Faith

Discovering More Than A Blind Spot

My church just finished up a series called Blind Spots. The series was about discovering/recognizing the areas that need work in our own life that we see so easily in other people’s lives. The key verse for the series came out of Matthew and explained that before we point out and try to fix flaws in other people, that we should first focus on ourselves.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. -Matthew 7:3-5

After listening to the first sermon, I was really excited about tackling the challenge of figuring out my blind spots, but quickly became discouraged from the steps provided to discover your areas that need work. The three steps were as follows:

  1. Admit you have blind spots.
  2. Invite the Holy Spirit to start exposing your blind spots.
  3. Ask healthy, godly people what your blind spots are.

Those don’t sound so hard… step 1: done, step 2: done; it was step 3 that I got caught up on. It wasn’t until I was sitting at small group listening to these people share about who they asked and what they learned that I realized I didn’t have anyone. I sat there in the back feeling so pathetic and lonely. Yes, I have my husband, but his opinion is a bit different than the opinion of someone that is not so connected to me.

Please don’t read that as: I have no friends. That is not what I am saying at all. I am getting hung up on the “godly people” part. I would not describe majority of my friends as godly people. I have been burned, broken, and hurt by a lot of friendships in the past. Dealing with those failed friendships has really changed who I am as a person and who I am as a friend. I have started keeping people at arm’s length and being slow to share my feelings and opinions. With that being said, I feel like the godly friends I do have don’t know the me I have become, so their opinion on my blind spot would not be accurate.

So that night at small group I shut down. I couldn’t get past all the thoughts of failed friendships and feelings of loneliness. I wanted to leave and retreat back to a place where I didn’t have to think about how my new personality traits might be holding me back when they are supposed to be keeping me safe. I was silent on the ride back home, because I was embarrassed at feeling like I had no one to ask and for how these feelings were affecting me.

I opened up a few days later to Jeremiah. He is seriously my rock. I know that after I have some time to simmer, I can go to him with anything and he will listen and understand. This time was no different. He more than understood and admitted to having very similar feelings. Sometimes I joke that I am the female version of him, because we often share the same or very similar thoughts, feelings, and emotions about a situation.

We ultimately decided that just because we don’t have an abundance of godly people to ask that we shouldn’t just not participate, so we would use what we did have: each other. Obviously it wasn’t ideal to just ask your spouse, but until we cultivate good, close relationships with godly people, this was better than nothing. We also agreed that it was good that we recognized this lack of relationship in our lives, so we can begin working on it, and we believe that is why we are at this church and in this small group.

Instead of just telling the other what we thought their blind spot was, we kind of discussed it openly. We are both very intuitive and thoughtful people, so we had a pretty good idea as to what our blind spots were. For me, the blind spot I am going to be working on is being judgemental. Being judgemental is something I have struggled with ever since I was a kid and to most people who know me well, know this is something I struggle with. I often make a judgey comment and then follow it up with “but I’m not judging.” I feel like I have come a long way with my battle of being judgemental, but that it has been reignited lately because of some insecurities I have been feeling. I have found myself passing judgements on people because of my insecurities before they even have a chance. I also judge myself very harshly which I found has really put a strain on my self-confidence and growth.

Now that I have chosen an area to work on, the steps provided for change are:

  1. Confess and repent.
  2. Choose to grow.
  3. Look to Jesus.

It’s not going to be an easy road or even a natural road, but I think this road to change will be well worth the challenge!

Pregnancy

The Bump Blues

In complete transparency, I want to let you know that this pregnancy has been absolutely wonderful, but not without worry, complications, or insecurity.

For majority of this pregnancy, I have just felt like me with a bit more exhaustion. It wasn’t until the last few weeks that I have been hit – and hit hard! – with all the crazy emotions that typically accompany pregnancy. I can thank my new, strong hormones for these emotions. These hormones have really targeted my insecurities and bringing all of my self-consciousness to the forefront of my mind.

As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I dreamed about my growing bump and changing body. It all seemed so magical – and on good days, it still does! But one day a couple weeks ago, I woke up and just felt huge. Like really, really heavy. Obviously this is bound to happen when a little thing like me is carrying around a few pounds of baby in their midsection. But as a person who has never really struggled with their weight before, I had never felt anything quite like this, and my mind just didn’t know how to handle it.

I began to struggle with finding clothes that fit me and that I felt good and confident in. This is also just a typical side-effect of pregnancy, but it just felt so much more than that to me. I started seeing myself in pictures and noticing how thick and round my face was becoming and focusing on the breakouts that I can’t seem to cure. I would feel my thighs rub together and stare down at my swollen feet and be disgusted. Then I fell into the compare game – which is dangerous when you aren’t pregnant, but so much more so when you are – and I would look around at the other pregnant women I know and wonder how they still look so good and I just look so thick and huge.

I haven’t had too many cravings, but lately I have just wanted sugar… and lots of it! I have always drank way too much soda, but was never into baked goods or typical sweets, but now I want ice cream, cake, and candy. I had been hating on myself and crying in secret, but finally broke down last week in the car after a snack run. I felt guilty the whole time I was walking around grabbing snacks and sweets that I wanted, but when I finally purchased everything and made it back to the apartment, I fell apart. Just uncontrollably sobbing that I had no self-control in what I ate and it was my fault that I was getting so fat. I cried and cried until I had no more tears. That night I admitted to my husband about how I was feeling. He is so kind and reminded me that I was beautiful, but I needed to believe it for myself.

The next day we went to our midwife appointment and it turned out I hadn’t gained any weight since the last time I was here. She assured me that I looked great and was gaining weight at a healthy rate. After learning this, I felt a little better knowing that this weight is really just baby and being pregnant. I knew I was just being ridiculously hard on myself, but I can’t even explain what it is like to be a small, skinny person your whole life and then to just be big – no matter what the reason.

Over the last week, I have been spending a lot of time in prayer; asking God to remind me that I am beautiful, because he created me and that my pregnancy is perfect, because it was designed by him. I have also been reminding myself that every woman, pregnancy, and baby is different, so I can’t expect all pregnant women to look the same. My mindset has really changed and although I still feel uncomfortable and self-conscious in most of the clothes I have to wear, I have started to see the beauty in my body again and focusing more on all the awesome baby movement I feel and what the future holds for me.

Uncategorized

Don’t Tell Me What I See in the Mirror

Disclaimer: This topic has been on my mind and heavy on my heart for months and I have been grappling with how exactly I wanted to express my feelings. I want to make it clear that this post is not targeting a specific experience or person that I spoke to, but instead bringing attention to a problem I have personally experienced. If you are offended by this post, please know that that was not my intention.

 

Let me be frank: I have always been one of those girls who is thin with no effort at all. I never exercised regularly or watched what I ate; it all came down to having a fast metabolism. But what you don’t know about girls like me is that we aren’t healthy and we aren’t fit. We’ve also never had to deal with gradual or sporadic weight gain. We never got a pudge when we turned 13 or had thighs that rubbed together as we walked. It’s one of those things that seems like a blessing at the time, but comes back to bite you later on in life.

Older women used to always tell me that this blessing wouldn’t last forever. Just wait till you turn a certain age or have kids they would say. I wouldn’t say that I ignored them, but I didn’t expect my metabolism to slow down so suddenly. Looking back now, I definitely took my fast metabolism for granted. I wish someone had taught me how to eat correctly and how to exercise successfully. Although these women knew this, they did not take the time to prepare me for what was to come… and I am taking the change harder than expected.

Over the past 8 months or so, I have noticed a change in my body. Simple enough: I have gained weight.

Because I have never dealt with this before, it has been a very difficult and mildly traumatizing transition. This may sound dramatic or a little silly to you, but to me it is a huge! I remember the morning vividly where I was getting dressed and I couldn’t get my jeans up all the way. I tried for a good 5 minutes to suck in and wiggle my way into them, but it was no use. I slumped to the ground with tears in my eyes as I stared down at my body in disgust. To me, gaining weight is not a natural or normal thing. Some women have fluctuated in weight their entire lives, but me, never. I have worn a size 00 since I started shopping in the juniors section. I have owned the same pairs of pants since early high school. Going up a size is something I have never experienced.

I remember the evening when I had filled up the bathtub, but the water didn’t cover all of me, but my neck up. I had finally reached a point where my stomach was so wide fat thick that the water crowded around it, but not over it. I again sucked in and maneuvered as much as I could, but it was no use. I sat there staring at my stomach trying not to cry as I told myself that I was beautiful. I remember so many moments where I realized that my unhealthy habits had finally caught with me.

For awhile I didn’t know what to do. I tried researching how to eat healthy, but was so overwhelmed with all the ingredients and nutrition values. I attempted to start working out, but gave up after getting frustrated trying to learn what exercise helps what. For people who have never had to lose weight or tone their body before, the process can be very difficult, frustrating, and overwhelming.

After admitting defeat, I decided to talk to some other people about it. And the reaction I received broke my heart and filled me with discouragement.

As I sat there in these different places with these different women explaining my situation and being vulnerable about my personal insecurities, I was met with a harsh reality. Many of these women responded with “you?” “oh girl!” “you don’t need to lose any weight” “don’t be ridiculous, you’re skinny”. Many of them laughed or grinned at me like my insecurity and vulnerability was some sort of joke… all because I am perceived as healthy, thin, and skinny.

Why is it that thin women are shamed for talking about weight gain? [I use the term ‘thin’ very loosely to encompass women that others perceive as thin.] Why is it that a woman who looks like she is in shape isn’t taken seriously when she asks questions about how to exercise? Why is a woman who is considered skinny laughed at or given a smirk when she inquires about healthy eating? Why is 20 pounds not just 20 pounds? Why is a woman who used to weigh 100 pounds and now weights 120 treated differently than a woman who weighed 180 pounds and now weighs 200 when talking about weight gain?

I know that I am not overweight, but I recognize that I am not healthy. I know that I am not fat, but I recognize that I have gained weight in certain areas of my body. I know that I am beautiful, but I recognize that I often feel insecure when I look in the mirror. But if I have learned anything from opening up over the past 8 months is that if you are woman who appears to be skinny then you should stay silent.

This double standard has really broken my spirit and drive to better myself. After each encounter with these different women, I realized that it didn’t matter how well or how long each of these women knew me… their reactions were relatively the same. Some knew that I drink two sodas a day, eat pizza three times a week, and can barely run down the street while others only knew my name and job title. Their reactions to me talking about weight was based solely on what they see when they look at me… but what about what I see when I look at me?

I believe that all women are beautiful, but I also believe that all women have ways to better themselves. Becoming a healthier version of me is a way I want to better myself and there is nothing wrong with that. Stop the double standard.

 

Love Always,
Lauren