Saturday, 14 July 2012
04:11:28 PM (GMT)
She took a deep, shuddering breath. "I've been thinking, okay, I know I'm not the
prettiest girl out there. But, when people are around me, at least they feel pretty
by comparison, right?" she closed her eyes for a few seconds. I could almost see her
trying to lock up all the dark thoughts of self-hatred that were plaguing her; she
banished them back to the deep recesses of her mind, then said, "So... I guess, in
that way, I serve a purpose, even if I'm not that good looking."
In my mind, my own thoughts were swirling like a psychedelic whirlpool. But amidst
the chaos, the words were still audible... "Tell her the truth."
She was beginning to drum her fingers on the countertop and look around nervously. I
could sense we were not unobserved. A darkness was creeping up on us, and it made my
heart reverberate with unearthly rhythm. But I was not intimidated.
I took her hand, to get her attention, and to silence the frantic finger drumming.
She looked at me, and I thought I recognized myself in her eyes. Was I really any
different? Was I the right person to tell her this? Would she even listen? Would she
But it was all I could do.
"I need you to listen to me," I began, doing my best to keep my voice steady. "You
are beautiful, and not only beautiful, but your own unique kind of beautiful. You're
a work of art. You were designed. There's nothing you have to do to try to improve
yourself. You're already amazing. You're already you, and that's all you have to be."
My mind was racing, trying desperately to formulate the words she needed to hear.
To my surprise, my words seemed to affect her. "I've never felt beautiful. No one's
ever looked at me and... I mean... They look away. I've never felt beautiful in
another person's eyes. Except yours. How can you look at me..? I.." she looked away,
and my heart jolted. I felt her pain.
"I'm still learning every day," I said. "God always has something to teach me. I fall
into traps of self-hatred so often, and He's always the only one who can really set
me free. But He wants you to be free, too. You're His daughter and He loves you."
She started crying, and her tears sparkled like diamonds. "I've never seen, or heard
Him. He's just ignored me all my life."
"That isn't true. He loves you, and it hurts Him to see you hurt. He wanted me to
tell you how much He loves you. I want you to know that, too. You deserve better than
what you put yourself through. You don't have to listen to the self-hatred anymore.
You don't have to feel like you're inadequate."
"I might believe you," she said, "but it's just a lot to take in right now." She
We left with plans to meet next week, same time, same place.
She got in her car, and I walked along the sidewalk, watching my reflection walk
beside me in the store windows. I knew what I had told her was right. And it seemed
like she really had listened.
But what about me? Why did I think I was the exception? I thought about what God had
told me earlier that month. I had asked Him to allow me to see people the way He saw
them... And He told me that if I wanted that, I had to begin with seeing myself the
way He saw me. And that scared me. I had never been my own biggest fan. I was
constantly looking for reassurance from other people, trying to get them to give me
positive words to combat the negative ones that surged through my thoughts every day.
But why did I have to fight, just to feel okay in my own body? I knew better, didn't
I? So what was the answer? How could I possibly love myself? The thought was not
permitted in my mind. If I thought about it, it was instantly met with a barrage of
insults and harsh criticisms. Perhaps it would be possible to turn those off, but why
was it so hard? I thought about that. I finally concluded that if I did turn them
off, I would feel like I wasn't doing anything to improve myself. For example, I had
to keep that thought that said, "I am so fucking fat and disgusting. I don't need to
eat." because if I didn't, I would feel trapped with my self-hatred, like I wasn't
doing anything. Even if I did eat, I had to keep that thought as my excuse for
eating. Like, "I know I'm fat, I know it's not okay for me to look like this, okay? I
know, I know, and next time, I won't eat." I had to say that before I could allow
myself to eat. But what was I afraid of? How could I be so terrified of something
within my own mind?
It wasn't about trying harder. I had to stop relying on myself, and on other people,
and other things. I had to rely on God, because as much as I hated it, I couldn't
help anyone until I helped myself. I was ready to accept that it might be a process.
I was ready to accept the truth. I was ready, and I thought, and thought, and prayed
as I walked home; my self-hatred was so deeply rooted. I felt like I had carried it
my whole life, or at least as long as I could remember. My earliest memory of looking
in the mirror, and even then I had a look of disgust on my face. To get rid of my
self-hatred would indeed be a battle. But I was ready to fight, and I was ready to
trust God. Philippians 4:13 For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens