Dear Body

Dear Body,

You’re perfect, and I love you.

This apology is long over due. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to say; I’m even more sorry that it’s taken me so long to realize.

We’ve been through it all together, haven’t we? For the past few years, our relationship has been tenuous. Strained. Most of that is my fault, I know that. You stuck with me through thick and thin, quite literally. And I’ve felt stuck with you.

I’ve been an awful friend. The truth of it is, I wasn’t very kind for awhile. Not just unkind, mean. Spiteful. Hateful. I hated you for a long time, because you weren’t what I thought you should be. I placed expectations on you that couldn’t be met. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry that I abused you. I’m sorry that I listened to lies about you, even more sorry that most of the lies came from someone that should have defended you: me.

I’m sorry that every time you tried to speak to me, I drowned you out. Yelled at you. Hated you more, for trying to defend yourself and heal our relationship. I didn’t want to like you, because if I liked you, then I couldn’t mistreat you. If I listened to you, I’d have to treat you well.

I’m sorry that I didn’t respect you. I’m sorry that I didn’t love you, appreciate you, listen to you. I am so deeply sorry. 

And in spite of it all, you stayed with me. Certainly, you fought for yourself. You quietly, then loudly, protested. You tried so hard to do what I wanted, you never failed me. Even when I hadn’t fed you, loved you, cared for you, you still were there. You let me walk outside, garden, cook. Instead of leaving me, you waited. Waited for me to be healed, so I could love you as I ought.

You knew all along, didn’t you? You knew that I was broken and hurting, and that I took that brokenness out on you. You were patient with me when I was not patient with you. You gave me grace, loving me, waiting for when I’d love you in return.

And then, when I began to heal, I’m sorry that I didn’t extend the same grace to you. I expected you to get all better, right away, after two years of damage. And when you didn’t, I was frustrated. I didn’t realize that our relationship would take time to heal. I’m sorry.

I want you to know that I love you. I really do. I accept you, as you are. Not in spite of your lumps, your bumps, your blemishes. I love you. All of you, because you are a part of me. You deserve love.

And now, I promise to listen. I promise to respect you, to honor you, to hold you and love you. I promise that no matter how you change, I will be the first person to accept you. I will continue to make it a habit to extend grace.

I’m excited for the future. For what we’ll do together, what we’ll experience with unity and joy instead of anger and division.

Love,

Michaela

What does your letter look like?

Sweet Friendship: Receiving Notes of Gratitude

So, my last post I talked about how I was planning on writing thank you notes to people who have been significant to my life and may not realize it. Mostly, teachers came to mind, and I’ve written several of my letters (but haven’t postmarked them yet.)

The day after I decided to focus on gratitude in the form of handwritten letters, I received this from a very dear friend:

We’ve only gotten close this semester, but there is a kindred spirit within her. She is beautiful, wise, affirming. She is the first friend I seek out when I am fighting past demons, and her words always bring me inner calm and help me wage the storms. I will be writing about her wisdom in a later post. Receiving a letter helped affirm the project I am doing this week: her words were touching, and I will treasure them. Knowing the joy I felt reading her card, I’m excited to send my letters to other people.

She wrote, “I chose this stationary for you because birds represent to me freedom, grace, and beauty, and  believe you have an can achieve these things. You have beauty, grace, and strength, and through Christ and love you can achieve freedom.” 

Since I just moved from my dorm to the Vista House, I was packing up several cards and letters I’ve received this year. Here are some of my favorites that will hopefully encourage you to write those you love and those who have impacted you, and brighten their days!

This one is from Archana, the beautiful young woman I sponsor through Compassion International. She’s actually about a week and a half older than I am!

This comes from my mother and is a thank you note for her birthday gift. The inside says: God is able to make all grace abound in you, from II Corinthians 9:8.

  My sister Megan has a gift. I’ve probably received more letters and cards from her than from anyone else–she is so thoughtful and affirming. Included with this card was some wonderful Toms toothpaste with propolis. I used to guest blog for her business, and did a focus on bees.

Here is another one of her postcards. So beautiful!

 This is from the girl I nannied for my last two years of high school. She is so sweet and mature, and this letter MADE MY WEEK! 

What is your favorite letter you’ve received this year? 

Do you have plans to write anyone this week?

On being human

Sitting in the airport, waiting for my flight and sticking my entire hand into my coffee cup to get the foam from my soy latte, I’m experiencing some pretty judgmental stares from my fellow travelers. Seriously, how do you get out your foam, people? For real. I’m not going to leave the perfectly good, delicious foamy remnant of my coffee drink that I drank much too quickly. This way, I can pretend that I savored it slowly–still enjoying it fifteen minutes later!

Anywhoooo, I have to say this one is a bit difficult. That openness, honesty thing? Difficult. Sometimes, I like to pretend that I’m not human, because to be human is to be imperfect. When I was in high school I did a really good job of pretending to be perfect: I made the best grades, took the hardest classes, had a part time job, modeled on the side, was a student athlete and the president of every club. On the outside, I was golden–envied by my peers and lauded by my teachers. I convinced everyone, and on good days could even trick myself.

But I’m not perfect. To pretend to be is disingenuous, to try to be is perilous. This blog is about health, yet I am not removed from my struggles to be healthy. In this way, in being real and open and honest, I hope others can be encouraged. It’s ok to drop the facade, and in fact impossible to heal and grow when we’re clinging desperately to a false image of ourselves. I still struggle with food, with body image, with compulsive eating. One bad choice can lead to another and another, spiraling me into darkness. On the other hand, one good choice can break me from my weakening chains and lead to several weeks of freedom.

To be human is to be imperfect. I am learning to be healed, to embrace healing. Sometimes it is scary, and it is always hard. The other night I ended my journal entry with “I am still struggling,” and then realized that to struggle is to fight. Because I struggle, I have not given up, and I will not. I’ve entitled this a pilgrimage, and that is exactly what it is: a journey with hardships, joys, struggles, and happiness along the way. It is discouraging to fail. It is hard to pick myself up, to wage war against the chemicals in my body and the lies of the deceiver. It isn’t a question of willpower, which I think many people don’t realize. It is bigger than willpower, the forces waging are not simple and easily controlled.

My pilgrimage continues.

How do you stop a bad choice from becoming a series of bad choices? What good choices lead to good days for you?