A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine convinced me to take a class at the gym. It was some sort of strengthening class that lasted for 60 minutes. I can't remember the name of it, but I think it should've been called, "75 creative ways to do squats and lunges for an hour." It was incredibly difficult and I felt very uncoordinated. We had an exercise ball, a stand for the ball, a mat and weights. It was recommended to have two different kinds of weights, but I figured I would start with one since I was a beginner.
I am sure that the two girls in the front corner, who looked like they were in their mid-twenties and were thinner than I was even back in 2nd grade, never noticed me. I'm sure the women behind me, who I never saw, weren't actually laughing at me the whole time. But you know what? I totally felt like they were. I saw myself in that mirror, about 20 pounds heavier than I was last summer, and I felt inadequate.
Between that class and today, I finished a half-marathon that I didn't train for. It was hard and I struggled. I finished, though, and felt strong. (I don't recommend dong a half-marathon without training. This was by far one of the most ridiculous things I have ever done.)
Tonight I went to a pilates class and suffered through the same insecurities as I did a few weeks ago. The whole time I felt convinced that everyone else was watching and knew I couldn't do it. On some level I certainly know that everyone else was more concerned about their own form than mine, but it's hard to remember that in the moment.
What I find sad and frustrating about my issues at the gym is that they represent a larger problem. I can't seem to stop comparing myself to everyone around me. I can't stop thinking I'd be worth more if I had smaller arms or a flat stomach...or a cleaner house or better clothes. You know - if I just had everything together and perfect.
Now, I know that everyone will say, "but you're so _______!" It's not even that I don't believe the things they're saying. You know what, though? It shouldn't matter. It shouldn't matter what anyone thinks - including myself!
I'm just starting a book that I think will help this. I'm really excited to read it and would love it if you read it, too. We could talk about it! What do you think? It's Love Idol by Jennifer Dukes Lee. (She blogs here. For Lent? She covered every mirror in her house. She didn't look at herself in a mirror - even when getting ready for things - for 40 days. She did it to crush her need for outside validation. I don't think I could do it!)
Somehow, we've got to stop worrying. We're already accepted and loved by Jesus. Isn't that all that matters? We just need to remember that and stop that nagging "but" that follows right after...