Raising the Bar

If there’s on Olympic event that is simultaneously the most mesmerizing, and yet the most head-scrating thing ever, it’s…pole vaulting.

No, not rhythmic gymnastics. Although, that’s a close second.

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Pole vaulting. I mean, I’d like to meet the guy who invented that event! Like, Okay, I’m going to willing catapult my body through the air, over a ridiculously high bar, using a freakishly long pole that I pray to God doesn’t snap in half midair.

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Yeahhh…He was a real thinker…

But all jokes aside, watching the pole vault, I feel oddly connected to those high flying athletes. But maybe not in the way you’re thinking.

I had been tossing around the idea of doing an Olympic-themed post, but all the angles seemed so cliche: Running the race with perseverance a la Hebrews. Snore. Training like an Olympian for Heaven. Overdone. My mind kept finding it’s way back to … the pole vault.

Back in my earlier posts, I talked a lot about how perfectionism played a big role in my development of anorexia in high school.

You see, growing up in a family of over-achievers, excellence was kind of…not expected, but juuuust…kind of the end goal.

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Let me just pause to interject that I never felt this pressure from my parents. They just wanted me to enjoy my childhood and be a well rounded kid. I put that expectation on myself.

Not to be…whatever…but I did have kind of an affinity for success. Especially in the acting realm. I won a regional Emmy Award for the lead role in a television pilot at the age of seven, just as an example.

But growing up, I really put the pressure on myself to be perfect – with grades, clothes, appearance, achievements, sports, drama…I kept setting the bar higher and higher and higher. It was addictive. Intoxicating. It was suffocating.

So watching those pole vaulters literally throwing themselves up in the air, striving for this completely and obscenely high bar — I could strangely relate.

And, to be completely honest, the anorexia was my way of getting out of this pattern of achieve achieve achieve. I couldn’t give up, or quit. No way. The anorexia was a way for me to quit by default. It was my big red emergency stop button.

And…after countless therapy sessions at inpatient…I finally began to realize the why behind that.

Why I clung to perfection with a death grip that would make David Blane impressed.

And it was because I was defining my self worth – my value as a human – by what I could achieve. I honestly believed that. To my core.

And looking back now, I can see that that way of thinking, that way of living to always be pushing and striving and achieving and more more more…that’s an ugly stepchild of pride.

Because in doing so, in saying that my value comes from what I can do…that’s in essence discrediting the work and the sacrifice that Jesus made on the Cross. Because truthfully, that is where I get my worth and value.

Not from straight A’s. Not from any award or accolade. Those things have nothing to do with my value.

Because it all comes from Him.

I feel like, if Jesus were a judge at the Olympics, He’d do away with the pole vault all together. He’d be like, Pssh, that is so stupidDon’t you know I permanently got rid of that bar a long time ago? 

But it’s true. He took care of it. He defined our value – He claimed our worth – when He chose the Cross.

So where am I in my battle with perfectionism? Well truthfully, it can still trip me up if I let it. But I am a long long way from where I was in high school.


I continually remind myself that what I do, what I look like, how I dress, etc. none of that has any impact positively or negatively on my self worth. None. So I can stop striving. Stop throwing myself at an impossible standard only to wind up discouraged and exhausted.

I can just rest. Rest in His grace.

So that’s all for tonight. Thanks for all your wonderfully kind and encouraging comments  on my video I released last week on YouTube. Posting that photo from my anorexia was  definitely not something I thought I’d ever do for various reasons, but I really wanted to let you into every aspect of my story, since you’ve played such a big role in it 🙂

I’ve got a lighthearted and fun video coming up probably end of this week, maybe next, that will be a hoot….Feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss it, if that’s your bag, baby 🙂

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Alright, peace and love xox

 

 

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beautybeyondbones

BBB: Because we're all recovering from something. // For speaking/business inquiries: beautybeyondbones@yahoo.com

174 thoughts on “Raising the Bar

  1. I left the comment on YouTube about my bulimia (David). In those days nobody talked about these things. People who were so afflicted suffered in silence. Hoping to see photos and videos of the city.

    1. Hey David! Thank you so much for your comment. Yes, I read that this morning and sent a reply. I was so touched that you shared that and am cheering you on in your recovery. You’re right, it’s true-they suffer in silence. It breaks my heart. Sending big hugs to you friend. I’ll def post some city vids! Hugs and love xox

  2. One of the best books I’ve read in recent times is The Spirituality of Imperfection: Story Telling and the Search for Meaning, by Earnest Kurtz and Katherine Ketcham. It gave me a new perspective on the striving for perfection.

      1. I think you might be blessed by what she has to say. Her primary focus is on vulnerability and shame and she notes how perfectionism kills the former and feeds the latter.

  3. Excellent post! We really got to know you, and what has driven you in the past. I am so glad you now have Jesus as your guide. It’s a remarkable discovery you’ve made, and I have no doubt you will enjoy the journey! Be blessed!

  4. Thanks for sharing this. You didn’t have to, but you did. Your recovery is testament to the faithfulness of God.

  5. “I continually remind myself that what I do, what I look like, how I dress, etc. none of that has any impact positively or negatively on my self worth”….
    You are EXACTLY right. You are You, be proud of it, enjoy it, BE YOU!!!…”Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>

  6. Hmm. Just the pole vault? Somehow I’d think that at any point that it goes beyond play, Jesus would be averse to competition. Everything that we do should be joyful. Joy is the gift that we are given to guide us to love.

    Unfortunately, it seems that the principal reward of the Olympics is to become a little demigod in the minds of the onlookers. That’s a pretty perilous goal to pursue.

    I didn’t spend much time watching this summer, you guess?

    1. Hey Brian, thank you for this perspective. Joy is definitely important and a beautiful gift! Haha yeah. Truth be told, I really only watched the gymnastics events! Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  7. I needed to read that tonight…for reasons too long to say. Once again I am blessed by your wisdom…the wound is where the light shines through!

  8. Yes, I was a perfectionist, too. Still am, but I found this video very inspiring — not the part about maxing out your credit cards , but this … you don’t have to try so hard, and just like yourself.

  9. Thank you for posting about your struggles with perfectionism–you’re not alone in this! I still hate that people can somehow guess that I’m not a perfect human being, lol. But I’m learning to be okay with that.

    1. Hey Jenn, thank you my friend. I’m glad it resonated with you! Yeah I’m trying to let go of that and embrace the mess:) hahha hopee your week is off to a great start! Hugs and love xox

  10. My coach encouraged me to try pole-vaulting back in high school, said it was an easy way to get a medal as there were only one or two people willing to do that. I tried once…and yeah, a LOT can go wrong. Not one of my finer moments. Those men and women have all my respect!

      1. That was an extreme sport before extreme sports existed. I once met an old man on a train who swore he was in some Olympics back in the 20s. Had to go cut his own tree out in some forest, and pay his own way. I don’t give a d@mn if it was true, that man kept me spellbound all the way to Omaha.

  11. “imperfection is a form of freedom” Wow. There is a japanese art that mends broken ceramics with gold, everytime I see it I see myself. Knowing that I have been made more perfect, more together and seemly by the gold of God. God loves working freedom into our brokenness. Thanks for the post

    1. Thanks Chad. That’s such an awesome image. I just recently learned about this pottery as well and it absolutely took my breath away. Powerful stuff. God is good. So glad you stopped by! Hope your week is off to a great start xox

  12. Once again, thank you… while I’ve never developed an eating disorder, I struggle with a lot of the same issues of perfectionism and self-worth, and that’s what I last wrote about. I’m still not sure how to fight this…

    1. Hey Pi, thanks for this reflection. Yeah it’s definitely a common theme that lots of people can relate to. and it’s lingering! Tough to counteract! Cheers to imperfection❤️ Hugs and love xox

  13. Jesus helps us go for gold no matter what we do. We don’t have to be in The Olympics to do it. He gives us our own events to make it happen. You’ve certainly medaled in my book!!! xoxoxoxoxo

  14. We watched the women’s finals (being proud Kiwi’s we had to!) – Eliza McCartney is such a breath of fresh air! Her face as she cleared each bar, then missed the .85…then when she realized she got the bronze. You can tell she’s in it for the joy.

    1. Hi Paula! That’s so awesome:) joy is such a beautiful and contagious thing. And also: fun fact: I just recently learned that a “Kiwi” is someone from New Zealand 🙂 haha thanks for reading! Hope your week is off to a great start! Hugs xox

  15. Hi beauty beyond bones, this is Dottie James from a family of addiction. Your beauty is so far beyond what most people ever realize. I love what you said about pride because pride can blind us so terribly that we don’t even recognize what are blinded against! Only Jesus can take away the blinders and only when we surrender. Thinking of his gift on the cross is the best remedy. Thank you for bringing grace to light. So many are struggling against every day principalities but they can be gone with one word… Christ! Tonight after a recovery meeting I said out loud in the car all the way home, “Bind Satan and loosen Christ over my friends, bind up Satan and loosen Christ over my son who is in jail. Bind Satan and loosen Christ over all the principalities that affect the judge, the district attorney, the public defender and my son’s situation. Bind Satan and loosen Christ over the evil doers and loosen Christ over us all!”

    1. Hey Dottie! Thank you so much for this powerful reflection. Yes, ugh pride is a gross gross thing I still struggle with. And you’re right-Jesus is the only way to combat that. What a powerful prayer. Amen 🙏 thanks for stopping by. Hugs and love xox

  16. I’m always like the 50th one to comment because when I get to my feed your post has already been here for 40 days and 40 nights. I’ve been in the desert with Satan. I’ve always been a late bloomer.

    Beautiful again dear lady. Timeless semantic for a world craving acceptance. Jesus take this heart of mine make it pure and holy Thine. Thou has bled and died for me. I will hence forth live for Thee.

  17. Well, I took advantage of my Patreon membership and LISTENED to your post. It felt cozy, like a fire side chat on the radio. No, I’m not THAT old! Just sayin’.

    But I enjoyed the post. It’s hard to separate what you do from who you are. I have a friend who’s 61, and he still relives his unbelievable, half court, championship-winning, blind jump shot, …from high school. Great guy, but he’s still back there. Love the person God put in your mirror. He does, and He has pretty good taste!

    1. Hey Jeffrey! Oh good! Haha that makes me smile. Maybe I’ll start a little, fire side chat segment:) yeah, I definitely know the type. It’s hard to leave the past-both good and bad-in the past. But you’re so spot on: He does! So we should take a page from His book-quite literally:) have a great night! Hugs and love xox

  18. Beautifully written and beautifully said! God’s been pressing on me to write about identity as well. I love the part where you said we just get to rest in His grace. That’s exactly what it is and nothing else matters!

  19. I know what it feels like to constantly aim for perfection. I still find that difficult as I try to accept that it’s okay to be imperfect. Great read, as always! 💜

      1. In situations that are measured, such as college grades, I have found it useful to set conscious standards. For example, at my school “c” or “b” is enough to pass and satisfy financial aid and degree requirements, depending on the course. An “A” is always 90%, and there’s no higher letter grade (for GPA). Therefore, when I could be “reasonably” sure of a 90% grade, I made myself rest or do something else. When I was doing that well in the course overall and began to worry, I treated the worry rather than work harder on the course. I had a few courses I could not do that well on regardless of effort, such as college math, and for those I made sure I passed and met the requirements. I rewarded myself with extra rest or whatever for those harder efforts.

        I’ve heard and I believe that worrying is praying for something you don’t want.

  20. This post hit home for me.

    I struggle with pride, and I’m a perfectionist. And I do define myself by how much I’ve accomplished.

    The reason I define myself that way is because I was born very premature. Growing up, many times I was told how much of a miracle I am. I know the people who said it had good intentions — they were trying to raise my self-esteem — but this had the good and bad effect of me defining myself by my accomplishments.

    As a Catholic, I believe that I am a child of God that I have value purely because I am created in His image. But, at the same time, when I stand in front of the pearly gates at the end of my life, I don’t want to not have accomplished anything — made a difference in someone’s life, somewhere, at some point.

    I think of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) and the servant who buried the gift his master had given him. I push myself as hard as I can to not be the servant who, for one reason or another, doesn’t make use of the gift he has been given, because I see me surviving my premature birth as a gift and I don’t want to squander that gift by not doing everything I possibly can to be the best person I can be

    This has caused me to be prideful, and to put my faith in things that aren’t God. But, so far, I’ve always, eventually, realized the mistakes I was making and came back to God with a penitent heart.

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Timothy. Yeah, that parable always really made me take a cold hard look at my life too. I think the fact that you are really examining things shows how you really do appreciate your gift of life:) sending big hugs xox

  21. What a great post. Really grounded me and made me think about my own self worth. Reminded me of the “This is my son with whom I am well pleased”. God talking about Jesus–and by the same token, all of us. Hmmm thanks for the post xx

    1. Thank you Sarena:) yes, I love that phrase from scripture as well. It’s so comforting to know and imagine the Father saying that about us:) thanks for reading! Hugs and love xox

  22. Good sharing here about perfectionism and all that other beautiful stuff. You know, I think people really struggle with the need to be loved. As you know, perfect love replaces all fear.

    Looking back over my life, I can see the many faces of fear in me; like pride.

    Communicating with such candor is helping others finding the passage ahead into Christ.

    1. Thank you Roy. Oh yes. The need to be loved. I think at core of every stuffed and fear people have is that very real longing. Thanks for reading and sharing your wonderful insight. Hugs and love xox

  23. Great post! Wonderful insight into the struggle many people are facing…I re-blogged on Take Your Faith With You. God’s peace be with you!

  24. Before reading your post I had a vision of an albino tiger. When I saw your shirt I could hear the Holy Spirit saying, “listen ” in a still small voice.

    1. Oh my gosh what an incredible thing! God works in mysterious way, so I wouldn’t put communicating through graphic T’s past Him! Haha thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox

  25. There is incredible freedom in giving up the reins to God. Realizing He is in control relieves the pressure (wherever it’s coming from) and gets us focused on the things that really matter!

  26. Hey lovely I had to listen to this on your podcast to realise what it was about, I have had a rollacoaster of a few days for me, just in need of some love and encouragement from you again x. I wish we could talk more than we do do on here and social media and email x

    1. Hi Benjamin, oh I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve been having a rough couple days. Know that I’m sending you a big hug and saying an extra prayer for you, my friend! Hope today is better! Xox

  27. Yes this is so right – we are called to persevere (Hebrews 12 v 1) – we win the race by persevering to the end. James 1 v 12 promises the crown to those who stand the test, just like the two athletes who fell and one stopped to help the other complete the race were rewarded we are to persevere and help those who fall get up and complete the race. We don’t have to be first, second whatever – we have to finish

  28. I like reading your blog even more now that I’ve seen your intro video. I can hear you talking in your writing. 🙂 Keep up the great work. You have fans out here.

    1. Aw thank you Phoebe:) hah yeah it’s nice to put a voice with a pen:) I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your encouragement and support. You are a blessing. Hugs and love xox

  29. Thank you for sharing your story; your writing, sense of humor, and insights are lovely! I guess we are all works in progress : ) but you clearly have many gifts as well as a beautiful place, here. Carry on, and happily! ~ Peri

  30. Great post. Lot’s to take in. We sure put unrealistic expectations on ourselves don’t we? We need to be kinder to ourselves, especially as females. So glad you are sharing your journey with others who may need to read it. Nice job.

  31. What a great metaphor! Trying to find our identity by vaulting over whatever standard we have proudly placed upon ourselves, much like the religious leaders of Christ’s day. I really appreciate how you write God’s response, “Don’t you know that I got rid of that bar ages ago?” There is only one standard we should strive for: righteousness. Wonderful reminder that Christ vaulted over it for us, so all we have to do, as you said, is rest in the great gift of His grace. We no longer strive but rest.

    Thanks for liking my post “Excellent Sacrifice” by the way 🙂

  32. Thank you for sharing a very personal and honest story. And you have reached the right conclusion. Your value is in Jesus, for in Him our weaknesses show His strength. And His unending love for us was shown on the cross…

      1. With some determination and help from the Lord, we can make ourselves much better and healthier people, both physically and emotionally.

        Have a super great day,

        Sunshine 🙂

  33. Yes. “I was defining my self worth – my value as a human – by what I could achieve”. That’s me. Trying to get approval and self worth by achieving. Grades. Degrees. Presentations. Articles. All because i have never had any self worth. It’s still a mighty struggle, mighty struggle to my core. I sadly struggle with it and God as well….because you know that the church judges worth by attendance, memorization, tithing, posture, position, conformance…so it still drives me crazy.
    But I keep coming back, and working to let my hands open. And to rest in His.
    cheers sister 🙂

    1. Thanks Jeff. I’m glad this resonated with you. You’re so right – hands and hearts open. That’s the key. Those struggles are definitely real. But give yourself some patience 🙂 one day at a time. hugs xox

  34. Thanks for checking out my post!! And thanks for sharing this story with us, i really related to all the pressure to be “perfect” growing up too, to the point where it drove me crazy with all the standards i had to keep up. Its nice to know someone else has been through something similar 🙂

      1. You’re welcome. You have come a long way Ana and you are inspiring so many in your journey and walk. I am so proud of you and so thankful that you have paid it forward by spreading God’s word, being transparent, sharing your story and impacting others. God bless you!

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