I squinted, held my hand over my eyes as a shield from the sun, and looked up. “Which one do you want me to go on?” I asked. My fourteen year old son, Christopher, pointed to the blue water slide that towered about 100 feet in the air. I gasped as I watched a young man – that looked like he was about 1 inch tall from where I was standing – stand at the top in a transparent coffin- like container, cross his arms across his chest and drop straight down into a blue tube full of water to swoosh him along at what seemed like a million miles an hour . . . through a loop I might add! Oh, man, oh man!
Now I should stop here and say that water parks have never been on the top or even near the top of my list of places to visit. I have struggled with body image, weight and food issues since I was about 14 years old, and those of you who are on this Thin Within journey with me understand that running around, dripping wet, in a bathing suit that you are constantly readjusting as it clings to you in all the wrong places, all day long . . . well, it was just really out of my comfort zone – in a big way. Have I mentioned that I was uncomfortable????
So here I was, with my beloved husband and three children, bolding walking around in my clinging, wet bathing suit, trying as hard as I possibly could to claim God’s truth about my jiggling hips that are fearfully and wonderfully made and have a great time in spite of it all. I can do this . . . I was doing it. Okay – back to the story. I decided that I had to try that ridiculously fast and giant blue water slide because then I would really be the “coolest” mom that my kids had ever seen. And I have to be honest – I was curious about what it would feel like! My son and I climbed the 42, 567 steps up to the very top of the slide and I was pretty proud of myself for keeping up. Huffing and puffing, I watched another lady (I was comforted by the fact that she was just about my size and age) get right in there and go for it. I was next. But then, what was this??? The water park worker was smiling at me and pointing to something for me to stand on. Oh, oh, oh no . . . no, it was not. Yes, it was! It was a scale! I had to be weighed to see if I was within the right range to go on this crazy blue slide. You have got to be kidding!
Now I have to stop the story again and tell you that I am very, very weird about scales and have been my entire adult life. I have an impressive amount of numbers burned into my mind forevermore to describe the weight that I was at certain important events in my life. I can tell you exactly what weight I was, for example, when I started college, got married, before and after my first, second and third child, at the beginning of that protein shake diet, at the end of that fat and fiber diet, when we first moved to Colorado from California, etc. For years I let that silly instrument dictate how I felt about myself and my body. If I liked the number, I celebrated my success by eating more out of control than ever. If I didn’t like the number I was down and depressed, and drowned my sorrows in food again. I thought about the numbers, predicted the numbers, questioned the numbers and thought about them some more. Keeping track of my weight with a scale is just a downright disaster and always has been. I threw the bathroom scale that was a gift for our wedding (how do you like that gift?!) years ago, and decided – when I started this Thin Within journey – that I would not be weighing myself at all, no matter how tempted I was at any given moment. I wanted to focus on what God was changing on the inside of me this time, not the outside. I was desperate for change, for renewal of my mind, for something new and different, for a lasting transformation.
So, back to the story. Here I was, in my dripping wet clinging bathing suit at the top of this huge mountain of steps, and in front of this plastic coffin thing that I was supposed to get in to and drop out of . . . and I had to weigh myself in front of the whole world – well, you know, really just the people in line and the water park worker. Aaarrrrggghhhhhh!!! Talk about uncomfortable situations!!!
Suddenly I had this feeling that God was winking at me – sort of a – go ahead, Christina, it’s okay. I felt like He was smiling and saying – I am changing you on the inside! You are not the same as you once were. Go ahead – we’ve got this – together! I got on the scale and weighed myself for the first time since my annual doctor’s visit ten months ago. I saw the number, pretended that I didn’t notice it, waited for the nod from the worker, and got in position for the slide. Three . . . two . . . one . . . SWOOSH!!!!! Down I went in a crazy, chaotic blur, through the loop and out the other end of the tube in triumph, to the applause and laughter of the rest of my family, waiting at the bottom. (I really had to adjust my bathing suit after the force of that slide!)
After that my son went down and then my husband. We spent the rest of the day going on ride after ride after ride – weighing ourselves again and again and again in our wet, clinging swimsuits. Everything felt pretty easy after that blue slide anyway. We had a wonderful day and took absolutely no pictures (chuckle, chuckle). I didn’t really allow myself to think about that number at the blue slide until later in the day. I brought the number before God and we celebrated together . . . carefully. 15 pounds! I had lost somewhere around 15 pounds! We talked about the number briefly, but I felt God nudging me to hurry up and get to the real celebration – what He was doing in my heart and my mind. We celebrated all the times in the past few months that I had turned to Him and not to food, all the times that He had renewed my mind, all of the struggles, the observations and corrections, the victories that no one knew about except Him and I. We talked about the journey we were on together and how much closer we were becoming. The real celebration was all about God’s very real love and grace for me, and how I was finally learning to receive it moment by moment, day by day.
The next day I asked Christopher, “So . . . what did you think about your old mom tackling that scary blue slide?” It was all the more worth it when he smiled, patted me on the back and said, “Pretty cool Mom, pretty cool!”
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:13-14
How about you? Do you struggle with weight and body issues in the midst of everyday life situations? Have the numbers on the scale become more important to you than the work that God is doing in your heart? God is speaking to you today in so many ways. He loves you. What truth is He whispering to your heart?