The other night as I was taking off my makeup, unconsciously sizing up myself in the mirror, my mind wandered on a memory from my childhood.
There was this play we performed in 4th grade. Well, it was us and the 5th graders, maybe 6th grade too… I can’t fully remember. Anyway, there were few solo parts and I had the wonderful opportunity of being one of those. I had A line in the skit, but it was MY line. I was so proud of myself. I don’t remember how I got the part; I may have raised my hand for it or just picked randomly, but honestly, that’s not important. I was chosen. I stood out.
But then a few days before the big event, my stepmom made this dinner. I won’t get into the details of the ridiculous rule my parents had for meal time, but I will tell you that I hated the food she made. Baking she did amazing job. Cooking… I don’t know who taught her. Anyway, this spaghetti had tomatos for sauce. Not saucy sauce… TOMATOS. Yuck. Anyway, I couldn’t stomach them down, so a couple hours of me at the table left me with tomato leftovers for the next day and a revokion (my punishment) of my part in this play; the part I was so proud of. The part I practiced time and again so I could say it just right.
Instead of basking in glory behind that mic, I had to watch from the stands as someone else quoted (horribly) my line, “I think his tie’s too tight.” as my partner replied, “Yeah, it’s cutting off the circulation to his brain.”
Tears filled my eyes as I remembered the helplessness I felt that night trying to gag down these tomatos that were definitely NOT sauce. I also remembered the embarrassment and humiliation I felt as I sat in the stands, feeling all eyes on me, as if they knew that girl saying that line should actually have been me.
I became overwhelmed with discouragement and hatred for myself as this memory opened the doors for other events that embarrassed me to flood my mind. “Salena, I don’t like you.” “Salena. Focus.” “Salena, you need to do this faster.” “Salena, what are you doing?” And so on and so forth. They were all memories that honestly weren’t that big of a deal, but they were memories that played over and over again in my mind, paralyzing and suffocating me.
Not wanting to alarm my friends, but needing to vent, I posted on the one social media most of my friends don’t use: Twitter.
“How do you learn to love yourself?” I asked.
I got one reply from a random follower: “Look into the mirror.”
At first I was like, “Oh, good point!” But then I realized I had been looking in the mirror; I didn’t like what I saw. I almost felt like I couldn’t.
I can’t be the only one who feels this way. Actually I know I’m not.
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? A confident, beautiful woman? A woman with a calling, a purpose for her life? A woman with God on her side who can conquer any mountain faced her way? Or, like me, do you see more negatives than positives? A woman who needs to be fixed. A woman who is worthless, ugly, and unwanted? A woman who could never amount to anything? A woman who needs to lose weight, gain weight, get a boob reduction, get a boob job, get clearer skin, get rid of stretch marks, to wax everywhere, to wear more make up because no one would or could like that face. The list could go ON. And on and on and on.
Why do we women dwell on a thought, reliving it over and over again, punishing and humiliating ourselves more and more? It’s worse when you have ADD too, as my counselor pointed out (thankfully). My mind will NOT turn off. It drives me crazy! I kinda wish we were like guys. You know, the guys and their “nothing” box they utilize where they think about absolutely… nothing?
I wrote this question down on a sheet of paper, hoping my seeing it in 3D would open doors for epiphanies and eventual healing. I am determined to get behind the reason we’re like this and change my perspective of myself so I can help you too. Most of my answers came from lessons I learned through counseling. The rest I tried thinking about just using common sense.
The main reason I found is shame. One of the definitions of shame says, “A condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute.” I’ve also heard somewhere that shame is the identity that you are a failure, but guilt is the feeling you get after messing up.
We become ashamed of ourselves in many different ways: through abuse, bullying, hard life circumstances, continual “failures,” and… I’m sure there’s others I can’t think of. One of the main ways shame came to consume my life was through verbal abuse from my stepmom. She told me things about myself that ultimately were lies but I saw as truth, especially since life and others didn’t prove to me the opposite.
When you hear something long enough about yourself, it eventually becomes truth, especially when no one defends you or shows you differently. I lived through 7 years of this from the age of 8 to 15. So many of you have experienced this kind of mistreatment longer, especially if you encounter abuse through your own parents, siblings, or classmates. Whether it’s a day, month, year, or multiple years or decades, when we choose to allow these lies to become our identity, we begin to hate ourselves, especially since most of what gets talked about or pointed out involves our mistakes and/or flaws.
I know for some, a hardened heart results from this pain. We find whatever way we can to cope, which sadly usually involves unhealthy decisions, especially if we don’t have guidance or help from anyone in our lives, causing us to shut off whatever is getting hurt inside of us so we can just get through one day.
I was meeting with my brother and his mentor tonight and his mentor mentioned in our conversation a point that instantly made me think of this post. I have been trying to heal, especially my mindset and self-abuse, but I feel like I’m getting nowhere. He told me this: what we input into our brain about ourselves affects our thoughts. These thoughts affect our words, which affects our actions. These actions then lead to habits we form, which define our character. Our character determines our lifestyle which ultimately affects our destiny.
So here I am at the mirror, tears in eyes as my heart breaks for the pain from the past and the pain of self-hatred that dares to try and come back to destroy my present and future. I have a choice to make: do I choose to believe these lies, or do I choose to change my mindset about myself so I ultimately change my future?
Sadly, I tend to choose the first option. But I want to start picking the last… which unfortunately takes time and I’m not the most patient person.
I know I am going to have hard days, as almost every day has proven, but I need to make a conscious choice to believe the truth about myself so I can start speaking that over my life and begin to act like it… and you know the rest. And honestly, where best to start to learn the TRUTH of who you TRULY are then God’s Word? God is the ONLY one who loves you with unconditional love. Yes, it’s great when people here on earth love you, but they’re not perfect and will ultimately let you down. God is always faithful even if we aren’t. And in God there is no lie. So when He tells you that He loves you and that you are His masterpiece, there is absolute, 100% truth in that statement.
I looked up different Bible passages so when I am feeling discouraged and need of a reminder of my worth, I have tangible evidence that proves these lies from my past are actually lies and not truth. AND that even if the guy I have a crush on doesn’t like me, I am still desirable. And even if my boss seems to be mad at me, I am still loved. Even if I wasn’t able to take a shower, smell funny, or look like I got hit by a train, I am still wanted.
Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”
Psalm 139:13-14 (over-quoted, but truth): “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank You for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous– how well I know it.”
Isaiah 62:4-5, 12 : “Never again will you be called, ‘The Forsaken City’ or ‘The Desolate Land.’ Your new name will be, ‘The City of Gods Delight’ and ‘The Bride of God,’ for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as His bride. Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem, just as a young man commits himself to his bride. Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride. … They will be called ‘The Holy People’ and ‘The People Redeemed by the Lord.’ And Jerusalem will be known as ‘The Desirable Place’ and ‘The City No Longer Forsaken.'”
Isaiah 43:1b-2, 4 : “‘Do not be afraid, for I am randsomed you. I have called you by name; you are Mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. … Others were given in exhange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to Me. You are honored, and I love you.'”
Isaiah 46:4 : “I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along and save you.”
Hosea 2:23 : “At that time I will plant of crop of Israelites and raise them for Myself. I will show love to those called, ‘Not Loved.’ And to those I called, ‘Not My people,’ I will say, ‘Now you are My people.’ And they will reply, ‘You are our God.'”
Hosea 14:4-5 (perfect image of what God’s love does to us): “The LORD says, ‘Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; My love will know no bounds, for My anger will be gone forever. I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven. Israel will blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the cedars in Lebanon.'”
For those who believe they are nothing, 1 Peter 2:9-10 : “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a resul, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light. ‘Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.'”
(There are so many other verses. I’m going to stop here before I post the rest of the Bible…)
It’s going to take TIME (ugh), but one day, we will be able to look back and see all that God has done for us just because of our desire to change and be the confident women He has called and equipped us to be. Let us proudly claim, “I belong to the LORD” (Isaiah 44:5) and believe it.
Please, if you have any different ways you have learned to love yourself, share it in the comments. What I have shared isn’t a fix-all. I’m honestly probably not that qualified to even be writing this. But I know the truth sets us free, so whatever way you have learned the truth about yourself, learned to love yourself, and learned to believe in yourself… Please share. I’d love to hear it.
Have a blessed day,
Woman of Purity~