I scrolled through years of our family’s photos on facebook the other day, reminiscing and copying some of Phil and me to post for our 13th wedding anniversary. That afternoon I really felt the coals under my feet to finally start pulling images out of the digital abyss and preserve them and print them in books. It also brought me face-to face-with more to heal from. Do you know what I found? A family picture I never posted from last summer (above: me at my heaviest) and countless moments with my family where I hid my body in pictures behind kids, behind my husband, and even behind greenery!
Back into Bushes
The first time we took the girls to Disney World, I actually backed up into plants to hide the weight I gained since leaving modeling and becoming a mom.
We took an afternoon off from going to the park to play in the pool. No lines, no strollers, no schedule to keep. Let the girls be wild and free for a bit. Phil raised the camera up to take a quick pic. The girls stood and smiled once again, this time in their matching red polkadot bathing suits. Before he had time to say, “smile girls,” I already felt the inevitable sting of shame and embarrassment that would come from posting the picture on facebook. So I backed up into the bushes.
I could have changed my mind and not taken the picture. I could have taken it anyway and not posted it anywhere. I could have not cared what people thought of my body. But I still wanted to capture the moment, so I posed and smiled. I wanted to be able to post their first Disney World trip for our family to enjoy with us, so I pointed and clicked. And I knew, eventually, I would face this monster and win. Until then, I backed up into the bushes.
I had plenty of experience in presenting the best body angles for flattering photos. But the new weight would not slim with my old tricks. So I backed up into the bushes. The grown woman who desperately wanted to shrink into her wedding dress (left) and not lose the identity she sunk into her work, slunk into the bushes (middle).
Even great lighting, a good tan, and getting my hair done didn’t wash away the shame that led me to believe I wasn’t skinny enough to be good enough, to be lovable. And the self-focus and vanity kept me from enjoying my family.
Now, I can stand straight (right: with my hair and makeup done and a tan and new dress- it was for our Christmas card, k?) without shame even at the same weight that scared me to death. The same number on the scale near the end of both pregnancies. The same number that my doctor cautioned me not to hit when I was pregnant. Both times. And now I’m not pregnant and I’m not okay with my dependency on food, but I’m not waiting to be good enough for someone else to swoop in and love me enough. God already does. And maybe you can’t relate to feeling shame in the left two pictures and I seem like an idiot to you (not to worry- I agree with you), but maybe you know what it’s like to slink away when you know you weren’t meant to walk away.
It seems ridiculous to me years later that I weighed what others thought of my body against preserving a moment with my family, and I grieve now for my daughters in that moment- their mom gently pulling them a few feet back, their bare feet shuffling while daddy focuses the lens. I hope my moments of insecurity are not the memories that last.
Have y’all done anything like that before? Have you struggled with wanting to freeze moments with your friends or family in time but not wanting yourself in the frame? Have wonderful days and memories been clouded with shame?
There is a war going on for your attention, for your devotion, for your time. And the years I lost hating my body spurred me onto writing my first book, Modeled by the Maker.
As I step forward and take my writing more seriously, by sharing words here on my blog instead of slinging words into an instagram post when I feel like it, I hope to you consider the way you treat yourself more seriously.
Step forward and face the current conditions you find yourself in, which is its own kind of crazy now- post coronavirus. I know the anxiety tight in your chest, I know the numbing tactics you want to comfort you in the middle of this mess, and I know you want to swipe this post away and go about your day.
But something in you is telling you to stay. To see what I have to say. To see if I can really help you along the way.
Here is a love letter for you today:
God’s grace raises people from the grave.
I did not know God’s grace when I did things like back into bushes, pull Phil’s arm and shove him in front of me, tucking half my body behind his, or unbuckle a baby from a stroller and hold her in front of me to hide my middle. I shielded my body with my babies’. When a mother’s love is supposed to be the other way around.
God’s grace is unmerited favor. We did nothing to deserve it.
Since I did not know His grace, I sure didn’t know how to receive it. So I never allowed my body any grace. Even after trying to keep my teenager’s body from changing as I became a woman. Even after carrying and birthing two babies in three years and learning how to take care of them without truly knowing how to take care of myself.
God’s grace comes with the same strength that raised people up from the grave. It is raising me too.
What I have learned while healing is our Creator is the one we should listen to when we wonder how to care for ourselves. Not the ones with tips and tricks and fast fixes that leave you flat on your face in a few paces. Not the ones who say you can do it all on your own. If coronavirus has proven us anything, we know we cannot thrive alone.
He cares for His creation because He is good.
This quarantine life is legit hard. But as we come out of it, do you want to come alive like never before? Or do you want to keep mistreating yourself like before?
Step into Frame
Take a picture of yourself. Even if it’s not you in your best light. Even if you are alone. Even if you look old and tired. Even if your clothes don’t fit because of quarantine snacks. Even if your skin is flaring up because of quarantine stress. Even if your roots are brown or grey and your hair is the epitome of quarantine mess. Even if you are the heaviest you have ever been because you are grieving and still depending on food to dull the pain.
Because our bodies will wither away, and the memories might slip away, but we are not going to hide away anymore.
Let’s not waste another memory worrying about what the container looks like instead of what it is meant to contain: love, joy, peace, truth, grace, and passion.
Pushing past your fears and pushing through your insecurities, your pain, and your shame to step into frame won’t fix everything. It will bring things to light you want to keep in the dark, though you know it has done you no good to leave it all there, lurking behind you. So I am going to do more than give you a few words on a blog and send you on your way. I want to walk with you through this and share what has changed me.
If you want to come with me and talk about stuff we wouldn’t dare post here, join my email list because this week we are going to start something new together and I don’t want you to miss it. Sign up by clicking HERE or in the form on my sidebar.
Also, if you need some motivation to move your body, join me in my friend Jessica’s facebook group by clicking HERE. She is an incredible woman- strong, brave, and compassionate- and has invited me to come chat with everyone in there on Tuesday, April 28th at 9:30am (you can rewatch it later). Hope to see you there!
Amanda, no more shame in my frame
P.S. Thank y’all so much for taking the survey in my last post! Your responses literally shape this book! I am so grateful for you!!