September 11. The space shuttle explosion. The death of Michael Jackson. The death of Prince. (Hey, I love music, what can I say?) There are times when we remember exactly where we were when the tragic news broke.
September 1, 1997. Labor Day. I’d turned on the television while helping my six-year old daughter pick up her mess of a bedroom. From Barbie shoes to Polly Pocket pieces, it was a health risk to enter my sweet girl’s room with bare feet, fearing impalement by a minuscule plastic accessory. The night before, I’d just been too physically exhausted to attempt the cleaning of the pink and purple disaster area. I was a working mom who’s brain was drained, nerves were frazzled, and in a marriage so splintered that we could barely hold it together.
And now Tom Brokaw’s words had forced me to sit on my child’s bed and cry quietly. The People’s Princess had died while we Americans had been in our slumber. The news station switched between showing the mangled limousine in Paris to photos of Diana’s glamorous life and her adorable sons. I switched and listened to the newscasters on every channel and still couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Like millions of other women, I’d been an admirer of the Princess of Wales for years. She seemed to have the total package: beauty, elegance, wealth, a perfect family, and the ability to help social issues close to her heart. But now, all I could think of were two little boys in London who had just lost their “mummy.” As I looked at my innocent daughter who asked why I was crying, I mentally told myself to cherish every single second. Picking up Barbie shoes had suddenly become a small blessing.
Over the following days of news coverage, every journalist seemed to relish in the pointing out of Princess Diana’s personal problems: her divorce from Charles, her bouts of anxiety and depression, and her struggle with bulimia. These were only a few of the issues heard repeatedly over the airwaves. Oh, the media just never knew when to stop. Ugh.
Ironically, I’d never heard about Diana’s struggles with bulimia until after her death. If it had been public knowledge previously, perhaps I chose not to listen. I was shocked and dumbfounded when they replayed the infamous interview of her recounting the numerous times she’d locked herself in the bathroom and thrown up. Why would a woman so gorgeous and admired—a PRINCESS adored by the world—willingly force herself to vomit? Why?
But perhaps when the tiara and makeup came off each night, Diana was related to all of us women: exhausted, in need compassion and craving love—all while worrying if her beauty was slowly fading. I hope you sense me raising my hand and saying “guilty as charged.” Perhaps you’re whispering “me too” as well.
I’ve yet to meet another female friend who hasn’t had to confront fears, jump unfathomable hurdles and use all of their ever-lovin’ strength to conquer insecurities of some kind. Every stage of our life seems to present a different challenge. I’ll get back to you on which one is the toughest. It may take a while.
Diana chose to express her feelings of hopelessness by purging food, believing that in some way she could force the emotional pain out of her body. Although I’ve never chosen to rid myself of food in this manner, I can understand why women would perform this harmful act: Anything to alleviate sadness and grief, even if it’s only temporary. Sweet friend, if you suffer from anorexia, bulimia or some other eating disorder, know there are compassionate physicians and health counselors to help you get well. You are a beautiful child of God and may need a little assistance in being reminded of that glorious fact. There’s not a single thing wrong with admitting you’re human and in need of a little help. It’s those sisters-in Christ whom refuse to admit frailty that my heart breaks for the most.
I don’t know a single female that hasn’t tried to to rid herself of emotional distress through a variety of dangerous means. There’s not enough paper to list all of the flaws we unfairly find when we gaze into the mirror. The consequences of such self-doubt can be disastrous, with far-reaching consequences that negatively affect our relationships. It’s also the very reason I felt convicted to write this post.
Much of our anxiety is directly tied to our past. We must rid ourselves of such fretfulness, not to mention the harmful means with which we use to subdue it. We gotta do it, girlfriends. Our sanity depends on it. Again, confronting our hurts and fears is often done best with the help of a pastor or qualified counselor. Make the appointment. Talk to a friend. Don’t be too proud to get help and admit your weaknesses.
One of the biggest issues with which many of us struggle, just as Princess Diana, is our weight. Bear with me as I share a few statistics:
• Over fifty percent of women in America are on a diet of some kind.
• According to data published by the University of Colorado, as of 1990 the average dieting age for girls was 8 years old. That’s down from 14 in 1970.
• Numerous studies indicate that over the course of a woman’s life, she’s on a diet thirty-one years of it.
Reread that: 31 YEARS! For over three decades of our life, most of us have been on a gazillion diets ranging from protein, paleo, high fat, low fat, vegan, Mediterranean, French, all fruit, all veggies, etc. Good gracious, it’s no wonder we’re all exhausted and emotionally sick! Princess Diana simply chose a different path to try and achieve what we all desire: love and approval. Yes, we all have that in common with the People’s Princess. Most importantly, we must turn to healthy ways, not toxic ones, to love ourselves as God loves us. You won’t find satisfaction through inappropriate relationships, harmful diets or in listening to all of the lies that Satan tries to tell you.
For sure it’s not easy and God knows his crazy daughters will slip up over and over again. So get in your quiet place and read Romans. Study Ephesians. Take into your heart Paul’s writings to Timothy. These God-breathed words can deliver us the perfect plan towards a healthy heart and loving spirit. Take comfort in knowing that we all need help in alleviating inappropriate cravings of every variety. Regardless of our insecurities and mistakes, be joyful in knowing that we are royal heirs to God’s kingdom. There’s a word for that, sweet sisters: GRACE. Now go wear your crown proudly.
Just remember, it’s okay if it’s tarnished a bit.
Brightest of Blessings,