Phone call with my friend Sharon last Friday at work:
Sharon: "What are you doing this weekend?"
Me: "Um. Let's see...Tonight I have a Christmas Party. My neighbor and her "original founder of Yahoo" boyfriend are throwing a big holiday event in Cupertino. I'm going to go home and shoehorn myself into my outlet center sparkly party dress that makes my ass look like a bag of hammers, drive down to Cupertino in my 2000 Toyota Sienna, then load up on baked brie en croute while making small talk with 48-year-old women who look like Victoria's Secret models. What are you doing?
Sharon: "Nothing that fun..."
While driving home from work, I prayed. "Help me to be less jealous. More grateful. Less fearful. More accepting. Less judgemental. More loving."
I angsted about that party all week. Perseverated, really. I had vividly imagined two hours of feeling undereducated, underyoga-ed and underdressed in my On Fifth frock. Instead? I had a lovely night. The invitees and the host/hostess were interesting, interested, gracious, kind.
The next day, Saturday, I was at a church (listening to the SF Boys Choir), and pulled the hymnal from the pew pocket to see if I remembered any hymns from my youth. Being the true adolescent I am, I asked God to give me a message. Then I randomly cracked open the book. Landed on Psalm 51.
Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure; wash me, make me whiter than snow.
Let me hear sounds of joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Turn away your face from my sins; blot out all my guilt.
A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit.
Do not drive me from your presence, nor take from me your holy spirit.
Restore my joy in your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit.
I will teach the wicked your ways, that sinners may return to you.
Rescue me from death, God, my saving God, that my tongue may praise your healing power.
Lord, open my lips; my mouth will proclaim your praise.
For you do not desire sacrifice; a burnt offering you would not accept.
My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit; God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart.
Not sure what hyssop is, but the rest really resonates. In the five years since my mastectomy and resulting hysterectomy, I've gained 25 pounds. This fact has filled me with self-pity, anger, jealousy and, ok, hatred.
But a simple prayer twice released me, if only momentarily, from these unattractive character traits. The goal? It no longer is to get thinner, prettier, fitter, smarter, wittier, although I would not turn those things down if given. The goal is gratitude and acceptance in the face of imperfection.