January 3, 2012

A Love Letter to My Stretch Marks

Yesterday my oldest son came home from school with an assignment: It is a new year. Write a paragraph about three things you would like to change about yourself in 2012.

It starts young, this change thing.

My son, God love him, did not understand the question. Do I write three things that I like about myself? Or do I write three things that I'm good at? It's only natural that an 8-year-old boy who thinks only of when he can next partake of video games, food, or insanely stupid knock-knock jokes does not often (can not?) reflect introspectively on how he could improve. Unless, of course, it concerns video games, food, or knock-knock jokes.

I, on the other hand, being a 35-year-old woman, keep a running, bullet-pointed list of what I need to change, how I need to grow, what I need to do differently, what goals I need to achieve and by what time period I need to achieve them. What would you like to change about yourself? I understand the question way too well. It's like New Years Day in my head all year round.

Now is the time when everyone is being all goal-oriented and making bold statements and all that. Me, I'm just taking a cue from my 8-year-old son and pretending I don't know what is going on. Let's face it, when it comes down to it, I have a really long way to go in every area of my life. I can't plug my ears and hum, pretending like everything is hunky dory and I have it all down pat. But I also am like every other woman on this plant: way too hard on myself. Most of the things I want to change about myself either 1) cannot be changed or 2) are vain or 3) are stupid. I call into evidence Stretch Marks, Bra Size, and Nose That All Right Angles Can be Measured By. 

There is a time and a place for change. Most definitely. But it should be a Spirit thing: when He convicts or speaks, we repent or obey. If we go by lists and rules and good old fashioned willpower, sorry, hate to say it, but it will fail every time or at best be a total lifeless pursuit. We are God's workmanship (Greek: poem). We present ourselves as materials and He'll author the story or whittle the boat or scrap the book or whatever art form you prefer.

But here's the deal, ladies. There is also a time and a place for being good with what ya got. At this time of year, we should write down all the things we wish we could instantly change about ourselves and flip the pancake. Can't you just hear Dr. Phil: No matter how flat you make the pancake, it always has two sides. There is always a good thing about the stuff we don't like but can't change.

So, Stretch Marks, I love you. You so lovingly appeared so that I could carry three healthy (read: big) babies.

Bra Size, thank you, because I will never, ever, in a million trillion years, no matter how old I get, sag.

Nose That All Right Angles Can Be Measured By, I don't like you, but my husband likes my profile and talks about it unprovoked, so I guess you're all right.

Whiskers That Grow on My Chin, I love you because you give me something to do in the morning because I don't have enough to do and you'll gross people out when I'm old and cannot see them anymore to pluck them and that will secretly amuse me.

Melancholy Personality, I love you because even though you're prone to thinking the sky is falling, you help me be sensitive. Because of you, I don't just think of video games, food, and knock-knock jokes.

Age, you're the best. I am young enough to still see the whiskers growing on my chin without glasses, but old enough to have a little wisdom-building experience under my belt and kids who can wipe their own booties.

Children of the Boy Variety, I love you. Though our best conversations center around Super Mario Brothers and I do not understand the wild running, wrestling, and "silly meetings", you surprise and delight me as I watch you move through life at full sprint.

Husband, you're my favorite. You snored last night, but you're still my favorite. You put up with said Melancholy Personality, complete with obsessive thoughts and emotional outbursts. And you love my assets, like my nose and whiskers.

I could go on, but I shaint.

So I'm happy for all of you out there that have distilled your year into one word or have an itemized list of things you're working on this year. I hope that hopey-changey stuff works out for you.

But I'm just trying to be hopey with what I got and let the Spirit do the changey part.

Question: What about you are you happy that you have?