T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear
and Grace my fears relieved
how precious did that Grace appear
the hour I first believed
Anyone reading this who has been forgiven for something they didn't deserve to be forgiven for, or was given a second chance despite their failures, can probably understand. There are some things we can't lift ourselves out of. We must be lifted out.
Last week I wrote about what happens when we try to make good choices, but are not rooted in our highest self. It is a constant battle. I try and try, but something seems to undermine me every time. Why can't I do what I know is good for me? Why is it such a battle for some of us? Why is it our shared experience that we know what to do, but don't always do it?
As many of you know, I tend to want ice cream when I am stressed (or lonely, depressed, anxious, hungry, tired, bored, in pain, scared, in need of comfort, etc.) Today I am going to focus on stress, because many women I talk to can relate to stress eating. I hear over and over:
When we are stressed and pressed for time-
When we are overwhelmed by something-
When we are angry or upset over a relationship issue-
When we are anxious and worried-
we don't make consistent healthy choices.
Food may not be your comforter of choice. Ice cream may not be your comforter of choice. It might be online shopping, a nightly glass of wine, gossip, or any other number of counterfeit comforters. It doesn't matter. What matters is our ability to choose self-love and care gets compromised under stress. Agreed?
OK, so stress is swirling round and round in my head like a merry go round. Not enough time, overwhelmed, angry and upset, stressed and anxious. I jump on. I start identifying with the story and I begin to claim it as my life; at the root.
For example, when I claimed "parentless" as my root, I felt ripped off and angry. I felt abandoned and worthless. I did not understand that I was choosing to connect my identity to a parentless life. And although the fact was my parents had died, that did not make my identity any different than it was before my losses. Losses do not have to define me. Abuse does not have to define me. Failures do not have to define me. Sickness and pain need not define me.
I am not just flesh. I am also spirit.
But what does this mean when I look in the mirror and see cellulite, or a muffin top; thighs or belly bigger than I want, or upper arms that jiggle?
You can look in the mirror and see yourself as your body. In which case, you will see all your flaws and ways your body does not live up to the standard you believe is set for a body to look like. And no matter what you do, it will never be good enough.
You can look in the mirror and see yourself as your circumstances. In which case, you will see all the problems in your life and the ways your life doesn't measure up to the standard you believe is set for a life to look. And no matter how hard you try, you will never feel safe and secure, or like you measure up.
Or you can look in the mirror and sing. Amazing Grace how sweet the sound.
And when you sing, or pray, or meditate, or walk amongst the trees, or whatever your daily practice is that invites the spirit of grace to rule over your life, you will see yourself through the eyes of grace.
What do you think your thighs look like then?
What do you think your circumstances look like then?
What happens when you invite the spirit? It lifts you out of your old identity, your false identity, your lower self.
It lifts you up into your true identity, your authentic highest self.
It reminds you that you are not your body. You are not your circumstances.
It is then you are rooted in the peace of knowing who you are, despite these things.
You can stay attached to your stress if you want to. You can stay attached to your false identity. I did for the longest time, not only because I didn't know how to do it differently. But I felt like I had every right to be the victim of my circumstances and no one was going to take that away from me. I had earned it, I had the scars. (Picture me with my middle finger in the air? That was me.)
But eventually I got sick and tired of the battle. I wanted to choose well, to be a lifelong walker, and to lift weights consistently. I wanted to feel fit and healthy, choose what foods I ate, and not feel so out of control and addicted. I learned that it was impossible to stay rooted in all that false identity and stress and make consistently healthy choices. It was my great saboteur for many, many years.
Lie: I am my body, my choices, and my circumstances.
Truth: I am a new creation in the spirit.
The beautiful thing is when you embrace your new identity, what you want changes. You do not have to fight against constant cravings anymore. Healthy choices come naturally and without the battle. It feels peaceful.
Then stress comes along again and like I said last week, plunks you right back on the old merry go round. But once you understand the process, it is not so scary or confusing. And the old cravings make sense.
It is just you, feeling momentarily lost, turning back to the old (counterfeit) ways of comfort. But now you know you are only a song, a meditation, a prayer, or a walk amongst the trees away from being back to the truth of who you are.
And in one radically conscious breath, you are again your whole, healed, very highest self. Again and again. This is your practice. This is the way out of the battle. This is amazing grace.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now, I see.