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Because I Am Beautiful-Harris
I have been looking a lot at the body issues I have carried with me in my conscious and subconscious mind and sharing that experience with you. There has been so much positive feedback that I thought I would share these thoughts with you as well.
I have conversations happening in my head, sometimes several at a time, quite often I like to challenge these conversations as I have come to recognize that they are just old beliefs, opinions, and judgments that are not always even based on truth floating around in my mind. It is kind of an exercise in talking to myself.
Recently, I was on a hike up the mountain near my home. It was hot and a warm breeze was blowing through the trees. I was sweating and I thought how nice it would be to take off my shirt. But then, before that first thought was even complete, a second thought pounced into my mind. These thoughts can come very quickly. The second thought was based on an old fear...fear of not being attractive, fear of not being enough, even fear of being rejected (even though there was not anyone around at the time while I was hiking. In my fear-based imagination, there were cameras in the trees watching me, (waiting to criticize me) I had created a story in my head in seconds as I walked up the trail that my shirtless torso would send the next approaching hiker into fits of panic. They would be frightened by my pasty white skin and the love handles that have appeared on my sides. They would see the monster that I was and run screaming down the trail trying to save themselves from the vision of ugliness my body would imprint upon their minds forever.
Thankfully, I observed all these crazy thoughts bouncing around inside my head and I said, “F++k that!” I took off my shirt to emphasize my rebellion against those destructive thoughts. A feeling of panic gripped my belly but I did it anyway. In the past I would NEVER have done that. As a teenager I developed a raised clavicle or simply known as boney shoulders (a Bedard family trait on the men’s side of the family) and I was teased mercilessly about this. I was told they looked like horns protruding from my shoulders by my oh so loving high school friends. I held onto that for decades until as an adult someone told me they were sexy. Then, I was just super confused.
How could they be sexy and ugly at the same time?
When I was younger my well-meaning mother, whose father was a big barrel-chested man, took me to the doctors because she was concerned about the development of my chest...you see, my chest was not just flat, it was concave. Like a pothole in the road. That was the first time I learned there was something wrong with my body. She was worried about my development but I was just humiliated and scared that I would never grow up to be a man. There was a long-standing joke about my father and his flat chest. Apparently, my grandmother (the one married to my barrel-chested grandfather) told my father that he was not a “man” as he didn’t have a “manly” chest...
Back on the hiking trail these many years later, I found myself reflecting on these stories of my childhood as well as the reality of my body showing its age. I saw once again that lifelong fear of being rejected for who and how I was. In that moment I made the decision to start telling myself a different story. I had done this before but those old beliefs, opinions, and judgments crept back. I did not even realize it until I was standing there in the hot breeze on a mountain wanting to bare my skin to the loving rays of the sun. I am so grateful that I had the maturity, growth, and self-love that I did!
Taking off my shirt and choosing to be comfortable in my skin, or at lest as comfortable as I could, was a choice to push back those opinions about beauty, attractiveness, and even manly-ness that never belonged to me. I was taught to not like my body by the sometimes well-meaning and sometimes not well-meaning people around me. I am old enough now to recognize and see beauty as I choose, not as I was told. I can be flat chested and manly all at the same time. Best of all, I can just be me.
As I was walking down the mountain feeling uncomfortable and hyper aware of my belly jiggling and still choosing to love myself exactly as I am, I passed a 30 something young lady who looked straight at me and said, “You have a beautiful body!” I said thank you to her, laughed at the perfect timing of her compliment, and kept walking. Funny how Spirit can show up in exactly the right moment! I made a statement to the Universe that I was willing to love myself exactly as I am and the Universe acknowledged it back to me in seconds!
Loving myself (ourselves) can be very uncomfortable. It can challenge my (our) old beliefs, force me to face my fears, and bare my naked heart. And it is so worth it! Love handles and all!