The sun was blazing but losing it's fight to stay above the horizon, kissing my skin with it's warmth as I tilted my face to the sapphire blue sky.
I could live here, I thought as I took in the shimmering water, palatial homes just out of reach of it's gentle, lapping fingers. The beach was nearly empty; only a few lingered, catching the last of the sun's radiance as it slowly sunk beyond the horizon.
The perfect sunset. The perfect day. The kids splashed in the waves and I watched them out of the corner of my eye as I looked down to the southern-most point of the island, hand shading my eyes as the last of the sun's rays sang their swan song. Sand, water, trees. A tropical paradise as far as I could see. Everything around me was picture-perfect, yet my soul could not rest easy. I picked up my phone. Opened the app.
The numbers jumped out at me like a rabid prosecutor, fingers pointing, accusing me of eating too many carbs and not enough protein, too much salt, all the figures in red, verifying the fear deep in my heart.
You aren't good enough. You'll never measure up. Look at you. You can't even get this right.
The numbers on the tiny screen blurred as tears filled my eyes. How many days have I tried and failed to make it perfect? How many times have I started out with a goal and had the numbers glare at me in condemnation?
Damn you, My Fitness Pal, and damn you, carbs, and damn you, protein, and damn you, calories, I said to myself. Tomorrow WILL be better than today.
And the sun sank slowly into the trees, melting into glowing pinks, golds and purples, a glorious display of some of God's most beautiful artwork, yet my blank eyes couldn't behold any beauty. They were distracted by the intense battle within.
I'm sorry, will you help me?
Words that would melt any parent's heart. If those words were to actually be spoken. Sincerely. Which in my house, hardly ever occurs.
My children, as different as their personalities are, have one strong thread in common. They are both incredibly stubborn.
And any wonder. They come from incredibly stubborn, hard-headed parents. They had no chance when they were conceived to be anything other than what they are.
As they grow and mature, I see inklings of maturity shine through, which gives me hope that one day, they will see the value in a genuine acknowledgement of wrongdoing, even if it's a mistake, or a misguided belief. But for now, we tend to focus on self, and what's best for self, and how can I get myself out of trouble. And if there is an apology, which one is better at than the other, it tends to be laced with nonchalance, with a flippant tone and a toss of the head.
This struggle is not an unfamiliar one. I rarely feel like admitting my faults, and I struggle with the words I'm sorry. Other words-words that condemn, words that damage and distress, words that criticize and punish--those roll easily off my tongue, and I soak them up, accepting them as truth as they run the familiar track in my head.
You're no good! they laugh at me. You'll never measure up! they shout. So I fold my hands. Shut my eyes. Bow my head. And accept defeat. No tears can even squeeze out of the corner of my eyes; no hope can be seen in this dark place. My heart has accepted the lies it has been told, and I have accepted the sentence: prison. Of my very own making.
My own stubborn nature has not served me well in some areas of life. Fights get more intense, and they last a lot longer than they should. My refusal to follow certain rules has lead to more than a few slaps on the hand, and my innate I-can-do-this-myself attitude has at times left me feeling alone and isolated, with a growing ache in my soul. And my stubborn refusal to accept help has brought me to this point. A point where numbers can cause tears, where life is counted and not lived, where God is acknowledged but not let in. Oh, how he probably longs to hear I'm sorry, will you help me from my quivering, yet determined, lips.
Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, again and again and again I've gone, like a boat heaving in the waves. I'm good! I'm not so good. I'm good! I'm so not good right now. I'm great! I failed. I'm awesome! I'm not good. Just when I think this battle has been laid to rest, a fresh wave of disapproval and judgement surfaces, and no matter how many steps forward I've taken, it feels like a giant step back. To counting numbers and bites. To not living life to it's fullest, but in pieces. A shattered soul pretending to live whole, in secret trying to pick up the pieces, dropping them, trying to fit them together again in a make-shift depiction of perfection.
Lysa TerKeurst always talks about imperfect progress, and if there was ever a person who felt like her progress was imperfect, it would be me. But as this battle has overwhelmed my heart, I've begun to realize that I've asked God for help before with no real intention of ever giving up. I've invited him to drive while white-knuckling the steering wheel, giving him directions on where to go.
A heart can only take so much before she realizes it's time.
Time to stop being stubborn.
Time to stop trying to pick up the pieces on my own.
Time to stop counting calories and start living life.
Time to love well. And live well.
Time to say I'm sorry.
Will you help me?