Thursday, March 18, 2010

Beauty: Surrendered

When I felt that flutter in my stomach because of Sarah Markley’s challenge, it was accompanied by more than just the thoughts of not writing about it, like I told you yesterday.


I knew when reading her directive that I had a guest post going up on (in)courage a few days later. It was a post about surrendering instead of adapting… something I have learned to do in all areas of my life.

Except one.

I had this nagging thought in the back of my head saying, “You know, you’ve surrendered your whole life. Your talents, your abilities, your pain, your seclusion, your hopes, your dreams. You’ve handed it all to God on a platter and asked Him to shape your life. To give you both hope and acceptance. Except for that one thing that has you keeping your fingers crossed behind your back.”

I told the nagging thought to shut up.

Why is it that nagging thoughts never listen? They are about as obedient as Riley, and we all know my dog has a mind of his own.

After I tried to do everything I could to not think about it, I finally sat down and thought about nothing else. Why is it that I can take the pain, the loss, the loneliness, the constant uncertainty, and feel peace in all of it? Why is it that I can be facing the worst situations and stay focused on the beauty and blessings in my life, but when it comes to looking at myself in the mirror I freeze? I steel myself. I hold my breath and push all thoughts from my mind in a stubborn denial.

Why can’t I find that same peace?

And then that ridiculous nagging thought came back: Because you’ve never asked Him to help you with it.

Then I told the thought to shut up again.

Have I ever mentioned to you all that I’m stubborn? Not in the typical way people are stubborn, as my mom cleared up when she said I was the polar opposite of mischievous. :) No, I’m stubborn in the way that causes me to say to God, “Look. I totally know that I’m supposed to deal with this. But here’s the thing. I don’t want to. I don’t WANT to be ok with how my appearance has changed, because I don’t WANT people to see me like this, because I don’t WANT it to stay this way. I’m perfectly fine with staying in hiding until I lose the remaining fifty pounds that Cushing’s has left me with. Thanks for your offer of help and everything, but I’ve totally got this one.”

Yep. I’m that kind of stubborn.

Now don’t get me wrong. I see the improvements. When all is said and done, over the course of four months, I expanded by 70 pounds. I wasn’t just heavy, I was somewhat deformed. I had a buffalo hump on the back of my neck, I had what they call “fat pads” on my face, neck and shoulders. My legs and arms stayed relatively normal while my torso took on a life of it’s own. My neck was so thick it would cut off my breathing, but I couldn’t lean my head back to get air because the buffalo hump was in the way. I don’t know what to tell you I looked like, but it wasn’t normal. It was scary. I would have the computer in front of me, and when the screen would turn to black before the screen saver came on, I would catch a glimpse of myself and it would literally make me nauseous and dizzy. I couldn’t even see myself in my eyes anymore, because they were too hidden behind my cheeks. I couldn’t look ahead without seeing my own swollen face in my sightline.

For me, it was torture.

Things are better than that now. Most of the swelling has gone down. The buffalo hump is a baby one, my torso is starting to look in proportion with the rest of my body, and I see myself in my face again. My eyes are the eyes I remember. As my friend Susie exclaimed a month or so ago, “You have a jaw line again!” Trust me, that was a happy day. If I wanted to put blush on my cheeks now, I would actually have an idea where it should go. Sometimes it really is the simple things in life we celebrate. :)

I don’t look deformed anymore, I just look like a girl who has been on steroids. I’m me, just a much larger version of me. I don’t gasp when the computer screen turns to black and mirrors my image. I’ve gotten up the courage to Skype with a few friends. I’m coming out of hiding, but I have to fight every step of the way. I’m embarrassed. I want to wear a nametag, but instead of having my name scrawled across it with lovely lettering, I want a photo of the old me so people can see who I was. Who I am.

And that’s when I realized the problem.

I can let go of all my old talents and abilities and freedoms, because they were simply an extension of who I am inside. They were ways I expressed my heart to people, but the same message still gets out in different ways. I have lost a lot, but I’m still me. My personal, internal beauty never changed.

But when it comes to physical beauty, I want my outside to match my inside. I want to wear that picture nametag because I want those of you who didn’t know me before…

… to see the same me…

… I still see in my mind.

What little faith I’ve put in you.

I’m sorry for that.

So, I’m going to start working on it. I’m going to finally ask for Him to change my heart. I have friends coming to visit the next two months. Friends with blogs. Friends with fancy cameras. Friends who will use those fancy cameras to take pictures of us and put them on their blogs.

And how selfish would I be to say no… to not live in my moments and enjoy these soul-sisters… to keep my fingers crossed behind my back when surrendering my life to a God who simply wants me to shine.

I’m finally asking Him to change my heart. And there’s beauty in that.

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