I just came from my gym, where I sweated and groaned over lunges and barbell presses and squats. I tell myself that I’m trying to get stronger and that this has nothing to do with my body image. Yet really, deep down inside, I know that’s partially a lie: I want to look good. Not just good—beautiful. But despite my hard work, despite compliments from my husband and friends and fellow gym rats, despite the increasing strength in my body, I’m never satisfied with what I see in the mirror.
This man in the video will never load plates on a barbell and squat, yet he is more at ease with his body than I am. Nick enjoys how he’s learned to use his body. From his website, I learned that he can eat, type on the computer and do a whole host of other things—things that I, with my two arms and two legs, take for granted. There’s a photo on his site of him as a child, lying on a skateboard. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten on a skateboard before in my life; that’s too risky for me.
He’s got a “Who says I can’t do that?” attitude.
I tend to have a “Who says I can do that?” attitude, just like many other people I know. Most people are afraid to take a risk, and I’m no exception. I tend to look at myself, see all the flaws and limitations (real or perceived), and decide to let those determine what I can do.
Back in high school, it would’ve been a risk to try out for cheerleading or volleyball, like I secretly desired; I told myself I would fail at both. My arms and legs won’t work that way, I thought.
(Looking back, I think, but at least I HAVE arms and legs.)
In college, I thought about joining the drama group but I was too scared to try. Maybe I would have won the Bryan College equivalent of an Oscar or maybe I would’ve been stuck in a walk-on role.
(But why would failure have been so horrible?)
There are dozens of other things I thought I couldn’t do:
- I can’t run a mile without stopping: my legs will hurt! (But couldn’t I start with a tenth of a mile?)
- I can’t write a great novel: my first draft isn’t perfect! (But couldn’t I write and revise later? And what’s wrong with writing an imperfect novel?)
- I can’t buy a two piece bathing suit: everyone will see my pregnancy stretch marks! (Can’t I ignore them?)
- I can’t start a blog: I have nothing to say or I’ll say something stupid and embarrass myself in front of everyone online! (But couldn’t I find something to say? Does it really matter what other people think if I write a stupid blog post?)
I can’t—I can’t—I can’t.
All the while, I walked around with this little storm cloud hovering over my head, unhappiness trailing in my wake, as people scurried out of my path. I never stopped to be grateful for what I did have and what I could do.
Some self-imposed limitations I’ve overcome, others I still struggle with. I still struggle with my body image (hence the endless squats and lunges and refusal to wear anything more revealing than a tankini), extremely low energy levels, depression. I still struggle with insecurity about my writing (though I force myself to blog and hope that I don’t make a fool of myself).
Then I watch this video, and I am moved to tears of gratefulness and conviction.
Here’s Nick Vujicic, who shouldn’t be able to play golf, managing to swing a golf club and get that little white ball in a hole. He’s jumping off the high dive. Fishing. Boating. Speaking to crowds. Not only that, but he doesn’t look terribly concerned when he can’t block a shot in the soccer goal. He looks downright chipper as he cracks his joke about “not being ready for the ball!”
He smiles a lot.
He encourages other people.
He lives a productive, God-glorifying life: hopeful, joyous, loving. People don’t run away from him; teenage boys and girls alike hugged him after his talk.
If most of us were honest, we would admit that we’ve wondered if our lives are worthwhile. Will I ever be able to have a meaningful life? we wonder. I have so many problems. I don’t think I can overcome them.
But what would happen if . . .
- We were grateful for our lives, as messy and fragile and broken as they are? What if we accepted the things we can’t change and stopped worrying about them?
- We didn’t let our inabilities prevent us from using our abilities? What if we used our God-given creativity to find a way to do what we think we can’t do?
- We looked for the meaning in our lives, not in ourselves but in the God who created us?
What would happen?