Being married has taught me so much about myself and I love ^ this man more than I did when this photo was taken two years ago.
Over the last few months I have spent time doing some simple things that I enjoy: singing, lightly exercising, connecting with family and friends, and finally letting go of trying to “be the person I was before” (a person who had become distorted into some kind of utopian fantasy). Don’t get me wrong, I was certainly in great shape back in 2010-2012… but even back then it was never enough. There was a lot more stirring under the surface, and thank God for that prompting to keep searching and keep learning.
Looking at my body now I have sometimes felt like a failure because I “let it slip”, but that’s really not very fair on me (or any of us). Back when I was in my “best” shape I was enjoying “newbie gains”, I was also able to devote most of my free time to exercising and an enormous amount of energy to making the best diet choices and it was an easy thing to maintain because I was still progressing in my training and I honestly had far less trouble with pain. The truth is there are lots of variables I simply took for granted, and emotional stress was one I didn’t factor in. And that’s what worries me now about how we so often look at others, judging and comparing them and their lives verses our own.
You see, I was caught up in the belief that looking fit and being considered a badass by others were the means to *all* ends, so it was the only thing that mattered. I nit-picked my body and my popularity because I thought everything rode on that. What I didn’t realise is those same results (what I thought I needed to show) would reflect a false image of happiness and success. And for a while, that suited me. After all, I liked feeling happy and successful, and admitting my own folly wasn’t even on my radar. What I wanted for my life was freedom and peace, but what I ended up in was a battle with myself and a constant comparison and “prove I’m worthy” game with the world. The desire to *appear* awesome overtook the reality that I am vulnerable to all the same “set-backs”, physically changes, mental illness (depression, and yes, thoughts of suicide), and priority shifts as everybody else. It took an inner-crisis and a lot of time for me to finally see how inconsistently I was living. My early reactions were to grip harder and try to control even more, but the solution came through much more humble methods: I accepted where I was at, I saw what blessings I have, and I let go of the rest. That is when I found air to breathe.
Yes, I am successful, but not for painting a picture of the “got it all together”, but for learning to see life for what it is: messy and raw and something we are all in TOGETHER. Rather than putting on a front and only showing the highlights, why can’t we just be honest when we are in pain, feeling insecure, or not quite sure what to do next?
That’s the freedom I want: freedom to “fail”. Something I have rarely even granted to myself.
The point I am trying to make is that I don’t have it all together (I’m sure this has been clear from my back and fourths online), what I do have is a life that sometimes I enjoy and other times I don’t. I will never be able to control everything, but I can control how I respond or, more importantly, how I reflect on poor responses and seek to understand why I sometimes act in ways contrary to how I want to be. This is where so often I get angry and ashamed at myself for “not being better” and it is *these* thoughts and feelings that I need to address and replace because I can no longer carry the burden of guilt and regret that comes from making a mistake. So often I become “a bad person” instead of just “a person who made a mistake”.
Looking back to how I used to look, it’s easy to see someone who is happy and has a perfect life. Don’t forget, I was also living in a fantasy world, “blissfully” unaware of my own internal contradictions. I was busy ticking boxes about how someone successful, fit and happy should appear; inside I was anything but. I am paradoxically more successful for recognising my own failures and owning them than I ever was for never asking for hard truths from myself. And happiness is not the goal, I think it’s a biproduct of being consistent with who you are and what you believe your purpose is… and perhaps that is called joy, or living through faith. This is what I am now *truly* exploring.
There will still be times when I feel unsure or take wrong turns, like when I consider what’s next for my work, my blog, my body. I don’t know what the thing that will best express my purpose is. All I know is that right now, I want to share stuff and I hope it does some good – it certainly feels good to me when I express it.
Have a wonderful and purposeful day 🙂
I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God…” – Psalm 40:1-3