In speaking with a dear friend last week, I realized afresh that allowing what we *do* to define our value and worth–our identity–isn’t just unique to me, or to “at home” moms. So often, the very hats we wear through life define us. When something changes and that hat is no longer “wearable,” we may not know who we are any longer.
For some of us, it may happen when the kids are all grown up and gone and we suddenly have an “empty nest.” It isn’t the “nest” being empty that bothers us so much, perhaps. It is that we wonder who we are now that they are gone. Or when the economy has caused lay-offs and we no longer have the same routine, the same job, the same function, the same income,…we wonder similarly…”Who am I now?”
I wonder how much of my identity and self-worth have been wrapped up in my “work” and/or my being “successful” at Thin Within. At being thin. I think way too much. (No kidding!)
Working for Judy and Arthur Halliday in 2001 and 2002 and again a few other times since then, as well as being officially an employee of the Thin Within company right now…well, I think I allow myself to feel that I have to get this…and not only get this, but stay getting it. Perfectly. I have to appear like I have it all together, all the time.
That is a lot of pressure to put on myself. Obviously, that isn’t what God has in mind!
But it stands to reason that right now, when I daily come face to face with my failure to keep a hold on this…that I would feel beside myself. My pride is taking hit upon hit. But worse, my identity is shattering. An identity that shouldn’t be based on this at all…but is.
This morning, as I read in chapter 6 of Get Thin Stay Thin, I felt as if the timing couldn’t have been more precise…it was perfect.
I know Judy Halliday’s testimony well, but for some reason, it jumped off the page at me today. On page 127 (and following) she shares about the “failure” of the Thin Within company in the 1980s when the company went bankrupt. (For the record, Thin Within is now doing fine and may be visited online at http://www.thinwithin.org.)
Judy shared her response to the financial crisis in 1982:
Without Thin Within who would I be? What would I do? My sense of identity and self-worth were wrapped up in my work. Something that I considered so worthwhile had, in fact, become my graveclothes. GTST, p. 127
This is precisely how I feel. I feel like I was (am?) getting my identity from getting and staying thin. I even received national recognition (two well-circulating magazines did blurbs featuring yours truly…). Now that I have gained some weight back, I wonder who I am. If my identity was defined by my size before, is it now, too? So what does that make me? (The answers aren’t too flattering, as I am sure you can imagine.)
I must continue to work to shake this sense that I am defined by my size. I don’t want to haul this perception with me wherever I go. For years, I have allowed my size to define me–including before the “success,” so I know that this is a big struggle I face. I didn’t realize I was doing the same thing once I was thin…allowing outward appearance to define me. Yikes!
If we are honest we eventually reach a point in our lives where we must admit we’ve lost control. GTST, p. 128
Ok…this has to be it. This has to be the truth that I am supposed to see:
Even for the year that I stayed at my “natural God-given size” or close to it, I had this feeling that it was by the skin of my teeth. I had a death grip on it…I clung to it. I got on the scale a lot and got very worried when it nudged a tad upward. I was definitely not walking in freedom no matter how I looked on the outside. I knew it. I knew that I was clinging tightly to what the Hallidays call further on in GTST a “false self.” When I wanted something sweet to eat, I had a diet soda. (Thus, the drinking of them ALL the time.) I never dealt with the heart issue. I was ensnared. My taste buds were one god and another was thinness. I couldn’t stand giving up one to potentially sacrifice the other…
So, yes, it is time for me to admit I have lost control. I don’t have a handle on this any more–if I ever really did.
My body is reacting differently to things. Maybe it’s being more honest now that it isn’t being pumped full of caffeine constantly. Eating indiscretions I got away with before, I can’t any more. Lustful cravings indulged, now are evident on the outside. God is showing me what is really here.
Also, now that I am not numbing out with food *or* diet soda, I am feeling things powerfully. Which explains how I got broadsided out of nowhere about the dad thing.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9, God says to the Apostle Paul:
for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Paul’s response is:
so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
So here I am…ok, Lord. I am totally 100% weak. Totally in need of you. Depending on you. You have brought me to the end of myself and I am powerless to do anything to solve the need of my heart. I am weak, Lord…I need your power. I need your redemption. I need you.