I weighed almost 400lbs before my gastric bypass three years ago. I am currently 57lbs from the goal weight. And I have skin. I’ll spare you details, but I look like I deflated.
The other night at dinner I was bitching and moaning to David about the aprons of skin hanging off my body— off my arms, my legs, my stomach. As a mother of three girls I keep commentary about bodies on the DL. And as a woman with an extensive medical history, I’m very thankful for every breath I get to take, even if my knees sag. At least I have knees, I remind myself daily.
But it’s summer. And it’s been 90+ degrees every day here in Denver for WEEKS now. And I’m sick of sometimes wearing clothes I don’t want to wear. It’s hard work loving my body now; where fat once bulged, skin now suspends.
I know I am not alone in this. In fact, I know every. single. human. ever. feels similar feelings. Even Anne Lamott has trouble with her thighs, her “aunties” as she refers to them in Traveling Mercies. And if Annie (or Jesus) struggles with something, it’s real.
So I’m speaking to David at the dinner table. Instead of filling my body-temple with love, I start tearing it apart, brick by holy brick.
“Sshhh.” He says. “You look great. Your skin is a badge of honor, like your cancer scars.” And he means it. And I believe him. And I hadn’t written down my Truths or Joys that day (week, truthfully) so I needed the validation of another human, a man—my husband, to help make me feel better instead of turning to my God and believing my worth simply…is. Phew. There.
Lucy chimes in like the little prophetic kitten she is.
“Yeah. Skin is good, Mama.”
And she’s right. Skin is Good. Because it’s all good.
I look over to David with a knowing, thankful, sorry smile. Then, turning to Lucy with an exploding heart I declare, “You’re right, babe! Skin is great!”
David’s right, too. Our bodies are miracles. If you’re alive, you’re a miracle. If cancer is Good, then so are aprons of flesh and stretch marks and scars and crooked noses and yellowish teeth. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it a million more times:
Nothing is wasted.
My deflated flesh reminds me of the broken bits I used to fix with food. It’s a scar of the shattered false selves I created. Deflation is such a great word for it, too. Deflation implies death and surrender to outside forces and pressures. That’s exactly what my weight loss has been, a continuation of the death I experienced in rehab almost two years ago, a surrender.
I used to tie up aprons of defense, subconsciously layering fat cells between the world and little Claire; because my world was genuinely unsafe. The padding worked, eating worked, binging worked, starving worked—until it didn’t. Until God squeezed me so tight I ripped open, and Grace got in.
Sisters, you’re perfect. Right now, you are perfect. Shhhh. I know, you wish Kardashian cheekbones for your selfies. I know, you over plucked your eyebrows growing up and now they look like pipe cleaners. It’s okay that your muscles aren’t as defined as they once were (or never were). Lord knows I’ve seen what pregnancy can do to an abdomen. My daughter Rae was 11lbs 4oz and TWENTY-FOUR inches long—people thought I was carrying triplets—and my body never recovered. Your hair is thinning and doesn’t shine like it used to, and you gained thirty-seven pounds in six months. I hear you.
And you’re still absolute perfection.
I am absolute perfection, because I have nothing to do with my meat suit, as my junior high bible teacher called it. I am perfection because everything works for Good, and God wastes nothing. At 400lbs I was perfection, too. If only I had seen and believed that! God took me at 400, God takes me at 265, and S/He’ll take me at 212.
God sees past your aprons, past your inflations. God sees past the protection and padding you’ve set up to keep you from tearing apart under the weight of this Good/Hard world.
And when you’re ready to ask for help; when you are brave enough to choose Life; when you want Love to win, God will swoop over and lovingly squeeze the living shit out of you. Whispering the whole time:
“Your flesh, your skin, it’s Good. I adore your humanity, because I made you a HUMAN. Let me Love you like only I can. Let Grace, Light, and Love into that hole I made in your heart. I can make it right again. Love can make it right again.”