The cool fall weather is settling in around here, and with it out come the leggings, boots, sweaters and scarves. I did not truly experience a real fall season until I moved to Pennsylvania at twenty-two years old, but since then my home has been in places that are true four season locales, and I could not love this beautiful one called autumn more. I love the warmer, cozier clothes. I love the pumpkin candles and burnt orange leaves. I love needing a sweater and warm socks in the morning. Everything about the fall feels comfortable to me.
This weekend, Alex and I did a big closet clean-out. We filled seven grocery bags full of clothes to give away, and filled a huge plastic bag with clothes that had simply run their course and should never been seen on a person again. It felt so good to make space, to simplify, to give myself a little shaming for ever thinking “I don’t have anything to wear” because yesterday’s deep dive into drawers and back ends of closets proved that I do, indeed, have plenty to wear. Thoughts of wasteful consumerism certainly filled my head as I put things in the donation bag that I remember needing when I bought them, only to think now “did I ever really like this?” But what struck me the most was that I have held on to clothes for years, like eight to ten of them, since I was a college student. And as I held them up to assess their wear and damage, I remembered clearly the insecure young girl who wore them all, who lived in a body every single day that was anything but comfortable to me.
I really did love college. I played a sport that I loved, met my best friends and grew spiritually more than any other season of my life. But I hated my body. I desperately wanted the flat and defined stomach so many of the girls on my soccer team had, and I wanted to wear a tank top more than anything in that 100 degree-plus heat. But I only ever saw huge arms as I walked by windows and I was certain that everyone had to be thinking the same thing I was: she should cover those things up. So I did, my arms and my whole body. I wore big baggy t-shirts and athletic shorts in the summers, and big baggy t-shirts and way-too-large sweat pants in the winter. (It should be getting clearer to you at this point why I had exactly two dates in college). I hid what I was afraid of, even though my heart truly wanted people to see past it all. And I did crazy things like work out three hours a day or take a laxative, but these only exacerbated that binge-starve cycle and my poor body never changed.
It has been eleven years since I started college. I had ten surgeries on my left knee in six years. I then had two babies in less than two years. And this weekend, I threw away remnants of a girl who hated her body. Finally. Because I don’t hate it anymore. It has taken a lot of years of scripture and an unbelievably affirming husband, but I really don’t hate my body anymore. It has done amazing, miraculous things for me. I even wear tank tops now.
I think about all the things I have let hinder the woman God created me to be, and I just want to throw them all away: poor body image, low self-esteem, even singleness for a season. And like most women, I will always be insecure about my physical self—which I think is a symptom of longing for heaven more than this earth. But I don’t want to spend another decade of my life hanging on to things: to lies or sins or hang-ups that are so clearly not from God. I want to be a whole lot better at throwing things away. Over and over again. We can only make room for the things we use and need in this life if we clear out the space where we kept the junk. And junk is not from God. He made us and it was good. We are good. Sometimes it takes the hard work of cleaning up and throwing out to live in to that goodness, but it is worth it every time.