This weekend, I took my daughter shopping. My sweet and sassy 9 year old, was desperately seeking a pair of overalls. The 90s are back in full effect! (Scrunchies – I can’t even!) So, we grabbed a few things and headed to the dressing room. She tried on the overalls and a t-shirt first and unabashedly exclaimed, “Wow! I look SO cute in this! I love it, Mommy!” She continued on like that as she tried on the other things. “This looks SO GOOD on me!” I mean, loudly! So authentically! Part of me was thinking, “Ok, clearly we need to work on humility here.” I mean if a grown woman was saying that in the dressing room, we’d all have eye rolls galore (and probably peek out to see who this self-proclaimed awesomeness was in all her glory).
Then, it occurred to me that it was really beautiful and inspiring, how she talks about herself, how she sees herself. I joined right in and agreed enthusiastically, “You are gorgeous, baby girl! You’re rocking those overalls!” Sadly, I know that life will come along and tear down that confidence… body image issues will likely arise as she gets older, kids will find things to tease about, social media will creep in to steal her self esteem. I hope for her to go into adolescence with a mindset and armor as strong as possible. I want to protect this innate confidence she has built.
Part of the reason she has the self-concept she does is out of my fear of her having the self-esteem issues I deal with. So, I do my best to fill her up with positive vibes. For Valentine’s Day for the past 2 years, I’ve put up notes on her bathroom mirror as reminders of how special she is. (Stole it from FB – loved the concept) She loved it so much that she refused to take it down and even requested it again this year! This is something we could all use, right? How hard would this be to do for ourselves? Could we fill up a mirror?
It breaks my heart to hear people I love struggling with self-esteem, body image, and comparisons to others. These people are absolutely unarguably attractive and so much more than their good looks. But, we only see what we see. I struggle with the same… the weight that’s shown up since I turned 40, the cellulite that never goes away (training for a marathon doesn’t even touch it), the shape of my nose, the way I look in pictures… I could go on. It’s rare that I get relief from myself… I would never talk to anyone the way I talk to myself!
Why is that? Why is it so easy to see the beauty in others, even to the point of envy, but we can’t see it in ourselves. We can’t see ourselves the way God sees us.
The messages that replay in my mind are not kind. Honestly, most come from people who have no business occupying so much of my mindspace… But there they are, over and over again. I shared that in a therapy session some time ago. It made me sad but was so normal to me, all I’d ever known. My therapist asked me, “who’s the voice that stands up for you?” I began to weep and realized I didn’t have one. That was a lifechanging question for me and hit the core of my heart. I realized I need to let God, and the people He works through, be that voice for me. To open up to hearing Him.
My dear friend has reminded me that someone needs to earn the privilege of giving feedback in my life. It’s something I had allowed to happen freely with the wrong people. I would then take it upon myself to play it over and over until it became my truth. It’s not been until fairly recently that I’ve come to realize the lies that ruled my life… The distorted thinking that stole my joy.
I’ve heard it said that the enemy knows just how to attack us in the ways that sting the most. He cracks that whip again and again, until we are raw. But, eventually, we lash ourselves so effectively that we learn to hold our own whip, allowing him to step away and move on to the next soul to steal. Let’s set down that whip… enough is enough. We deserve better.
I’m a work in progress in this area of my life. I’ve made improvements, but it’s not a natural path for me to take yet. I notice the negativity more now, instead of it playing constantly in the background. When I pick up on it, I try to determine if it’s truthful or not. Is it consistent with how God sees me? Turning down the volume on the noise is a huge lesson for me. I pray that we can find peace in the quiet.