Stop the world! My middle-aged body wants to get off!

Yesterday I stood in between an eight foot tall display of fruit and a giant freezer full of cheese at Costco and lamented the state of my (barely) over 40 body to one of my dear friends.

I’m just not shaped the way I used to be shaped.

I remember the first time I realized my body would never be the way it was in college, when I never worried a bit about how I looked. (Okay, maybe I did worry then, but not like I worry now.) A handful of weeks postpartum and pushing my roly-poly first son through the aisles of my favorite store at the time, The Limited (don’t judge), I grabbed pants or a dress or something in my size.

Or what had once been my size.

The garment fit, but it was definitely not covering me appropriately anymore.

My hips had widened.

And shifted…lower? Higher?

And my BOOBs.

What once had been compared to Kansas had risen.

I just knew I couldn’t shop there anymore.

And here’s the problem I have to this day:

My brain is approximately 25 years behind my body.

(No pun intended.)

I still want to wear clothes from teenager stores–or at least those which cater to young adults. To make things worse, it seems the whole. entire. world. is completely obsessed with diets and flat abs and fast fixes and videos and trainers and cross-fit and pilates and yoga and barre and gluten free and fat free and sugar free and smoothies and high protein and low carb and

AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THAT!!!

Okay, maybe you have time for that.

But I sure don’t.

I’m a nurse and a writer and a wife and a mom carting three teenagers around so I’m in the car up to four hours (sometimes longer) a day going back and forth to practices and doctors and orthodontists and the grocery–always the grocery because according to said teenagers we have NOTHING to eat EVER–and did I mention the orthodontist and twelve-hour nursing shifts where I walk eight miles between patient rooms and bench press 300-pound sick people and it takes all the coffee in the world just to get me through these days of middle age.

So can the world just stop

and give me a break about flat abs and a perky butt and the fact that I wear my hair in a messy knot 95% of the time because I only have time to wash it a couple of times a week because I think I shower less now than I did when my teenagers were toddlers, and speaking of toddlers and babies, if the gap in my abdominal muscles caused by three pregnancies hasn’t closed and tightened up YET after 13 YEARS, it

AIN’T EVER GONNA

But maybe, just maybe, it’s not the world that needs to stop.

It’s me who needs to stop.

Stop lamenting the soft tummy that held and incubated and loved three of the most incredible humans ever into the world. Stop lamenting that yoga pants don’t cover and hold in every part of me I wish they would. Stop comparing myself to the moms who aren’t in the car four hours a day and who do have the time to run and diet and realize that not all of them work and not all of them are necessarily happier and not all of them try to write books “on the side” (because writing books is SUCH a low pressure, relaxing hobby sort of thing that takes just 30 minutes in the morning in the pristine silence before the rest of the house wakes up–WHATEVs!). Stop fighting the inevitable sag and lag of a (barely) 40 and climbing physique and

OWN IT SISTER.

Because each of us this age have EARNED these years. We’ve earned these stretch marks. We’ve earned the gray hair we slather with dye in a box every three weeks. We’ve earned the right to cover our arms with cardigans and our thighs with longer shorts and the softening and rounding of our edges and besides

THERE’s ENOUGH HARD EDGES IN THE WORLD

without feeling like we need to sharpen what the good Lord has worked so hard to grind away over the decades.

More than that, our my

fixation with the way I’m made is a distraction from fixation on Him.

I stumbled across Psalm 65 today and re-realized the wonder of all God has made, the diversity, the beauty, the mountains, the seas, the mornings, the evenings, the grasslands, the hills, the meadows, the valleys, and the hummingbird that flitted around my garden sucking the marrow out of the life I’ve grown weary with.

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You care for the land and water it;
    you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
    to provide the people with grain,
    for so you have ordained it.[d]
You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
    you soften it with showers and bless its crops. (Psa 65:9-10)

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Thank you, Lord, for caring for the soil of our hearts, for watering our parched souls. Help us as moms and as women in the prime of life to fill ourselves with You and Your Word and your Truth. Drench our furrows and level our ridges. Soften us towards our softened flesh, shower us with grace to tell ourselves–and to tell each other–that we are, each of us, beautiful. Not because of how we’re shaped. But because You made us.

And we praise You for remaking us every day.

Amen.

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Is there a friend who needs to hear you say you think she’s beautiful today?

Share this post with her.

And tell her.

Today.

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download

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Further reading: This is a topic that’s been on my heart for a while now. Others, too, it seems, and I don’t think anyone has written more eloquently about this than Ann Voskamp in her recent post,
Dear Women and Daughters: When You’re Tired of Media Voices Telling You What Beauty and Love Is. If my words resonated with you today, please be sure to visit her page, too. You’ll be so glad you did. 

portrait of a shrimp boat. a poem.

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bent and weary arms pulled
in tight
against the sides of the
empty hull
waiting for dawn, a new
chance
tides slap the sides
lapping at fear
the boat tips
uncertain night smothers
hope
then
the sun

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“…pray continually…”
I Thessalonians 5:7

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“Your inadequacy presents you with a continual choice–deep dependence on Me or despair.”
~Jesus Calling, Sarah Young

the lie and light of Christmas.

nativity6photo by He Qi

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John 17:18 was my advent reading for the day.

Nothing about shepherd or mangers, angels or the sweetness of a newborn babe.

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“As you have sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world.” (John 17:18)

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Many–I suspect, perhaps most–during the holiday seasons, cannot escape the tension between the pull of the world, of advertisements, of vignettes of perfect family gatherings, and the pull of our hearts toward truth. And yet, into the world we are thrust, like the emergence of Emmanuel, every cell of our beings recoiling at the cold, wet shock of being. Human.

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Come thou long expected Jesus … 

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Followers of more than evergreens and silver bells are more acutely aware than ever of the discomfort, the lie, in fact, that a season, a single day on the calendar, somehow makes brokenness whole … somehow erases injustice …  somehow requires the downtrodden to return to the taxing origins of their pain.

Stand still and watch the unfolding of glory in the distant fields, knees bent in the mossy grace of our healing, and the scarred are accused of not following the star.

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The first Noel the angel did say
Was to certain poor shepherds in fields as they lay…

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Understandable, the need of the oblivious to throw stones at those with leaky alabaster jars, those whose incense and myrrh have been long spent. Where else, after all, could they catapult their own pain, but at those whose forms are already bent?

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Long lay the world in sin and error pining…

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Few know that, as John Piper wrote in my advent devotional today, “God makes every dagger a scepter in our hand.”

A scepter for lighting the way for future generations.

A scepter, lit by the original star, in the darkest of nights, to ignite hope once again.

A scepter which must be chosen, and held with fervor, with doubt, with diligence and with fear.

But a scepter which must be held, just the same.

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Fall on your knees!
O hear the angel voices!
O night divine…

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Divine is the night, indeed, when the morning comes.

At last.

At long, long last.