I have often felt critical of my body. Who hasn’t, right? I remember when I was younger feeling so fat and always comparing myself to the tiny women around me. Now before I go on, you need to know I am almost 6 feet tall. And a size 22-inch waist on a woman of such stature puts you into the emaciated category. But somehow that information never made it into my adolescent brain.
I was still quite thin when I got married, and it was soon after that was able to stop obsessing over my weight. My husband was crucial to that change. (Thank you, Dear!) Now, a dozen years and a couple pregnancies later, I am quite a bit larger than I was on my wedding day. But I don’t dwell on it anymore because I have discovered a truth I pray every young woman on Earth will learn: God measures us by the yardstick of our character and not by the measuring tape of our waistlines.
When you are in college and surrounded by young people, it can be easy to assume the whole world is what you see before you. In her article “The Ugly Side of Beauty,” Ashley Dewey reminded me how hard that time was. But in the years since college, I have been blessed to travel the country and see just what “real” people are like. I’ve discovered they are way better than what we see in the magazines and TV shows! They are as free-spirited, creative, happy, and honest as a summer’s day. They carry a unique beauty all their own. And most importantly, they are good people.
Perfect bodies, I have learned, have no place in this life. They are for the eternal beyond when God is able to make all things right. Even those women on TV aren’t as perfect as we are made to think they are. They suffer from ailments and insecurities like we all do—which is why I want to stand and shout from the rooftops that we need to be kinder to ourselves. We need to marvel at the wondrous gift God has given us when He gave us a body—a body that can accomplish so much. And we need to start focusing on what’s on our insides, be grateful for this gift, and strengthen our character.
I have a friend who is just amazing, and she made a huge difference in my life when I needed perspective badly. She grew up in Alaska and has that down-to-earth attitude that draws people to her. She is the mother of five beautiful children, and she is beautiful on the outside and on the inside. I remember the first Sunday I brought my newborn baby to church. I was exhausted. My husband was traveling all the time and I was left alone to care for a colicky baby that I loved with all my heart.
I hadn’t shaved my legs in weeks, and had barely managed to look slightly presentable that morning. When I saw her in the hallway, she asked to see the baby. And as I held him up, I realized he had a huge booger in his nose. To me, that was my breaking point. I had been trying so hard to be the mother I envisioned in my mind, but all I could see was successful mothers all around me while I felt I was failing miserably.
I remember apologizing for the booger, at which my friend laughed out loud. She told me that her children never got boogers. And as we laughed together, she comforted me. In my new mom haze, I had been forgetting to measure myself by the yardstick of my character. At that moment, my friend played the part of an earth-bound angel and blessed me by refocusing my priorities.
The Lord has blessed us richly. He gave us families, the Earth to live on, and even the air we breathe. He wants us to use this time here on Earth to develop into more godly people, and to support and nurture one another. He also wants us to remember we are loved eternally by a perfect and all-powerful being who doesn’t make mistakes. If we can remember that, the distractions of the world will start to fade away.
One of the great lies we are fed is that we as women only have value if we are skinny and pretty. But we all have value—eternal, irrefutable, and undeniable value. And nothing can take that away.
Let us lift our eyes up, away from the harsh comparisons and standards of the world. If we keep our eyes on the Lord, He will help us and give us peace and support. Let us continue to build our character into something the Lord will be proud of so that one day, we will be the ones to lift and comfort others. There will always be those trying to knock us down, but we are here to help build a better world and remind others of their value.
Patty thrives on all things creative. You’ll often find her in the garden pretending she is a suburban farmer. She loves meeting new people, and is devoted to her friends and family. In her heart she is a Midwesterner even though life has moved her all over the country. She believes in “blooming where you’re planted” and has found purpose in every place she has been. She has a deep and abiding love for the Savior and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And she loves editing LDS Blogs because it is a constant spiritual uplift. Not many people can say their job builds their witness of the Savior.