Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Ain't Gonna Work on Maggie's Farm No More

Bob refused to work on
Maggie's Farm and so do I!
Sunday, I came clean in this story in our local newspaper about my struggles with weight, and in the telling, I think I accidentally made it sound like my life is great and I never look at myself and think, “What’s with the jiggle?”

The truth is, though, I do sometimes look down and wonder what the hell I could be carrying in my saddlebags (duh… fries!), and whether I might actually be wearing a bustle rather than just having a butt that would put Kim Kardashian's to shame.

Here’s something that actually happened: the day that the article came out, Tom and I went over to Raleigh to the warehouse sale at Raleigh Denim. This is a place in, yes, Raleigh, where they make by hand each pair of jeans on vintage sewing machines out of locally produced denim. Since it’s one of those new hip things – going all Williamsburg on everyday products – the sale was full of young hipsters. Skinny hipsters. I wasn’t rattled, though... I mean, I’m hip – right? Well I HAVE hips, anyway... But then I stepped into the communal dressing room. ACK.
Kim K's butt's got
nothin' on mine!

This crowded house was also full of lithe and beautifully tanned, extremely young hipster gals and fashionistas in varying states of undress and thong-age… shimmying into the ultra-skinny-legged jeans, buttoning them under their taut, tanned bellies… And there I was – 51, 5’1” and flabby. You better believe I changed in and out of that cute little dress as quickly as possible!

When I rejoined my husband, I had to make myself pause and notice his obvious fondness and acceptance, and aggressively remember how unhappy I was when I was skinny… The kind of body that can wear skinny jeans is a NOT realistic goal for me. It would take the kind of dedication that would most assuredly become an obsession… and I really, really LIKE not thinking about it. It’s truly a wonderful life.

And really, my article was not about being comfortable with my body… but having a comfortable mind…. Which I will choose any day of any week. Yeah, if skinny-ness is Maggie’s Farm then it’s safe to say that I ain’t gonna work there no more.

The scene of my wavering
Anyway, here’s the point of my conveying to you this particular vignette: It shows me clearly that comparing myself to others is a really quick route to unhappiness. Because either I’m not going to measure up, or I’m going to start feeling superior… which is sort of funny, when I think about it. Although… because of the sort of flippant way I write, I wonder if I seem like I think I’m superior because I don’t wrestle with food anymore… when this is true only by the sheer grace of God. I feel deeply for any woman – or man – who faces these kind of struggles, and I wanted them to know that there is another way.

Similarly, the blogpost before… where I spoke of my failings as a housekeeper… I was certainly comparing myself to an ideal – Martha Stewart and other people who are prone to do that stuff and are really good at it. Or, maybe it came across as mocky? I hope not. I’m really jealous of them!
I'm not gonna
trade my hard-won 

sanity for the 
kind of body
that can wear
Raleigh Denim.

And that’s the thing – comparing is about coveting isn’t it? I covet the body of that girl in the Raleigh Denim changing room. I covet the cooking and decorating abilities of my younger sister. I’m not, as Paul would say, “content whatever the circumstances.” (Philippians 4:11)

This seems to be an advanced spiritual state that I also covet. And in terms of spiritual growth, it doesn’t hurt to have role models and learn from the writings of others, but I’m pretty sure coveting their growth is pretty much going backwards.

Once I started to ponder this, a BUNCH of stuff in the Bible began to pop into my mind… I’m thinking this whole thing may go all the way back to the fall when Adam and Eve ate the fruit because they coveted God’s wisdom. Then Cain killed Abel after they engaged in a spiritual competition – which sacrifice would God accept??? (Read the book to find out!)

The prodigal son's older brother coveted the welcome home party the dad threw for his wasted brother, comparing it to the goat he never got to celebrate with his friends... Conversely, the proud praying pharisee compared himself to the humble publican who invented the sinner's prayer...

Stuff like that is threaded all through the narrative of the Bible. Fortunately, it’s a human dilemma that the Bible also addresses. For example, there’s a part in John 21 where Jesus is saying to Peter, “Follow me.” Then Peter looks at John… 
When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (John 21:21-22)  
Bill chose this pic of Cain and Abel.
When I read this at first I think, so… I just need to worry about my own self and not look or worry about others, which makes sense. But what I really think is happening here is that Peter is being told to look at JESUS rather than himself. “Follow ME,” Jesus says.

Then Paul has this part in his letter to the Philippian church:
If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.
But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. (Philippians 3:4-11)
I'm gonna keep
trying to look at
this Guy. I've heard
that His yoke is easy
 and His burden is light.
So… that’s our whole thing. We don’t look at the other guy… and we don’t look at ourselves… we look at JESUS… who is PERFECT, and is OUR perfection… our righteousness. (As Paul also said, “…Christ Jesus…has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. (I Corinthians 1:30))* And every time I try to be my own righteousness – or self-worth – or compare my righteousness – or my worth – with someone else’s, I am essentially working on Maggie’s farm, as it were… and you know my feelings about that!

Maybe it was an accident, maybe it wasn’t – that along with these heavy ponderings, I had this song running through my head all day: In Christ Alone. I looked and looked for a version that was not oversweet and synthesizery, and here is this one – not exactly what I was looking for, but pretty good. This lovely modern hymn really puts it out there, as I hope to every time I write.

*yes, i pulled this out of a longer sentence, but I don't think I changed the meaning any!

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