Who are we pleasing?

A thought has been in my mind for quite some time. A thought that seems to judge, but I am just as guilty. A thought about parenting, about the past, about what my spirit is teaching, and about what I am learning… a thought about truth.

You see I look around and see. I see more deeply than before. I see what my past has done to me; the thoughts, the inescapable connections in my brain that have been hard wired because of a choice or a thought, whichever it may be, that occurred a long time ago. Sometimes I wonder if it is words that were said, or sights I saw, or role models I chose, or maybe all the above that drove me there.

As a youth, I was about 13 years old and in 7th grade. This was a time of growth and self- discovery, a time of maturing and becoming my own person… but something was trapped inside of me. There was a desire, a thought, a horrific image in my mind of myself, an image of size and beauty, and a lie that was beyond all lies. This thought was so captivating that I was a prisoner to it. Too many “Seventeen Magazine” images, too many pop culture magazines, too many movies, I really don’t know… but whatever it was, I was hooked.

I decided I wasn’t pretty enough or small enough, that I ate too much and I was “fat.” I didn’t fit in. So, I joined so many teens and pre teens and dieted. It started with snagging a few of my mom’s diet drinks, aka, Slim Fast. Then I went further to ride her stationary bike for miles upon miles. A friend asked me to go running, and oh my, what a freedom! I was addicted immediately. I ran like Forrest. Daily, 7 days, 40 minutes a day without a break. If I didn’t, I felt guilty.

I kept a calorie count in a book and reduced my calories to 1200 a day. I memorized the calorie counter book my mom had. She never knew. Then one day she found it. I was trapped, scared, and frightened that I might gain weight. I was scared that those calories were my enemy and would hang on to me.

Years later I still struggle. However, I’m finding freedom: freedom for my self-image, freedom from food, freedom from makeup, from culture and lies that were so deeply imbedded in me, and freedom from the grip it has held on me for years. The struggle is real, but freedom is sweet when I see how much God loves me for what he created me to be, not what I think others expect me to be.

This thought that captivates me right now… how did our entire society come so far from being the child that God loves to worry more about how we look? I am beginning to understand Paul’s writing more now about steering away from adornments and flashy jewelry, and excessive makeup, and clothes.

Okay, don’t get me wrong I love clothes. But what I love now is that I can be who I am in them and not who I think I am supposed to be. Not so fitted, not so short, not so flashy, not always in style. What does it matter?

What are we teaching our children every time we dress or adorn makeup and jewelry? What am I teaching my daughter every time we shop, or when I connect with media to shop? What is she learning with all the clothing packages that come in our mail? What about the cost of it on our accounts, but more, what about the cost of it to her? What is she taking away from it? How she should dress, how she should look, how she should be? Am I teaching her to be who society is adorning, or who God created her to be? What am I teaching society about who I was created to be, those who look to me as a Christ believer, a follower of the one who redeemed my soul?

I ache as I look around at other mothers who may not have traveled the same road but are wandering in this culture just like me, wandering around with the perfect hairdo, makeup, clothes, with our tans (no not really me), and with our body images. Where are the mothers who will stand up and teach our girls that we are created in the very image of a loving God, transformed in an image of an atoning Savior, who cares about each gray hair on my head (yes I have them too, don’t look surprised… and I proudly dye it). Would we really mean it? Because we have to believe it, we have to live like we believe it in our soul.

I want to be a mom who points my child to a God that says I’ll never leave you… a God that wants the core of my soul, not my mushed up praise because I had to spend more time thinking about what I wear and my mascara. I want to be the intentional mom who says, this is the way to go in this life, the way that Christ marked and created, not the way the world built. I want to be a mom who cares more about her soul instead of her jeans (which I don’t wear, whew no expensive purchases there). I want to be a mom who leads her in the way she will know she is loved for who she is, not what she thinks she should be. I want to lead her in the way she should go…toward a God who will give her everything I can’t. I carried this child but I did not give her breath or life. I want her to know true life and live like she was intended.

 

Abria Vansandt