We were doing a math problem or talking about gravity in school where the teacher was adding up the total weight of our class... I can't remember the exact numbers, but she guessed the average weight of the girls in the room, and I was a good 15 pounds over that. I had never heard of a healthy BMI, nor did I know what I was supposed to weigh, but I knew that 15 pounds heavier was something to be ashamed of. I prayed that no one would verify with me or make me step on a scale.
The cycle of shame started in that third grade classroom, and stuck as close as my shadow the next 14 years of my life (yes, that adds up to today). Those shaming voices are always lurking, pointing out comparison's and planting seeds of doubt. There have been seasons in my life when I learned to shut them out, but then of course, there are seasons when every day feels controlled by these tyrants.
I'm not sure if there is a more insecurity inducing experience than moving to a new place and meeting new people. With every fresh handshake or introduction, those voices speak into my ear. “You're not as pretty as these girls, they won't like you. Your outfit is totally lame, nothing about you is cool. Your thighs have doubled in size, maybe you should go to the gym before trying to make friends.”
I started out writing this post with the intention of sharing how I've overcome insecurity, but when tears pooled up at the bottoms of my eyes, I realized I still had some work to do in the area. I'm on the verge of 23, still carrying the weight I picked up in third grade.
Though I'm no expert in the area, I can share what has helped me along the way... It's what God is speaking into my life and how he is showing up at every corner, trying to find a way to seal it in my heart.
It's a simple word, a basic practice, but some have said that it is the highest form of wisdom:
I've learned, and am learning, to extend grace and kindness to myself the same way I would, and have, to a 17-year-old freshman girl on my hall. Years ago, the Lord trained my eyes to see past the physical in other people, particularly other girls, and see the beauty of their spirit. If I am able to do so with the hundreds of girls who I have met or served in ministry over the last four years, why can't I do this to myself?
There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. I know in my head the advice to give to others, but I need to swallow that information into my heart. And I think there are a lot of ministry girls who are in the same boat as me.
So to all my sisters in ministry, the ones who find themselves pouring out and praying over the sweet girls who God has placed under our care, I have a message for you. It's a message God has given to me, something I need to swallow before I spit it out. Will you join me in receiving these truths today?
I am loved. I am treasured. I am valued.
It's way easier for me to change that pronoun to a “You,” because it's easier to believe that about you, dear reader, whoever you are, wherever you come from. I honestly do believe that you are valued, loved, cherished. I do believe that you are worth something, worth a lot of somethings, actually. But the challenge comes in changing the “You” to an “I.” And that is the work that God has for me today. So again... will you join me?
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This is part of the Love Yourself Linkup—an ongoing series by women around the web focusing on self image and body image. In our posts, we will talk about our thoughts on these subjects, tell stories of our personal experience, share what has inspired us, challenged us, and more.