Monday, November 17, 2014

Will "being thin" make you happy? (Re-published)

(I needed this reminder myself, so I thought I'd re-post this one.)
 
Why do people all over the world feel the need to lose weight, to be skinny, and to diet? I think it ultimately comes down to one thing. I think it is because everybody wants to be happy.
 
For a long time, we have been told that achieving “thinness” will make us happy. But will it?
 
I promise you, being thin will NOT make you happy. For that matter, being thin will NOT make you healthy, accepted, popular, rich, famous, a good person, or a saint either.
 
To be healthy, you have to eat nourishing food, exercise moderately, minimize stress, get plenty of sleep, and realize that a lot of things are out of your control. Just because you are doing everything you can to be healthy, doesn’t mean than you will not have to accept healthy problems tomorrow or down the road.
 
To be accepted, you must first realize that “you are enough”. You only have to please the Lord. You do not have to earn respect or dignity - you received inherent value from God when you were conceived. If other people do not accept you, that is their problem. How others treat you say more about them than it does about you.
 
To be wealthy, you have to be responsible with your money. It has nothing to do with how you look. It has everything to do with not trying to look a certain way. If you are too concerned with your appearance, you spend too much money on cars you can’t afford, too big of house payments, and ridiculous name brand clothing...just to keep up with the Jones'.
{St. Thomas Aquinas}
And to be a saint, you have to stay in the heart of the Church. I do believe that St. Thomas Aquinas was a rather large person. I highly doubt that he was concerned with dieting. I also highly doubt he was gluttonous, since he is canonized. His weight had nothing to do with the state of his soul.

I have never heard anyone say, “Gee, I am so glad I spent all that time and energy trying to be thin.” Being thin will NOT make you happy.
 
Some people attribute gaining confidence with losing weight. If you do experience a boost in your self-esteem because of weight loss, it will only be temporary. The affirmation you receive (praise, compliments, etc.) from losing weight is from the world, and the world is fickle. If you look for affirmation from the world, you will be in a never-ending, losing battle. There will always be more weight to lose, there will always be skinnier jeans and smaller sizes, and there will always be someone thinner than you.
Losing weight doesn’t mean you will be happy. I think, if you gain more self-confidence, you will be happier with yourself no matter what size you are.
 
So, how do you improve your self-confidence?
 
For starters, accept the way you look now, even with all your imperfections. Separate your self-worth from your appearance. Get rid of the “should do’s” and the expectations. Remember that you are enough. Realize that you can have peace and happiness without worrying about your weight.
 
So the next time you find yourself fighting with the scale and wanting to lose weight, remember that a smaller number will not make you happy.
 
Challenge of the Day: Throw away your bathroom scale. Your scale is not the boss of you. Your scale does not determine your value or whether or not you are good enough. So, if it doesn’t matter what your scale says, then why not throw it away? Think you just have to know? If you just have to know what that number says, then you are still equating your self-worth with that number. Knowing what the number says eases some kind of anxiety about having to look a certain way or be a certain weight. Having certain expectations concerning weight or appearance will only lead to unhappiness. Want to be happy? - throw the scale away.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Becoming “Pro-life” on a different level through the experience of loss and grief; a writing about miscarriages

(I wrote this post a while back…right after my second miscarriage.  Recently, I realized that I was still holding onto a lot of pain and grief from those losses.  I know it will be good for me and this child that I now carry if I confront these difficult feelings.  Through talking about it and through prayer, I hope that God will give me peace and free me from the anxiety and fear I have about having a baby.)

After successfully going off my anti-depressant medication, my husband and I discerned we should try to have children.

In those times of discernment, I realized that I was never going to be perfect.  We shouldn’t wait until we’re perfect to start having kids or to start living life for that matter.  No one will ever be perfect in this life – God’s grace is sufficient.

In stark contrast to the year before when I felt like I’d never be able to handle having children because of the depression, I really felt peaceful with this big life decision.  Taking on the new role of motherhood felt as comfortable as the sweatshirts I don on a regular basis.  Because of this peace, I felt certain this next step was meant to be – it was what God wanted for us – I just knew it!

Yet, the journey is not as easy for me as it seems to be for so many of my friends and family members.  The road is difficult and I’ve had to learn new meanings of the words “patience” and “purpose”.

Sadly, I’ve had two miscarriages.  Each baby only lived about seven weeks.  Both times, we found out by going in for our first doctor visit and ultrasound.  Both times, the doctor could not find a heartbeat.

The experience has taken my pro-life stance to a new level.  If I am really Pro-Life, I must acknowledge the two children that lived in my womb, even if it was only for a short time.  I must acknowledge that they are real human persons each with their own soul, gender, destiny, and capacity for greatness.  And I must allow myself to grieve for the deaths, the tiny lives that were so abruptly cut short.

Even though they were early, first trimester miscarriages, I still got attached, I still gave them names, and I still consider myself a mom – I have two children.  If I don’t do this, then how could I call myself Pro-Life?

I hesitate to publish our losses on this blog.  The experience was something very sacred.  The lives of those two little ones are very important to me.  I am afraid of losing that specialness by having my words fall on non-understanding ears.

On the other hand, however, this experience has majorly affected my life.  It has greatly influenced who I am as a wife, a friend, a sister, a daughter, and a human being.  It has been hard to write about anything else.

When people hear about miscarriages, they tend to sympathize to be nice or empathize if they’ve been there too.  I know they are doing nothing besides trying to be helpful, positive, and encouraging.  But people often say things like, “It was God’s will”, which might be comforting but also confusing.  And words like, “At least you know you can get pregnant…” are not helpful either.  Yeah, so, my womb is capable of conceiving but it is also capable of killing?  Please don’t remind me.  When all is said and done, my arms are still empty and my eyes brimming with tears.

The hard truth is – miscarriages are a tragedy.  An innocent life taken from the world who will never get to laugh, breathe in fresh air, watch a sunset, learn to walk, say it’s parents names, get married, or have children of their own.  Death is not a natural part of life, whenever it happens…8 weeks, 18 years, or 80 years.  God did not create us to die – He created us for eternal life.

Mysteriously, God’s accomplishes His will always.  But He does not directly intend for miscarriages to happen – just as He does not intend for abortion to happen.

A miscarriage is not God’s will.  It’s sad, unfortunate, and an evil that resulted from original sin.  God desires all of His children to be baptized and to get to Heaven.  He only permits bad things like this to happen so that a greater good can come from it.  The only reason evil persists is because God allows it to happen.  God is not some sadistic, twisted miser up in Heaven specifically preparing bad things to happen to people, then laughing a satisfied laugh when we stumble and fall.  No, God is a loving God who wants nothing but the best for each of His children.

Instead of chalking it up to part of a sad plan for my life, I think it’s better to grieve for those two precious souls and pray that God will bring some good from this heartbreak.  God is grieving along side of me, and, someday, He will rejoice with me as well.

I trust in God’s mercy and that He will bring good out of this evil.  However, I would not be honest if I didn’t say that these two miscarriages have left me with unanswerable questions.  Did I not pray enough?  Did I not want this bad enough?  Did I drink too much coffee? Or did I exercise too much?  Did I eat the wrong things?  Did I mess up my body through my eating disorder?  What if we didn’t discern correctly?  What did I do wrong? 

Maybe God knows that I won’t be able to handle having children.  Maybe I’m not mentally or emotional stable enough to handle the burdens and responsibilities of parenting.  Maybe this is the only way I could ever be a (biological) mom.

Discouragement and despair are not from God.  So as I experience these challenging emotions, I am trying to remember that Our God is the God of Hope.  He would not want me to give in or give up so easily.

We have a framed pictured of us on our wedding day and below the picture reads an encouraging phrase.  I never noticed it before, or never really thought about its meaning until now.  However, I saw it the other day and it struck me:

“Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

I didn’t know how much these words would mean to us when I put our picture in that frame.  But reading them now gives me comfort.  God knew we would have this struggle before we were even married.  He knows our miscarriages are a tragedy.  He is grieving right alongside of us.

It might feel like, at times, God gives us more than we can handle, but, I believe, it’s only to show us that we can do nothing on our own but everything through Him.

If I stay close to God, He will give me the desires of my heart.  After all, I am His beloved daughter.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mom-To-Be Freak Out Moments

I wonder if every new mom-to-be experiences moments of panic before her baby is born.  “Can I do this?”  “What was I thinking?”  “I don’t want to be a mature adult!”  “What if I can’t handle being a mom?”  Even thinking about the word “mom” freaks me out.  My mom is a mom.  My sister is mom.  I am NOT a mom.

I’ve got about a 4 week countdown to my due date.  However, I feel like I could use another several months to mentally prepare.

Recently, I’ve been having a lot of anxiety and a lot of down days.  I’ve been frustrated with myself for not coping with it well.  Considering my life is about to change forever, I should cut myself some slack.

I am good at dealing with the everyday anxiety and depression that has been a part of my life for the past several years.  I have good routines, good coping skills, and good, healthy habits…for the most part.

But, now, I’m not able to overcome my fear of the future.  I have absolutely no idea how I am going to handle life with a newborn baby.  I realize that I’m not always going to be able to deal with my anxiety and depression in the same ways I have been.  I can’t just go for a walk whenever I want to.  I can’t just take a shower whenever I feel like it.  I can’t just sleep whenever I need to.  The fear of not being able to cope with all the changes scares me so much.

I’ve always been afraid of things that I don’t have control over.  The future holds a lot of changes, probably the most I’ve ever had to experience, and that terrifies me.

There are so many “what ifs” running through my head during the day (and night).  I’m afraid of forgetting to do something or get something important before the baby comes.  It’s like I’m afraid I’m suddenly going to forget how to think like a rational adult.

I am also afraid of things not being “perfect”.  I want to be perfectly prepared, I want to have the perfect labor and delivery, I want to be the perfect post-partum mom, I want to have the perfect nursing experience, I want to perfectly lose all the baby weight, and I want to perfectly take care of this new child.  Not to mention, I want to be able to handle every situation perfectly and take care of myself perfectly.
 
I know in my head that this perfectionism is recipe for disaster, but I can’t help but think this way.  It's more difficult to overcome because I'm not just thinking about myself anymore...there is another human being involved.

I’m afraid I’m going to have to start back at square one after I have the baby – learning how to deal with stress, anxiety, fear, perfectionism, and depression all over again.  Just the thought of putting all that work into recovering again is exhausting.

I don’t want to fall apart, but I’m falling apart because I’m afraid I’m going to fall apart…