Recently I uploaded a post entitled Always the Bridesmaid, and Never the Bride: Singleness where I discussed five important things that a woman should learn during her single years before dating. Out of all the five elements that I included there is one point that is not like the other, one point that is key in life regardless of your relational status. That point is number one and will always be number one, learn how to love yourself.
Four days a week I battle the world of mental health and chemical dependency as an Intern at an intensive outpatient program. Those four days a week I like to think of as life and death, seriously. The lives of my clients are essentially in my hands and as a clinical therapist co-facilitating a process group it is important not only for me to protect my clients from others in the room but to also protect them from themselves.
From the battlefield of the mind.
The mind is truly the devils playground. A landmine filled with feelings, perceptions, judgment, and thoughts. A state of awareness and a territory filled with opinions, sentiments, desires, and purpose. The psyche filled with the conscious and unconscious and a river flowing with imagination, creativity and intellect.
The mind truly has the power to call the shots…
When I was five years old I was the only kid in the first grade that looked like I was big enough to be a fourth grader. I was always a tall child and always managed to look three years senior of my actual age. My two front teeth protruded out of my mouth and I remember being the only kid who had what I labeled as extremely awful teeth. These particular characteristics earned me the title of bug’s bunny and any giant cartoon character you could think of such as the infamous big bird!
I was teased, bullied and always made fun of because I didn’t look like the rest. This was just the beginning of ten years that I would endure the pain of being rejected because of my ill-favored bodily characteristics. I remember being only five years old when I looked into the mirror and declared with rage how much I hated myself. I hated the tall skimpy girl with bug’s bunny teeth who looked like she was held back a couple of grades due to her physical maturity.
That five year old got older and entered the world of puberty. I walked right into my adolescent life with hatred towards the person I was growing up to be. I reached a height of 5’8 by the seventh grade, my sebaceous glands decided to turn my face into an acne war zone and my teeth no longer gave me the privilege of being called bug’s bunny since I earned the title of brace-face from the rack of wire I had tangled in my mouth.
In my head I certainly didn’t look like the rest of my peers. I glorified my friends for their blemish free faces and called everyone beautiful except for me. I was always the lonely teenager who never had a boyfriend because I physically outgrew every guy in my school. I remember feeling like I could never be good enough. I saw no beauty, I only saw a beast. My self-esteem became so low and my hatred towards myself continued to increase to the point where it began to reflect in my grades. My grades began to drop and I ultimately ended up settling for a High School in my zone district because my grades weren’t strong enough to enter into a more competitive intermediate school.
High School was my dead-end zone. I managed to pass my classes by a thread and found a group of peers that I felt I related to and could fit in with.
So why wasn’t I satisfied?
I still felt like the ugly duckling roaming the halls, wandering on in life with no direction and sense of self. I practically spent my whole entire life hating myself, belittling and berating myself for not being aesthetically appealing as my fellow peers. My thoughts turned from I’m ugly to I’m stupid, weak, uninteresting, and unworthy.
I remember waking up one day and getting ready to enter into my mundane life full of negativity and hate full of dissatisfaction and tiredness. The reason of my exhaustion stemmed from the fight I had with God every night demanding him to either take my life or to open up my eyes to the so-called destiny he had mapped out for me according to his word.
Truth is I was tired. Tired of living a life of complaints and frustration and not seeing how my thoughts of myself didn’t add up to the compliments people consistently gave me.
This frustration grew and all I could think of was how much I was missing out on life. If I wasn’t caught up in telling myself what I couldn’t do I was too busy taking inventory of my flaws. I made myself an idol except I was worshiping all the disfigurements of my temple.
I decided to seek help from a leader within my church and immediately she gave me a scripture and told me to declare this word over my heart and not only to recite it every single day but to begin to believe it in my heart as well. Psalm 139
I praise you, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works, and my soul knows it well.
Those words were like fingernails on chalk boards. I thought to myself how could it be possibly for someone like me to be made wonderfully and fearfully, made in awe and reverence, made unique and distinct from others, to be made special, not only aesthetically but with a purpose and a plan for my life. Unfortunately for this, my soul did not know of it.
I recited this scripture for months; I even recited it as I looked in the mirror. For months I didn’t believe what I was telling myself but as I began to get deeper into Gods word I began to realize that the realm of my thoughts, feelings and perceptions is what ultimately needed the spiritual cleansing, my mind. I was just reciting words off of a paper as if it were a script I had memorized for the luxury of hearing myself say something of a different vernacular.
The power of one’s mind never ceases to enlighten me…
I had to take my mind back to the root of the problem. Back to the seed that was planted in my life that I continued to water. I allowed myself to take in the hatred people spoke over my life and instead of rebuking the affliction of my adversaries I allowed their harsh words to reign in my mind and ultimately became the ruler of my minds infirmities.
Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Are you being mindful of the words that you are not only speaking over your life but the seeds that you are planting in your mind as well? Are you reminding yourself that you are not only beautiful on the outside but also on the inside? Do you understand that you are worthy of love and connection?
I wish I could say that my conviction instantly drove me to a pool of healing and after a few weeks of scripture meditation my mind became filled with praises and admiration of myself, but that didn’t happen so easily. It in fact took about a year for me to fully embrace the person God created me to be, and the more I opened my heart to his word and a new perception of who I am called to be I began to fall in love with myself.
I love every blemish, curve and flaw. I am proud to be 5’9 and I even throw on a pair of heels when I feel like it and I don’t even have to worry about feeling self-conscious. I have finally embraced my gap that refused to close after two years of braces and one year of a retainer. I love being a size 4/6 and even sometimes an 8 thanks to the cheap fabric at H&M. I finally and most importantly learned to love the woman I have become in life. I accept the path that God has laid out for me and I can’t wait to see where this riveting life of mines wanders off to.
Is your mind a territory filled with love, hope & acceptance?
Or are you allowing others to align the steps of your thoughts?
What seeds are you planting in your mind?
Not all seeds bear good fruit.