When Beauty is a Beast

Psalm139Some days… when standing before my reflection, stripped of everything… motives, guilt, expectations, past images, I can honestly look at my body and speak the words of Psalm 139 with great certainty.

I do well most of the time, but when the body image monster sneaks up on me, it does so with a vengeance. I go from being comfortable in my skin to feeling like the reflection in a fun-house mirror. I wonder whose body I’m trapped in and when the merger occurred. I see my curves as too curvy. My hair appears dull. My laugh lines are deep and obvious. My image is distorted.

It’s no secret that my relationship with food and exercise is less than ideal.

(I’m honored to be writing for Leading and Loving It today. Will you join me over there and read the rest of this post?)

The Overcommitter Quitter

We have all known at least one. Maybe you are one? That person who overcommits only to quit before the follow through and usually with only hours notice. I know this person well because I was one. There are times when I still slip back into the pattern of pleasing. It is one of the things that I detest most about myself! A defect of character found often in my blind spot.

No one likes a person who will not follow through. The kind of person who is the first to volunteer and then call at the last-minute or better yet, text to say that there is just no way they can make it. They are so sorry, but…

The worst part about this behavior is that it sets the person on the other end up to fail from the very beginning. It deems the offender undependable. Few things are worse than when you take someone at their word only to find that their word has been spread so thin that it means virtually nothing.

I must make a conscious effort not to say yes to every opportunity that comes my way. In an ideal world everyone would always be happy with me. My work would be unbelievable every time, even if something I’m not versed in. Everyone would want me on their team to offer my ideas and then carry them out.

Are you laughing out loud?! I know! It’s I N S A N E! It’s also exhausting. For me, overcommitting is just another way of feeding my ego. It’s Edging God Out. I don’t intentionally push God to the side. It happens subtly. That’s why ego is so tricky. It makes those of us who overcommit and under deliver look like the victim. Many people will even feel sorry for us.

Self-centeredness often comes disguised as an opportunity to help someone else. At least mine does. I have to look at my motives or the next thing you know I’m shh-shing God and striving for the acceptance of man. That which is not lasting, but feels so rewarding in the moment.

Henri Nouwen says it best when discussing The Temptation to be relevant. “I was suddenly faced with my naked self, open for affirmations and rejections, hugs and punches, smiles and tears, all dependent simply on how I was perceived at the moment.”

I’ve shared with you before that I have to strip myself of everything, stand before a full-length mirror and speak aloud to God. To some it sounds crazy while to others it’s genius.

It has been many years since I was blindly living my life to please everyone else. I will use Nouwen’s words again when he was asking God for clear direction with important decisions and he said, “I was living in a very dark place and the term “burnout” was a convenient psychological translation for a spiritual death.”

When my soul purpose is to please Christ, the one who made me and everything on earth and in heaven, my life can be rich and full without being overwhelming. When my attention drifts from the giver and sustainer of all that is good, it’s only a matter of time before I am brought to my knees.

I have released myself from the chains of people pleasing through overcommitment. I have some incredible friends who, in their wisdom, with kindness and love, help me back to my center. It takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s work, but I am here to tell you it is attainable. You will need someone you trust to point things out to you without the fear of being chastised. Like anything else that’s worth having, it means sacrifice and transparency.

Well, what are you? Are you an overcommitter? An overcommitter quitter? Or a healthy balance when it comes to demands?