The Goal is Peace

Have you seen the Special K commercial where women nervously step on a very public, very big scale? Scared of what they will see, they are instead rewarded by a scale reading “pride” and “courage” and “confidence.” LOVE IT! And it reminded me of a segment I heard on the radio earlier this week. I caught it in the middle, so I don’t even know who was speaking or the topic of the show, but I turned it on just in time to hear these words, “The goal is not a number. The goal is peace.”

It’s so easy to let the number on the scale determine my mood. Yes, I need the numbers to go down. Today’s number is not healthy. But I have learned over the years that I run the risk of becoming obsessive about my food, whether I’m eating a lot of it or staying away from it. Counting calories, tracking points, measuring workout minutes … for me, those are just substitutes for stuffing my face. They are both means of keeping my focus on the food. And whether I am worrying about what to eat next or what not to eat, the mental energy spent on food is a waste.

To me, “the goal is peace” means to have grace for myself in this area of my life, too. It means that even as I strive to be healthier – move more and eat less – the worry, the obsession, the measuring has to go. Instead I will measure my progress in pride, courage, confidence, and peace.

Can Real be Offensive?

I just read a very interesting article about one publishing house’s decision to remove the “n” word from its latest printing of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and replace it with something less offensive to today’s readers. (http://shelf-life.ew.com/2011/01/03/huckleberry-finn-n-word-censor-edit/) Well, you can be sure my journalism degree shook on the wall with that headline! I had a PHYSICAL reaction (faster heartbeat, sweaty palms… you know the feeling.) Edit Mark Twain?? Are you kidding me?? Let’s throw some clothes on the Venus di Milo, too, huh?

I understand the argument. I really do. Huck Finn has always been a controversial work, even banned by many schools, because of the use of that one word. This new version, which according to the article will use the word “slave” instead, will allow more teachers to use it in their classrooms, introducing students to a classic they may not have otherwise read. Ok, that’s valid. One comment on the article said it’s no different from an “edited for content” version of a movie classic. And I can buy that, too. But I am looking at this news through the lens of authenticity, and I find it really hard to stomach an edited Mark Twain.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my journey is about “Letting go of who I think I am supposed to be and embracing who I am.” And who I am will not please everyone. Who I am may be controversial in some circles. Who I am might make you uncomfortable. Who I am might not be popular. But it is who God made me to be. And it is real.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, in its original version, was written from a place of pretty clear authenticity of the practices and language of the people in that time and place. Authors, especially the masters like Twain, choose their words carefully to convey exactly what they are trying to say. It may be ugly, but it’s real.

We are all “offensive” … we all have pieces we wish we could edit away, pretty up, make more presentable. But I have to believe that desire is more about looking good to others than it is about being true to myself. So I think I’ll stick to being an original, warts and all. And I happen to think Huck Finn should be, too.

January=Authenticity

The Guide on my Journey of Wholehearted Living in 2011, Brene’ Brown in The Gifts of Imperfection, has set up 10 Guideposts that make up the common characteristics she found in her research of those living with their whole hearts. So I’ve decided to marinate in one each month of 2011 — studying other sources on the topic, exploring applicable scripture, and recording ways I am practicing incorporating each into my life.

Guidepost #1: Cultivating Authenticity. Which Brown also defines as “Letting Go of What People Think” – Ouch!

One of the reasons I know this Wholehearted Living message is coming to me at the right time is that I can track how many of the topics have already been on my heart and mind over the last months.

In July, I wrote this quote from another powerful book, Shrink Yourself, in my journal. “Most people struggling with their weight mention a powerful inner critic – a part of themselves that is always criticizing what they do and how they do it. This voice comes from self-doubt and it comes from not letting yourself be who you truly are.” (I bolded here, but in my journal those words are underlined 3 times!)

In November as I recorded thoughts on what I wanted to receive from some upcoming business coaching sessions, I said, among other things, “I want to feel my own enoughness.”  (I never noticed how often I underline in my journal.)

So as I launch into cultivating authenticity and letting go of what people think, I am deeply aware that my most oppressive measuring stick is not, and never has been, one set up by other people (as much as I want to blame them for it.) The person I most have to start letting go of what they think … is me.

I had a chance to practice that letting go today as I tackled cleaning out my closet. Tired of not being able to find what I wanted, I pulled out every single piece of clothing and started sorting. Now one of the reasons this closet disaster has been so frustrating is that I have been struggling to find clothes in there that I really want to wear. Over the last several months I have gained about 15 pounds. (I almost wrote that I have “inexplicably gained 15 pounds,” but I am certain it’s due to poor eating choices and being a slug.) So thinking about the extra weight and dealing with clothes typically would put me in a place of calling myself all kinds of names that if I wrote them here would certainly be authentic, but not appropriate. But today, thinking about being real and how being real means not being perfect, I simply reshelved in the closet only the clothes that currently fit me, then I put others in tubs sorted seasonally and said with each piece, “I really look forward to wearing that this spring/summer/fall.”

Authenticity says it’s OK to feel disappointed with the extra pounds, but NOT to feel ashamed. It happened. I can’t change that. But I can change what I do now. Being real means forgiving myself for imperfection. One bloody goof-up at a time.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19)

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