Last week I was hanging out with some new friends when one of the girls jumped on the couch behind me and said, "Hey I feel like giving you a shoulder massage. Are you okay with that?" I'm not generally a big fan of massages but I was feeling kind of tense so I figured it wouldn't hurt. As she massaged my shoulders she suddenly exclaimed, "Whoa, you have HUUUGE muscles! Do you work out?" Now her comment was innocent enough and I laughed and said I worked out a little, but inside, my mind began to play the low-self esteem game. Ever since I was a little girl I've been used to people commenting on my large muscles and unusual strength, always followed by the, "You know, for a girl."
I remember a time when I was 13 and my mom sent me to the store for milk. I walked to the back of the store grabbed two gallons of milk from the refrigerator and then went to the front of the store to make my purchase. I was minding my own business when a tall guy with a mustache and greasy hair looked at me and said, "Wow, you're sooooo strong, for a girl. You're as strong as a man" Then he started to point me out to other customers. What didn't even phase me until that moment was that I had nonchalantly grabbed both gallons of milk by their handles and was carrying them both in one hand. My other hand was free, so I didn't need to carry both gallons of milk with one hand, but I didn't think they were heavy, so I didn't even think about it. I remember walking home that day feeling so ugly on the inside. I hated being as strong as a man.
Another time I was preparing to go overseas so I went to my doctor to get a physical. He had me grip his hands and squeeze as hard as I could and afterward he said, "Your muscles are like man muscles. You are incredibly strong for your age, especially for a girl." Of course none of these people made these comments to hurt me. They were all trying to compliment me, but it wasn't until the latest comment, during the shoulder massage, that I was really able to understand the effects of those comments throughout my life.
I've always known that I've struggled with self-hatred. In a sense we all do to one degree or another. I don't think I've ever met someone who has always been perfectly happy with who they are or what they look like. It's not an excuse, we actually should be perfectly happy with who God created us to be, but in this cruel world, there are far too many things to compare ourselves too.
Ever since I was a little girl the enemy has assaulted me in the area of beauty. I never really stood a chance. In elementary school I was the girl who walked like a gangster. I remember spending hours and hours trying to perfect my gait so that my classmates would stop making fun of me. I never did figure it out and so I just put it in my humor pocket and began to laugh along with them. Years later, lying in a hospital bed with a broken leg, I had thankfulness in my heart that my "gangster walk" could now be attributed to a slight limp from ankle pain.
It's quite sad, but when I think about my life and my childhood I don't really have memories of ever feeling "pretty" or "beautiful". Instead my memories are filled with thoughts of "awkward and ugly" masked by laughter and sarcasm. But a lot of things are changing in my heart. I no longer feel that self-hatred coming at me so strongly. I look at others and I wonder what thoughts they are struggling with and what weaknesses they never want exposed, and when I see them I feel a deep sadness, because the enemy has tormented so many for so long, and we are giving in to it. Instead of gazing at our King and knowing the true beauty that we are as His creation, we are looking to each other and to ourselves for a gratification we will never find outside of Him.
I'll admit, I still look in the mirror and wonder how on earth a 28 year old woman still has so many pimples, but overall my heart is shifting and a message of beauty is stirring in my spirit. I'm tired. I'm tired of things being stolen from me. I'm tired of having to fight off feelings of ugly and awkward. I'm tired of watching others fall prey to the same twisted lie from the enemy. The beauty of our King has been assaulted and it's been tormenting His creation for too long.
He is Beautiful and He made me beautiful.