A Perspective on Body Image, Part 2

Oak trees

Two weeks ago I posted an entry about how my bicycle accident changed my perspective on body image.  After sustaining a concussion, stitches and disfigurement on my face, I recalled all the times I had obsessed about my body and tried to sculpt it into our society’s insane standard of beauty.

I regretted all the time I’d spent thinking about how to improve my physique.

I would have done anything to trade in my Frankenstein-ish face for my old one with no stitches, scrapes, and bruises.  People continued to gawk and many even pointed to show their friends the left side of my face.  That made me shudder because I was taught not to stare, and of course the respect of not pointing at disfigured people.

Yet God always has a plan much greater than anything we can ever ask or imagine.  And so it came to pass that my mother asked me to promise I would never ride alone because I had been riding alone the day of the accident. I promised her I would ride with someone as long as I rode bicycles (although I wasn’t planning to ride ever again at the time).

Several years later, I moved back home to Washington from my seven year stint in California and Arizona.  I finally got the courage to get back on my bike, although I rode slowly because I didn’t want another brush with the asphalt.  I asked my  female friends to ride with me to honor my mom’s request. “Oh my gosh! My heart’s beating fast!”  one of them complained.  Another said, “Geez, I’m sweating like crazy!”  I chuckled to myself and realized it was time to find a riding partner who could go the distance.  The riding I was doing in Washington was minor compared to cycling the distance between Ojai and Carpinteria (near Santa Barbara), which I did frequently years prior.

I told my predicament to some friends at church.  They said to ask a friend of theirs who used to race bicycles.  He was considerably older, so I figured there was nothing to worry about.  On our first ride, the sky fell in, even for Seattle standards.  Cars hydroplaned and we ended up having a grand time even though a man in a car had to rescue us so we could get to our homes.

Where have guys like this been my whole life? I found my new friend kind, caring, funny, and real.

Yet I wondered if I was crazy, considering our age difference.  For a few years we remained “buddies,” although people often commented on how well suited we were for each other.  I prayed frequently about our relationship, asking God to give me clear guidance.  Often confirming verses jumped out at me as I read scripture and prayed.  In my book I have written about this beautiful unfolding as God revealed to me that he definitely wanted us together, regardless of how society felt about relationships with age gaps.

We have been married over 14 years now, and I continue to thank God for putting us together.

Our paths probably would not have intertwined had it not been for the painful, disfiguring bicycle accident from years prior.  I am constantly in awe of how God creates beauty from ashes.  He has done this in my life, and he will do it in yours as well.

and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

 Isaiah 61:3

http://youtu.be/GYliqyNqa8o  Beauty for Ashes song by Crystal Lewis

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