Breeding Hips and a Shot Put Future

I spent most of my adolescent years as “the fat kid.”  I endured the teasing on the playground, accepted  my place in the back row, and conceded my Second Grade teacher’s accusations of eating my lunch faster than all the normal children.    Though my height eventually caught up with my weight, my body image never fully matured. 

I daily struggle with the notion that I am bottom heavy.  By struggle, I mean that I possess a ridiculous fear of anything that requires my feet to go over my head.  I refuse to attempt cartwheels and hand-stands.  You will never see me in crazy yoga poses.    I even cried when my swim instructor certification required me to demonstrate a dive from the blocks.  

I know it sounds crazy, but try to follow my ir-rationale here:  if my bottom half goes above my top half, then I suddenly become top-heavy, and all things top-heavy eventually crash.

My fat kid days have left me a little damaged.  I spent most of my childhood listing all the things I would not and could not do, because I was too big. 

Every day, I defy the dialogue I grew so accustomed to as a child by getting out of bed and heading to the gym.  I lift weights, teach classes, train the most amazing clients.    Every day, I overcome my chubby limitations by hitting the trails and going the distance. 

Yesterday, a real charmer, told me that I am not actually built to run long distance.  His exact words included phrases like: “your hips are too wide,”  “your frame is too big,”  “you are really a heavy runner.” 

I admit there was more to the conversation . . . like context . . . but all I heard was “wide, big, and heavy.”    He might as well have called me Olga and sent me to a Polygamy Ranch.

When he insisted my distance was probably more like an 800 meter race  (I just ran 50 miles on trail two weeks ago and he’s telling me my true capabilities come twice around a track), I flipped my hair and told him that I would take my breeding hips and seek my future in shotput.  He didn’t laugh.

I know the comment came from his coaching credentials and athletic training, he didn’t mean to hurt  my feelings.  I even admit that I don’t have one of those sleek figures like the ladies at the olympics.  I am still angry.  Not because of what he said, but because it made me cry. 

He spoke the truth, having no idea that he spoke directly to an eight year old me.  He hit the nerve of a former fat kid, sending her home to drown her sorrows in diet pills and Biggest Loser reruns (okay, so maybe it was guacamole and Last Comic Standing).  He spoke the truth, but forgot the love.

We all have our truth: ideals learned and experienced, tenants of faith, the substance of our life’s motto.   Our truth daily collides with the people in our lives.  We give advice, answer questions, pass out judgments.  Most of our words find their foundation in what we know.  But those words are often sounding brass.

I think I should speak less based on what I do know, and more based on what I don’t know.  I cannot hear the dialogue in your head.  I cannot see the 8-year-old you once were.   I cannot predict what wound I might open with my words. 

I can cover what I don’t know by adding love to my truth.

If I believe that all things are possible with God, then I can be your cheerleader  . . .  no matter what size your hips are.   If I hold tight to the promise that God has a plan and purpose for everyone, then I can guide you on your journey with complete faith that you will cross the finish line . . . head first and without crashing.  If  I believe that you were fearfully and wonderfully made, then I can replace all judgments with genuine care . . . heavy frame and all.

It is good to speak the truth, but truth should always be tempered to account for what we do not know and cannot see. 

Like my sister said:  run trail, not your mouth.

* I realize my last three blogs have been about communication and the power of words . . . guess God must be trying to teach me something . . . hope y’all don’t mind learning with me.*