I stumbled upon this poem on Instagram and the last line of it brought me to a sudden stop. Staring at the simple question—Could you just love me like this?—I was overwhelmed with regret and shame for how poorly I’ve treated myself. As a 42-year-old woman with lifelong weight struggles and body image issues, I’ve never quite accepted myself.
Sitting in my office with these weighty thoughts, I reflect back on times I’ve approached myself with cruelty. Muttering put-downs so nasty that I’dneversay them to another person, yet I had no issue spewing the hate towards myself.
A few instances come to mind—some in my past, some I’m still struggling with—where I know I would have approached a loved one with understanding, forgiveness, and encouragement. Yet I denied myself those graces. I’m about to share these with you with hopes that you take a moment to reflect on your own struggles and how you respond to yourself.
…Stepping on the scale and cringing as the number crept up again. “You’re such a fat loser. Why can’t you simply get this under control? You know how to diet and exercise, so get it done, you slob!”
…Having a dear friend, who was once close, walk away without explanation. “If you were a better person, your friend wouldn’t have dropped you. Clearly, you’re lacking somewhere and not good enough. It’s what you deserve.”
…Allowing stress and life storms to pile on top of me until buckling under the pressure. Wanting to forget my troubles and how weak I am with not being able to handle it, I’ve taken one too many drinks. While it worked for a hot minute, I was always worse afterwards and berated myself for it. Inwardly screaming. “You’re a screwup and have no purpose! Why would God even waste his time creating you in the first place?”
…Receiving a bad book review and letting it dictate my worth as a writer. “See! I told you you’re not talented. You don’t know what you’re doing. You aren’t educated and can’t even get basic grammar rules right. You? An author? What a joke.”
I’ve asked God to forgive me, but I refuse to forgive myself. And each time, I mess up or don’t measure up, I’m right back to holding all my flaws over my head. Why is this such a relentless struggle?
Here’s what scares me about this struggle the most. My daughter takes after me in the short category as well as the being-hard-on-yourself category. She’s athletic and smart and plays the piano and has a smile that can light up a room. Yet, I have the hardest time trying to make her see all the brilliance in herself. And that’s where an “Oh me” moment hits. What kind of example have I been to her? How can I expect her to love herself when I’m doing such a poor job of loving myself? Oh, y’all! Something has to change! Now!
My opinion on what’s caused this…
Why do females struggle with loving and accepting themselves? I think culture has played a heavy part in it. Look at clothing ads, makeup ads, actresses, singers, female athletes, any type of celebrity. Take it a step further and look closer at mommy circles and women’s social groups in our communities. No matter where we fit in those listed above, it’s still the same problem. Each and every one of us are trying to live up to unrealistic standards that someone had no right to set in the first place. And then consider social media’s part in this skewed idea of beauty and self-worth. If someone doesn’t measure up (and let’s be honest-no one does) to what society considers beauty and success, then for some silly reason they think it’s their right to slam that person.
A little bit more of my opinion…
I think it’s time for us to get real. My beauty and my success will not look like anyone else’s. I will never be tall and never be a size 2… not even a size 6. I am only a few inches over 5 feet in height and currently struggling to zip my size 12 pants. Most days I abandon them for yoga pants. I am a new author still working on finding my rightful place in this industry, but I am an author nonetheless. My point is, I should not measure my worth or standard of living to a model or to a NY Times bestselling author or to a neighbor or church member who has never given in to overindulging in too much if anything. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself when my measure isn’t what other’s think it should be.
The only measure I should strive to live up to is God’s.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment… Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.
1 Peter 3: 3-4
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
If we focus on God’s standard for us, then surely our own opinions of ourselves will improve. Our vision will not be veiled by the fallacies of our culture.
I need this focus. I need to be a little easier on myself. I need to give myself a pass sometimes. Below is a little exercise I did this morning to help me have a healthier understanding of myself. This isn’t a brag schedule. Your schedule is not meant to look like mine and vice versa. But we can reflect on the good we find in it.
My Day so far…
4:50 a.m. – Wakeup Time
5:30 a.m. – 3.5 mile run
6:30 a.m. – Time to wake Lydia for school. Bible study and coffee.
7:30 a.m. – Take Lydia to school and our morning prayer all the way there.
8:00 a.m. – See Nate off to school. Shower. Chores.
9:00 a.m. – Office Time
I sit here and reflect on what I’ve been blessed to be able to do.
*I woke up!
*My body and lungs are strong enough to endure running!
*My soul eager to spend time with my Savior! To grow in my faith!
*My two healthy children! My body was strong enough to grow them and birth them with no complications!
*Blessed with the ability to create stories that some folks really and truly enjoy!
It’s Valentine’s Week, a time we devote to showing others how much we love them, so I think it’s fitting to set it aside and finally answer the question, Could you just love me like this? I’m going to respond with a yes. Not because I’m perfect, but because I’m good enough and worthy enough to be loved as is. I’m not saying it’s okay not to strive to be a healthy weight because God calls me to honor him by taking care of my body, or not to try to better my craft of writing because God says to use the gifts his assigned to me, etc. I am saying I will not do any of this to try to meet the standards of others. It’s between me and God only.
During this week, I am going to commit to jotting my daily schedule down and at the end of the day, reflect on each item with a positive accolade. I’m going to pat myself on the back and let myself know I did a good job. I’m going to thank God for giving me the unique abilities and beauty he designed only for me.
And while I’m here, typing away, I need to apologize to myself for not recognizing all my good. I apologize for always being too quick to respond with cruelty each time I don’t measure up, when what I really needed was some encouragement.
I encourage you to do the same.
Beautiful by MercyMe
*I receive permission from Hollie Holden to share her poem.