New International Version (NIV)
24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
Photo: Tallulah Gorge Falls , Georgia
Every Monday at work, we have a chaplain who stops by to provide encouragement and some biblical encouragement, if you request it. I enjoy getting his green index cards that have scriptures and reflections on them. Today, it had John 16:24: “Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (NIV).
You can call it what you want, but to me, it was not coincidence that I received this today.
If you are new to my blog, I have written about grief and depression before. In that post, I mention that grief does not equal depression, but for some people, grief does turn into depression. It did me, and with that came years of on-again-and-off-again hell.
Even before my depression really kicked in to overdrive after my mother passed, I had struggled with a poor body image while growing up. I was not ready to step into the womanly figure I had been so “graciously blessed with” when I was 9, and it became very apparent when I looked at other girls’ bodies in my grade that something was up. Their chests were flat while mine was not. I had curves and they did not. It was frustrating, for I was often mocked for my figure and sexually harassed countless times for stupid, pre-pubescent boys.
“Well, that’s just what boys do,” the teachers would tell me any time I tried to report it. No one seemed to see the issue, until I was in 9th grade when a senior touched me. I didn’t even report it to school administration because by that end, I had been told over and over that “that was how boys flirted” and “he didn’t mean any harm”. Let’s just say a loved one hit that senior hard in the face, and guess what? That guy wouldn’t even walk on the same side of the hallway as me.
I am not cheering violence. I am not saying what my loved one did was right or wrong, and it was certainly not what I asked for. It did, however, stopped the harassment for a little while.
Anyway, I always felt like I was a piece of eye candy. I felt my body defined me, especially among males. It was so annoying, and it still is, honestly. (I am not dumb–I see you looking at my chest, but I will just judge your harshly from within and from afar!)
My body image was so drilled into me that it was a problem, an issue, a distraction–it obviously made ME a problem, an issue, a distraction. That’s how I felt. When you consistently feel like a problem, an issue, and a distraction, you start to believe it. It is very hard, but not impossible they say, to break that chain of negative self-talk and thought.
My mother was my cheerleader, and always told me how pretty I was. She told me I could be a model (and let’s face it, many females would probably not mind to be called a model once in their lifetime, even if it is from your mother!). When she died, I lost my cheerleader. I lost the one who encouraged me when the world did not. I lost the one who told me I was beautiful the way I was while the world told me you’re a problem, an issue, and a distraction. All because of something God gave me that I had 0% control over. Why would I ask to look like a woman at 9?
When she died, I realized that was where I put all my joy in and now that she was gone, I had to figure out how to find validation and acceptance from within. Let me tell you…that is so much harder said than done. I have been to therapy for it…many times. It is just something that I cannot and probably will not ever find, even in God’s word. I feel so terrible when I say that! But I am just being honest and real. Some days, it just does not work for me. Other days, like today, it hits a different chord in my soul. Today is one of those days.
Lord, help me to see the goodness of Your word and incorporate it into my life. Amen.
But today, it did make me smile because I realized that I cannot put my need for validation or joy into other people. It is not fair to my husband, my cat, my dogs, my job, my friends, my family–no one can do that for me. However, although I struggle every day with negative self-image, I have faith that it will continue to get better. I just want to be a better version of me. Good things take time.
As Trisha Yearwood sings, “I’m a real, live woman.”
Thought of the day: I think it takes perfect practice to love yourself. Self-love does not come naturally to me. I so, so, so wish it did. Honestly, think about that. You can practice “the right words” all day long, but if you’re not doing it perfectly (“I love myself because I have pretty eyes”), then why bother?