Combating “never enough” and getting unstuck

On Saturday night, I explained to Mike that I feel stuck in everything right now. I know I need to make changes in so many areas, but I lack motivation to get started. I know how to make changes but I can’t seem to take the first step. I’m stuck.

So when our pastor preached yesterday on declaring our connection to God by speaking out Acts 17:28, “In Him we live and move and have our being,” it struck a chord. He said that by declaring this connection, we can combat “fix it myself,” mode. And really, that’s what I’ve been in and why I’ve become so thoroughly stuck. You can only struggle to fix it yourself for so long before you burn out. And when you’re trying to fix every aspect of your life because all of it feels so screwed up, you will have a hard time succeeding on your own.

When we declare the connection we have to the Father, we begin to slow down – we stop rushing to and fro trying to get it all done and figure it all out. We have a choice in front of us again instead of being driven to fix everything. We turn ourselves back to face Him when we make this declaration.

Our pastor also talked about interrupting our “natural thinking” – something I would take a step further and often call, “thoughts planted by the enemy” – with God’s Word. When I gained freedom six years ago, it was because I learned how important it was to take my thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5) and started to practice that. It’s something I have not been great at for awhile now, though.

Yesterday afternoon after a few “aha!” moments in church, I watched the movie “Embrace” – a documentary about body image. There is a lot I could say about it but the message I took away was that we waste so much time thinking and worrying about how our bodies look. This has been more important to me than how my body feels, which really doesn’t make sense. I want my body to feel good and that probably means making some changes to my diet and how often I exercise. But the main goal should always be health, not looking “good” by the standards of western society.

This morning, I got my first email from No Sidebar, a minimalism ecourse. And instead of giving me a challenge on the first day to go through a closet or pare down my collection of kitchen appliances, it pointed me to three posts about being enough and challenged me to simply say “I am enough,” to myself ten times throughout the day. I have written and deleted more than one blog post on the subject of not feeling like I’m ever enough. Not enough in the areas of parenting, marriage, housekeeping, physical health, etc. And the point here is not that I should stop changing because I am enough, but that who I amĀ is enough. I can change my habits and improve but it’s not about changing the core of who I am, but what I do. And I know deep down that I cannot do it all at once, no matter how much I wish I could.

I always imagine that making new rules to follow will change everything. Buying a new journal to write in every day, tracking everything I do (or eat), using my planner religiously. But in reality, nothing ever really changes because my motivation is all wrong.

I cannot deny the power of all of these things coming up in the last two days, particularly since I had that initial conversation with Mike on Saturday. It all works together and motivates me to think about change in a different way. To realize that it won’t happen all at once, that it’s going to take hard work but most of all, peace as I walk through it, not drivenness. And knowing that I’m not making change to be enough, but that I am already enough, so I have what it takes to make these changes successfully.

Who told you?

There have only been a handful of people in my life who have made negative comments about my body or insulted me due to my weight. Sadly, some of them were very close family members who had no idea of the impact their words would have for many, many years. However, it has still only been a handful – I was not overly heavy as a child or teenager and so it wasn’t something I dealt with outside of my own thoughts. It has also not been an issue for a long time. Occasionally my kids say something about my squishy belly or I hear comments from a medical professional that sting a bit, but otherwise, it’s not a part of my life. Most of the things rattling around in my head on this subject come from stinging memories and current societal standards.

So when I look at myself in the mirror and cringe, there is often a little voice that says, “Who told you?”

“Who told you that you’re fat?”

“Who told you that you’re ugly?”

“Who told you that all your friends and family spend their spare time talking about your weight behind your back?”

Those first three words are the words God spoke to Adam in the garden in Genesis chapter three. “Who told you that you were naked?” There was no shame before, no need to cover themselves. And nowhere does it say that the serpent pointed out their nudity, either. They knew that they were naked because the serpent (Satan) now had access to them in a way he hadn’t before. He told them and they called it their own thoughts.

I know many people won’t want to hear this, and many people will disagree with this. But I believe it.

I believe it and yet I cannot seem to turn those voices off. The ones that have been calling me fat, lazy, ugly, stupid for so much of my life. I can weep with a deep pain in my heart from the stinging memories of words spoken when I was young and yet I listen to those voices all the time.

I’ve carried and given birth to seven babies. My body has done a lot for me. I know I could do better with how I eat and how often I exercise, but I also know that if I continue to listen to those voices, no physical change I make is going to help me. I might look better from the outside – I might even feel better carrying around less weight. But I will still be a slave to that serpent and the lies he whispers.

I want to answer that small voice – the one that speaks with compassion and truth. I want to say, “That didn’t come from you! It didn’t even come from me. I don’t want to listen to lies.” I want to take my thoughts captive, to learn again how to make them obedient to Christ. I want to, I know how to, I just don’t know if I will. That’s me being honest. Honest with myself, first and foremost. I said years ago, “Never again,” but here we are again. I’ve been fighting depression and losing, giving into those voices again even after amazing victories in the past. I know what to do, but at the moment, it is just incredibly overwhelming to consider what it will take.

So pray for me, please. Pray for the strength I need to fight this battle again. I want to be present for my kids and my husband, able to speak life into other women who are in the trenches as well. I want to be whole and well even more than I want to be thin.

 

< I’ve turned commenting off on this post. I don’t want to have an argument about theology or read comments about how I can safely lose weight, which anti-depressant to take or which line of supplements will make my life perfect again. I am just too vulnerable and tired for any of that right now. >

 

Day One

So many first days

Doing the same thing

Write it all down,

Make yourself sweat.

Don’t eat too much.

Get used to hunger.

Say goodbye to sweet.

Eat lentils.

Drink water.

More water.

More water.

Go to bed and do it again

Until it starts to feel normal.

And then something will throw you off course.

And you’ll go back to day one again.

And again.

 

I have had too many day ones like this.

My stomach gnawing, body aching.

Trying to fit this lifestyle

Into my life.

My kids laughing while I exercise.

Making myself “good” food

And getting nothing else done.

Too many day ones.

Balance feels unattainable.

Table Time

For lack of a better term, borrowing from what friends call theirs, we have started having a bit of time at the table together every day. I want to keep it up because so far, it’s actually a positive change for us. My boys have been just a little bit more interested in learning lately and I’m trying to run with that while giving Jenny time to do a few more things that might be requested by her teacher. Yesterday everyone did their own thing – Jenny working on various things, Ben reading a book (the only book he says he can read), Erik and Elias working on printing, Sam tracing in an Usborne wipe-clean book and Oliver moving back and forth from one activity to the next. Today we did an animal facts game. I read the facts on half a card and the kids had to guess which animal it was. Ben got five right and each of the three oldest got ten. It was fun and low stress and didn’t feel overly structured.

The fact is, we have structure but very little of it has been devoted to learning. Kids get up, have breakfast, the kid of the day has their two hour computer turn and usually a few others watch or help them. After that, they clean up the designated room in the basement, have lunch and start their one and a half hour turns on the tablets and/or Xbox. This means most days, they only have an hour and a half of personal screen time and some days they have two hours more. A movie is watched occasionally by one or all but generally they spend any other free time they have making up games, playing cards, Lego and every so often reading. With the recent push to get Erik and Ben reading and the start of my Usborne selling (and therefore buying), there has been an increased interest in books. But really, by the end of every day, I found myself wondering if they really would catch up. Or even start pursuing learning more as they got older. Or would it be like this every day? So two nights ago I had a sudden inspiration to ask them what they thought of a daily time at the table doing “schooly” things. It was a mixed response but we tried it out anyway. I have no desire to start traditionally homeschooling but I have toyed with the idea of enrolling Sam next year which would mean reporting to a teacher (and increased funding for him). A little bit of routine in this area would make it a lot easier to do that without stress.

Sometimes change is necessary and good. Sometimes it’s also hard. This change is likely going to be harder for me than my kids, though.

Inspiration

All the meals

Babies,

Car rides,

Diapers.

Everything busy,

For so many years.

Going here and there,

Helping little people learn and be.

I am more than this

Just a mother, but

Kids are ever present

Love flowing from me, to them, from them, to me.

Mama.

 

Body

I have only one.

It’s all I’ll ever have.

Hard truth as it ages,

Changes,

Sometimes in ways I don’t care for.

 

It’s a mobile home, not me, but the vessel carrying who I am.

It both matters so much and matters so little what I do with it.

 

“Verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity.”

 

Truth. To abuse it does no good.

Wears on my mind,

Slows me down.

And so I will sweep up.

Wash the walls, take out the trash.

Put in a new light fixture or two.

And take better care of my mobile home,

As it’s the only one I’ll ever have.