Learning to Love Yourself Just as God Made You

via Amelia Fletcher Photography

via Amelia Fletcher Photography

I’ve struggled with mirrors my whole life. I’m a former anorexic, and mirrors have been the bane of my existence. And not because I don’t necessarily think I’m pretty, but because I never feel pretty enough. It’s never enough.

But I am learning that my true reflection is not in the glass, but in my eyes, and in how I see myself. I can change my reflection simply by the way I look at myself.

I am learning to thank my body. To treat my body, as Anne Lamott says, like a friend. I am learning to say thank you to my arms for carrying my babies, and thank you to my legs for carrying me, to my hands for making so many suppers, and to my eyes for lighting up every time my child enters a room.

We need to show grace to ourselves.

To take the time to have a bath; to eat nutritiously. When we’re grocery shopping, to stock up on healthy snacks for when we can’t sit down and eat a full meal.

To breathe deeply, and laugh at ourselves. To laugh at the kids. To laugh with our husband, at the kids. If we feel like we’re going to snap, to step outside for a minute and stare at the sky.

The more grace we show ourselves, the more grace we’ll be able to show others.

This time to ourselves will give us the strength to serve: our husband, our children, and our God.

Keep in mind though this space is not always available. And grace can find us in the midst of very hard things and very difficult days. In addition to loving ourselves we are also called to die to ourselves. Because true love is this: laying our life down for another. Philippians 2 talks about taking the nature of a servant and becoming nothing. So grace is a fine balance between taking care of ourselves and dying to ourselves.

In her book, Loving the Little Years, Rachel Jankovic talks about this balance. “Our bodies are tools not treasures,” she says. “You should not spend your days trying to preserve your body in its 18 year old format. Let it be used. By the time you die you want to have a very dinged and dinted body.”

via Amelia Fletcher Photography

via Amelia Fletcher Photography

I was walking down the stairs, at midnight, the boys asleep and Trent in bed reading. I always go around the house picking up things before I head to bed, because I can’t stand to wake to a messy house.

And I was somewhere between the last stair and the floor, when I stepped right into it.

Love.

Like it had been there waiting for me for 33 years.

Just a giant pool of love, and I stopped, and I smiled. And I cried.

Because suddenly I adored the person I was.

This funky, awkward, clumsy artist girl, this introvert who loves people and desperately needs alone time, this girl who laughs loud and fumbles with jokes, who wears vintage clothing and puts off housework because she’d much rather write. I loved her. With all of her childhood baggage and all of her sensitive heart, I loved her.

I still have days when I struggle to even like myself. Days when the voice in my head tells me that no one likes me or I’m not worth it or I’m ugly, that terrible awful voice which haunted me as a child from the ages of nine to 13, but then I remember that Satan is an accuser, and a liar.

I think of those dry bones Elijah saw in the desert—how God breathed new life into them and they rose and became an army. Satan doesn’t want that. He doesn’t want us to become an army, he doesn’t want us to pull our soldier boots on. No, He wants our spirits to stay dry and brittle. He wants us to keep doubting that God could use us, so we are never in fact, useful.

But those things he’s trying to say to us? They’re not true.

Because we’re pretty special.

beautiful broken mess

via Amelia Fletcher Photography

Not because of anything we’ve done, but because of the broken beautiful mess that we are. And the Savior who makes us perfect.

And this friends, is grace.

Blessings,

Emily

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Comments

  1. says

    Thank you for sharing so openly and beautiful with me today.

    Thank you for being kind to yourself and loving yourself enough to want to share you with the world.

    There is a song my children love to sing—Oh [name] do you love Jesus? Oh yes I love Jesus, and why do you love Jesus? because He first loved me…..

    So, because we know that Jesus loves us, we can truly love ourselves and others. The only way I can love my husbands and children, completely, is to fully love myself and trust God to fill my cup.

    Thank you again, Emily for being so open in giving of yourself for others.

    Peace to you.

  2. DeanneMoore says

    Love this, e. We certainly cannot give grace until we first receive it. Learned this…the hard way.

  3. Mia says

    Dear Emily
    My husband likes to say that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. So, I think we never see ourselves the way others do and our “seeing” usually is very far from the truth. It is so sad that the world measures beauty and importance with things like weight and performance.
    Blessings XX
    Mia

  4. says

    My body turns 35 today. I’m still learning to embrace how it’s changed over the years and trying to stay in the mind set of that it’s a glorious gift regardless what the scale says. It birthed two babies and hasn’t failed me yet. Learning to treat it as a friend and not my nemesis.

  5. says

    Wow–I need this today. Just looking at some new pictures my daughter took of me on Sunday, and cringing at every one. :( This is for me: “My true reflection is not in the glass, but in my eyes, and in how I see myself.” Thank you. And this is marvelous: “The more grace we show ourselves, the more grace we’ll be able to show others.”

  6. Beth says

    I’ve been batteling and eating disorder for about 15 years now and this year has been a year of learning to love my body and who God created me to be. I’m learning to let go of all the other things I turn to for approval. Thank you for this today. It was encouragement I needed in this journey. Sweet blessings to you.

  7. says

    Em… Beautiful… Self hatred robs a soul… What a blessing you are finding love for yourself at such a young age… He never tires of wooing our hearts to this space… For me…I was turning 50 when that last root of this was pulled…and yes… We only love others with the love we behold in Christ…in ourselves… Looking forward to having these conversations in person

  8. Sarah @ The Gospel at Home says

    Thank you, thank you for this. I struggle so much with my self-image. I’ve improved immensely over the years, when I was borderline anorexic at 17 because I wanted boys to love me, but I have seasons where I see something so ugly in the mirror I feel ashamed and think everyone is thinking how big I am {yes, I’m pregnant}. This was so encouragement and like honey to my soul.

  9. says

    Oh I love this Emily! Such a sweet, nourishing reminder. Thank you for being so honest and vulnerable with your journey- it’s freeing and liberating for all of us who read it!

  10. Amy Hunt says

    And this is the worship He wants. The sacrifice of self condemnation. The fasting of foolish judgement. The feeding and clothing of grace . . . to ourselves. Amen, sister.

  11. Kim says

    I am also a recovered anorexic. When I finally sought help my doctor told me that I would never fully realize how close to death I came. I had only been married for a few months and it was hard to find any help for anorexia from a Christian perspective. Twenty years and 4 kids later, I am finding there is a lot more encouragement for recovery that is Christ-centefed. I pray that other young ladies will not have to go through this struggle. Thank you for sharing your heart on this.

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