my faults and that Jesus puts His conviction on my heart in areas I lack (I mean if we are talking miracles, I would be fine if He made me into a marathon runner overnight). Life isn’t perfect, I’m not perfect, my body isn’t perfect, and praise God that He doesn’t expect us to be.