Allow me to be honest this time. I think it’s for honesty that I struggled a lot this weekend.
Just this week, one of my students jokingly pointed to my chin. Ma’am, bakit may linya? he asked. After that, he said the test of whether a person is fat (there, I said it) is when his/her arm wobbles when pinched. Without any hint of hesitance, he tested whether it was true in my case.
That incident bothered me a little. I know the student did not mean harm (and don’t get me wrong–I’m not taking anything against him) but my reaction to his innocent teasing told me more about myself.
Ever since college started, I knew I got bigger and bigger. I could blame my unhealthy lifestyle and lack of exercise, but now that I think about it, it really is because of my sheer and utter laziness and lack of discipline. I would swear not to eat rice the next meal, only to break the oath and actually binge eat to my heart’s (or stomach’s?) content. I would plan on running/jogging/exercising early next morning, only to sleep in longer just because I was up late the night before. It’s safe to say I’ve been abusing my body since college happened, and I’ve brought these bad habits over ’til now.
But despite all these things, and over the years I’ve struggled with my weight, I actually learned to love my body. I usually do not get bothered with remarks such as lumalaki ka na naman, ang laki mong bulas, etc. In fact, when the new year came in, I made it a goal to exercise more. I’ve been running at least once a week since January, and I’ve never felt any better about myself.
That is, until last week.
When I went back to the faculty room, I went straight to the full-length mirror and stared at my reflection for a good two minutes. I saw the line beneath my chin. I saw the wobbly arms. And I hated myself a little. I hated myself for not maintaining my junior high school weight. I hated myself for not being skinny, for not being able to wear small-sized clothes, and for having thighs that meet. I hated myself, but only a little.
Because when Friday night came, I hated myself a lot.
I tried my best to look pretty for that night. Given, it was not my promenade, but can you blame me? I’m just 21, after all. I’m a fresh graduate (but in a month’s time I can’t say that anymore), and I have a full life ahead of me. It was a night to enjoy with the youngsters and my coworkers.
I tried my best to look pretty for that night. Without even a hint of what I was doing, I put on my own make-up and did my own hair. You would think I won’t have problems styling my already-curly hair, but it was my first point of frustration that afternoon. I tied it up to a back ponytail, a side one, let it down and swept the bangs away–from one style to another, I was growing more and more frustrated. I was feeling more and more ugly.
The night itself was actually fun. The juniors and seniors all looked stunning in their long gowns and coat&ties; there were changes with the program, but nonetheless it went smoothly and satisfactorily; the free dance was just reminiscent of my own high school days. I brought a camera along to document all these, but it backfired the moment I started joining group photos. Someone would take a picture of us, I’d look at the photo and see that everyone in it looked perfect–except me. The viewfinder was a small mirror to me: I’d see the chin, the arms–and magnified at that, because of the skinny people I posed with. In self-pity, I would delete the photos that I think I look ugly/fat in.
Despite a lot of students telling me I looked lovely, I was just a mess that night, and no one really knew how I felt.
I woke up the next morning hoping that I’d feel better, but to no avail. If anything, I just felt worse upon the realization that after the Sending-Off Banquet, we’ll all be in full-speed forward ’til recognition and graduation. It’s just a matter of time ’til we say goodbye to the kids. And it’s just a matter of time ’til I become funemployed again :)) I’ve been sending online applications left and right for the past weeks, but has not received a reply up until now. Of course, I plan to apply personally to places once all the teaching workload gets lighter, but until then I can only wait and wait and wait.
And the wait is getting tiring. I’m getting annoyed at the thought of not knowing my destination after March. I’m starting to belittle my capabilities, especially since I haven’t written professionally for one full year and Batch 2013 would soon dethrone my batch off the title Fresh Graduates.
I tried to deal with all these struggles the way Jesus would. I tweeted a very cryptic message last Saturday, despite Kai and I’s resolve not to tweet cryptic anymore (say what you mean, mean what you say), and of course the encouragement messages came rushing in right after. I politely declined talking about it with them because I knew I shouldn’t be going after man’s affirmations, especially if it is a struggle I can lift up to the Lord. But deep inside I wanted to be called beautiful. I desperately wanted affirmation. That’s why I tweeted in the first place.
I succumbed to the longing for human praise. That night, I talked to a good friend, and of course after I shared my struggle (but only after much prompting) he told me how lovely I actually am–the reply I already expected from anyone I’d decide to share my story to. Safe to say that I did not feel any better after. And–it has nothing to do with anything my friend said–I only felt miserable.
Just in case you’re already getting lost, what with the length of this entry, by the time I talked with my friend I was already feeling the following: ugly, fat, desperate, miserable. Okay? Now back to regular programming.
It was Sunday the next morning, and I wasn’t looking forward to it as much as I always do. After we arrived at church, I immediately sat at my usual spot, away from my girlfriends as I avoided conversation by busying myself with my planner. I did not feel like talking; I just wanted to be alone, pasting flower petals in February 22, a feeble attempt to make me feel better about that Friday night.
However, I was resolved to worship with all my heart that morning. I knew I needed Jesus, and I knew only He can satisfy the longings of my heart, but despite that knowledge, I avoided conversation for the past two days. He was to me, that time, as God was to Adam and Eve after the fall. I felt naked, and although I knew He could clothe me in righteousness and beauty, I tried making lousy clothes made of fig tree leaves instead. I exhausted my capabilities to make myself look and feel pretty, but even then I still couldn’t bring myself to appear before Him. I would rather He called me, than I present myself, what with my dirt and all.
In worship, He called me out of hiding. And this is what He lovingly told me:
My beautiful daughter, look again. You shouldn’t be seeing yourself any longer in the mirror, but you should see Me.
Oh Lord, you’re beautiful,
Your face is all I seek,
For when your eyes are on this child,
Your grace abounds to me.
I understand you need reminders. In case you forget again, hear this:
When I call You Lord
You alone are God
You are the center of it all
The universe declares in awe
Your majesty, I surrender all
I’ll make You the center of my life
Lord I respond with all I am
You placed in me the song of heaven’s melodies
Your majesty, I live to sing Your song
This is Your song, not mine
This is Your song, that brings healing to this land
I was just in awe. I wasn’t emotional about it, but while I worship I reminded myself of God’s faithfulness in my life all these years. I can’t afford worrying and being too preoccupied with my weight issues and my next adventure after March; I have a God to serve, to love, to magnify and glorify with my life. I can’t keep thinking about me when it’s no longer I but Christ who lives in me.
My worries were superficial compared to the glory of God. Right there and then, every fear was suddenly wiped away in His presence.
I’m writing for honesty’s sake, but more so as a reminder for future insecurity attacks. The ugly truth about insecurity is that it knows no man/woman. You can be the richest man on earth and feel empty, or the prettiest girl in town and feel ugly. Insecurity attacks at the very core of our being, a small voice always saying in every chance it gets: You’re not enough. You’re not enough.
But have you tried listening to the other small voice? The still, small one that whispers I love you, I love you? Because you’d have to listen carefully to hear it. You’d h have to silence everything else the world is saying. You’d have to silence even your loudest thoughts that would try to contradict everything that still, small voice would say. He is loving on you, rejoicing over you with singing, but you have to listen.
I love you, He says. And He’s not fooling around with those three words, unlike most humans. He means it, with every fiber of His being. And if you measure that love (that is, if you can), you’d be surprised to know that it’s really enough.
So yes, my arms wobble, and I’ll be unemployed in April, but you see, the God I serve, my God, He’s beautiful. And He makes everything work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. A year ago, when I went up to Baguio for my silent retreat, I decided not to worry about my tomorrow because His promises are true, and they happen in His time, for His glory.
I wish I could go up to Baguio again and just let go. But even without a silent retreat, I know I’ll be okay from here on out. Whatever happens, tiwala lang.
I hope in thee for Us.