I made a promise to share chapters of the completed book and give you my thoughts. From the posting earlier today titled, ‘Confessions of a Former Vandal’, I may not be as far along with this battle than you would conclude after reading below.
I do, however, daily take hold of the negative thoughts and attempt to replace them with His thoughts of me. I must confess, some days it is a bit tiring and I still find it easier to embrace them. But, with each passing day, I hope to gain momentum and eventually begin to win this lifelong battle.
Observations of Myself
Me Myself and My Thoughts…
Here she is, all put together. Neither a blemish nor wrinkle adorns her face; only a white, toothy smile. I do not know much about this anonymous beauty that is positioned underneath the clear glass of a recently purchased picture frame. She could be anyone. Is she a nurse, teacher; perhaps she is president of a non-profit organization? I wonder, is there a significant other? Does she have children? Many questions about her identity plague my mind. Is she even real? The one thing I know is she looks quite content sitting there. Yet, I am sure that there is more to her than meets the eye.
Perhaps we are not much different from this lady that is displayed underneath the glass. We appear to have our life all together, but behind our glossy mug shot there is much more going on than meets the eye.
Recently, a lifelong battle that was undetected to the naked eye unexpectedly rose to the surface to make an appearance: “I don’t like me very much”. This revelation revealed its ugly head at a retreat in which I was one of the guest speakers.
“You are valuable. You are His treasure. You are a princess.” These sweet phrases spilled from my mouth only hours earlier as I performed a skit reminding ladies to realize how truly special they are.
Yet, I tucked this internal battle of dislike deep into the crevice of my heart, hoping no one would ever notice.
The mantra I have lamented to the Lord over the years has been in one form or another, “Can’t you just fix me”? (Yet, please do it without pain please). He is capable of moving mountains isn’t he?
When I was a little girl I vividly remember the first time I desired a type of “genie” restoration. I was in our garage, working on an idea for a science project at school when I began to push with my hand on my huge and overly crooked overbite in an attempt to move my teeth into the desired place. As much as I struggled to make them budge, they stubbornly sat in the same spot, perched ever so delicately outside of my lips. Oh, how this overcrowded mess in my mouth affected me. There are very few pictures of those younger years with my enormous toothy grin. I all out avoided the front of the camera lens, and the few that did make their way to film, were shortly thereafter destroyed.
This was the first memory I recall being dissatisfied with something about me, and when not receiving the miracle I knew He could give me; becoming quite discouraged.
I look at my teeth now and my smile is no longer a crooked version of Bucky himself, but the transformation came at a cost of losing a couple of teeth that could not remain in the mouth.
As I look back now, oh, how I mourn all the wasted years desiring something on the surface to change all the while my insides rotted away in wasted self-abuse thoughts.
So, let me take you back to the retreat. I am asked to be the entertainment and perform a light-hearted number before the main speaker takes center stage. At this weekend event which is held at a nice hotel, I begin the first scene of a four-part skit. The evening by all account appears to go off without a hitch. People respond with laughter at just the right moments and I spend time talking with a few ladies at the conclusion of the night before my friend and I leave to go to our hotel room. Once the door shuts, my lighthearted appearance quickly unravels.
I sit down on my comfy white comforter and allow the pent up tears pour from my eyes. I inform her that I blanked out in the middle of the skit. I am certain she thinks I am nuts, but like the wonderful friend she is, she quickly goes into console mode. She reassures me that not only did she not notice, but assures me no one else did either. I do not believe her, but accept her encouragement all the same.
I know this does not sound like a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but I had convinced myself that this performance was not going to be anything short of spectacular. If the weeks building up to this retreat were any indication of the outcome, I would not have been so sure.
Numerous obstacles built up in momentum for weeks before the retreat. It seemed that if anything could go wrong, it did.
Even on my way to the airport there was turmoil. I answered my phone to crying on the other line. One of my daughters calls me from school and pleads with me to not leave. Oh how her emotions tugged at my heartstrings. As I attempt to soothe her, my phone beeps in with another call. It is her older sister. Her emotions are just as high, yet hers are hot with anger. She informs me that she will not pick up her sister from school today (the one crying on the other line). She feels that it would be good to teach her a lesson. I am thinking to myself, “Are you kidding me?” Between the crying from one and the screaming from another, I am only seconds away from my very own emotional breakdown. I did, however, convince the older one that I would teach her a lesson if she did not do as I say.
Eventually, I made it through security and onto the plane. Once settled, everything else seemed to equally settle down. I decide to chalk these moments up to opposition from the enemy and convince myself that this conflict is Satan’s attempt to stop me from going out of town.
That being said, I am in the middle of the room performing a skit I know forward and backward when my mind just decides to shut off. I begin to adlib and after what I am certain is only two seconds that feel more like two days, I am back on track. But I am so unnerved with this internal turnout that I end up having that emotional breakdown upon entering my room. I tell my friend that I do not want to do this public speaking thing anymore. I am finished. All I want to do is to crawl into bed and put the covers over my head. Exhausted, I eventually do get under my covers and quietly cry myself to sleep.
Yet, what a difference a day makes. I wake up the next morning feeling so much better. My feeling of wellbeing spills out on my final three sessions which I must say, were absolutely amazing. I am in the groove. After I finish my part, I take a front-row seat to listen as the main speaker takes the podium for her final session. Although I have enjoyed this lady’s teaching, I am lost in my own thoughts. Part of me is basking in the afterglow of my time on stage and the other part of me is forward focused on later in the afternoon when my friend and I will hit the mall to shop til we drop when this retreat is over.
So I can say to you that I was not expecting anything spectacular to happen during these final minutes, when the speaker says something so unexpected that I almost fall off my chair.
She looks down at her watch and explains that she knows she is running late but feels that she needs to share something. She goes on to tell a story about a horrible experience she had one Sunday after teaching at her church. Dissatisfied, she heads home not at all happy about her talk. She does what many people do after speaking and begins to play her words over in her head. After review, she does not think she said something wrong that would make her feel the way she did. Yet, she couldn’t get the negative mood to go away.
At this point I sit straight up in my chair and begin to absorb each and every word from her mouth. She arrives home and heads to her bedroom. She climbs into bed and pulls the covers over her head. Stop right her. Have you ever had an occasion that you just knew God was about to say something that was specific, just for you?
She goes on to say she feels that God is about to tell her something. She then crawls out of bed, gets down on the floor and takes out her special prayer shawl given to her by her daughters one year for her birthday, or something like that, and places it over her head. She then waits for God to say something.
She hears just two words: SELF LOATHING.
I could feel the little color I have in my face suddenly vanish. She tells the audience that the Lord told her that not only had she been listening to lies from the enemy about how she viewed herself, but that she was actually in agreement with him. Ouch!
That was it. The core of my problem was self loathing. The definition of loathing is a strong dislike or disgust; intense aversion. All of these years I have been in agreement with the enemy. I know I have. This was not anything new. I actually had become accustomed to tucking these negative thoughts of myself away for so many years that I was pretty sure I had everyone fooled.
Everyone, except One. I am so grateful that our Lord exposed this for what it really was.
I am embarrassed to admit that I have this dark battle of self-destruction, but in order to be completely free from this awful assessment, this fight needs to be brought to the light.
I will tell you I have not arrived. I have a long way to go, and continue to battle many times a day with destructive thoughts of myself. The only difference now is that I do not just sit back and idly accept them. I attack them head on and will do so until my dying day if necessary.
I fight these harsh “voices” with His truth in His Word. I know that God does not say this about me. On the contrary, God says:
V 1 John 3:1 (NIV) How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
V Psalm 139:14a (NIV) I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made
V Isaiah 43:4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give men in exchange for you, and people in exchange for your life.
I am His child. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am precious and honored in His sight.
I want you to ask yourself, who is the reflection staring back at you in the mirror? Do you repeatedly beat yourself up? Do you feel like you have little to offer? Are negative thoughts overpowering His still small loving voice? Will you give yourself an honest observation and discuss your conclusions with the Lord?