Blog | Lindsey Smallwood

Middle School

Insanity or Bravery?

Lindsey Smallwood

I'm back at Middle Places this week, on New Year's Resolutions and the small bravery of trying again...

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I think it might be brave.

Like so many friends of mine, I’m embracing the new year as a chance to start fresh with goals relating to health and fitness. Throwing out the potato chips. Joining the local gym. Looking for new recipes that feature vegetables instead of carbs. 

You know, the usual.

No, really. The truth is this is my usual. Every few months I find new motivation to make these types of changes. I’ve done it the healthy way – various combinations of Weight Watchers, fitness boot camp, MyFitnessPal and steamed vegetables. I’ve done it the unhealthy way – restricting calories, binging and purging, letting my body become an obsession.

And for good or for bad, these changes last for a while. Until they don’t. Until life gets in the way, and I stop putting in the effort. Until tragedy strikes and I begin turning to food for comfort. Until I find myself once again firmly entrenched in patterns I don’t know how to escape.

In my adult life, the measure on my scale has swung +/- 50 lbs from the weight I know is right for me. I’ve been frighteningly small and embarrassingly large. And lately, after carrying, birthing and nursing two babies in two years, I’m finding my body tired.

Some of that exhaustion is from fetching late night glasses of water for my toddler and early morning singing in the baby’s room. But I think most of my fatigue comes from the fact my habits aren’t supporting my body, which needs better sources of energy than I’ve been giving it and more practice at becoming strong through exercise.

I’m starting again, doing the same thing I’ve done over and over again and expecting different results this time. I’m making another attempt at something I’ve repeatedly failed at doing since puberty.

My mantra is borrowed from an admittedly cheesy inspirational poster I saw years ago: Think about what you want most, not want you want in the moment.

What I want most is to feel strong, energized, to know my body is as healthy as it’s within my power to make it. To appreciate the gift of food and not abuse it. To set a good example for my kids.

Yet it’s easy for me to see all the ways it won’t work this time either.

  • What if I get pregnant again?
  • What about making meals for my husband, who loves carbs and cheese and has the metabolism of a young rabbit?
  • Can I really afford to buy healthier food and pay for a gym membership?
  • Will my resolve remain in the face of book club treats and mom’s brunches and small group pizza parties?

Those questions are real and large and valid. I’m daring to try anyway, knowing I’m responsible for my one wild and precious life, and it’s always worth doing the right thing, even when failure is possible.

It feels scary. Exciting. Brave.


This post originally appeared at Middle Places.

Bad Bangs, Mean Girls & Insecurity

Lindsey Smallwood

I am insecure.

Way more than I'd like to admit. WAY more.

When we get home from parties, I replay social interactions in my head because I'm afraid I might have said something strange or wrong or unintentionally hurtful.

Often I find myself hesitating to initiate conversations because I convince myself that the other person wouldn't want to talk to me.

Sometimes I wonder if my marriage is okay for no reason at all. 

Because I told you, I am insecure.

I can actually pin-point the moment it all started.

Seventh grade. The Earl H. Slaughter Middle School cafeteria. Lunchtime.

My family had moved to Texas a few weeks earlier, after having lived in Alaska my entire life. I had grown up with two parents who loved me, a community that cared about me and a wonderful parcel of lifelong friends. For a twelve-year-old girl, I was remarkably un-self-conscious.

North Dallas was a culture shock. The girls had highlights in their hair, sweaters from The Gap and L.L. Bean backpacks. I had bad bangs, hand-me-downs and hadn't even started shaving my legs yet.

Still, it seemed to go well at first. Kids were nice to me and I made friends.

The culture of seventh grade included a lot of note passing. A LOT. As in we were writing and intricately folding and passing notes all day long. One of the signs of being "in" was to get notes and have someone to give them to.

One day at lunch time I found a note passed between two of my new friends. It was open and I started to read it.

The note was about me.

In it, she made fun of my bangs and bushy eyebrows, my hairy legs and old clothes. She laughed at the fact that I was from Alaska, wrote that I probably "lived in an igloo or something." She called me clueless.

I was devastated.

Just heart broken.

My whole world changed.

It was the first time in my young life that someone was not who I thought they were. And more than that, the first time I'd experienced betrayal. I'd trusted those girl's friendship and they ridiculed me behind my back.

Suddenly every relationship felt suspicious. Did people really like me or were they just pretending? How could I ever know what people really thought of who I am?

A pattern began, a pattern of self-doubt and social anxiety and insecurity.

A pattern of distrust in my relationships that over time was well trod into my heart.

I think that's part of what made discovering new life in Jesus so powerful for me.

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”  Romans 5:1

Peace with God because of Jesus.

Our faith and Christ's sacrifice make us right in God's sight.

I never have to ask God - "Are we okay?" - because Jesus makes us okay. I know God and I are on good terms because Jesus death and resurrection make it so.

When God looks at me, He sees me as righteous and loveable and worthy because Jesus is all of those things. 

I can trust Him completely to love me like He says He does.

And over the years of walking with Jesus, of letting him speak to my hurt and my doubt and my shame, I find that voice of insecurity about my relationships with people around me becoming quieter, easier to ignore.

Being loved can do that, you know?

It can give you confidence, make your hard places soft, change you into a better version of you. Love makes things new.

Thinking about the contents of the note now, it all seems so silly.

If I could go back, I would wrap my arms around my seventh-grade-self, sobbing in the middle school bathroom and tell her how truly small that moment was. I would hold her face in my hands and try to make clear how very little what other people think matters, even though I know now that mean girls exist long after middle school is over.

And I would tell her again about the Friend who sticks closer to a brother,

whose death makes way for life,

REAL life. 

Life at peace with God, with other people, with yourself.

I might also tell her I liked her bangs. 

Friends, are you fighting a battle with insecurity? What gives you confidence? I'd love to hear your stories.