Freshman year at Baylor, my roommate, Betsy and I partied like it was 1999. While some college co-eds celebrated their new-found freedom binge-drinking at George’s, we overdid it at the bar… the cheesecake bar. You could even get cheesecake at Collins Dorm for breakfast. Oh, yeah.
Juxtaposed against the soft serve ice cream machine was the pressure to be Barbie thin. Darn those gorgeous Dallas girls. This drive to be beautiful was enough to make you want to eat a chicken-fried steak.
By November, Betsy was fed up. Staring headlong into the two foot by three foot dorm room mirror, she started flapping the turkey gobbler of her underarm and declared, “Aughhhh! Look at this. I cannot stand this anymore!”
Seeing as though I still had a good dress size on her, I gave her this advice; “Betsy, just don’t LOOK at it!”
“What do you mean don’t LOOK at it?” She asked.
Plainly I answered, “If you don’t look in the mirror, it won’t bother you.” With that, I motioned dramatically to the bottom half of my pear-shape and we burst into laughter.
Breath caught and eyebrow raised, she said, “Seriously, Jin, I can’t stand this anymore.”
Luckily for her, Betsy continued to look in the mirror, observe when she had put on a few pounds and quickly shed them before her Levi’s were too tight to wear to Melody Ranch on Thursday Nights. That is why today, after baring triplets, she looks better than she did when she was 18 while I by and large remain unbothered. I’ve found that sometimes looking away isn’t the greatest strategy.
When loss finds its’ uninvited way under your roof, whether in the form of divorce, illness, natural disaster, job loss or in our case, a child’s death, there is no avoiding it. At once you are faced with accepting your powerlessness to change your circumstances. There is no ignoring the extra place at the dinner table, the daunting task of single parenthood or the bill collector’s harassment. Without a straightforward assessment of the situation, moving forward will be virtually impossible.
Then again, perhaps there is wisdom in selective visioning. I continue to be impacted by the reality that what I focus upon grows. My friend, Karen, told me about how she started every morning during the first year of being divorced thanking God for three things. Many mornings when gratitude was too difficult to muster, she repeated the memorized script; “Thank you, God for my kids, my job and my health.” Though she was devastated, this daily discipline started her off in the right frame of mind.
I do not think that time heals all wounds but it does allow you to learn how to navigate your new life, unwanted as it may be, and realize if you so choose what you still have left. Sometimes the greatest view one can have is away from the mirror of personal loss to the open window of gratitude.