I confess I'm on the plus side when it comes to body weight. It's hard to bear the self-criticism, as well as a general sense of condemnation for being "heavy."
Overeating isn't the only reason people struggle with this problem. But I'm learning that even while gaining control of my weight is still a work in progress, it's important to reject the notion that a craving for too much food can govern me or anyone.
I realize that same fact applies to those who are preoccupied by a fear of being heavy. Overeating, semi-starvation - neither one is normal. So I'm making an effort to examine my heritage, not in jean size or gene background but in my spiritual identity.
This identity, the only one I really have, isn't dominated by food. It's composed of love and truth and everything beautiful. And while I'm learning to see myself this way, I'm also learning to watch my wait. That is, watch that I'm not waiting for a better size to feel worthy or beautiful or just less afraid of being ridiculed for being heavy.
Postponing happiness can sneak up on you, and before you know it, you may be weighed down with a feeling that life is on hold. Remember the tin man, the scarecrow, and the cowardly lion in "The Wizard of Oz"? They went on a long journey in search of what they each thought they didn't have. As it turned out, they actually already had what they thought they were missing.
There was a time when I wanted to be perfect before I even dreamed of getting married. Perfect size, perfectly out of debt, perfectly successful. Of course the flip side was that I wanted someone to marry who was perfect, too. Now, in my case, this involved a long wait.
Finally, I realized I was cheating myself out of opportunities to enjoy the support and companionship a strong friendship gives. I began to date a dear friend whose love of God I had always admired, and he had always appreciated the same in me. Together we shared our preconceived notions about what our "dream spouse" would look like, but also discovered how many qualities we respected in each other. The very things we thought we couldn't have until circumstances were "just so" came about naturally and have grown stronger over the years of our marriage.
Why should we wait to feel loved, lovable, lovely, or loving? God already sees us this way. Beauty is a quality of God, and each one of us deserves to feel beautiful, inside and out. Of course, each of us is unique, like individual snowflakes, so our beauty can't be judged by how someone else looks. Beauty is a part of who we are, not what we wear or what size we are.
All of nature expresses God's beauty in its own way, and that splendor can be thought of in terms of spiritual qualities. Mountains can represent strength. A lake might symbolize serenity. People, too, can be perceived through their qualities. A favorite teacher of mine was tall and wore a size that wouldn't be considered fashionable. But I saw her through my respect and gratitude for what she gave to me as a teacher, and she was always beautiful to me.
Beauty isn't the only thing we mistakenly tie to achieving a particular status. Sometimes people look to a degree or diploma to feel intelligent. Or for a paycheck to feel worthy. But there isn't any human thing that can add to or subtract from the completeness we each have as ideas of God. God loves us abundantly, and we can be grateful for the good gifts He invariably gives to everyone. So, accept the gifts that are yours. Why wait?
The recipe for beauty
is to have less illusion and
more Soul, to retreat from the belief of pain or pleasure in the body into the unchanging calm
and glorious freedom of spiritual harmony. Love never loses
sight of loveliness. Its halo
rests upon its object.
Mary Baker Eddy
(founder of the Monitor)
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor