Be Your "Selfie" w/o Approval
It has taken me a very long time to walk in the confidence and assurance that "I am fearfully and wonderfully made!" (Psalm 139:14) Beauty is not outward appearance; beauty is an inside job. I grew up thinking that I had to look or be a certain way and this is so far from the truth. I was walking in pure deception and as a result was comparing myself to others. Other time I simply felt left out of the mix because I was different. It all started with being rejected through abandonment and adoption. Being adopted caused many emotional and identity issues. And, being talked about only added fuel to the idea that I should change who I am so that others would be more comfortable with me and themselves.
Negative body image was learned behavior; the seed was sown into me as a child when a family member continuously pointed out things about my body that she saw flawed. Here are some examples of comments that were made to me as a young child: "Your arms are fat. Your face is too full to wear your hair like that. You should never wear your hair like that. You can't wear that color. Don't pursue that profession...they don't make any money. You are going to be so fat you will have to wear a bed sheet to your prom. No one will love you like me. You look like a rat. Your butt is flat like flap jacks. You don't look good with braids. You look like an Indian with all that hair. Wow, you look like the Lion King. Your legs are so big." Let me make note that before any of those comments were made to me I was perfectly happy and comfortable in my own skin. But, what happened after those negative and hurtful statements were made was that I begin to feel self conscious about myself. I began to see imperfections that weren't seen before because someone I valued and trusted spoke negative body image into my life and I accepted it as truth.
Now that I know the truth and look back at the childhood me...my arms, face, weight, and hair were all perfect. The person that spoke into my life was the one with the issue. I have found that hurting people hurt people and in this case the person that spoke that to me had heart issues. What they spoke to me they actually thought that about themselves. What they were really saying was I wished I loved myself and imperfections like you do. I wish I was okay with being me like you are.
Today, the family member that spoke this to me is elderly and she still has the same heart issue she had 30 plus years ago. She is still criticizing the appearance of others with no remorse of how that makes others feel. I went to visit her recently and as soon as I saw her the first thing she said to me was "I thought you said you wear a medium?" Not, hi!....I'm so happy to see you....How was your drive here?" And, guess what it didn't stop there later that night we attended a family function and she yelled across the room that I should not be wearing my pants. See, the enemy wanted to shame me through her words. Another family member attempted to defend me by saying oh well so and so is wearing the same pants. The elderly family member replied. "Well, she is small/skinny!" For about a second I found myself looking across the room at the person I was being compared to trying to see if I was bigger or smaller than her. See, the enemy was trying to entangle me in comparison and offense. And, I immediately saw through my spiritual eyes that I had a choice to be hurt and offended. Guess what I let it go forgiving her immediately and privately. I realized it was not necessary for me to be mad or defend myself. I laughed right along with her while saying bless your heart. Clearly, this lady is lost and hurting...because she was publicly body shamming me in a room full of people even my husband and kids were in the room. On my drive back home, the Lord gave me a revelation that I had finally won the battle. And, this happened because I asked God to help me overlook her wrongdoings. See, I am not the confused abandoned little girl seeking someone to accept me. No ma'am I know who and whose I am now so I fight battles differently. Praise God for helping me overcome! I left the event unbothered and unashamed. And, before I would have been feeling bad about myself and rejected.
What I want the readers to take away from this is that we have a choice to overlook the wrongdoings and rejection of people. You don't need anyone to approve or validate you. Whatever people have spoken to you and about you...Let that mess go! If you don't it will keep you from walking freely in who you are. Don't let people entangle you in their bondage of how they see and feeling about themselves. At the root of critical people is fear and envy. Don't take the bait to battle with them in the natural or defend yourself with words. You overcome them with prayer and forgiveness. Release them to the Lord in prayer. Don't spend another moment comparing yourself to images and the images that others want to hold you to. LOL, most of the time they don't even live up to the expectations and demands they place on others. God did not create you to live in a hidden or sunken place. He called you to be the light and this requires boldness as well as confidence. Take your confidence back by making a decision to release what they said and did that affected you seeing yourself as God sees you...Fearfully & Wonderfully made in the image of God. Sister, they lied to you...You are good enough! You are indeed beautiful!
The last thing is that there is power in your words make sure that you are speaking life into the lives of others. There are times when we are asked to give our honest opinion but let's do so with love and grace. Be mindful of what you are saying to your daughters and other young girls in your area of influence. Edify them, Encourage them, Uplift them! Even consider your ways and words concerning other women. Are your building them up or tearing them down with your words and looks?