There is nothing like 2 months spent flat on your back to give you a new perspective on life. My world quickly went from vertical to horizontal in a matter of days when I discovered I had a collapsed disc in my lowest lumber. I found myself deeply impaired, lacking the ability to walk, drive, pick up my kids, cook or do much of anything else. I was stunned. My initial response to this news was to just keep pushing through. I treated my acute back pain like anything else in life: If I just give it the old college try I will eventually conquer it, right?
So that’s what I did! I just kept trudging along waiting for deliverance from my pain but changing nothing about how I operated. I would rally my entire might to lift myself out of my car. Once I found myself upright, I would stand there with my head lifted to the sky for a moment, as if to beg God for one more ounce of strength. For any normal woman, this would be a sign that somethings gotta give but not for me! Besides Wonder Woman had just come out and I was ready to defy the odds with sheer willpower.
Have you ever tried and tried and will power just wasn’t enough? I finally came to a point that putting one foot in front of the other was not sufficient and it was there that I broke. I was scheduled to make a presentation that morning and my only focus was to get there and make it happen. But the fatigue of chronic pain and the emotional toll of being totally helpless, finally had it’s way with me on the side of a road in South Dallas. I sat there in my car crying big ugly tears. There was a man parked in a black truck and I could tell he was looking but I didn’t care. My tears came from the depth of my soul where I usually store them away so no one can see. But this time they erupted from my hiding place and I couldn’t quite figure out how to turn off the faucet.
It was in that state that I cried out to God pleading for him to answer. It’s not that I hadn’t prayed for God to alleviate my pain before, I said my prayers and asked for relief every day, maybe even every hour. Even still, it was a passing prayer, maybe one in which I just spoke the name of Jesus as my prayer. This time I came to God exasperated from not hearing his response. I couldn’t take it any longer and the veneer of self-sufficiency that had masked my prior prayers fell off as I sat and wept that day.
Discerning the voice of God can be a tricky thing sometimes as He speaks to us in many ways and primarily through his written word. But it was this moment in that still small voice, I could hear the Lord say- “Go to the doctor RIGHT NOW, emphasis on RIGHT Now.” that was all the permission I needed to let go of the helm I was so desperately trying to steer. I crumbled like a toddler held in her father’s arms. I needed God’s approval to stop trying to fix my pain and get help. It took several days and 2 failed attempts to return to work for me to accept my superior’s approval to let go too, but I eventually got it there. From then on it was a whirlwind of diagnostic tests and appointments. Soon enough I found relief through surgery and I couldn’t be happier that I stopped when God told me to stop.
Maybe you are going through something, where you feel the weight of the world crashing down on your shoulders. Sometimes our trials feel like a boulder that we fight to push uphill; with every passing second and each slip of the foot its possible, that boulder could overpower you with its great force. We often wear our hands to the bone while making little progress. When someone steps in and says “let me help,” we cling to the success we’ve had; we point out how far we have come with the bolder and with the end in sight we feel that a victory may be cheapened by accepting a helping hand.
What I learned from my back surgery was this… accept that hand. Help does not make you weak, help signifies that you are strong enough to realize your own limitations.
I hate opening up about stuff that’s embarrassing but when it may bless someone else I am down 🙂 share, like comment here is a quote from the article- “My search for value also created a deep divide between my sisters in Christ; instead of assets to my personal walk, I saw other women as benchmarks that either challenged my worth or affirmed it because I personally devalued theirs. ”
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I recently heard a Woman of God I look up to disparage herself when she saw her picture she said “Who’s that ugly woman?” I was shocked and unsettled at her assessment of herself not only because she truly is beautiful but mostly because it was unexpected. When we hold someone in esteem we tend to think they are perfect. We think, “oh she doesn’t deal with the mess I deal with, that is beneath her.”
One would think that I found this interchange to be freeing. I too, like many woman, deal with body image issues and self esteem, based on my looks and size. So if this woman who seems to be a grand master of all things spiritual, deals with this crap than man I’m ok….. Instead of feeling the freedom of knowing I am not alone. I felt, well, kind of hopeless.
If this lady, with all the life she has lived, all the good she has done, all the faith she has cannot push pass the urge to speak cruelly about herself than what chance do I stand?
I know there are people who esteem me the way I esteem her. I was once told by a peer that I was the “holiest woman they know.” A comment that baffles me to no end, yet I am glad they see the light in me. With all of that being said some people think I am perfect. That my understanding of God should somehow wipe away the pain of not thinking you are good enough. But I am here to say it’s a struggle.
Now don’t get me wrong I know I’m kinda cute :-)! But when I stare at myself in the mirror I pick myself apart. My pores are too big, my nose is large, my mouth does this strange thing. My boobs are far far too big (yes that is a thing), since two babies my stomach appears to have been run over by a tractor trailer lol! I have trouble with clothes fitting my body. And even the clothes I do have I am always thinking they are not trendy enough. I see those well polished girls with all the right accessories and I am like man….HOW DO I DO THAT??? I always ask my husband, “Babe do you want me to be more fancy? Like one of those fancy girls?” I chuckle because he looks at me crazy every time, to him I am his lovely bride so he doesn’t get it.
If you are like me you try to repeat to yourself “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” You try to avoid talking down about yourself in front of others, you try reassuring yourself and resting in the affirmation of your loved ones but the way you truly feel about yourself tends to fall flat. That’s where it really gets difficult. At that moment after trying all the tricks in the bag you start to believe the lie, that maybe your self esteem problem is not the product of sin or a social/cultural system that idolizes their false ideas about beauty. Maybe the little voice is right? Maybe you look terrible, Maybe people see you as a big girl with large pores lol.
Something recently happened to stop this cycle of thought. Going through some old pictures I found a pic of me stepping out in college. Mini dress and heals, my waist was smaller than I ever remember it being. Talk about thigh gap! The famous space between your thighs where they do not touch, it is supposed to serve a litmus test of beauty, I actually had one! Yet I have a very distinct memory of wearing that dress and taking that picture, even though that picture was taken 10 years and 2 kids ago, at that time I really was not happy with my body either! So let me get this straight I probably weigh two times more now than I did then and yet I still believed that I was fat! Now this sheds some light on things. I am not a gigantic ugly lady I am just crazy! 🙂 Body dismorphic disorder is a real thing, now maybe I have not been diagnosed with a psychological disorder, but the truth remains the same for those struggling with body image and self esteem issues. No amount of weight loss, no thigh gap measurements, no amount of make up or just the right clothes will ever make you truly affirm yourself. You see, self affirmation, self love, cannot be managed by external things it truly comes from the inside.
Now before this turns into the sappy part of “Full House” where they play the soft music and Danny explains the lesson learned. I am going to tell you right now, I know the cure is found in Jesus Christ but I am not sure how to access it. You can repeat affirmations about your body until you are blue in the face and not feel any differently. So my advice to you and myself is that values affect ones beliefs and beliefs affect ones actions. Working backwards I have to consistently change my actions until it settles into my belief system and then becomes a permanent value. That I am beautiful, that I am loved. That I am perfect the way that I am.
The reason why I want to fight this fight is for my daughter. How can she know that she is holistically beautiful if I flippantly say of myself, “oh look at that ugly lady in the picture.” She will know that even her imperfections are beautiful, by my demonstration of this value.
One more thing! I do not typically get so feisty when blogging but this is very important! Although I appreciate all of the wonderful affirmation that will most likely come of this post they really are not helpful. I truly truly am flattered and honored that others think I am beautiful but what counts is what I believe about myself. The problem is, when someone exposes themselves by sharing that they have self esteem issues and you say “Silly rabbit you are beautiful how can you possibly struggle with this?” it simply makes me and others like me feel even worse about myself. We think what is wrong with me silly rabbit! I am so stupid to deal with this. Instead pray that I will consistently surrender this struggle to the Lord so that he can refine me and that I find freedom.