Sickness = Failure

This past Saturday night some horrible virus jumped out of the bushes and attacked me. It started off with the sudden onset of a terrible sore throat and runny nose which then turned into fever and chills and then finally settled into my chest with really bad wheezing. I’m on the third day and still moving very slowly. The family stepped up and kept the house running and I’ve been trying to keep my distance, hoping against hope that I won’t spread this around to everyone else. 

 

Being sick is really hard for me. I know it sounds crazy, but when I get sick I kind of feel like a failure. I’m failing my family. I’m being a burden. All the work is piling up. I’m just sitting here, or laying here, being a bum. Wasting my time. If I was a healthier person and took better care of myself, I wouldn’t be susceptible to viruses. (Even though I typically only get sick a couple times a year). 

 

I’ve spent a lot of time just scrolling through Facebook. Which makes me feel even more like a bum. I have some intelligent books I could be reading. The only problem is my brain is so out-of-it that I can’t focus on anything. I decide that I will think through some issues that have been on my mind, and I can’t think. Everything has just checked out while my body fights to get better. 

 

I feel useless.  

 

A couple different friends posted this meme on FB

mamayoureallowed

This really made me pause. 

 

I am guilty of getting so caught up in the role of Mother that I forget that I am my own person. I forget that it’s ok to be human. It’s ok to have a sick day. It’s ok, and this one is really hard for me to grasp, to have goals that are unrelated to motherhood. Motherhood is so All-Consuming. It’s a role you take on and carry for the rest of your life. You never stop being a mom. And it’s such a heavy responsibility. You are shaping the lives of children. Your actions are going to have a big influence on these little human’s futures. It’s a heavy weight to carry. 

There’s a bible verse, Matthew 11:28-30

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (ESV)

I feel very much that Jesus called me to be a mother. And according to him, when we are doing what he wants us to do, it will not be a heavy, overwhelming load. 

 

So, what am I doing wrong? Maybe the problem is that I keep trying to do this job on my own strength instead of tapping into His Strength. Perhaps I somehow think that the fate of my children and our family rests solely on my shoulders. Instead of realizing God’s got my kids and he is more powerful than my weakness and my mistakes. 

 

The other problem is I forget that I am a human being. A child of God. A valuable person. An individual worthy of respect and care. I forget. It’s so easy to disappear into the name Mom. It’s not even your own name. Other women share the same name. It’s a title. It’s a title that assumes you will become self-sacrificing, omniscient to the needs of the family, on-call twenty-fours hours a day.  It’s really easy for Esther to slowly fade out into a memory. That person I was starting to become before I had children. 

 

When I am sick, I have to step out of the Mom-role and just become Sick Esther, in bed. Maybe that’s why it’s so disconcerting. When my identity is completely wrapped up in my work as a mother and suddenly I can’t do that work, it sends me reeling. 

 

The last several years, as I have worked my way through a long depression, I have been slowly doing the work of figuring out who Esther is again, outside of the mom role. Writing this blog is part of that journey. But, it’s really easy for me to slip back into I’m a Mom Only identity. I don’t realize it till things happen like sickness that knock me out of that role and I suddenly feel like a failure. 

 

I need to post this meme really big on my wall somehow. A daily reminder that I am allowed to just be a person who happened to catch a virus, and just needs a little time in bed till she feels better. 

 

 

Fat Fridays: Week 2 The Number of Shame

How much do you weigh? The answer of course is, NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS! As I thought about writing this weightloss blog, I wondered whether I should disclose where I am starting from. How much do I weigh. After much mental agony I decided that the answer is NO. That is just way too vulnerable, way too out there, way too painful. And here’s the question of the day. Why? Why is it so painful to share our weight? What is it about that horrible number that stirs up so many emotions?

Think about it. We have this system of weights that we invented to give a numerical value to how heavy an object is. It’s scientific. It’s helpful. It helps keeps things fair and equal and even. When we buy food we do it by weight. That way, I know that every time I give you a certain amount of money, you will give me the exact same amount of food every time. 1 gallon of milk. 2 pounds of flour. 4 pounds of apples.

I’m not sure why we started weighing people. Haven’t looked up the history of it. I’m going to presume it has to do with medical science attaching value to certain weights, coming up with a system that says if you are this tall and weigh this much then you are healthy. But, if you are this tall and weigh this much then you are not healthy. Those lovely BMI charts. I am not saying that medical science is incorrect. I’ve read all the articles. I fully understand that the more extra weight I carry around, the more likely I am to develop a whole host of unwanted diseases and syndromes. But why does that number, my weight, evoke so much shame?

When I think about the giant array of heights and body types for women, the idea that there is a certain number that we all want to be is ridiculous. It’s a person-by-person situation. My ideal weight will look nothing like your ideal weight. So, why do we hold that number so close to our chest. No one needs to know how much I weigh!

I think for me that number has come to represent just how far away from perfect I am. Ok, forget perfect. Let’s just say normal. If I was a normal, self-disciplined, healthy individual, I would weigh this much. And I don’t. And what does that say about me? It says I’m a slob. I’m a glutton. I’m without discipline. I’m gross. I’m unworthy. I’m unlovable. And I have a numerical value that tells me exactly how far off the mark I am. And so it becomes a number of shame. And there’s no way I’m going to share my shame with you and so…It’s NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS how much I weigh.

Here’s the problem with shame. It’s not a very good motivator. I have tried to use shame as a self-motivator to lose weight. “Look at you! You’re disgusting! You don’t deserve to eat anything but vegetables and water for the next year. You look horrible. You have do something to fix this mess you’ve made.” And so I go on a diet. And I’m angry. Angry at myself for getting  into this horrible state. Angry that I now have to deny myself all the foods that I like. Angry that other people seem to be able to eat whatever they want and don’t have to deal with weight problems. Angry that I am such a failure at life. Eventually a temptation arises that is too big to overcome, I cave, the diet crashes, and I slowly go back to my relaxed way of eating which is to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, without giving it much thought. So yes, shame is a horrible motivator.

I have heard people say that you need to love yourself. That is the way to overcome weight issues. If you love yourself then you will want to take care of yourself, take care of your health. You will care about the fact that being overweight is actually causing you to be more sick, less energetic, less confident. You will care so much about yourself that you will willingly take on the lifestyle changes and make the sacrifices necessary to lose weight. That sounds good. I like it. It fits with the theme I have been coming back to over and over again. Love God, Love your neighbor as yourself. It seems that in order to love our neighbor as ourselves, we would need to love ourselves, right? So, here’s my question. How do you get to that place where you love yourself?

This number, how much I weigh, I’ve been carrying that around for my entire adult life. I left high school trim and fit, went to college and immediately gained 15 pounds. That crept up to 20 pounds before I got married. This number has been staring at me from the scale for 20 plus years now, speaking it’s message of shame. The higher it goes the lower my head hangs. It’s really hard to love myself when this number is loudly proclaiming how unworthy I am.

When I sat down to write this I had no idea where I was going to go with this. Apparently God has some ideas. I guess it’s going to have to come back to my identity in Christ. The world with all it’s systems of measuring, tells me very clearly that I don’t measure up. Not skinny enough, not rich enough, not smart enough, not connected enough. The world’s message is I AM NOT ENOUGH. Right now I am feeling that so strongly. I’m not a good enough wife. I’m not a good enough mother. I’m not a good enough friend. I’m not a good enough anything. I don’t measure up. How can I, miserable failure that I am, ever hope to change my ways and lose weight? I have tried so many times and I have always failed. I’m just don’t have what it takes. So, what does God say about me?

Here’s a list I found:

whoiaminchrist_single_printedsheet_halfsheet_v1_00-600p

I can add a couple more. I am loved by my husband. I am loved by my children. I am loved by my family. Maybe this person, the one that God says I am, can love herself enough to willingly take on the lifestyle changes, willingly make the sacrifices necessary to be healthy again. We’ll see.