"I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God's thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest, and most precious thing in all thinking."
Guys, it has been a long time coming, but after twenty-seven years of life I am finally choosing to love myself. Like really, truly, wholeheartedly love myself, especially in regard to my body. See, since I was ten or eleven, I have hated my body. I distinctly remember thinking as early as sixth grade that I was an ugly duckling, the one who hung out with the pretty girls but was never fully accepted as "one of them." As a result, in my mind I was never pretty enough, skinny enough, or desirable enough; I was cute, but not beautiful, and certainly not the ever-coveted "hot" (which, by the way, I freaking hate that word as an adult).
Fast forward sixteen years, and those feelings have only followed me, and for far too long I have loathed and criticized so many parts of my outward appearance: my crooked smile and teeth, my naturally muscular legs, the bags under my eyes, my v squishy tummy, and more. I have been my harshest critic, believing that everyone else saw these "flaws" just as I did. Acting alone, I have absolutely torn myself apart, and ultimately ripped my body to shreds with my negative words and thoughts.
But then, just a few weeks ago, I hit a point where I said no more. No more of this. My mind, my heart, and my body can't take anymore. I have to stop. I believe that my actual words were, "NO MORE. EFF THIS SH*T." So I very consciously made the decision to stop hating and start loving my body. Because the truth is that my body, regardless of what I have thought or said about it in the past, is strong, beautiful, and capable of doing so much (including kicking some ass). I can do so many wonderful things as a result of it being exactly as it is, and I know now that is more than enough reason to be grateful.
I believe that some more recent parts of my negative body issues have stemmed from a health issue I was diagnosed with about five years ago: polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS. It's something I rarely write or talk about, but the truth is that a lot of women struggle with this disorder (1 in 10 women have it, though many have no idea) and yet it can be so isolating when you're struggling with it. I have found, however, the more I have been brave and opened up abut it, the more I've realized just how not alone I am, and thus I've made the decision that I will not let it be an excuse to not love myself. I refuse to let anything, especially this health issue, get in the way of embracing and strengthening the vessel I've been given; to be the healthiest possible version of myself that I can be.
I am done being my own worst enemy, and I am done shaming my body for what it looks like or doesn't look like. I declared at the beginning of the year that this would be my year of YES -- saying yes to new opportunities, new people, and new risks. And now, I have added that it's also the beginning of a new relationship: one where I choose to love, nourish, and strengthen my body instead of hating it. Because, as is true in all things, hate does not bring change. Only love can do that.
And ultimately, I know that I am so much more than my body. My worth and my value come from who I am as a child of God, not what I look like. I am smart and compassionate and wise and funny and stubborn and loving, and above all else I am loved abundantly more than I could imagine by the One who uniquely made me... and those are the things that really matter.
Same goes for you. You are unique, strong, and beautiful, and the God of the universe is absolutely wild about you. Let that and nothing else define you. And make the choice to love yourself as He has made you while aiming to be the healthiest version of yourself in every way. I'm cheering you on.
Because every body is a good body, for real.