In Which I Tell You My Weight… and Talk About Being Both Human and Loved

I preached at a Quaker church on Sunday. Or, in Quaker speak, I brought a message to their meeting.

And here’s the thing: I had it all figured out ahead of time. Everything I’d say. It’s a message I’ve given before and one very close to my heart. My favorite thing to talk about, really, the idea that we exist in the mud and the mess and the muck… and that the magnificent is to be found in this crazy life. We are, all of us, so deeply human; horrible and heroic to our very bone. And we are, all of us, made in the image of God, whom I call Love when the God Concept is too much or too co-opted or too politicized for me to bear.

Made in the image of Love. In the image of the Divine. Imagine! 

So I had it all figured out, this Love message, and this Mess message (MESSage), and this Wild and Weird and Wonky and Wonderful message. 

And then I scrapped it.

All the perfect things I’d planned to say. 

All the nice phrases.

All the pretty bits.

Because I felt overwhelmed, on my drive to West Hills Friends on Sunday, with the conviction that the MESSage was hollow without more of my humanity.

I felt Love whisper, “Tell them who you really are. Tell them.”

And I remembered that part of who I am – the human part – got on the scale that morning for the first time in months and saw the number of my weight… and that I was kind and gentle to myself about it… and also ashamed.

So I thought back at Love, “OK. I’ll tell them part of who I am. I’ll tell them the part about how I couldn’t find the right sunglasses, so I said DAMN IT before getting in the car to come preach God’s Word. But I won’t tell them the part about my weight, because that’s too much. I can’t do it, Love.” 

And Love whispered, “Tell them. Tell them the actual number.”

Sometimes, Love’s a real dick, you guys. Just relentless in pursuit of us, as though Love believes we don’t have to be ashamed. As though Love believes we’re valuable. As though Love wants us to be free.

I cried.

Isn’t that silly? 

I cried in the car on my way to preach God’s Love to my friends.

I cried because I only want to share the parts of my humanity that are funny and cute and already resolved, and I want to hide the parts that are unhealthy until I’m better. Until I’m healed. Until I can say, “Once upon a time I struggled, but now I’m PERFECT.”

But that isn’t what Love is all about. Nor is Love about rejecting the gift that is our humanity, even though we find our flaws troubling.

And so I went to church. And I preached Love. Even to myself. 

If you’d like to hear the rest of the story, this is what I said: 

 

Today, friends, I want you to hear this:

The person you are is a gift. In all of your humanity. Muddy, messy, mucky, magnificent. Imperfect and exactly right. The person you are is a gift. Made in Love’s own image. Pursued relentlessly by Love. And deeply, deeply valuable, exactly as you are.

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
23 comments
  1. […] writes about our family, openly, honestly, and transparently, and she writes about the importance of community and finding the Elusive […]

  2. This, right here, is God’s honest truth:

    I cried because I only want to share the parts of my humanity that are funny and cute and already resolved, and I want to hide the parts that are unhealthy until I’m better. Until I’m healed. Until I can say, “Once upon a time I struggled, but now I’m PERFECT.”

    It’s the trap of looking vulnerable, feeling as though you’ve just been vulnerable, but never actually taking a risk. And I’m so, so glad you fought it and won that Sunday.

    Love to you, friend.

  3. Love this post. Also thought that these scales are good 🙂

    http://voluptuart.com/yay-you-yay-scale-silver-p-998.html

  4. Beth, thank you! Do you have any other audio recordings? I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I’d appreciate being encouraged be your words throughout the day. 🙂

  5. I’m posting the last paragraph of this post in my kids’ rooms. This is something that we all need to know, and remember. Seeing it everyday can’t do anything but help. It brings tears to my eyes with each reading, so I’m sure it’s important. Thanks for your candor and grace.

  6. Beth…I have two things to say,one profound,ont not so much.

    I will start with the profound…one day,when my children were smaller,I was sitting on my sofa telling my mother all the ways that I was a rubbish mother,she turned to me and said this…”you may think that you are a useless mother,but you are the best mother that those children will ever have”….that has sustained me through many moments of self doubt…

    Now for the not so profound…..you sooooooo don’t look your weight…I know that this whole post is so much deeper than that and I did debate mentioning it but I thought if it were me I would so want to hear that!

  7. you, friend, speak my mind. (only you speak it better and more wittily and i just absolutely adore you…)

  8. Beautifully said, made me cry actually….And then laugh, thank you!

  9. […] I listened to Beth Woolsey talk about our Divine Humanity, about our Image Bearer-ness, about how we all have Love and Light […]

  10. Thank you for sharing this!! I loved it, and am so grateful for brave souls like you who share about how it really is. If only we could all be so honest and accepting of the muck and mess and beauty that is our lives, and extend that kind of grace to others as well as ourselves.

  11. Sometimes when I feel tired of reading words on the Internet and I’m almost resolved to stop , I find my way here and you say something like, “Sometimes, Love’s a real dick, you guys…” and I find the will to go on. Thanks.

  12. Brave stuff, i love your fearlessness!

  13. The best sermons are the ones in which we are vulnerable. That vulnerable moment is when people connect with you, because we are, all of us, terrified that we aren’t really lovable. And in that connection, there’s God-Love.

    Miss you, love you, right there with you.

  14. Thank you for interjecting that you remembered your favorite sunglasses, but forgot your bible. Totally me. And thank you for just stopping, and saying it. You give me hope!

  15. That was beautiful, insightful and particularly helpful just now. Thank you for sharing your talk with us.
    My son age almost 6 was two rooms away as I listened but your last “Venus penis” was loud enough for him to hear and he is now running around the house giggling and wildly yelling “Venus penis”. You have made two people’s days!

  16. You’re so awesome!

  17. Both/And.
    Thank you.
    I love the idea that I can be BOTH imperfect AND loved by God.
    What grace.

  18. Brilliant and moving as usual Beth. Thank you. And also, you said PENIS in church.

  19. I really needed to hear this RIGHT NOW. I’m about to go speak somewhere tonight, and I’m feeling anxious with thoughts like, “What if they don’t like me?”, “What if I seem boring?”, “What if they think I’m too fat?” Blah blah blah. God loves and accepts me, period. It’s going to be good because he’s always with me. Thanks so much for the reminder.

    Also, I’ve been reading another blog you might enjoy, Beth. It’s called, “Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary.” She’s very real and funny. I think you should check her out if you haven’t already. Thanks again.

  20. I love this so much; thank you for posting it. I’ve had a crappy few weeks (including a homophobic coworker and living in the only part of Britain not to have any discrimination laws at all) and something you said about the path towards healing just touched a chord and really got to me. I don’t go to church but I would if there was one with people like you in it here :o)

    1. (That was meant to be a smiley face!)

  21. “Sometimes, Love’s a real dick, you guys. Just relentless in pursuit of us, as though Love believes we don’t have to be ashamed. As though Love believes we’re valuable. As though Love wants us to be free.” Yep. So good. I was talking today with a friend how for the past couple of years God has just been shooting me one-liners. “What? Do you think you know more than me?” “How do you think that’s going to work out for you?” “Worry about yourself.” You know, smart stuff like that. That guy.

    Loved your preaching. Also, my humanity weighs thirty pounds more than your humanity. We’re both beautiful, huh?

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