I stood in front of the mirror this morning at 4:40 AM, brushing my teeth and noticing all the extra lines and wrinkles in my face that this hour of the morning brings on. It occurs to me that God had pretty good timing, bringing me on this "letting Him teach me to love my body" at this point in middle age, right when evidence that I'm no longer 17 becomes so obvious that even I in my generally oblivious state of being can notice it. I looked at the wrinkles and I didn't hate them at all. Just noticed. Actually I'm pretty sure losing weight has added wrinkles, where everything all used to be all plumped full of fat and now isn't.
It's okay. I love the peace of seeing and just embracing where I am. I've been very blessed. I grew up in a house where my dad told me every day (many times, most days) that I was beautiful and smart and that he was so very proud of me (and he still does that very same thing, every time I see him, even now.) Somewhere there in the middle there were a couple of voices that did a lot of damage on that front, and my voice joined theirs for a long time in condemning agreement. But those old voices grow quieter and deader each day, and the things I say to myself and about myself grow kinder and more life-giving each day. And - oh happy, blessed thing - into the picture comes a man who tells me I'm beautiful every time he talks to me. On one hand, I'm glad to be at the point of not NEEDING that validation. On the other hand...DANG it's nice. I'm just sayin.
The fog was thick this morning. Running on the bridge, there was no water to be seen below, no downtown Davenport to the one side, no downtown Rock Island to the other. Just me and the black morning and a few very dim orange lights and the fog and the little patch of concrete and steel beams just a few feet ahead of me, and cars zipping by, being swallowed nearly instantly by the fog. I ran the only way I can, one step at a time, just doing the best I can with THIS step and not minding the ones ahead. The fog helped highlight that for me. No visual gauge of how much further to the turnaround point, how much further to the end.
I ran and I thought about the grace in learning to love my body. I ran and I really felt my muscles moving and working, listened to my rhythmic breathing and the much-lighter-than-before patter of my feet on the pavement. I loved what my legs can do, the way they carry me. I remembered that when I started hating my legs was 7th grade, a year with many black marks on it, the least of which was I went from 94 pounds to 126 pounds, and cellulite appeared on my legs and has never left me since. I realized at 46 it's unlikely this journey will lead me back to even 126 pounds, much less 94. Which means me and my cellulite had best make friends - we're probably (not definitely, but probably) in a 'til death do us part kind of thing.
You know what? It's okay. Really. I've run far enough down this road to understand: He loves me just exactly as I am.
I can do that too. FOR REAL. All I gotta do is keep letting Him teach me.
(You too, by the way...)