You can see it in their faces. You can see it in the way they excitedly drag their luggage, you can feel it in the extra bounce in their steps, you can hear it in their high-pitched voices. All the students are preparing to return home for the winter break, and they just cannot wait to be back home.
But I have a confession. I’m not looking forward to going back home at all. In fact, at one point…I was dreading it.
Don’t get me wrong—I can’t wait to see my family, my friends, my dear church members…But at the same time, I don’t want to be seen by them. Because I’ll no longer just be Sophia Lee, college student. I’ll be Sophia Lee, the Anorexic pastor’s daughter.
It’s tough being a pastor’s kid. You’re always on the pedestal. Inevitably, the pastor (my dad) will mention me in his sermons, which will then be downloaded into the internet and spread worldwide. Inevitably, people will be staring at me, observing me and noticing whatever weight I have gained, whatever I’m eating, etc. Inevitably, there will be people coming up to me to tell me they are “praying against the devil within” me. Inevitably, I will feel like I’m still an Anorexic.
I guess I can’t blame them. It is normal that people would expect certain things out of a pastor’s daughter, particularly great pastor like my dad. And in truth, these people in church have been absolute angels. Except for a few individuals who used me to attack my dad, they have been praying for me and encouraging me all throughout my four years of struggling with this vicious disease.
But that’s precisely the point…I always get this nagging feeling that they’re expecting something from me. Their love and attention on me feels like wet cement dripping on my shoulders. The more they shower attention on me, the more that cement molds itself around me, and as it dries, imprisons me into a statue of clay. I feel like I have to conform myself to whatever they expect me to be. And oh, dear God, I feel so damn stifled!
At least, this is what I’ve been telling God all week. I have no one else to turn to, and He’s the only one who truly understands. So I’ve been bitching and moaning about all the pressures “they” are putting on me. And then, God shut me up by asking me a simple question: “Who is this they you keep mentioning?”
Hm. Good question. Who is “they”?
Honestly, I can’t pinpoint one person who makes me feel this way. When I think about each individual, all I can remember is the exact details of how much they cared for me.
And that’s when I realized— that “they”? It’s me. I’m the one who is confining and oppressing myself. I’m the one who’s working myself up with anxiety and stress. I’m the one who keeps feeling like I should do this, I should do that.
Social pressures? It’s really all from the inside. It’s all about the point of view, and a sense of belonging.
I guess I’ve never really felt like I belonged there. In my eyes, I was the sick patient, and they were the ones who looked at me with pity. I was the odd one out, the emaciated girl who looked like a monster. And I certainly felt like a monster. I was incredibly insecure, and these insecurities fed on every single action and speech that others made by twisting them into a skewed perception.
Well, it’s time to break that cycle of insecurities and negative perceptions. I refuse to go back home with my head bowed low and my eyes shifting around suspiciously, almost actively seeking out things that will prove my insecurities right.
No, I’m going to smile. I’m going to laugh. I’m going to exude confidence. Of course, as a pastor’s daughter with a rather scandalous past, I won’t be able to entirely avoid the gaze of others, but you know what? I’ll just show myself off as a living testimony of God’s grace. Look at me, everybody! Look what God did for me! I may be weak and flawed, but God deemed me worthy enough to heal me! If I have to endure a bit of unwanted attention to manifest God’s amazing power and love, so be it!
And honestly—I think I better get used to that attention, because I am pretty freaking amazing like that.
I mean, my brain just astounds me how brilliant it is! I’ve been trying to use up all the bits and scraps leftover in my fridge and pantry before I left town, and boy I came up with some pretty darn good creations!
So indulge me and pretend this is the best creation ever:
Sweet Potatoes Stewed in Coconut Milk and Peanut Butter
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 1 big-ass sweet potato, chopped into 1-inch chunks
- about 1 cup coconut milk, maybe more
- 2 spoonfuls crunchy peanut butter
- balsamic vinegar (about 1 tablespoon?)
- lime juice (optional)
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- pinch garam marsala
- salt and pepper
- handful raisins
- 2 slices provolone cheese, diced
In a pot, fry up the garlic and onion, until fragrant and slightly softened. Toss in the sweet potato. Stir to mix, then pour in the coconut milk with all the rest of the ingredients except the raisins and cheese.
Bring the mixture to a boil, and then cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the sweet potato is cooked through and the sauce is reduced. Stir in the raisins.
Transfer the stewed sweet potato into a dish, and top with provolone cheese. Serve!
I admit, it’s rather monotone in color. I would have added some sprinkle of chopped green onions, but I had none. Spinach would also have been nice, but I also had none of that.
Still, the taste was incredible. I mean, you’ve got it all…sweet potatoes, coconut milk, and peanut butter. You never would have thought so, but the combination works. It freaking works!
How should I describe the taste? It’s rich. It’s sensuous. It’s sweet, yet nutty and spicy at the same time. The only alteration I’ll make for next time is adding a squeeze of lime juice. It just needed a bit more acid in there.
And I loved the crunchy peanut butter in there, which added bits of chopped peanuts. I suppose you can add your own.
And ooey, gooey cheese. Mmm. I almost put an egg on top, but I used the egg for another dish (recipe to come!).
All hail to Sophia, Queen of Crazy Dishes!
I think I’ve done enough self-praising. Now it’s your turn. Haha, just kidding! But you know what? It feels nice to be able to let loose a little, and even poke fun at myself. I take myself too seriously sometimes!
Anyway. In about 12 hours, I’ll be flying back home to Virginia…See you in the East Coast!
Question of the day: Do you feel any social pressures, especially during this holiday season? How do you overcome that?