Tag Archives: singleness

This is me

28 Sep

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A year ago, my friend and I met over dinner to catch up.  She told me about the man she had been dating for several months.  As with all things Lizzie* it was a hilarious story that had that makings of a good rom-com movie.

“Do you think he’s the one?” I asked.

She shrugged as she responded.  “I don’t know.  I mean, I think you get to a point in your life where you’re like, this is who I am and this is who you are.  You don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not or play games.  You just figure out if you can live together.”

I nodded.  Notions of romance after age 35 were crushed.  I resolved to get a giant chocolate chip cookie before I left to help me swallow this bitter pill.

“So can you, you know, be who you are together?”

“Yes,” she confidently said.  She took a sip of green tea. “You don’t have to impress each other.  You just are who you are.” She threw her arms out and laughed, “This is me!  This is who I am. Take it or leave it.”

I laughed, too.  I tried to think of any instance in which someone of the opposite sex wanted to “take it.” Maybe I was just a “leave it” kind of woman.  You know, the kind of woman you want as a friend, but not as a girlfriend. 

I used to think I was awkward around men because my father had an affair, which absolutely crushed my 19 year-old heart.  Now, I think, I just never felt pretty enough.  Somehow the idea of the male gaze affected me younger and I was always the fat kid.

I look at old class photos and I’m one of the fattest kids in my class.  As I got older, I was the fattest kid in my grade.  I sift through my college pictures and often times, I was the fattest one pictured.    We’re all known for something, right?  I was known for being fat.

See, I wanted to be known for being smart or funny or kind or godly or a decent singer or a good writer.  For so much of my life, I’ve seen myself as the fattest person in the room. And I hated myself for it.

I mean, do you know what it’s like to carry the weight of that extra weight around?  It’s not just the excess celluloid, but all the judgment and shame that comes with it.  And I’m not talking about the opinions of others.  I’m talking about how I feel about myself.

Once upon a time I was the fattest person in the room.  I had to order most of my clothes online (or from catalogs.)   I tried to eat better and exercise.  I would lose 40 pounds and then gain it back.  Actually I would gain even more weight.  At one point, I weighed almost 400 pounds.

And I thought, this is me.  This is all I’ll ever be.  If a heart attack doesn’t kill me, then diabetes certainly will.  This is me and I am going to die from being too darn fat.  They call it “morbid obesity” for a reason.

My “This is Me” wasn’t who I wanted to me.  There wasn’t a satisfaction that comes with knowing who I am and accepting it.  It was more like, “This is me and I hate myself.  I can’t believe anyone would like me….and maybe if I put on make up, I won’t look as bad.”

But that is not who God created me to be.  At 400 or 300 or 200 pounds, I don’t think God ever looked at me as “the fattest person in the room.” I believe He just saw His beloved daughter, Amy.

Sometimes I’ve railed at heaven, screamed at my ceiling shaking a fist of accusation.  Why did You make me like this?  If I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, then why am I so flawed?  Why can others eat a bag of M&M’s and drink regular soda and eat at fast food places and I have to be so very careful?  Why doesn’t my body make enough insulin?  Why is my metabolism so slow?

WHY AM I SO FAT?!  Why has my life been so sad that I’ve wanted to eat?  And why have I allowed this fat to starve me of a more abundant life?

Really, God, why am I fat?

One day, He gave me an answer.  He didn’t have to, of course, because He is God and God doesn’t need to explain Himself.  I heard it in my heart.  “For My glory.”

And part of me is ashamed to admit that seems mighty unfair—why do I have to suffer for His glory?  I realize, though, that I have no idea what glory or holy or fairness or justice really is apart from God; therefore, His “glory” seems like some abstract concept.  What is the glory of the One whose very name is holy? 

I think about Moses face glowing from seeing the passing of God’s glory as he was protected in the cleft of a rock by the very Hand of God.  To be called to do something for God’s glory is a high calling indeed, even if it is difficult to bear.

I’m starting to realize I’m so much more than a number on a scale or my age or the size of my clothes.  It isn’t about finding “the one,” getting married, and having kids or scoring that perfect job.  It isn’t about buying a house or owning a dog.  Those are all good things.  Great things even.

It’s about being able to say, “This is me.”  This may not always be me because God is constantly refining me into someone who looks more and more like Jesus.  It’s about seeing my flaws and gaps and open spaces and seeing how God’s light shines through and how His strength makes up for all my weakness.  It’s not being about the fattest person in the room, but rather about being the person in the room who is living and loving for His glory.

It’s about me coming to terms with myself.  This is me.  It’s not all I’ll ever be, but it is a result of everything God has done in my life up to this point. I want you to look at me because I want you to see  Jesus.

This is me trying my very best to live for His glory.

This is me.

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I’m “Gifted”

11 Jan

I like to tell people that I have a Master’s degree in counseling.  When I’m with Christians, I like to add that my degree is in “biblical counseling” from a seminary.  All this makes me feel terribly important, like I’m super smart and super spiritual…also that I once did something with my life.  As I’ve mentioned before, that counseling degree is sitting at the bottom of a storage bin somewhere in my closet.  I don’t use it vocationally and I sometimes wonder why I got it at all.  I realize that the things I learned in seminary (you know, like humility) do matter and that I don’t need to wear my “I have a Master’s degree” pin all the time.  Or at all.  One day I hope it’ll sink in. 

This week Shari and I started taking a Sunday school class required for Congregational Care at our church.  Caring for the congregation?!  I love caring for people!  I’m awesome at crying!  This will be great, I thought.  For the most part, the Congregational Care Team visits sick people and shut-ins.  My fear of the hospital, hypochondria, and fear of doctors, doesn’t make visiting the ill at all appealing.  And shut-ins?  I feel empathy for shut-ins.  I really do.  But the elderly, especially lonely elderly people, make me very weepy (told you I was awesome at crying) as I remember my grandparents.  Instead of launching happy hormones, I go home and cry. 

But I love caring for people and I’m awesome at crying?!

I *AM* awesome at crying, but do I really love caring for people?!  When my mom had her hip replacement, I was panicked for a month ahead of time.  What if I had to clean up pee?  Or puke?  What if she fell?  I was in a tizzy! 

I really like babies, but not their diapers.  I mean, I’m not sure how to change a diaper (I have the basic principle down, just not a lot of practical experience) and the thought of changing a diaper makes me dry heave.  I am even disgusted by little kids with snotty noses.  (Those of you who are wondering why I don’t have kids now understand.)

Besides crying, I’m really good at talking, too.  I’m probably even better at conversing than crying.  BFF Sarah says that I can talk to anyone anywhere about anything.  I suspect she thinks it’s my superpower.   A simple window transaction at the bank leads to a conversation about the teller’s engagement ring (and the story of the proposal.  I’m such a suck for romance) or a long line is an opportunity to talk to lady behind me about her amazing purse.  (Admittedly, I am a bit shyer around guys, especially ones my age…who are single.  I get all tongue-tied and speak like a woman with verbal Tourette’s.  Those of you who are wondering why I’m not married now understand.)

I also like to laugh.  And smile.  Depression sometimes sucks those attributes out of my life, but they’re important (Choose joy!!!).  One of my favorite quotes from Elf is when Buddy says, “I just like to smile.  Smiling’s my favorite.”

So I’m good at smiling, crying, and talking.  I can do all three at the same time actually.  But where does my spiritual giftedness lie within these personality traits?

My little flock tells me I’m a good Bible study leader and I do love teaching about the Bible and God.

Deep within me, I fear that teaching and perhaps leadership (or shepherding) are my strongest spiritual gifts.  I’m not sure how a woman can use those gifts in the Church today. I’ve been told (even by pastors) that I talk too much and try to take over when there’s no defined leadership (OK, I’ve been told that I try to take over, but I think it’s when there’s a lack of leadership).  I don’t want to believe the lies that women don’t make good teachers or leaders.  But I’m also not going to head up MOPS (lack of mothering and a pre-schooler), a bake sale, or speak at Women of Faith (for these reasons)…so what am I to do?  I’m asking God where my gifts would be best used. 

I thought by the time I turned 31 I’d have it all figured out, which is funny because I totally thought I had everything figured out when I was 23 (until I realized I was terribly wrong).  Still, at 31, I didn’t think I would still wrestle with that age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” 

My answer: Whatever you want me to be, Abba.  My life is Yours.

What are your spiritual gifts?  What do you do when you realize what gives you joy is the hard thing to do?  How has God used your gift for His glory?   Are you good at talking to single guys or gals your age?  Is one of your gifts being good at wrapping Christmas or birthday presents?

Divorce #2

29 Jul

I have been through two divorces—the ripping apart of one flesh back into two, the division of marital property, wedding pictures thrown into the trash bags along with the hopes and dreams ignited that day, a million tears falling on damp pillows in the darkest of nights.  Yes, I’ve been through two divorces.

The strange thing is—I’ve never been married.

The end of any marriage is a tragedy because marriages weren’t made to end.  But since the Fall of Man, nothing on this Earth follows its original design.  My mom will soon be officially divorced—twice.  I know the shame of having two failed marriages eats at her like termites slowly devouring the foundation of a house.  Sometimes a house needs to fall so its foundation can be rebuilt…and I have seen my mother’s life bottom out.  Now because of the grace and love of God and His people, she is setting a new foundation and rebuilding her life.  Go, Mom!  I am so proud of you!

However, no matter how much it hurts the people I love, I have to be honest.  I’m still reeling from living through two divorces—the first occurring when I just turned 20 and the other just a few months ago.  While I pretend I am just fine, on the inside, it’s killing me.  See, after seeing how a man can ravage a woman through unfaithfulness (my father) and major abuse (my stepfather), I do not think I ever want to open my heart to a man.  I just don’t see how I could survive it.

To cover my pain, I joke about finding “Mr. Right.” For example, the other night when there was an impromptu fire in the dumpster on my mom’s side of the apartment complex, I joked that I should yell “My hero!” and plant a kiss on one of the firemen.  Of course, I was met with uproarious laughter because despite it all, I can still make ‘em laugh.  Like a clown without face paint, I can put on a good show.  The last thing I wanted to do was go near a man, especially a good looking one in uniform.  Even though it’s true, I do have a weakness for a man who can run into a burning building when everyone else is running out.  I’ve really been taken in by the whole “damsel in distress” myth.

If I’m honest with myself (and everyone else), my heart has been hurt by men who were supposed to love me, to show me how a godly man acts, and to guide me through the roughest times in my life with fatherly wisdom.  Why, then, would I want to marry a man who has the potential to wreck havoc on my life?  To destroy me in ways I’ve seen men destroy other women, particularly my mom and my best friend?

I understand that my view is not a particularly romantic or even a realistic view of love and marriage, but it’s the only one I’ve been able to witness firsthand.  Like I said, I’ve been through two divorces…and I’ve never been married.

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