It’s not even a serious fever, but as I watch the numbers climb on the thermometer, I can feel my chest tightening along with it. It’s been two years since a severe febrile seizure led to an unfortunate series of events that almost cost us our eldest and I still absolutely cannot handle it when one of my children is under the weather. I look at Jeremy through bleary, teared up eyes and tell him Elliot has a fever, and I can see the concern wash over him. Not so much for her, but for me. Sometimes the guilt I feel over him having to be married to someone with an anxiety disorder is enough to drown in. He asks how high and I tell him, and he flashes that kind, soft smile and reminds me it’s barely even a fever. But let’s give her some Tylenol just to be safe. He gives me a kiss and wipes tears off my face and whispers it’s okay. And it does feel a little more okay. After 6 years, he’s pretty much a pro at being married to anxiety. The nights spent on the bathroom floor, just sitting and being with me through the latest panic attack. Remembering to grab me a glass of cold water because it helps for some reason. Rubbing my back, not trying to fix it, because he’s learned the hard way it doesn’t help. Sternly disagreeing with me when I label myself crazy. Always there with the right thing to say, not patronizing, not generalizing, just…right.
I’ve never been what I would necessarily call “healthy”. For a long time I’ve gotten by on a fair metabolism and loose shirts. In high school and early college I was still in the studio upwards of 4 days a week, so that somehow carried me past the freshman fifteen. After I got married I started to add on a few newlywed pounds here and there, made excuses to skip the gym, we ate out a lot. By the time I got pregnant with Pacey I was probably a solid 15 pounds over where I would “want” to land. By some miracle of God I only gained 25 pounds through that pregnancy, but in the end it didn’t really matter. I held on to those 25 pounds like they were a life raft, only losing them approximately one day before finding out I was pregnant with Elliot. So here I am, five months postpartum from #2, who even knows how many pounds over what feels like the loftiest goal ever. Breastfeeding is holding out as a priority, something it did not do after Pacey was born, so I’m not in a place to make drastic detox moves. But I could be healthier. It’s just a fact.
But honestly, I feel like I don’t even know where to start. Food seems like a giant barrier I’ll never scale. I’ve struggled with healthy choices and probably even bordered on a binging disorder, like a roller coaster built on donuts and burritos. I tend to placate unpleasant emotions with food. And celebrate positive emotions with food, as well as events and even just generally good days. Now with two children, the word exercise can make me laugh out loud on the spot. We recently canceled our gym membership in an attempt to trim our budget (we’ve got weddings to save for, y’all), and now I’m faced with the daunting task of attempting to work out at home. I see all of these “no excuses” moms on social media and while I’m real good for you I’m actually more can you please get out of my face? The list of excuses is endless, actually. And a majority of them at least feel damn valid.
There’s approximately 5 people who read this title and went “ooh Fearless! I know that blog!” The rest of you have no idea what I’m talking about, so let me quickly bring you up to speed. Approximately 5 years ago, I curated and wrote for a blog named Fearless. It was a little more serious and deep than this blog tends to be, I was in a season of major, major growth and used it as my outlet for these things. At some point, after a particularly gnarly breakup, I used it as too much of an outlet. I wrote a scathing post about my ex’s friends that while the heart behind it was essentially good (make sure you’re surrounding yourself with people that care about you, because you may end up depressed if not), the delivery was all. wrong. If we’re being candid, I called them assholes. Not my best moment. And understandably, said people were less than thrilled about this post, and I got called out for it. Honestly, rightfully so – but my pride and pain from being rejected culminated into a lot of raw, hurt feelings. It just was all around not pretty. Fearless began to die a slow and sad death after the fact. I didn’t feel safe writing anymore, I didn’t trust myself to not be petty, and I was just all-around hurt. I didn’t stop writing completely, I have archives of Word documents and enough journals to keep Barnes and Nobles in business for some time.
Ironically, a lot of that writing has been about becoming actually fearless. Becoming brave. On the header of the old blog, I had this Taylor Swift quote (the irony is killiiiiing me):
“To me, Fearless is not the absense of fear. It’s not being completely unafraid. To me, Fearless is having fears. Fearless is having doubts. Lots of them. To me, Fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you to death.”
Somewhere along the way, I bought into a big lie. And “bought into” is putting it gently. “Dove headfirst into” is more honest. Sometime after creating and growing and nurturing a human being, I decided I needed to be sorry for my body. To apologize for subjecting the world to it. The extra weight and softness and scars became my biggest sins that I spent all my time repenting and atoning for. No one implicitly told me to. Subliminally, I’m sure; it’s never exactly been American media’s M.O. to make women comfortable in their skin. But no one I loved looked me in the eyes and told me to apologize right now for this sad excuse of a body. My husband loves me exactly the way I am, and tells me so nightly. If anything is going to influence the way I think of myself, it should be that. Yet, it consumed me. It’s a strange and sad existence when every other thought about yourself is “ew”. You may not realize it, but that thought pattern will wreck you. One day you’re functioning fairly well, making it – at least, and the next you’re telling your husband you’d rather die than exist in this body anymore.
Uh, come again? No ma’am. You see, somewhere in this year’s wide-reaching journey for self-acceptance (more on this coming, eventually), I made an impossible deal with my body. “I’ll accept you and love you once you look the way I want you to.” I covered it up nicely in grace and that I’ll take it slow and have realistic expectations, but in reality I’m rolling my eyes at myself anytime I catch a reflection in a mirror, scooting out of pictures when others try to include me, and talking to myself like I would never speak to my worst enemy. I’ve said things to my reflection that I would fight other women for saying. Horrible, degrading, downright mean things. I put my self-esteem in a headlock and dragged her down as far as I could get her without actually killing her. I think. I think she’s got a small amount of fight left in her.
I’m about to get real “Christian” up in here, y’all.
I want to talk about the relationship between Christ and social media. Go ahead, get the eye rolls out of your system, and if you’re still here – let me be transparent about the things Jesus has been teaching me for a second. Lately I’ve found myself wondering what it would’ve been like if Jesus, Peter, and James had been Facebook friends. That’s a hilariously lame sentence, but if we’re honest, it’s kind of something to think about. In 2016, social media only continues to grow as a real deal part of the world we live in, don’t we want to utilize it the way Jesus would? I really wish there were chapters of the bible dedicated to the social media world. But there aren’t, and it’s can be a hella mixed bag.
So what do we do? Do we eliminate it all together? Impose time restrictions? Or maybe we just kind of keep Jesus out of it (it’s just Instagram…) and go about our lives. Raise your hand if you’ve at some point done one of the above. All three? Okay, me too. The Lord started stirring up this conversation around 6 months ago, and I’ll admit – there was a fair amount of eye rolling on my part in the beginning. Social media is so engrained in our generation, it’s as natural as breathing for some of us. Wake up, make coffee, check Facebook. Or maybe spend upwards of an hour under the covers scrolling through Instagram. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve auto piloted straight to one of the medias when all I picked my phone up for was to check the time. It’s insane! And it, for the most part, wasn’t something I felt I need to welcome Jesus into. It just didn’t seem important enough. But goodness – is it.
What if we asked ourselves the honest but hard questions about our usage? What goodness does this actually bring into my life? How much time am I wasting on it? What emotions or patterns do I see emerging in my mindless scrolling? Comparison. Judgement. Validation. I mean the list is endless. Here I am comparing (& probably questioning) my life up against a photo someone could have spent who knows how much time posing and editing. You can’t even take the way people look in photos at face value anymore thanks to beauty editing apps (don’t even get me started). Millennials are referring to themselves as “content curators” and I want to jump off a cliff. But I digress. Let’s get back to Jesus.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound”
After I read this verse, I right away looked up the definition of the word anoint. I mean, I know the meaning, but I wanted a more tangible, written out meaning than what was floating around in my head. To consecrate or make sacred, to dedicate to the service of God. This lead me to 1 John 2:27, “As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in him.” This really stuck with me. I’ve been kind of wrestling around with my purpose lately, knowing that it’s more than just being a mother and a wife, even though those things are huge and amazing. I know there is more. I recently stepped down as a contributing writer for the mom blog I’ve been working for, and suddenly felt like I no longer had a platform. Like I wouldn’t be heard. Even though it was definitely the right decision for me and my sanity at this time, the wheels started turning. Do I need to become part of a ministry with a name and cute logo? Do I need to expand my business, start taking on more clients? Am I really putting out my full potential as a person and vessel for the Lord? The fact that I get to stay home with my daughter is still unreal to me. My prayer is that there is never a day that passes that I am not thankful for the blessing it is (even on the days that she poops all over her carseat and I haven’t eaten yet and it’s 4 o’clock and I’m completely overwhelmed). I find purpose in shepherding her little heart and life well. In loving and serving my husband as the church loves and serves Jesus. But I know for a fact that it pleases the Lord to see me serve him outside of my home and my family, I was just struggling to grab hold of what that looks like in mama world (although I’m fairly certain I grappled with this in college student world, recent graduate world, newlywed world, etc). And in reading this verse, I could hear the still but clear voice of the Lord reminding me of why I’m here.