I have wrestled with self-esteem issues since I was a child. I have often worried that I am not good enough. I haven't dealt with body image to the point of being dysmorphic which is an obsession with the body and it's flaws, but I do feel that every flaw that I perceive is much worse than it really is. Whether that is my weight which I have struggled with my whole life, or getting older and more wrinkles showing up, to just feeling like I don't measure up. Measure up to whose standards? Well, therein lies the problem. My false expectations are too high for me to ever live up to.
With apologies to my husband, I know I have hurt his feelings more times than I can count. He is always loving and saying how nice I look. And more than once I have literally rolled my eyes and told him he needs to get his eyes tested. And lately as I have been on the mat with weight gain again, it has gotten worse. I hear old voices in my head. One from my early childhood, where ironically I was skinny as a stick, "Gail the whale who lives in a pail". That is what I hear in my head as I look in the mirror. I hear the girls in the junior high and high school gym as they laughed at me and pointed fingers. I feel that pain again and forget who I am in the Lord.
Because I am literally putting myself on the world's scales and of course I fall short in the balance. I need to get my vision checked. I need to remember that no matter what the issue, God sees my differently. Whether it is my weight, He sees me as fearfully and wonderfully made. He fashioned me, He formed me. He knew that I would have these issues and loves me no matter how I see myself. If it is the talents that He has given me, He gave those gifts. He placed in me the wonder of reading and the need for knowledge and learning. He set in me the ability to write even when I doubt it and even when "I am only writing on the internet".
I too often look at myself through coke-bottle glasses and magnify every blemish, every weakness and failing. Rather than seeing that maybe God has a vision for me, in the midst of all of this. Maybe my issues with weight are so that I can understand other women who deal with this also. Maybe my doubt about my gifts and talents are so that I can encourage others to look for what God has placed in them and to nurture those abilities. Maybe the shame and reproach I have that I felt is so that I can help others who deal with that also.
It may be a cliche but it is true...every thing we go through can either be a stepping stone or a gravestone. We can either walk through this life and learn from the pain and hurt and the trials or we can take it lying down and be buried by it all.
Maybe that is what it means by 'working out your salvation with fear and trembling' as it says in Phillipians 2:12. If you read the verse before, it says every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord. I have done that, but I still wrestle with things daily. I have to constantly remind myself who I am in Him and what He has placed me here on this earth for. That is a full time job! But if I keep reading into verse 13 it says, For it is God who works in you to will and to act on behalf of His good pleasure.…'
He has not only saved me, but continues to work in me to desire and accomplish His plan for me. He has given me the Holy Spirit to teach me, to guide me, to comfort me. He has promised to never leave me to my own resources again. I become more than me. Believe me, I know who I was before. I know who 'just Gail' is. I was a woman raised by alcoholics, who was molested, who was and often is overweight. Who used too many drugs, drank too much, gave herself away to too many men looking for love. Until she met the One who could love her completely. The One who would open His arms wide and accept her for who she was, but love her enough to not leave her in that place. The One who would take what had been harmed, and broken and thrown away and turn it into something beautiful. I write this with tears in my eyes and gratitude in my heart.
I remember as a young teen growing up in Lake Havasu, walking from my house to the lake picking up aluminum cans. Looking for the smashed and tossed away cans of what used to be a refreshing beverage, all used up and thrown away. Finding those cans in the weeds, now mere rubbish and waste. Putting them in a bag and taking them to the redemption center where that trash was turned into cash. Junk and refuse into treasure.
That is what God did for me. I was living a life on the garbage heap. Used up, thrown away, looked over and forgotten. But in His love for me, in His vision for my life He picked me up and redeemed me. Through the precious blood of His Son, Jesus.
On the days that I forget who I am, the days that my vision is clouded and needs to be checked, I have to remember 'whose' I am. That His vision is clear not only as to who He made me to be, and also in what He made to be, what He made me to accomplish in the life. That I am not 'just Gail', but Gail 2.0. I am still who I was, but so much more. I am not only what I see, but what He sees. I am just me, redeemed.
If you want to read a wonderful book of fiction, that tells the truth of our journey in life from pain and hurt to healing and redemption, pick up "The Long Journey to Jake Palmer" by James L. Rubart. You won't be able to put it down!