Sunday, January 12, 2020

I Don't See What You See Words of Inspiration

Finding Inspiration In Odd Places

a look in the mirror
What do you see when you look in the mirror?
Sometimes we find inspiration in the oddest of places. Who would have thought that a visit to the doctor for my yearly checkup would have left me pondering, days later, something that she said to me?  

Yeah, I don't usually find the doctor's office a very inspiring place and, perhaps, you don't either. But sometimes inspiration appears in our most vulnerable times. And I don't know about you, but I feel pretty vulnerable at the doctor's office. 

Being Vulnerable Can Be Inspiring

Like the other day as I was ushered into the exam room. You know the drill. After waiting longer than usual to be called into the inner sanctum, the nurse collected the typical medical info and then offered me the gown and cover-up to change into for the actual exam. As the door shut behind her I looked at the gown with dread. "At least it's actually cloth and not paper," I thought, which was somewhat comforting. 

The defining moment came, though, as I stripped down to nothing and caught a glimpse in the mirror. What is it about mirrors in dressing rooms and doctor offices? Why is it that every wrinkle, flaw, sag and piece of cellulite seems compounded a hundred fold in these places? My fragile self confidence about my post-menopausal body quickly eroded as I slipped into the gown and crawled up on the table to wait...and wait.....and wait....thinking all the time about how I looked in the mirror. And the fact that the office scale had weighed me five pounds heavier than the scale at home had done that very morning. FIVE pounds!!

Friends, I have to tell you that when you are nervous and lacking self-confidence already, waiting for the door to open does NOTHING to boost your feelings! I guess it was a tough morning at the office because when the door finally did open, close to an hour later, the doctor walked in full of apologies. 

And after assuring her that I understood how busy things must have been I did what any neurotic woman who has sat there for an hour in a thin gown on an uncomfortable table thinking over and over about how awful her body looks in the mirror would do....I started crying.  

And as the tears poured down my cheeks, I poured out my feelings to my surprised and unsuspecting doctor who had the presence of mind to, at once, give me her full attention. 

I felt ashamed of the hot tears coursing down my face and tried to get myself pulled together. I had not come in here planning to act this way! But so much weighed on my mind more than just the additional weight on my body. 

I was judging myself harshly, how I looked, how I felt about my looks. I was mourning the passing of years, the illness of family members, the awful feelings of failure that I felt while sitting out in the waiting room watching young pregnant women with swollen bellies walk in front of me while I sat there being visually reminded over and over of my failure to be able to conceive. 

In that moment, the tears represented my feelings of self doubt and the harshness with which I was regarding myself. Unexpected feelings, yes, but there still the same. And as the feelings tumbled forth, the doctor calmly continued her exam and uttered six words that offered grace to me....

"I don't see what you see."

Nothing earth shattering to hear, right?  But in that moment, it was exactly what I needed to hear. She didn't see me like I see me. 

She assured me that there was nothing unusual about the way I looked. She talked to me about the aging process and what happens. And yes, we talked about healthy foods and exercise. But mostly, she talked about aging gracefully, using that term that I have heard used so many times on blog posts for aging women. And that pretty much takes in all of the female population of the world doesn't it? For we are ALL aging, no matter what number of years we have reached. 

And then, the visit was over. I dried my tears, put on my clothes and walked out of the office hoping my tear stained face wasn't showing too visibly. And for the rest of day I nursed myself a bit. Allowed myself some rest. Ate rich foods. Read books. And thought....

Maybe I need to offer myself a little more grace about my body. About my life. Maybe what the doctor said was exactly what I needed to hear that day. It wasn't planned but it was necessary for me to hear. Maybe the words are what you need to hear as well. 

"I don't see what you see."

Sometimes, we women judge ourselves too harshly. We look at ourselves and see failure. We see the lumps and bumps of our bodies and our lives and feel that we have lost our zest, that we can never do enough, that we are never enough

And I'm here to ask you to look in that mirror again..

See what other people see.   See what God sees....

A beautiful and capable woman who has lived, survived, given, loved and who has so much more life to live and love to give. A beautiful child of God with gifts and interests that are God given. That is who you are! You are beautiful!

I will admit to you, that I feel vulnerable writing this. Sharing deeply can be a bit scary for me. But, I think that inspiration must be shared and so I will brave the vulnerable feelings to share with you. 

You are so much more than what you see in the mirror...



Susan said...

God doesn't see what you see either. Over the summer I was feeling much the same as you and other tings were going on as well. Emotionally I was pretty much a mess. Even though the following verse are the voice of "She" God showed these to me as if He was speaking them to me. I believe they are spoken to you the same.

Song of Solomon 2:10-13
My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
11 See! The winter is past;
the rains are over and gone.
12 Flowers appear on the earth;
the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
is heard in our land.
13 The fig tree forms its early fruit;
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
my beautiful one, come with me."

Sharon said...

Thank you so much for sharing your feelings and your experience. It is one of the most meaningful things I've ever read. I became emotional because you truly captured what women often feel and think about themselves. Those six words that your doctor spoke are a also a gift to your readers now that you have shared your experience.

Karen Anderson said...

Wow. Thank you for writing this. It's really hard when the image staring back at us isn't what we expected. But I like and believe what Susan said, that this isn't what God sees either. We are merciless on ourselves. Low self-esteem has dogged me through life, and then toss in a good dose of's just hard. But we need to start (or continue, depending on where we are) to appreciate ourselves for who we've grown to be. We have much worth to God, and to others, and we need to adjust our focus. This post and your doctor's words are a real lesson. I think I've accepted aging, then like you, a mirror appears. Thank you for reminding us that we do need to change our focus. Thank you for having the courage to write this because it really helped!

Clearissa said...

This is beautifully written and so on point. It amazes me sometimes how hard women (me at the beginning of the line) can be on ourselves. I have had and still have the same feelings you expressed. It saddens me that sometimes that I am not the 30-year-old version of myself. I look in the mirror and the reflection does not match how I feel inside. Or I notice I am having trouble getting up once I kneel on the floor or there is a new ache or pain.
Sometimes that reflection in the mirror can be depressing but it is inspiration like you just shared that helps to make the reflection easier to bare. TFS

Debbie Styles Life said...

Thank you, ladies, for your awesome comments and support! We are all, indeed, in this aging gracefully boat together!

Terra Heck said...

Yes, yes, and yes to all this! I think most every woman struggles with their self-image. And we're our own worst critics.