Nearly as far back as I can remember, I thought everything about me was bad. I didn’t think that in my earliest years, though that quickly became my perception. In the beginning it just really hurt my feelings, my person.. Eventually the words spoken about and to me, changed my perception of me. There were multiple sources of the painful and damaging words. However, they all pointed to the fact that everything was my fault, and that I of course then, must be bad. So for approximately 40 years of my life, I believed I was failure, ugly, plain, stupid, simple, a burden, not wanted, not good enough, not enough, worthless, too sensitive, that I had no place where I belonged, unwanted, too much, in the way, unloved, incapable, undesirable, less than..
Friends, I believed that even after I became a Christian. I still believed that after I recommitted my life to God.. I believed that after I met and married my husband, and continued to grow in my faith. It didn’t matter how many times he told me I was beautiful, or how intelligent he said I was. It didn’t matter what my friends said. It didn’t even matter what God said.. Those thoughts and feelings were so deeply entangled in my heart and mind, that there was no beginning and end, no way to separate them. So, no matter what anyone said, I couldn’t accept a compliment. I always felt uncomfortable and gave the excuse/reason, that it was not true. Eventually I began to try to believe what people said, what my love said to me.. It did not change how I really felt.. No matter what I tried to accept outwardly, inwardly I still heard all of those hurtful words. I still saw the fat, ugly monster in the mirror.
I have body dysmorphic disorder, and have battled anorexia since I was twelve. Well, actually long before then mentally, but not actually physically acting it out. These are certainly not my only issues. In this regard, that was part of it, but so was all of the years of abuse, and the hurtful people, sometimes even “friends.” I still struggle with these issues. I no longer am 103 lbs, and not having my period for years at a time, but I battle it none the less. It is a mental disability, not a choice. I don’t want to be this way, and I have hope in time, I will be healthy. God can do anything. I have seen this disorder pass on in my family, from generation to generation. It is painful to watch, and absolutely terrible to be unable to help the ones you love. I do not want this for them, I do not want this for me, or for anyone for that matter.
For awhile I poured myself into running. In the beginning it was good. In fact it was time with God for prayer, and to hear His direction for my life. He took me farther, much faster than I should have been able to go. I went from hardly being able to run a quarter mile, to eleven miles in approximately two months. The problem was that my diseased brain kicked into over drive. Not long after that I was running fifteen miles or so a day, but that, was all for me. I tore my body up, until I could no longer run at all. I then poured completely into exercising and volleyball. I was lifting weights seven sets each lift and a ridiculous amount of reps, too may to remember. I do remember it being over a hundred. On top of that I was doing at least an hour of cardio a day. I did this every single day. I also would ride my bike at least twelve miles a day. Like I said I was playing volleyball as well. I began with one league, then added another, then did a recreational league, so to say. All of this never filled me. I was always searching for more, determined to find enough to be happy, and to feel fulfilled. Each of these things temporarily filled me, but that never lasted. I was always longing for more. It was never enough, I was never enough.. Then one day my body would no longer support all of the abuse it was enduring. So it gave out. I have been on a medical, emotional, and at times, spiritual roller coaster since then.
Just recently that has begun to change however. You see God kept calling me to show up. For about a year, I did the exact opposite, using my health as an excuse. While that was valid, I was in terrible physical, emotional, and spiritual pain, it was still an excuse. So one day after trying it my way for that year, I decided to listen to God. I showed up, and I kept showing up. (With a few slips in between.) The thing was, if I showed up, God helped me through it. Not only that, but each time there was a God appointment, someone that needed me. Situations I knew God would still fill if I slipped, but if I was there, I too would find blessing in those situations. Time, after time, after time, it happened. So I began to truly see if I showed up, God would do the rest. That is how my life has gone since this past spring, I believe.
One of the most pivotal moments for me, was when I called my pastor for prayer. He said to me something to the effect of, it’s a shame when you are not able to come, it prevents others from being blessed by seeing the hope God has given you to endure all of this.. Those words stuck with me. That helped to change my mindset.
Recently God has been showing me, truly showing me, who I am in Him, and who He designed me to be. My journey began with reading a book called, “Living Your Strengths.” This book also included a very comprehensive test “Clifton StrengthsFinder.” One of the strengths/gifts I have is empathy. While, that did not surprise me, it did take on deeper meaning. There are definitions, scripture and examples given each gift in that book. I began to understand this particular gift, along with others, on a much deeper level. As I began to learn more about how I am gifted, and who I was designed to be, I prayed and thanked God for my gifts. I also asked God to show me more, to show me how to use these gifts, and to grow. Well that is exactly what He is doing. I began to ponder the things I learned. I focused on each of them, but much more on the one I understood best. As I pondered that gift, I learned more about it, and thought back on all of the people that saw it as a weakness, and said so to my face. Those who made fun of me for it.. When really that part of me, that “sensitivity,” is the part of me that helps me love them, feel their pain, understand them better, give them encouragement, and love. That is not at all a weakness, that, is a strength… A strength many have benefitted from, all the while they persecuted me for it. They persecuted my daughter and son for it as well. No, no more, we now know for a fact, that is one of our greatest strengths!
As I thought on that gift for several days, I began to think about my body. How sensitive it is, how reactive it is. How bad it is.. Then God showed me, that was not true at all. Yes, my body is sensitive, just exactly how God designed it to be. That is also a gift. I get to experience life in a different way, with deeper feeling. That is not a bad thing at all. Yes, at times it has not been good, but that is because my poor body experienced pain, far too great for it to bear. All that abuse was so bad for me on an even deeper level. I am still learning about this particular gift, but I know this, it is good.
As I ask, God answers. He is opening my eyes to so much more.. Things I once thought were bad, I am now learning are not only not bad, they are good, they are gifts. I am learning who I am in Him, and who He designed me to be. I am teaching my children what their gifts are, even when they seem bad, when they get into trouble. We will nurture their gifts, and instruct them in how to develop them fully. My children will not grow up feeling bad, they will understand their gifts so much better than I.. They will know their strengths and be able to use them well. What a blessing that is! In my learning who I am, they are being blessed, and so they will bless others.
Here is the point of this friends, I am learning about myself in a whole new light. That is transforming who I am, and who I see in the mirror. I am walking in confidence now, knowing better who I am truly, in Christ. I see beauty, I see strength, I am beginning to see God’s masterpiece. THAT is who I am!! That is who YOU are!! I feel full, no longer needing to fill that space. I want grow more, I want to learn more, but I am full friends. Nothing has ever filled that space.. No amount of efforts, or accomplishments, could fill that hole. Only God could, only Love, only Truth, only Jesus.. I pray that God helps each of you to learn the what a masterpiece He made you to be!
What God says about us;
Psalm 139:13-14 ESV “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.”
Genesis 1:27 NLT “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
Ephesians 2:10 NLT “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Peter 2:9 NIV “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
As for empathy;
Romans 12:15 ESV “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”
John 11:33-35 ESV “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept.
What God did for us;
John 3:16-18a NIV “ For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned.”
2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
1 peter 2:24 NLT “He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.”
John 5:24 NLT “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.”
John 20:21 NIV “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
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