Today’s post is actually kind of stolen from a sweet lady I had the privilege of hearing speak recently. Her name is Liz Curtis Higgs, and she is amazing. Liz is a renowned author and speaker, specifically for women’s ministry. Liz is overweight and she is beautiful and she uses her life struggles with weight and addiction to teach women how to love themselves. She really speaks to me. Most of my life I’ve struggled with weight and learning to love myself and I’ve noticed over the years the thinner I am, the happier I am. Not because I’m healthy and have a great amount of energy, but because I’ve equated being thin with being of value. I’ve also noticed that when I’m struggling with the pounds, or with maintaining a specific diet, I tend to be crankier. And I’ve come to realize that this crankiness isn’t really about a lack of sugar, or a caffeine withdrawal. The crankiness comes from a lack of love for myself. And last Saturday, Liz Curtis Higgs helped me realize it.
As I listened to her tell me how beautiful I am, and how much I’m worth to God, I nodded obediently in agreement because the Bible says, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made,” and that I was woven in my mother’s womb by a God who knows and loves everything about me. I have to nod in agreement with the Word, I’m a good Christian girl. Then Liz began to talk about being a grandmother and how grandmothers are obsessed with their grandchildren. She explained how a grandmother would defend her grandchild, because in her eyes, they are perfection. She described a moment where a baby would be placed into its’ grandma’s arms and she would sing the lyrics to an old song,
“You are so beautiful to me,
you are so beautiful to me,
can’t you see,
you’re everything I hoped for,
everything I need,
you are so beautiful to me.”
And as I basked in the loveliness of her voice she said, “That’s the song that God is singing to you today.” And in that moment, uncontrollable emotion swept over me. In that moment I stopped nodding my head in fake agreement with her. In that moment, thinking about those lyrics: I’m everything He hoped for, everything He needs; I hung my head in shame. Because in that moment I realized two very important things:
1. God really does love me, and
2. I am profoundly dissatisfied with myself
When someone compliments me I’m so quick to add a self-deprecating remark to it, “Hey Amy, you look great, have you lost weight?” “No, it’s the pants, they’re super flattering, because I’ve actually gained weight.” Or, “You sounded great tonight.” “Thanks, but I’ve been really hoarse, I usually sound better.” Does this sound familiar to you? When someone pays you a compliment or tries to encourage you, do you immediately respond with a negative? Why do we do this?
I’ll tell you why I do it, because deep down am I profoundly dissatisfied with myself. If I made a list of all the things I’m not good enough at, it would be a mile long. I’m not thin enough, pretty enough, I’m not a good enough mom, or wife or sister, or daughter, my house isn’t clean enough or big enough, I want a nicer car. And the list goes on and on and on. That intense dissatisfaction with what I have and who I am leaves me cranky and is reflected in my behavior towards others and towards myself. When I’m not satisfied with my own life, nothing and no one else can measure up. Unfortunately, these feelings creep up on us; they sneak in and around things we go through in life and we don’t even realize it, until one day we’re sitting listening to a lady talk about being a grandma and boom!
I’ve begun to realize that I can’t truly love God or anyone in my family the way that I’m supposed to, the way that I want to, until I can love Amy. My love for them will always be tied into my love for me. I’m not talking about strutting around like Beyoncé on stage, or acting like I’m the queen of the universe, either. I’m talking about being able to look in the mirror and not feel shame; being able to accept a compliment and believe that it’s true and that the person meant it; being able to teach my son to love himself and God through example; being able to believe in a love so great that it hung on a cross for me. When I am satisfied that I am enough, that I am lovable and that I deserve love, that is when I will be able to love others well.
So today I choose to believe I’m beautiful.
Today I choose to accept compliments like I deserve them.
Today I choose to celebrate my round soft body and believe that its size doesn’t affect God’s love towards me.
Today I choose to praise my God because I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
Today I choose to love me.
Psalm 139:13-14 (NASB)
For you formed my inward parts; you wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works and my soul knows it very well.