I had to look at this picture three times before I could see the joy in it. First, I saw my stomach. Then, my weird posture and the odd cut of my swimsuit. And then, finally, I saw my smile. Bella had just body surfed in California, after a little persuasion. She was bold and she was brave and she did it. The first one of my girls to try it. But, she had been caught off guard by that last wave. You know the one that sweeps over you just as you are coming up for air. If you’ve swam in the ocean, you’ve been caught by that one before. So, I ran to her to help her up and give her a big hug. I was so proud of her! That was such a fun moment. All that laughing and coughing and making sure she was okay, squeezing her tight and congratulating her on her awesome ride. And I was so grateful to look up and see that Loren had picked that moment to pick up the camera and take pictures. I’m usually the picture-taker in our family. And as a result, I’m not usually in a lot of pictures. But he had picked up the camera and was snapping away, capturing this precious moment.
Later, as I looked through the pictures of the day I came upon this one. And I’m sure if you had been looking at me as I looked at the camera, you would have seen my face shift from eyes bright with joy, to eyes clouded with uncertainty. Eyebrows knitted together in my telltale dissatisfied look. I may have even made an audible, “ugh…” sound before quickly moving on. I wanted to erase it. That’s the beauty of digital cameras, right? Instead, I went back and looked at it again. I noticed still other imperfections, and yet, I was drawn to that momma with her arms wide. Oh her arms…the sagging. “Ugh…” Later, I looked at it again, trying to decide, finally, if I would erase it. This time, when I looked at it, my smile took center stage. I remembered with absolute clarity what a great moment it was. I remembered the feeling of gathering her close to me and squealing, “You did it! Good job, Bella!” as she laughed and sputtered.
So I kept it. Why should I allow this great memory to be tainted by thoughts of how I look in this one second, and if I look like that all the time, to everyone? The truth is that my body is giving itself over to age. That doesn’t mean I’ve taken it lying down. On the contrary, I feel stronger than I ever have. I work out at a crossfit gym…which means that I run and lift weights and do real pull ups and double unders and lots of other crazy things. My aging body can do all of those things. But, little by little, gravity is still winning. It’s not my friend. Never has been, actually. Things are not where they used to be. And lines have started to appear. I ache more than I used to. And honestly, I’m just not willing to do what it would take to make my body look a lot different than it does right now. I’m not sure if that makes me lazy or confident, and I’m not really sure I care. What I do care about is seeing a picture and being able to recall a sweet memory, not because I can’t see all of my little flaws – but because, even though I see them, I know they don’t really matter.
This body does what I need it to do. I’m grateful for health and for the strength to do the things I want to do and I don’t want to take that for granted, even though I am sure that I do on most days. But here are some of the much deeper truths about me. Things you might also see if you look closely at this picture. I am my children’s biggest fan. I laugh and I make memories. I love well and I am loved.
I love well. I am loved.
And those things are worth a second glance.
And her second attempt at body surfing was even better than the first. :)