Dear Body

By Maddie Young

Dear body,

You are the only tangible thing that has been with me my entire life yet I’ve treated you like complete garbage. For 22 years you’ve embarked on this journey with me, and honestly, I think I’ve put you through far more than you deserved. You’ve become something that holds such deep shame and unworthiness and in my mind I’ve removed myself from you. This is all so beyond my comfort zone.

I can’t help but look at you and instantly feel disgusted. Two of the nastiest words smear across the mirror when I try looking in its reflection. Fat and ugly. Two words that have circled my brain countless times and their power strengthening each year. My face reminds me of a chipmunk whose cheeks are constantly filled and never fully empty. I see two extra neck rolls like sausage busting out of the casing and the stretch marks on my stomach seem to continuously grow. My chest is heavy and when I lay on my back I feel like I’m being suffocated by my own body. There has never been a thing called a thigh gap nor have I been toned and fit. My stomach the least favorite part of my body, I hide behind baggy dark colored clothes in hopes I blend in and remain unnoticed. It’s difficult to accept any sort of compliment let alone try to believe one. Swimsuits have never been on my side and the majority of the time I am the “thicker friend.” Chocolate has held its control and my self discipline is nearly in the negatives. I tend to hide when I eat, in fear that someone will judge. Athleticism does not run in my genes and society tends to fuel my fire of brokenness. You have been violated and abused. I’ve taken advantage of you and hold quite a few battle scars. Honestly I could probably keep going but this is where I draw the line in the sand.

I should be treating you as a friend rather than an enemy. You do not define my worth. I am an heir of the almighty king and need to be acting that way. I was created in HIS image. Not my image. Not society’s image. But His.

Matthew West says it best. “I am no longer defined / by all the wreckage behind / the one who makes all things new / has proven it’s true”

Jesus take off this shame that’s over my life. I am filled with God-given purpose. I am unique and precious. Loved and forgiven. Protected and chosen. Free and whole. Righteous and light. Washed clean and created new. I could go on and on as I dig deeper into His word.

But I was only given one body and it was created to be treated like a temple. I’m sorry for not caring for you like a precious jewel. I promise to work harder in being more mindful in caring for you and living in a season of thanksgiving. My hope is to build a better relationship with you.

I’m going to love you.

Maddie Young

Maddie Young

Appetite for Approval

By Eryn Eddy

What is our appetite for approval? I can’t help but think the continual scrolling, searching, liking, and judging is creating an unhealthy appetite for us.I’m struggling these days with how I view social media and see it evolve. Feels funny to express this because I started my company on social. I started my personal career on social. While I think there are ways companies can do better in how they communicate, what I want to share is my perspective on personal use for social media. I’ve seen unbelievable stories shared. I’ve seen people find life long friends from it. I’ve seen people feel less alone during times they needed some one to express me too, I’ve seen lives transformed by individuals with people who have been so raw and vulnerable online. I have different theories and all of them are conflicting to each other. I would be lying to say I have the answer and my view point is consistent.  

I’ve had this debate with someone close to me. They believe that if everyone shared once a week online we’d be more present in our jobs, families, and friends. We’d be more intentional with what we shared. Instead of sharing pictures of coffee we are drinking, continual posts of selfies, or food we are making, we’d share what we learned from being present. They ask the question, what is being robbed in present time while we review peoples past times online? I completely agree and I can’t argue this. We might have replaced the urgency to share our own life instead of the urgency to be present for others in real time. Why is it that social gets our minute by minute, hourly… daily attention? We lend ourselves for daily inspiration to something that can feel the least authentic. 

Instead of getting to know the wrinkles around someones eyes of years of pain and joy or their messy shirt that has a story for how they got there to meet up with us.. we have been okay with filters and apps that iron out all the details. We have genuine relationships and inspiration in front of us. Maybe I’ve been jaded to find individuals not being honest with the reality of their own life but what they want to paint their life like online. I find myself as well in this hamster wheel of only sharing the highlight reel. However the last few months I’ve had the most beautiful moments. I didn’t capture one photo. I didn’t even want my phone out because I was so thankful for what I was present in. I’ve had moments that I didn’t want to share on social but text or call to share because I wanted the people closest to me to find out what I’m experiencing vs finding out online. In the same respect I wanted to hear what was happening in their world vs finding out online. We are all starving for connection and yet we feel safer to scroll then to sit face to face. 

I’m so thankful to have had the opportunity to be around incredibly successful people. Successful in relationships, intellect, and career. None of their success for impact was based around the foundation of how many images they consumed in an hour. I think our brains have tricked us to subscribe to the metric of success based on how much we are liked for the less than 10% of what online sees.  

So I guess my question to this rant is.. How can you remain present while engaging in other’s past times in the same hour? My other question I’ll ask… What are we avoiding in our life that needs attention as we swoon over an individuals preconceived life? 

Would our food taste better if we were present instead of documenting it and would our friendships feel more connected if we weren’t scrolling in place of picking up the phone to call?

It's Time

By Maddie Young

Dear ED,

For as long as I can remember I’ve been chasing after you. Seeking approval and hiding emotions. You’ve captured me ransom like a cat chasing after a tiny barn mouse or a puppet and it’s master. You the puppeteer and me the vulnerable rag doll. I’ve grown so acclimated to your presence that our souls seem to have merged into one like two young lovebirds reciting nuptials at the intricately decorated altar.

My identity stripped raw like a criminal confiscated from his clothes and presented with an orange jumpsuit. I’m a prisoner in my own body. My self worth drained dry like a cracked desert emptied down to the last drop.

Like any two acquaintances, our relationship has endured its various seasons. At the beginning of high school you and I restricted. Skipping lunch nearly everyday then returning home to lay near the toilet on the ice cold floor afraid I would throw up. I felt miserable and at times this only lead to bingeing. I gorged myself with food like a football player with an endless metabolism. What part of myself thought this was ok or normal?

The second half of high school took a slightly different path like an unexpected thunderstorm on a beautiful summer day. After school I would rush to the gym, ready to run away the stress. Hour one, feet hitting the rubber conveyor belt hard and upbeat, rhythm keeping the tempo. Hour two, metal plates clashing as I pushed harder to leg press or any other weight machine. A strength training class often filled hour two on certain days. Hour three, ridiculous dance moves in Zumba class. Some days I put in two hours, others were filled with three. But for five days a week almost every week this was my routine. I logged my food intake more frequently in this season. The compliments fueled my health craze fire. In a way, this season was addictive, boosting my physical health only to cover up my mental health.

College was a separate season of its own. It wasn’t very common for me to have three real meals a day. Others were spent with constant snacking like a pregnant mother unable to satisfy her hunger. Each day like a mystery eagerly waiting to be unfolded. Chocolate began to be my escape. Stepping into this portal blinding the harshness of my raw reality. An outing would be considered unsuccessful if at least one candy bar wasn’t purchased.

Growing older as the years passed you only intensified like a pounding migraine seizing to loosen control. You’ve embedded fear into my heart as I watched a loved one inject himself with insulin. I become uncomfortable in my skin when I pass obese people on the street. Eating cookie dough didn’t faze me as an unhealthy choice for breakfast. You pushed me after a disoriented representation of beauty and self worth.

I thought picking the skin around my fingernails was awful and considered it self harm but honestly what we’ve done is far worse. I’ve filled my body with extreme toxins and allowed the machine of a body I’ve been given to corrode. Unknowingly and unintentionally I made you an idol and placed you on a golden pedestal. As you became greater, Jesus became less. And that’s not the life I wish to chase after.

It’s way passed time to separate myself from you. You don’t deserve to be my lifeline. There is a whole other life out in this big world that I’m desperately eager to experience but can’t with you weighing me down, like a boat’s anchor welded deep into the ocean’s floor. Just like depression nor anxiety claim my identity, neither do you. You are a part of my story and my journey but by no means are you my soul existence.

Sometimes it’s comforting to walk hand in hand with you but I know you’re not from God. You only started when Adam and Eve sinned but will be destroyed when I completely trust Jesus. You wrap me up in loads of bondage, baggage and chains. It’s going to be a process, but over time Jesus will take one link of those chains off at a time.

It’s time. Time to press into the Truth of who He says I am rather than what the world and the enemy tells me I am or am not.

Maddie Young

Maddie Young

"Me Too"

By Maddie Young

It’s been over two weeks. I’ve been lagging behind my intimate time with Jesus. The infamous purple pen has barely made contact with the inside of my journal. Part of my authenticity has been pushed to the back burner. Most of November smeared together like peanut butter and jelly in between two slices of freshly baked bread and I’m just now taking a quiet moment. I’ve finally secluded myself in the cozy corner of my war room.

Digging deeper into the gunk that has settled into my soul completely unwelcomed, there’s a moment that I unintentionally avoided. Shame and discomfort bubble to my heart’s surface similar to the fizz atop an ice cold soda.

We’ve been friends for nearly a year. I never thought something like this could happen to me. By now one would think I’ve would’ve learned to expect the unexpected but nope, not with this crazy life I live. The more I try to ponder over the situation, I still can’t pinpoint how it actually started.

As the conversations gradually grew the vulgarity heightened. Changing the subject was nearly impossible. I was in complete disbelief. There was no time to process what was going on. Your disgusting talk continued. All you wanted to talk about was sex. I was uncomfortable in my own skin. Is this all guys think about?

You described in detail what you desired to do with me. Vitamin “D” would supposedly cure my stress. The words “friends with benefits” flew around like fireflies with no intended destination. All talk seemed so natural and normal to you. But me, I felt violated and ashamed. If I didn’t tell anyone then maybe it wouldn’t seem like real life. Despite knowing I have a boyfriend you continued to push, asking if I thought I could keep up with your sex drive or concerned that I might formulate feelings for you with how often we would do it.

After a couple days I finally mustered up enough courage to talk to someone. I was scared and felt like I was in the wrong. I think I was also in denial. Through social media and the news I’ve heard the “#metoo stories” but it never fazed me that one day I too would be using those simple words. It took telling three people and their torn up reactions to acknowledge that I was being sexually harassed.

For so many years I’ve taken everyone else’s crap regardless of how it might damage me. I thought this talk was ok because I didn’t do anything to stop it. As scary as it’s been there has also been clarity and growth. It is never ok to talk to a female or anyone for that matter they way you did. I should never think twice about telling someone. There are more people who will love and protect me than I realized. This is just another bump in the road and not a dead end.

I will take this piece and add it to my story like a rugged puzzle piece fitting into a grander picture. I don’t know why this all happened but I trust that Jesus will reveal the plan in His time.

I will be ok.

Maddie Young

Maddie Young