“Love the skin you’re in!” “Be yourself, everyone else is taken!” “Be your own reason to smile!” “Love yourself!” These are quotes I have heard all my life and have always hoped to achieve…I am sad to report, after 44 years, I don’t think I have gotten there…but…I’m not giving up!
I know that my terrible relationship with myself over the years has hurt many people. I know that it hurt my parents as I was growing up. I know that it affected all my relationships throughout high school and college because I never felt comfortable being myself, so I was whoever anyone wanted me to be. As I got older, I became better at not wearing masks and pleasing others, but I still didn’t care for myself much at all. When I met my husband, he loved me, flaws and all…but I never felt like I was good enough for him. I know I have hurt him more than once by my self-loathing behaviors. Then I had children and they watch your every move so when my girls started to make comments about themselves that I have made, my behaviors came full circle and began to hurt me too. This was the motivation that I needed…I couldn’t let my girls not love themselves and thus, I needed to be a better example.
This challenge of learning to love me has been the hardest thing I have ever done, and I’ve had three children, adopted two children from China (one I’m on a almost 3 year wait for) and had more surgeries on my body than anybody should ever have to have. Yet, loving me has been more difficult than all the above things combined! I look in the mirror and see an image of a person that my grade school and high school classmates placed upon me. I had classmates who called me “Chicken legs”, “Lard butt”, “fatty”, and on and on and on! This is the image that is engrained in my mind and try as I may, I still can’t shake that image of how the world saw me. Sadly, kids haven’t changed, and they still use words that cut like a knife and leave scars in people’s hearts for life. I remember when my oldest child was a first grader, a classmate called her fat, and I almost flipped my lid. Her heart was broken, and my mama llama instinct kicked in and I wanted to kick that kid in the face. I pray she has long forgotten that moment, but even 8 years later when I see that kid, I still want to kick him in the face. Why? Because he LIED to my child, and I know how easy it is to believe those lies!!!
What is the truth? The truth is that God created me, and God created you…in His image and likeness!! Thus, we are beautiful, because we are God’s! The world somehow has decided what beauty should be defined as, but God holds the only TRUE authority on beauty! He did not create all of us to be 5’2” and 125-pound females or 6’ males weighing 200 pounds with tons of amazing muscles. He made each of us unique, each of us representing something about Him to the world around us.
Why then is it so hard to let go of what society defines beauty as, and instead accept what God defines beauty to be? I wish I had the answer to that age-old question because that answer would definitely heal many hearts…mine included! However, this doesn’t mean we stop searching for that answer and working each day to accept God’s definition!
What I have been doing may not work for everybody, but I thought I would share some of my practices. I have tried the positive affirmations on my mirror or looking into the mirror and saying I am beautiful. I have written on my scale that it’s just a number…none of this has worked for me. I knew I needed to get myself out of the way…I needed to let God be in control of the LARGE mess I had made of myself. So…each morning I take several moments to thank God for creating me…for allowing me to be part of His glory. I then ask God to help me to see myself with His eyes, not my own, for I know my eyes are broken when it comes to seeing me. I ask some of our smallest and most humble saints to pray for me. St. Therese, St. Rose of Lima, St. Catherine of Sienna to name a few. I then pray the litany of trust and typically get stuck on that second line…From the fear that I am unlovable…deliver me Jesus.
This is an ongoing process with me. I would not say that I have succeeded in loving myself for who God created me to be, but because of the grace of God I am a lot further along than I was last year at this time and next year at this time I hope to be even further along. This ability to love myself is a journey…some days will be better than others, but I know that the next day will always be a new start! I can start the next day pleading…From the fear that I am unlovable…Deliver me Jesus!