Body Language – My Messy Beautiful

My body fought a war against me for the first 6 weeks after we arrived in Australia. First jetlag then hay fever; knocked down by flu only to recover to incessant sneezing & leaky washers on my eyes. A rash all over my face made the constant meeting of new people arduous, even for an optimistic extrovert. They joke that I’m allergic to Australia or my in-laws, I chuckle a little. Really I think there’s something in the air – it’s just the season.Spring Summer Autumn Winter; the season.

The season of my weary heart, podgy body & hard knock life. I am uncomfortable in my own skin, quite literally. Uncomfortable & a little bit sorry for myself. After slowly ballooning over the last 2 years I have settled at particular roundness, & gratefully bought some new clothes that don’t require strategic wearing to hide the stretching & squeezing, bulging & wearing thin. Perhaps my body is revolting, against what I have let it become.

I am fat. It is nothing & nobody’s fault but my own.

Misery loves company – and carbs in my case. Masks & subterfuge around feelings I play expertly well, except my body will no longer keep my secrets. Youth has perhaps exempted me before, but the ‘get out of discipline free’ card that is your 20’s is no longer in play. Subtlety is no longer the name of its game.

My waistline betrays me for my own good. My body has lead the way that I needed to walk.  Demanding radical encouraging edifying constructive change; no longer letting myself off the hook when I am lazy give in to fear.

In truth, a lot of my procrastination & lethargy is a result of a giant knock to my confidence & self-worth. Something that crept up on me sometime after my premature quarter life crisis, so sneakily that only hindsight has brought it out of the shadows. I have turned a blind eye to the emotional consequences – but my waistline has not been so forgiving.

It may seem like I’m reading too much into this – but trust me on this one. Frankly I don’t know how it’s taken me so long to acknowledge that my muffin tops & back fat are really just my dreams & emotions trying to spew out any way they can. The bloated thighs & is-she-expecting belly are just my swollen heart longing to show itself again, after being stuffed down & dressed up for too long.

Never one to easily engage with my own emotions, trusting my body to show me my heart isn’t actually a new tool – just one I seldom sharpen…


When I am unsure of what people think of me I fiddle with my finger nails. When I’m anxious my stomach growls & gurgles and tells everyone else about it. When I’m stressed my neck seizes up so tight I can’t glance my shoulder let alone check my blind spot. It all seems a bit simplistic – but until I started to learn how to befriend my emotions, this was all I had. It was my way of decoding the minefield that is a woman’s emotions.

So I’m starting to wade through the current symptoms, find clarity in my own mind & define what a way forward could look like – what I want it to look like. Praying & pinning, lunging & list-making are all on the agenda. Having taken a few steps, I am most aware of the million miles more I must go, I don’t think this is one of those mountains that comes to you.


There are a lot of physical things that I could & maybe should DO – I know what they are. And yet as I push out into the deep waters of 2014 I realise that all of my doing is part of the problem. I excel at doing – not so much at being. My body is not trying to tell me that there is something wrong with my body. My body is helping me remember to look at my heart.

As my heart changes, my body changes – I’ve seen it happen before; for better & for worse. As I pry my stiff fingers off of empty things my hope is misplaced in, I’m no longer too exhausted to get off the couch. As I celebrate change & new opportunities, I have instead of lamenting for what once was, I don’t want to stuff quite so much pasta in my face. I remember that GOD is God, & relax into belonging to Him. I stop panicking about what I can do for Him, how I can achieve & succeed & make Him proud… because He already is. All over the house I put up reminders of the hardest day that Jesus had – and how He won me over. Not for work, but for love.

You see I started to ‘fix’ myself again. Make myself LOOK better, without being better. I made a schedule, downloaded training apps & menu planners and tried to make this into something I could do. I have failed at all that more times than the kilograms on my scale. I know that those are all good things, great things that will help me. Before I can do what needs to be done, I need to work out who I will be. I need to know for real that a dodgy bathroom scale & the number in the back of my jeans are not what matters about me.


Sometimes you have to tip the whole thing upside down, let everything unravel, before you can be put back together again. That kind of mess is hard for me. So hard, but so necessary. So, surrounded by other brutiful people & secure with my big God being God, that is what this season looks like. Terrifying & exhilarating and worth every drop of Blood, Sweat, Tears.


messy beautiful

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!


3 thoughts on “Body Language – My Messy Beautiful

  1. Wow, stunning writing Tessa and sorry it has been so hard – really feels like you and A have had the hardest journey the last long while and felt from posts and things as if everything was going amazingly over there but it is really special to be let in like this and given a strong and hard glimpse at what is really going on… and more importantly for you to be able to look deeply at things and see what is real and what needs to be made number one priority and to be able to chase and find that again [and trust all other things will flow from that].

    so really thanks for sharing. I trust that through God’s grace and the love of those around you, you will bounce back well and hard and strong.

    love brett fish

  2. You Tessa Jean are amazing. Too incredible and too fantastic!! I love your writing and your humour over something that is clearly a problem to you. With that strong positive attitude you will get there no matter what and, as you rightly said, God loves you anyhow – however you have to love you 🙂 I love you darling. Much too much.

  3. Tessa you are so brave! I know you thought hard about sharing this and you have been so honest and open. I’m also really proud of you for the growth and change that is already evident 🙂 not that I’m any better, carbs and chocolate are my biggest weaknesses! I’m so privileged to be a part of this journey with you. You are a beautiful friend. Keeping writing and sharing xx

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