I looked at myself in the mirror naked today. That’s right. That’s how I’m starting this book. Please don’t leave just yet. I’ve got quite a story to tell and I’m hoping you’ll stick around until the end. We’ve got some twists and turns to get through and I want you there with me, okay? Trust me, you’ll enjoy the ride.
You see, I’m a Spitfire.
I’m also an adopted, pink haired, an identical twin, theology loving, ezerist with a calm husband, and four wacky little sons. I’ve been rejected. I’ve been told I’m far too talkative, intense, introverted, yet social (YEP, INFP), chill, yet intense, and yes, a prospective boss/pastor once called me “whimsical” in an interview and then offered the job to someone with much less experience and much less personality. (I know because I stalked her Facebook to see what was up. I am ashamed.)
My “Spitfire-ness” has always held me back. Partly because I’m always worried that I’m overwhelming people and partly because if I let the cat out of her cage, she’s likely to sit on your lap and purr, or possibly inadvertently scratch and not everybody likes that, I guess. Not that I’m super friendly, but I just see everybody and respond, often times with emotion and honesty and more candor than is usually expected. For example, a few nights ago, I was talking with a new friend and telling her that I wasn’t eating carbs because my extended family was going to be photographed that weekend at a wedding. As I scraped the tuna out of the sub roll she said,
“Oh, that’s so nice when families get together.”
To which I replied,
“Yes. It will probably be the last time before people start to die, and I don’t want to look at those old pictures and wish I didn’t look like a sausage.”
Soooo… that’s typical and I often wonder how others view me. Do I offend? Do I inspire authenticity? Do those I come in contact with think I am a bag of nuts? Do I even care??
Unfortunately, I do. At least I do today when I’m forcing myself to take a long gander at what the Good Lord gave me, which is where I began and where I’m picking this up. (If you thought I was done with nudity, I am truly sorry. Brace yourself. You can do this.)
I typically avoid mirrors, especially full length ones and when I happen to be naked and on the way to a big towel, only God is the “One Who Sees Me” (ref. Gen. 16:13. Hagar in the desert.). I can be found leaping passed them as with the grace of a newborn gazelle. This is one area where humility isn’t hard.
But there’s one mirror in my house that I sometimes enjoy. The light in main bathroom offers a flattering pop of my green eyes when I’m wearing makeup. On occasion, when checking my teeth for debris or to see if the new zit I am developing is going to ruin my day, I’ll duck into that bathroom and be surprisingly Ok with what I see. Of course, it’s only allowing me to view myself from the neck up.
Don’t be alarmed. This is not a body book. I’m not here harp on and on about insecurity. (Blech.) I want to talk about vulnerability. I want to talk about honesty. We all deal and it’s time to dish. Everybody has a “thing” that keeps them from being courageous for the Lord. I have a few dozen “things”. Today, friends, that long look in the mirror did it for me. I’m emotionally exhausted.
It’s been a while since I allowed myself a full viewing… the kind where you just stand there without sucking in and just let yourself be. The kind where you rotate slowly and see what has been happening behind you that you forgot to check on.
I’m thirty-eight years old. My body has grown six children and birthed four, and the stretch marks that begin behind my knees map all the way up to the top of my rib cage. I can’t even talk about my breasts. Why are my nipples facing my toes?? You used to be friends but now we are strangers.
Turning around, I’m shocked. Dimples for days! Hello Shirley Temple!! I didn’t know you were back there! I would have spent time with you if I knew.
Is it too much already? Sorry. I might have mentioned that I am, indeed, a Spitfire. When I gave myself the second minute of truly examining my image, I think I laughed out loud. My immediate response was that I need to “fix this mess.” I need to exercise. Sugar is the enemy. Potato bread, you are dead to me. I’ll see you a year or two or three. It was nice knowing you but you should also know that I shall miss you the most…
As I dressed (quickly), I thought about what my body has been through and how at 112 lbs (my wedding day 15 years ago!), I still could not seem to get past the fact that there was a wrinkle in the waist of my dress that had been smooth before I consumed food at my bachelorette party. I remember trying everything to get it to lay perfectly flat. I was obsessed.
My mother came into the bathroom of the church when I was relentlessly pushing it down, and said so lovingly,
“Honey, I know that little wrinkle is bothering you, but I promise that nobody is going to notice it. You are beautiful.” I wish it would have brought comfort.
Friends. Sisters. Brothers. Can we talk about the crazy impossible standards of beauty that women are held to? Women are plucking and waxing and burning the flesh off of their faces. They are injecting poisons and spending thousands on products to diminish blemishes, wrinkles, spots, acne, moles, and whatever else happens to be there. We’re bleaching our teeth, dying our hair, taking supplements, starving ourselves, working out, and spending all of our money on clothes and makeup that make us feel good about ourselves.
ENOUGH of this shenanigans!
And that’s not the half of it! The “home maker” part of us kicks in and we’re buying houses outside of our means and furnishing and decorating to impress Jones’s who will never step foot. We’re breaking the bank to “host” but our homes never look, smell, or are comfortable enough to bring anyone in. (Does anybody else’s house smell like a straight sewer or is it just mine? Ok. Sorry. You’re not ready to admit just yet. Glade Plug Ins to the rescue!)
We want to be beautiful, fit, educated, and to be able to support our families financially, while also taking the time to let our creative juices flow (so we don’t die of boredom) and also to make sure to pack several healthy lunches for school and grocery shop, and study, and have sex, and maintain friendships, and listen to our kids’ neverending stories and also breathe!
Is anyone else exhausted or is it just me?
And I how to I take the Spitfire in me and turn her into a woman of peace who loves Jesus and her family and is able to shepherd the flocks that God might bring her way?? How do I become courageous when I’m almost always certain that I’m not doing enough??
Well, I did it. Believe it. This is not a book about a hot mess woman taking you on a crazy journey through a life as a Baptist child, preacher’s daughter, Theology buff, short term missionary, Bible study leader, Church innovator…
Or is it? You’ll have to see.
Read on, friends.
We’re in this mess together now.