I remember when I was 22. It feels ridiculously too recent. Surely 10 years have not flown by! It’s just not possible. I am still as youthful, relevant, and spunky as ever right? Sometimes I feel that way. Other days my mortality and decay is spreading like a crack on a windshield. In fact, I feel like I remember the moment when the metaphorical rock hit my windshield.
I was 29 and all kinds of major life changing events were happening. I mean MAJOR. The year I turned 30 was the most stressful year of my life. It was like driving through a hail storm and then… CRACK! Suddenly I noticed a wrinkle which slowly became more wrinkles, some saggy skin, strange hairs, and grey hairs. I analyze every detail as though the world is watching and the headlines in tomorrow’s newspaper will be announcing that Natalie Busch is old.
Then I sit behind a 90 year old woman in church who is hunched over so badly her face is pointed to the ground and she is forced to strain her neck to keep from staring at her feet. Her hands are curled up tightly in her lap. Her skin is soft and translucent as if it is fading into oblivion. She is wheeled into the sanctuary every Sunday where she praises the Lord with all that is left in her. As her body turns inward into itself her soul turns upward and outward. She is so peaceful. In the moments that I observe and admire her I realize how silly I have been for thinking that at 32 years of age I am old!
Tomorrow is my birthday and it has finally occurred to me that if I can’t be content now, then I never will.
I spent far too many years wounded and insecure. I used to hate myself. I don’t know if you would say I had an eating disorder. If I did I wasn’t very good at it because the more I hated my body the more weight I gained. I definitely had body image issues though. I would do crash diets left and right. I tried every kind of exercise regimen under the sun and I even reverted to pills. When I didn’t see the results I was looking for I would binge and eat in secret. I was truly depressed. It wasn’t just a little slump. It was the pit of despair. I felt hideous and unwanted.
10 years ago I was so desperate to change, I remember coming up with a slogan around my birthday. It was “A Better Me at 23”. Mind you, this didn’t mean a more selfless me, or a more spirit led me. No, that would be great if that was what I meant by better, but the reality was it was another big diet plan. This called for another round of “Before” photos. I was determined that my 23rd year would be the year I would change! And did I?
No. I did not, because my heart and my mindset stayed the same and I refused to address what was going on inside of me.
I was a server at Macaroni Grill at the time and one day my manager came up to me and said “These guys asked for our prettiest waitress and I want to hurry up and get that two top bussed so I can put them in your section. You’re okay with one more table?” He was dead serious. The sad thing is I wasn’t flattered. I didn’t flip my hair and think Oh boy, big tippers. Right this way gentlemen. I wasn’t disgusted and thinking I am not waiting on those sexists morons. What do they think this is Hooters?
No. I didn’t think any of that. I thought Oh no. They are going to be disappointed. They wanted to have the prettiest waitress and all they get is me.
I have never told anyone that story before so this takes a lot for me to admit. It’s embarrassing and sad. Everything about that story is what is wrong with our women in our society today 1.) That I would think that I owed these men something as a woman and 2.) That who I was wasn’t enough.
I have no idea what those men’s intentions were. They were elderly business men and honestly I think they were just being goofy and playful. This isn’t about the men. The point is that I had bought into the lies about who I really am!
The Lord has delivered me from so much since then. I can’t even begin to express how much freedom I have experienced in the past ten years. I still struggle though. I think most women do. That insecurity will rear it’s ugly head like a bottle of whiskey calling out to an alcoholic. Having the physical evidence of aging has not been easy for me. It makes me want to revert back to that depressed lost 22 year old that hated how she looked and worked hard to change her outward appearance, but I know better now. In my own strength I am definitely weak, but through Christ I am whole. And although it might sound cliche like a pop song or Dove commercial, I am beautiful just as I am.
It’s been Ten years since I made the “better me at 23” declaration. I’ll be 33 tomorrow and this year I have a new slogan.
It’s, “This is me at 33”.
This. Is. Me.