Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Confessions of a Mid-30s Woman

At 8am, K had been fever free for just over 24 hours--so back to school she went. Two hours later I got a phone call from the school. P had a 103+ temp. Thankfully, that small window of solo time allowed me to make it to the grocery store. After 6 straight days of sick children, there seemed to be an echo in my pantry and refrigerator.

I took P to the pediatrician to find out if it was strep like his brother or the fever virus like K. He tested positive for strep. The good news is that an antibiotic has already been administered--so hopefully he'll bounce back within 24 hours.

During my few days of spending additional time at home, I have found myself entering a bit of a funk. After praying about it today, I have realized it is a direct result of comparison with others. With my idle time I have been 'checking in' on people on facebook and their blogs. As I do so, I find myself wondering how they have aged so well--and wishing I still had my old skin and hair. I feel like a ridiculous 15 year old.

I don't want to be a supermodel. I just want to feel pretty and pulled together...but, truthfully, it is not really who I am. I don't know how to primp and accessorize like a good Southern girl--and I don't really enjoy doing so. I've never colored my hair or had plastic surgery. I'd rather spend time doing other things than staring at a mirror working on my appearance. So, jeans and ponytails suit me just fine, until I look at a picture of myself or walk past a mirror and cringe.

The truth is this has VERY LITTLE to do with what any one else thinks of me. It has everything to do with what I am thinking about myself.

The most frustrating part is that I know truth and somehow the Devil still gets a little foothold and tries to eat me up. I am ashamed to even be entertaining such superficial and shallow thoughts. Frankly, I cannot decide which is worse: the yucky, critical thoughts I am feeling about myself or the guilt and shame I feel over how silly it is.

I am confessing all this because it is the truth of where I am today. It is embarrassing, but I want to get it all worked out before K is old enough to feel this way. I want to be able to model healthy self image for her. I am asking God to bring perspective and peace to my heart.

The other lesson this has reminded me is the age old truth that comparison is the thief of all joy. I have so very much to be thankful for: my salvation, a purpose to my life, a loving husband, precious children, caring friends. How dare I be so ungrateful? It is ridiculous!

I pray that the Enemy will have NO foothold in my life--that I may be able to rejoice in the truth that I am an individual, uniquely created by my Heavenly Father to do work He has for my life. I am fearfully and wonderfully made...laugh lines, gray hair, sun damaged skin, squinty eyes and all!

27 comments:

Kelly said...

It's funny that you would even think that - because I think you are BEAUTIFUL! I would give anything to look like you!
And I feel frumpy, old and rundown taking care of one baby - I have no time for "me" anymore. I can't imagine having THREE kids - how much less time you would have. I have no doubt you will give K all the self confidence she needs! I worry about Harper ever putting her self esteem into her looks.

Cheri (aka "The Mom Lady") said...

I was once bemoaning my stretch marks and my husband got very upset with me and said, "I don't want to EVER hear you complain about those stretch marks! They are badges of honor from giving birth to OUR children!"

I was very taken back by his outburst as he is usually a very mild-mannered person. But inside I started smiling and then it made it to the outside. And I started looking at myself in a different light. And I walked just that much taller.

With age comes wisdom. And a lot of unwanted skin changes, hormonal changes and gray hairs. Society does like to do a number on us - making us think we "aren't worthy" or something when it's all the "currency of the world". I'm now 51 - will be 52 next week. And I can honestly say, it's never been better! :)

Caffeine Queen said...

This post was SO good for me to read. I just found your blog and love it. I totally relate to this post. :)

Megan @ Hold it Up to the Light said...

I can't BEGIN to tell you how much I needed that today. I have been sick this week, and barely able to pull my children together (much less myself).....

When I went to pick up Greer at Mother's Day Out, it seems every mom I ran into was perfectly coifed in their designer jeans, trendy scarf, perfect hair, flawless makeup....even the ones in work-out gear looked better than me. I was so envious of their "with-it-ness"...and I felt guilty about it all day long!!!

Thanks for reminding me to focus on the one true reason for being....and to not worry about what "they" think!

Love this post!

Mandy said...

Thanks for the honesty of your post, I can so relate. I enjoy your blog and feel like you write so many of the things I feel. I connected to you blog from April Houston, we are old college friends. I am 33 and too feel they same way about aging. I think pregnancies and stess have taken their toll. I constantly compare myself to other women, and put pressure on myself to "fix" up when clothes and hair are really not important to me. I just feel like obviously fashion and makeup are important to everyone else and if I don't conform then I will look like the old homely woman who wears the same clothes no make-up. I really hate the feeling of fixing up for others. Your daughter is a little young, but ironically my daughter who is 7 is just the opposite of me, she loves, loves clothes, acessories, and shoes of any kind. I still am not sure where she gets it from. Now I get to waste even more time taking her shopping because she loves it. I guess there is just no getting around it!!!

Colored With Memories said...

you are absolutely beautiful...inside and out!

and you preach well too! :)

R said...

i broke down, in a fit of honesty the other day, and gave that as my prayer request the other day. i told my MOPS group "I just want to feel pretty again!" :0)

dee said...

Confessions of a mid-40s woman: I was the same way, actually still am, but I let it go now! That is a wonderful thing about our forties. I have never even worn makeup(except lipstick), so stressed about how to teach my daughter such things. But she is much more the fashionista than I have ever been and now she teaches me.I call her to say "What shoes can I wear with such and such?":) It is great!

Bailey's Leaf said...

I'm so sorry that you have another sick one! UGH! Prayers to you!

Sitesx6 said...

What a great post. I feel the same way lately. I get intimidated by people's photos that they post on Facebook. They look so fit and trim and YOUNG. It seems the first comment people make when you are back in touch after so many years is, "You look great"

We focus so much on looks and not so much on the heart. I care more about the heart-who people are.

You have a HUGE heart and you are also pretty on the outside. :)

Hope your little people get well for good. I prayed for your surgery on Friday.

Kelly in Michigan

Jill said...

Have you done the Beth Moore Bible Study Esther yet? It talks about women and comparison and how hard it is to be a women when you are constantly thinking about how others are viewing you.
That lesson and this little message from you have really spoken to me. As a mother of two girls (8 and 4) I too want to model good body image, confidence and Beauty on the inside to both of them.

Traci said...

God wired us to want to feel pretty- it's part of who we are, and I think you're so right to wonder what the healthy, Christ-like balance is to that desire. I'm dealing with a young woman that I teach and coach who is about to go to UGA on a full soccer scholarship- she's one of the most athletically gifted kids I have EVER seen, she's naturally beautiful and has one of those personalities that just draws people to her. And she hates herself, and she keeps returning to a very unhealthy relationship with a boy- over and over and over again. I spent over an hour after practice yesterday talking to her and then I came home and read your post last night and I have to tell you I've thought and prayed and gone to my Bible over it again and again.
The verse God gave me for the girl I'm working with at school is Matthew 7:6 "Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces."

I get where God is leading me with her and what to try to illustrate for her understanding, but your post was so convicting about my own issues with being pretty and young and thin. I have an 8-year old daughter that already looks to me to see how to form opinions about herself. Thanks so much for your honesty- it caused me to slow down last night and be honest with myself and redirect my attentions to things more important than a little flab.

Hope you have a good day. I'm praying for wellness at your house- I know it's tiring having sick ones.

laurie said...

I feel the same way, I'd rather be comfortable than "all put together". I feel better when I am "all put together" but it's just not realistic day to day. I agree with Jill, the Esther Bible study has been wonderful for the feelings of inadequacy that we often have as women--comparing ourselves to others.

Tonya Ingram said...

I think we all feel like this at some point in our lives. I am 37 and have been paying closer attention to the little wrinkles appearing in the corners of my eyes and the small bags that seem to be making theirself at home under my eyes... but yet no one else can see them (I know because I've asked). The flaws we see in ourselves are most likely NOT being seen by people looking at us. That... that dreadful mirror... is what April Osteen Simons calls "a giant in your life". I remind myself all the time, that what I see is not what God sees and not what he lets others see in me!

Tonya said...

Funny thing - my 2 1/2 year old was sitting in my lap one night as I was reading your blog. He pointed to a picture of you and said, "That's my mommy." I was flattered that he would mistake you for me!

I have a similar struggle - not so much with appearance, but my "job". Most of the women I've reconnected with on Facebook (former classmates of mine)have high level jobs. Some are moms, others have directly stated that they do not want any kids - period. As we "chat" on Facebook, I catch myself thinking about what they must be thinking of me. Do they think I'm an underachiever? Boring? Wasting my intellect raising kids? I have never before felt bad about myself for being a stay-at-home mom. I cannot think of anything more worthwhile! But, reconnecting with these people that I knew during the most awkward time in my life has somehow morphed me back into a little insecurity at times.

But, like you... I know the truth. We are individuals, uniquely created for Him by Him. His purpose is far greater than any purpose I could come up with, and I believe that what I'm doing IS HIS PURPOSE. Mothering and ministry... A high paying, high level career was not what He had in mind for me.

Thanks for the post!

Stacey said...

I appreciate your honesty. I think so many women feel like this and then think it is only them.

I think we are about the same age, and have noticed how my body is changing just within the last year. In addition to that I have carried around a poor body image for nearly 20 years.

I have 2 girls ( ages 5 & 2) and do not want them to ever feel the same way.

It was this and the funk I would so regularly get in that led me to seeing a Christian counselor.

She recommended a book that has been ABSOLUTELY life changing!! It is called I Thought It Was Just Me by Brene Brown.

It is about feelings of shame due to our struggle with feeling inadequate and striving for perfection.

She has a fantastic blog at
www.ordinarycourage.com/my-blog/

Thanks for being authentic and showing courage!

Christy said...

Thanks for sharing your heart. This is a constant struggle for me too and, like you, I have so much to be thankful for. I have been reading your blog now for some time and I love to read about your thoughts and insight on life. We are close in age and I have three young children also and it seems you are always blogging about something I am thinking about or feeling. I am sure this is not a coincidence. :)

Peter and Nancy said...

I hope your kids are done with the bugs for a while -- my three have all been sick this week too, with a high fever and cough. All the isolation and interruption of our routines really does a number on mama morale.

I have never colored my hair either, and can see those grays creeping in (I'm 39) . . . but I know I would never keep up with coloring, so why start? :o)

I have spent (wasted?) much time over my life wishing I were something else, but feel like I've settled into my own skin a lot more over the past 3 years or so. One thing that's helped so much is being more aware of problems that are so much greater than this struggle of mine. We adopted a daughter from a country mired in poverty, and the realities of what her (or my) life could have been have really helped me stop sweating the smaller stuff.

Also, having a husband who is very complimentary doesn't hurt either. :o)
-- Nancy

Kelly @ Love Well said...

I love your line: Comparison is the thief of all joy.

SO TRUE! And it applies to all areas of life, not just physical appearance. The only place we should measure ourselves is in the throne room of God -- and there, we are sadly lacking but covered in love and grace.

And that makes a person beautiful.

Samantha said...

Dear Friend, you are beautiful. There is not a single posted picture of you when your smile is not the first thing we see. What happiness, what joy you are living. Each day you seek God's kingdom first. You can't keep from exuding beauty when you look so much like Christ!

Lee Anne said...

Thank you for posting this! I have been feeling much the same these days and it is always nice to know others out there are going through the same kinds of things. I recently turned 37 and have become so very self conscious lately. I am feeling frumpy and out of shape and just want to feel better about myself for a change. Just not sure where to start. Thanks again for posting such an honest message.

Work In Progress said...

I am in my mid-forties and have been thinking some of these same thoughts since I had my last child (7 years ago). But I read something a few weeks ago in "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan. He said "We are programmed to focus on what we don't have, bombarded multiple times throughout the day with what we need to buy that will make us feel happier or sexier or more at peace. This dissatisfaction transfers over to our thinking about God. We forget that we already have everything we need in Him." And further on in the chapter he says, " On the average day, we live caught up in ourselves. On the average day, we don't consider God very much. On the average day, we forget that our life truly is a vapor." That last statement spoke volumes to me. Since I read that I have reminded myself multiple times, when situations or attitudes or emotions would creep up on me, that I am merely a vapor on this earth. Why am I wasting time on such trivial life stuff? You are a beautiful lady who always looks like she has it all together...As one of the other comments said, your smile is the first thing and most important thing anyone could see in you. I tell my daughter all the time how beautiful she is because I see Jesus in her...not because her hair or her figure or her clothes are all chic...but because she is our fountain of joy. Thank you for a thought provoking post.
-R

Inksstillwet said...

Interestingly enough, I just finished reading an excerpt from Jennifer Rothschild’s new bible study based on her book, Self Talk, Soul Talk. (Here’s the link: http://www.lifeway.com/e2/shop/?R=829882#) I agree with your statement that you don’t know which is worse-the thoughts themselves or the guilt and shame over how silly the thoughts are. I think we all feel that way one day or the next, depending on the renewal of our thoughts. Just remember the words of Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.” The pattern of this world tells us to go with what we feel. The pattern of our God is to go with what His word says. (While typing this, I’m reminding myself of this truth application as well!)

Gramps said...

"comparison is the thief of all joy"

I had never heard this before, but it is absolutely true. Thanks for the reminder.

Nikki said...

Thank you for your honesty. You are not alone in these thoughts, but I hope that you are comforted in knowing that God made you perfectly. You are exactly the way HE meant you to be and you are loved!

Glad the surgery went well. Blessings for a quick and full recovery.

Aubrey said...

I know exactly what you are saying. I have just turned 30 and I keep thinking that I should let go of this obnoxious comparison game. As you said, it is such a foothold for the Enemy. It is a prayer of my heart, as well, to learn to be content with who I am and who God created me to be so that I can better help my three girls through it all.

Kit-Kat said...

Sounds just like my mom. Give's me a little insite to what she does for me.