Tag Archives: self-esteem

can you hear you? we can.

This post has been swirling around in my spirit for the better part of six (!!!) months, but I haven’t really had the real words for it until now. (Actually, even now, I’m not entirely sure I have all the right words. But what I am sure of is that there is becoming increasingly less room in my brain for unimportant things like blog posts so I’ve got to get out whatever loose scraps I can to make room for all those important 90s song lyrics I can’t seem to forget.)

I have this friend whom I dearly adore. She happens to be strikingly beautiful, dangerously talented, wickedly smart, and hilarious. I want to tell you so many other things about her, including her name, but I can’t do that because I’m pretty sure she reads my blog and if she knew I was publicly affirming her in such a way I bet money she would very likely turn fifty shades of burgundy and demand that I remove the post immediately.

And this post is way too important to me for her to do that. So let’s just call this amazing girl Kay.

The thing about Kay is that no matter who you ask — whether they’ve known her for five minutes or her entire life — they’ll all say the same things I just did: that she’s a walking phenom; a force to be reckoned with; someone that transforms the earth from merely a revolving sphere of dusty rock to a beautiful, magical work of art. I’d venture to say that anyone you ask wouldn’t be able to find one, single bad thing to say about Kay.

But here’s the thing: none of us have to say anything bad about her because she says all the bad things about herself.

If you compliment her, she will deflect it. She’ll be the first to tell you she’s worthless. Or ugly. Or something equally wrong.

And it hurts my heart so very badly, not because all those things are untrue, but because to her, they are. 

I’m sure it will come as a surprise to exactly ZERO people when I say this, but Dead Poets Society is one of my all-time favorite movies that I don’t own (DAN WHY DON’T I OWN THIS MOVIE?!?!). One of my favorite quotes from the film comes from the character of John Keating, played by Robin Williams:

No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.

Whether you believe it or not, words have power. They have the power to build us up and they have the power to break us down, either in one fell swoop or in tiny bits and pieces, methodically chipped away over a period of years. And as loud as the words other people say to you can be, the words that come out of your own mouth — bubbling over from whatever is in your heart – are, strictly from a physical standpoint, the loudest ones. 

shh

The season of Lent began yesterday and, as you all know, I love to fast things for Lent — my hair straightener, all liquids except water, fried foods, the list goes on and on. But this year, I chose to fast something less tangible.

Words. 

Not cuss words, mind you. But certain words that I can’t write here on this blog. Words that, when strung together in lengthy, negative diatribes, damage my spirit. Words that break me down bit by bit. Words that change my world but not for the better. Words that, when flying out of my mouth, are the loudest in my own ears.

I hate hearing all the things Kay says about herself. It is heartbreaking and infuriating. But even more than that, I hate that she hears them. Because in this screwed up world, there are enough people who can say crappy things about ourselves. Why must we give them fuel for their fire?

I can hear you, Kay. Can you? Can you hear you? If so, could you stop talking about yourself for one minute and let me talk about you? And let me talk about how you know how to make anyone laugh. Let me talk about how you sing so beautifully it gives my goosebumps goosebumps. And let me talk about how you’re so stinking smart and capable and can do literally whatever you set your mind to.

I can hear me. Can you?

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Filed under personal, transformation

hope.

Even though my husband is actually the one who gets paid to do youth ministry, I actually teach a middle school discipleship class at our church on Wednesday nights. That’s right; one other brave volunteer and I face off against upwards of 20 middle schoolers each week by choice and I happen to love every minute of it.

Well, if I’m being honest, every minute of it that I’m not scolding them for doing weird things like drawing on each other’s faces.

Last night our lesson was on grace (specifically, how God will always love you no matter how many faces you draw on). To start out the class I had the students write down all the things they like about themselves and then share them with us (the point being that once you are in Christ, God only sees the good in you and not the bad). One little girl’s answer really struck me.

“I love that I’m really good at the cello,” she started, “and I love that I’m so pretty. Like, I’m really pretty. And I love that.”

Now, if I were to stand up in front of a group of my peers and say that, I might get smacked. But I love that she so boldly stated that for three reasons:

  1. She stated it as if it was a total inarguable fact (and, if I could weigh in, it absolutely is).
  2. She wasn’t ashamed or bashful about this.
  3. In a world where the vast majority of teenage girls today say the exact opposite about themselves every day, how refreshing!

Today when I went grocery shopping, I had so many people stop and tell me about how beautiful my baby is (isn’t he though?) and the whole time I just kept thinking about that girl in my class, and praying that my son never doubts his unique beauty or his worth in this world, despite all the things society may tell him.

And so, today (and yesterday) I’m grateful for the hope in a future where kids/teenagers/adults/people rise above a society built on self-esteem crushing lies.

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Filed under personal

how to be.

It’s been really hard to blog lately for two reasons.

1. My life as a mostly work-from-home mom, while splendid and blest, can be quite mundane. As much as I love it, I don’t know how many posts I can muster up (or you should have to suffer through) about me banging away at my lap top during nap times or the perils of walking lessons. (Oh yes. By the by, I don’t want to admit it, but by definition I am now the mother of a toddler who has the bruises to prove it.)

2. I follow a lot of blogs and — sigh — I know how many other great blogs there are out there. So whenever I sit down to finally spew out a post, I can only think to myself, “But why? When there are so many other great blogs for these people to read?”

In short, it’s like I don’t know “how to be” a blogger.

The church I work at/serve at/do life at is one that, um, isn’t exactly in my comfort zone. It is a gigantic (!!!) traditional mainline Christian church, whose congregation consists MOSTLY of older, very wealthy “church” people. A natural button-pushing, liberal, messy-past-holding, twenty something loudmouth, I’ve never been quite welcomed at mainline denomination churches before now (ask me about the one time I, the “lost girl”, was “ambush-saved” under a tree by a well-meaning counselor at a church camp) and so it’s a bit of a struggle sometimes to reconcile the idea that I’m now on the payroll at one of these places that has wounded me so deeply in the past. And not only that; I have made friends here. Real friends. People who are getting to know me and aren’t running away. I’m finding my footing in an unfamiliar place that, remarkably, has accepted me. I still cannot understand this.

But that, my friends, is the power of grace, no?

I said it already, but it bears repeating. This place is freaking huge. People get around via golf carts and I can’t wait to make a billion dollars so I can also buy a golf cart. (That’s how much golf carts go for these days, right?) There are hallways and offices and narthexes and sacristies and choir rooms and class rooms and chapels and sanctuaries and gyms and lions and tigers and bears oh my and

six pianos. 

While I can’t afford ONE acoustic piano, there are six pianos scattered about the campus. (One of which used to belong to Sir Elton John but that’s another blog post.)

Today I sat in on a meeting which left me feeling both unproductive and severely misunderstood — the latter of which is not uncommon right now because I’m still getting used to this place. After the meeting, I had precisely twenty minutes before my next meeting which, as you working folk know, is just enough time to not do anything productive or meaningful.

One of the better-than-me bloggers I follow (who, I guess at this point, isn’t really a blogger anymore) is Jon Acuff. The other day he posted a picture on Instagram of a diagram made by an illustrator of how to be an artist.

photo

Looking at the clock and seeing the empty minutes before me, I recalled this picture and felt a sense of urgency to create. To make some sort of art, even if it was bad art, just to remind myself that, while I may be a misunderstood screw-up in a seemingly perfect congregation, I’m not totally worthless.

So I excitedly gathered my things and dashed to the chapel where I knew there sat an unoccupied, recently tuned grand piano.

As I was racing toward the steepled building, not wanting to waste a single minute, I got so giddy thinking about sitting in that empty space, at the bench, pressing down on the keys, softly squeezing the pedal, and birthing beautiful noise out of staunch silence. After feeling like I couldn’t control anything, I wanted to remember that, if nothing else, I can at least manipulate a piano.

I pulled the heavy double doors open with a superhuman exuberance expecting to find an empty chapel just for me. But when my eyes fell on the church organist at the organ, directly across from the piano practicing, my heart sank.

Our organist is a musical genius. He’s been playing organ/piano longer than I’ve been alive so he can obviously play circles around me. But he’s also probably the nicest person I’ve ever met in my lifetime. He’s someone that, when I’m around him, I suddenly don’t feel so misunderstood.

He always compliments my piano playing also, even when I know he both a) doesn’t have to and b) is probably just trying to make me feel good. (I told you he is really nice.)

He was sight-reading a couple hymns for our staff chapel. And for a few moments I sat and just listened. But then that stupid diagram got the best of me and I jumped off my butt and ran up to the piano.

“Which hymns are you playing?” I asked him, picking up a nearby hymnal.

He responded with a couple of numbers and then quickly added, “I’ve never seen these hymns before in my life!” (Mind you, this was not in a “look how great I sight-read!” way, but in an astonished “how have I played organ for all these years and never once laid eyes on these two hymns?!” way.)

I opened up the hymnal to the numbers he specified and sat down on the bench. I certainly hadn’t heard them, either, but my fingers were itching. I looked at the staffs and, while I can’t sight-read to save my life, I could at least tell which keys the songs were in based on the sharps and flats next to the clefs.

“Do you mind if I play along with you?” I nervously asked.

“Not at all! Please do!”

And so I did.

And it wasn’t horrible. (Though I think that has way more to do with the power and beauty of the instrument in question than it does my own skill level; a tuned piano is much more forgiving to any musician than, say, a violin.)

Over the past few weeks I’ve been caught up in my own head about “how to be” things — how to be a blogger; how to be a mother; how to be both an employee and a parishioner at a mainline denomination church; how to be a wife; how to be a cook; how to be a pianist; how to be Lindsay — so much so that I end up not BEING anything except lethargic, cynical, and unmotivated.

But that diagram ruins it all for me. It takes this paradigm that suggests I have to meet some unwritten standard before I’ve made it and crushes it into a thousand little pieces, never to be put back together again.

How do I be a blogger? I blog.

How do I be a wife? I cherish my husband.

How do I be a mother? I care for my child.

How do I be a pianist? I play the damn piano.

How do I be Lindsay?

I be Lindsay.

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Filed under on the job, personal

you don’t have to defend yourself.

Lately I’ve noticed a lot of my friends posting articles on Facebook titled things like, Reasons Why It’s Okay That I’m a Working Mom, or, I Didn’t Go To College and That’s Okay, or, Why Being in My Twenties and Not Married or With Children is THE BEST. (By the way, don’t go Googling those titles. They’re not the ACTUAL titles. I didn’t want to cite the real articles because that’s not the point.)

I have read a couple (particularly the ones that validated my own personal life choices/position in life) and I have rolled my eyes at some of them (particularly the ones that went against my own personal life choices).

The most recent one I came across was about how being my age and having no kids or no husband was TOTALLY OKAY and how the writer was sick of the expectation that, just because of her age, she should be sporting a gold wedding band and a diaper bag. And it made my stomach sink a little bit because as I was reading it I felt a little bit self-concsious because I am.

holdhand

My knee-jerk reaction was to post a blog that was all, Hey! I’m married and have a baby at 27 and you know what? It’s not only OKAY but it’s also GREAT and AWESOME and I LOVE IT but then I stopped myself and thought…

I don’t have to defend myself.

And neither do you.

All of these articles are floating around to serve one of two purposes: 1. to validate or 2. to defend. But either way, they all tend to perpetuate the idea that you are only worth what you do/don’t do/choose/don’t choose. 

So I’m here to tell you something else.

Whether you went to college or didn’t, graduated high school or didn’t, got married or haven’t, got divorced or haven’t, have kids or don’t want kids, homeschool or don’t, are vegan or aren’t, love something or hate it… whether you think you’re “there” yet or you know you’re not, it doesn’t matter.

You don’t have to defend yourself. Because you are you, and that is enough.

So let that be enough.

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Filed under motherhood, personal, the media

when we make ourselves bleed.

It is Sunday and I don’t normally blog on Sundays but I foolishly downed a grande Starbucks iced latte this morning so I’ll be awake and vibrating until Tuesday so MIGHT AS WELL EXPEL SOME FINGER ENERGY, AM I RIGHT? (The piano is getting slaughtered as soon as I’m done with this.)

Failure and grace are on my heart today, because:

  • I just got done writing an apology letter to a mother in our congregation for our streaming platform being down this morning during her son’s baptism.
  • Dan had to apologize for not being the husband/father I needed him to be on Friday.
  • And a few days prior to that, I had to send an awkwardly phrased apology email to a mentor whose blessings on me I have not exactly honored.

There have been a lot of “I’m sorry”s floating around my head this week, thrown both at and from me. A lot of disappointments. A lot of failures.

It’s easy for me to forgive Dan because he’s so silly and wonderful. But my mentor forgave me (for probably the millionth time) and I’m crossing my fingers that this mother will also forgive me. However, even though the reality of their forgiveness is within my reach, I still find it hard to forgive myself.

Last night I went to dinner with some ladies from our church. My friend Kimberly told us a story of her son’s experience at a local water park. There is an area that has big, floating lily pads with a rope suspended above them. The idea is that you can jump from lily pad to lily pad and use the rope to help you across.

Kimberly’s son decided to make his way across by only hanging on to the rope and not touching down on any of the lily pads. When he got to the other side, his hands were blistered and bleeding.

“Why didn’t you stop when you were hurting?” she asked.

“Because I didn’t want to fail,” he said.

WHAT.

Whenever someone forgives me for wronging them, it’s like I look down on their grace like her son did those lily pads. I dismiss it and choose instead to cling to my shame as punishment — a thick, tough, splintery rope — and mentally beat myself up. In a sense, I make myself bleed because I’m so upset that I failed in the first place.

Is it failure, though? Is it?

To admit you need help? To admit you made a mistake? To step down on a lily pad? To apologize to someone and say, “I missed the mark and I’ll try to do better next time,” and to let their grace be enough? 

Perhaps when we find ourselves in pain we should stop, step down on a lily pad, and apologize instead of making ourselves bleed unnecessarily.

And then, we move on, more aware of the reality of love and grace and mercy and redemption than we are of the lies of shame and guilt.

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Filed under faith, life, personal

words to live by: demi lovato.

A couple years ago, while discussing popular music and culture, a girl in our youth group said something to my husband that, upon his retelling of it, left me dumbfounded. It was something along the lines of, “Demi Lovato is a bad person because she’s in rehab.”

If I would have been around, I would have lost it. I would have said something horrible like, “People like you are the reason that people like Demi Lovato hate themselves.”

Then I would have launched into some sort of theological diatribe about how, technically, we’re all in rehab for SOMETHING and that realizing that you need and want help for your problems should be celebrated and not condemned.

Maybe that’s why I’m not in youth ministry anymore.

But I digress.

Last night I gave in to Cosmo’s temptation and purchased their August issue simply because it has Demi on the cover. It also promised a “shocking” interview with her which… eh.

Shocking probably isn’t the right word. Anyone who has followed Demi’s story (like myself) won’t be shocked. But there was one paragraph that made me stop and mentally high five her.

[Sorry. There's a bit of profanity.]

demi_lovato_cosmo_quote

 

Underlined emphasis mine.

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Filed under words to live by

when it rains.

I know this can’t possibly be true but it really feels like it has rained nonstop since I moved to Naples.

dangnatureuscary

First, it was your regular ol’ summer-in-Florida situation in which the sky would turn a mean black around 2pm and then vigorously pour buckets for all of ten minutes before clearing back up.

Then, one day, it just kept raining.

And then a tropical storm rolled through.

And it kept raining.

Really put a — wait for it – damper on things around here. (I COULDN’T RESIST. I REGRET NOTHING.)

rain

Yesterday was one of those five-star parenting days in which I was operating on very little sleep and it was all I could do to not burst into tears and so, despite the tropical conditions outside, I took Dax out for a drive hoping the lull of the car and the sound of the rain would calm him.

I told you; five. star. parenting. (It worked, by the way.)

While I was waiting at a red light, enjoying the sound of my baby not crying, I tiredly stared through the windshield while the wipers swish-swished back and forth rapidly to clear away the cascade. My eyes fell upon that triangular space between the wipers that never gets wiped and I remembered analyzing that same spot as a child driving with my mom. I could hear my tiny voice in my head, whining: “Why can’t they make wipers that wipe the WHOLE windshield? There is so much left of the glass that has droplets all over it!”

(I’ve always been a perfectionist, I guess.)

As an adult, I looked at the glass differently. Instead of being upset that, all these years later, they still haven’t made wipers that actually wipe the whole windshield, I felt grateful for those wipers and their persistence. No matter how hard it rains, no matter how many drops (or buckets) fall, those wipers keep on keepin’ on, with no regard for how many drops have already previously fallen or how many will fall in the future. Swish-swish-swish-swish. Dry-not dry-dry-not-dry-dry. 

One of my last days in Tallahassee, I was out wedding dress shopping with my best friend. Toward the end of the trip, though, I got a frantic text from Dan asking me to come home as soon as possible to nurse a very cranky Dax. I headed home as fast as I could which evidently wasn’t legal because I got a speeding ticket.

I was so angry with myself because, I know better. During my twelve years of driving, I’ve gotten more than my fair share of speeding tickets and, until that moment, I had finally cleared all points from my license and was again deemed a “safe driver”. And one stupid misstep of speeding home cost me all that.

When I got home I yelled at Dan and yelled at myself, saying, “I’m just so sick of the fact that I’m such a crappy person.”

“You are not a crappy person,” he said, “you are just a person. Who does crappy things sometimes. Because you’re a person.”

“But I always do this!”

“Just because you’ve done bad things doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. You’re forgiven.”

It’s amazing to me how often this happens to me. I make some (relatively) minor mistake and I fall apart because it makes me think I am forever doomed to making mistakes and that I’ll always be bad and nothing can fix that.

It just keeps raining.

If you have the same issue I do — you seem to remember every dumb thing you do and beat yourself up every time you do another dumb thing — just remember the windshield wipers.

What.

Forgive yourself as persistently as my wipers clear away the rain. Forget the drops from the past, don’t anticipate more drops in the future. Just wipe them away as they come, just as fast as you can, so you can see what goodness lies ahead.

Because if I was still angry about all the rain that has fallen in Naples over the past three weeks, I wouldn’t be able to enjoy myself right now, sitting outside at a Starbucks, warming in the sunshine with the dry sidewalk beneath my sandaled feet.

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Filed under psychology, transformation

naked and unashamed.

If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you might know that I was diagnosed with an eating disorder in 2007 and have since made it my mission to figure out how to love myself — inside and out — relentlessly. My blog has been instrumental on this journey. I’ve blogged my way through all sorts of self-love hangups, from navigating self-imposed pressures to be the perfect wife to finding my sexy.

I’m thankful to report that, in the past year, I haven’t had many reasons to turn to Ye Olde Blogue in order to make myself feel better about my self or my body. With God’s help (along with the assistance of my sweet husband and faithful mentors) I think that it’s safe to say that I’ve finally made peace with my own body and any chance of ED relapse is behind me.

However, regardless of my own personal growth, a recent chain of unsettling events has made me realize that this world is still, if I may be so bold as to say, effed sideways concerning the ways we women view ourselves:

+ My mom hasn’t had a nice picture of her taken in a while, so a few weeks ago she requested that I take one of her with my SLR. As soon as I was done she pleaded with me to Photoshop away some lines from her face.

+ During prayer requests at my bible study a week ago, a girl asked for a way for her to use her body to get ahead in life.

+ There are hundreds of leaders (male, of course) in the church community that have come out recently speaking against women for what they wear for being the cause of men to lust after them and even cheat on their wives. (Yes, read that again. The women are at fault for the men who cheat.)

+ Someone told me that of course I’m happy with my body because I’m beautiful. And there’s no way they can be happy because they’re not.

You know me — I can’t just sit back and not blog about how much these events (particularly the last one) infuriate me.

I’m currently fumbling my way through the book of Esther and trying to make sense of it; a story about a Jew girl who was integral to saving God’s chosen people because, quite frankly, some batshit crazy pseudo-king thought she was hot and, for that reason alone, wanted to “know” her. (This is, of course, the New Lindsay Translation of the story. I suggest you read it for your own context, even if you aren’t a believer.)

The other day, I hopped in the shower ever-so-quickly while my son was napping and gave myself the New-Mom-Speedy-Scrubdown, my ears tuned to the static sounds coming from the baby monitor in my bedroom. When I finished actually washing and found that, surprisingly, my child was still asleep, I stood very still and watched the streams of water race each other down my body.

For a while, I just stared blankly, sure my child would rouse any minute. But each second that passed with no sounds from the monitor, I would turn the COLD knob just a bit more toward the OFF position to allow the stream to increase in heat. As soon as my skin adjusted to the temperature change, I’d turn the knob just a little bit more.

I did this until the COLD knob was completely off and, though the water was scalding, my skin was comfortable (albeit considerably more pink).

Under the stream, my eyes surveyed my exterior and — as bizarre as it sounds — I marveled. I couldn’t believe that this vessel at which I was staring had done so much in its 27 years of life — danced its 10,000 hours, learned scales on the piano, grew and sustained another human life — and, yet, took the brunt of my own abuse for the better part of two decades. And then I thought about Esther.

And my mom.

And that girl from my bible study.

And men who blame their missteps on their victims.

And all the girls in this society that think their bodies are as deep as their worth goes.

And I got mad. Like. Really mad.

I think the main reason I got so mad is because I feel like I can’t do anything. I’m just one person in this giant effed up world and, as these recent events have pointed out, this issue is much bigger than me.

I said what I could say in bible study in order to encourage that girl. Ultimately I don’t know if anything I said made one bit of difference; I left feeling like something had been stolen from me. Perhaps that something was the notion that this problem is suddenly gone just because I’m not suffering from it anymore.

You know that played-out Goo Goo Dolls song from the 90s? You know, from the City of Angels soundtrack? Meg Ryan and that other dude? I can’t remember the name of it, but there is one line that sticks out to me:

“And you bleed just to know you’re alive.”

I think these events have served their purpose to cut me open and remind me that there is still work left to be done and that lots of people are still bleeding. And we’ve got to speak the truth to those people.

Because God knows no one else is going to.

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Filed under God, life, psychology, rants, the media, transformation

to be known and, yet, LIKED.

A while back I wrote this post on being fully known and also loved at the same time. There is something so beautifully freeing about being able to let your hair down and let out an exhale and just be in the company of those who, even in your darkest moments, love you.

But what about being liked? That’s a completely different ball game.

This week, as we’ve finally let the craziness of Holy Week and Easter pass us by, three different sources in just as many days have all independently of each other communicated the same message to me: Jesus knows me. And of course he loves me. But maybe he even likes me, too.

That notion is worth celebrating, no doubt. Even outside of the context of my faith, the idea that I’m known by people and also liked is definitely a good thing. But it’s hard for me to believe right now, so I don’t really want to hear it. I don’t want to hear that anyone (let alone the savior of the world) knows me because, the way I see it, if you DO know me, you probably know that there isn’t much to like about me right now.

I can already see the stream of comments I’m going to get for this post. Relax. I’m fine. No need to talk me off the bridge (unless chocolate rivers are involved).

The thing is, though, my situation isn’t fine. In a little less (!!!) than a month, my family will be somewhere new. Somewhere foreign. We might have jobs or we might not. We might move back in with my mom or we might not. Whatever is on the other side of this is completely unknown to me. The only thing I do know right now is what I’m losing.

My faith community.

My friends.

My comfort zone. 

I am still Jonah. Through and through. I want to hide out on a boat and hope I’m not found out.

I’m sure it’s no coincidence that three independent sources have all sought me out to convey the message that I am known and also loved. It’s the thing I need to hear right now. But I hate hearing it because if I do, I can’t spend my days like this. Hanging out with me must be the pits lately. Sorry, guys.

Have you ever felt this way? Like, you might be loved but aren’t exactly likable at the moment? 

 

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Filed under life, psychology, rants, transformation

mom finds “diet list” in her 7-year-old daughter’s room.

You read that subject line right. According to this post on Mommyish, a mother found a heartbreaking “diet list”, complete with documentation of daily food intake and exercises, on the floor of her 7-year-old daughter’s bedroom.

I can’t even imagine.

It’s been a while since I’ve written about something like this. I’m grateful for that fact, truly, because any time I come across something like this every hope and dream I have about the world in which we live dies just a little bit more.

Sorry for the melodrama but here’s the deal — I have a kid now. Not that this wouldn’t have pissed me off a year ago, but it’s a little different now that I’m a parent. In a moment of fleeting amnesia, I forgot how terrible the world can be sometimes, so I decided to bring a little life into it. So I had a little boy. A little boy who will sit next to little girls in his classes at school. Girls he will talk to and possibly befriend. Or fall in love with. A little boy whose utterances about girls’ appearances could either be encouraging or incredibly damaging.

See, people? Now it’s personal.

Anyway — here’s a picture of the “diyet” list this poor mother found.

diet_list

If you read the article, you’ll find that the mother’s discovery of her 7-year-old’s diet plan sends her into a tailspin of parental questions, as I’m sure would be the case for any warm-blooded parent with a heartbeat and a brain stem – How did my daughter learn about diets? Did she hear this from me? Was it from someone at school? Was it something on TV? 

I’ve only been a parent for 7 and a half months, but I am already wracked with so much mom-guilt it’s not even funny. Guilt because I work full time. Guilt because my son once choked on a piece of carrot that somehow didn’t get pureed enough. Guilt because he’s teething and so nursing isn’t exactly his favorite thing at the moment. The idea that I’m hurting my child in any way causes me paralyzing grief each day; I can’t imagine the pain I’d feel in my gut if I ever knew that my child didn’t like himself and that feeling was somehow tied back to something I said or did.

The reality is that we do live in a broken world, one that puts so much emphasis on our outward appearance that it’s literally (in this case at least) destroying our youth. We can’t get away from airbrushed magazine covers or commercials for diet pills or anti-aging cream. But what we can control are the words that come out of our own mouths.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are beautiful. You are strong. You are capable. You are worth so much more than your skin color or weight or height or eye color or anything gives you credit for. 

Here’s the thing, though. I sincerely doubt this mother ever told her 7-year-old she needed to go on a diet. I also find it highly unlikely that this mother ever uttered anything to her daughter that might suggest she didn’t like her appearance at all. I’m sure this mom doted on her daughter every day like all of us would our own children. So what’s the disconnect?

While it’s extremely important to make sure we say these things to our children (both boys and girls) as well as our friends and family, we’ve got to start with us. The words we say to ourselves are just as important, if not more so. They’re not just heard by us; they’re heard by others. Especially, I’d argue, the littlest ones. The ones we wish couldn’t hear us the most.

What if she heard her mom complaining about her body? What if this woman (who, at this stage in life, is her daughter’s main example for womanhood) offhandedly commented on her lovehandles or something like we all tend to do? And what if this little girl just assumed that’s what life is like for a girl these days? To be unhappy with her body?

Furthermore, what if this little girl was a classmate of Dax’s? And what if she had no idea what a diet was, but when talking to Dax, learned I was on a diet.

“What’s a diet?” she might inquire.

“My mom says she has to eat less food because she’s fat,” he might respond, if he were to repeat anything I’ve ever said around him concerning my own body.

Let’s break this cycle. Let’s start with us. Let’s talk about ourselves positively and encourage others to do the same. Let’s tell our children they are the perfect creations they are. Let’s end this.

Now.

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