The source of my contentment in the midst of being poorer and fatter than ever.

August 19, 2014

 

20140601_171333

{This is me in June or July – mostly covered by Gilead, but you can see it in my face. I’ve gained more weight since then because of pregnancy.}

il_570xN.92833910

{This is me circa 2009 after having lost 30 lbs. I keep obsessing over looking this way again. Then again, I did have virtually all of my time to myself at that point.}

Ugh. It’s 10:19 on a Tuesday and I haven’t showered, haven’t made my grocery list, haven’t dressed the kids – who are watching Monsters Inc. so as not to (gasp!) play and disturb the downstairs neighbor while I finish trying to write an email. As usual, I have spent some time reading articles instead of getting ready and then flipped over to Pinterest for a moment. I shouldn’t spend time on this, but today it inspired me to write this post:

I am a recovering materialist. It came home freshly to me the other day when I picked up an Anthropologie catalogue and a Boden kids catalogue from the recycling container in our foyer just for fun – something I haven’t done in a long time. I think they stopped sending them to me when they realized I’m not going to buy anything from them. It gave me a new perspective on something I’ve been struggling with for years now.

Since I had my first son I have been carrying around various amounts of extra weight that I don’t want. Amidst trying to cope with two pregnancies (well, now three) and two kids right in a row, I have only started to acquire the discipline to actually make most of our meals instead of buying frozen pizza or getting take-out. I know a lot of moms who are better at this, and who are better at eating healthily but for me this is an almighty struggle. So, I haven’t made a drastic change to our diet that I keep fantasizing about. I had dreamed and planned to lose the excess weight before getting pregnant with our third but then we made the intentional decision to be more open and less plan-happy with the begetting of children (a whole other post which I may or may not get into here), and here we are. I’m just struggling to accept what things are now without despairing that I will ever have a healthier diet and lose the extra weight.

But here’s what I realized. I keep remembering this period of time after we got married and had put on a bunch of weight and then gotten on Weight Watchers and lost a bunch as a really happy time for me. And what I have been remembering is actually a few isolated moments of “happiness” that involved the buying of new clothes. When I picked up that catalogue I was reminded of how I spent the majority of my thought energy at that time – it was in scheming how we could afford for me to wear J Crew and Anthropologie clothing. (On one level I think this is hilarious because it shows how middle-class are my aspirations. I had no yearnings toward designer clothing, even though I’ve always been an avid watcher of Project Runway. And I love me some Ellie Saab and Marchesa (can I get an amen?). On another level it’s really sad that my virtual environment has me pegged so well – that I have put myself into a position to be sold-to at such a relentless pace) I was actually very dissatisfied and unhappy with my life. The loss of weight had only reinforced the idea that I could improve my life by making myself into the images I saw.

Circumstances since then have put us – and me in particular because there is less reason for me to have a lot of new clothing – in a place far removed from the possibility of affording clothing from those stores. Unless I happen to find something from J Crew at the Salvation Army (where I buy the bulk of my clothing). And I realized when I saw those catalogues that I’m actually, in that respect, so much happier and more content than I ever have been before in this respect. Even though I am much poorer and fatter than ever before.

In a kind of crazy revelation from God that I had on Saturday walking through the city to Ogilvy from North Ave. beach I started to see the polished newness of all of the stores and the glam appearance of many passersby in a new light. Juxtaposed with the many homeless people on the side of the street, I had the sense that not only were the homeless people suffering (indeed, that was obvious) but that all of those other people (myself included) – all of the bunches of teenagers and svelt couples in their twenties dressed so trendily and middle-aged women with huge rocks on their fingers – were suffering just as badly, if not worse. I began to see the oppression under which we all labor to be people, to be purely ourselves who we were made to be, to be holy (that is, set apart for beauty). I began to feel that never-satisfied hunger radiating out at me: the hunger to be seen, to be known, to be loved. And those edifices took on a new significance. I recognized, dimly, the longing I still have to go into Pottery Barn and just look at all the perfection; To be able to buy whatever I want and to feel a part of something that is socially enviable. But I saw, also, the utter emptiness those stores promised me. For a long time I have hated that on my own behalf, but this time I looked around – into the eyes of some of those precious souls surrounding me and I hated it on their behalf much more. I guess you could say that for a minute or two, I saw things as they really were – in the way Jesus sees them.

My secret is really no secret except for the mercy of Jesus in keeping me from those things which targeted my weakness by the simple expediency of having a lot less money. The longer I’m kept from them, the easier it is to be okay with having just what I need and not everything I want. I keep telling myself that “if we just had more money” I could go to the gym every day and blah, blah, blah and feel better about myself and blah blah blah and have a better life. The other mercy of Jesus is just His gentle reminder that even when I had what I thought I needed to make me happy, it didn’t make me happy.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: