Ugly. Fat. Stupid. Unattractive. Useless. Failure.
The words resound in our minds and slowly we come to believe them and let them define who we think we are.
Let’s just be honest here. Way more of us struggle with mentally beating ourselves up than we’d like to admit. Sure we may look fine on the outside, hair in place and smile gleaming to the world, but inside we’re doing war with these words— with the thought that we are nowhere near as good as such and such.
We look around and somehow everyone else looks more attractive, more put together, more confident about life, more mature, more popular, and more desirable. We look inside and all we see is a mess. We don’t think we measure up and we start to believe that we never will. Maybe we were just always meant to be inferior. And if that is all we can be, who do we think we are to expect God to give us the very best He has to offer? Wouldn’t He give that to someone more worthwhile?
I’m not just talking from theory here. I have to admit that I know these lies and far too often I believe them. Just yesterday I found myself sitting in church, completely oblivious to anything the preacher was saying, asking God what was going wrong inside of me. It was then He started to remind me how precious I am to Him. He told me how proud of me He was and reminded me of the battles I’d won with Him lately. He encouraged me that He understood that I was exhausted and that I didn’t have to beat myself up for having to beg Him for patience to not snap at my kids this week. He reminded me that struggling didn’t make me a failure.
A few hours later a friend shared with me some of their own battles with self-loathing and it struck me that we all deal with this one to some degree. We look around and think that everyone else has it all together so much more than we do, but in reality, those very people are likely torturing themselves over the same things we are.
Yeah, so I’m not the type to share my own struggles with anyone and everyone but today I am going to be really honest because I know that there are a lot of you out there hiding behind your screen as you read these words and feeling like there’s no one who can feel as worthless as you.
For years I have battled with seeing the skinny girls and then looking in my own closet and knowing there is no way I’ll ever be able to look like them. Yeah I’ve gone on diets, gotten up early to go running for weeks in a row, and tried all the things that are supposed to magically fix the problem and you know as well as I that for far too many of us, they don’t. There’s this battle of thinking that if I try hard enough and eat little enough I can make it all right and if somehow I don’t magically loose that extra 10 pounds, I must be doing something wrong and be some kind of failure. There’s that feeling that comes when I go shopping and don’t fit into size two or match up with the celebrities whose images are all over every magazine cover on the way to the checkout. Before I know it, the lies sink in that I will never be as attractive as the people I compare myself to so I might as well stop trying.
The devil doesn’t stop there with the lies either. I know what it means to look at all the young adults around me who are in college and think that somehow they are all so much more grown up and mature than me and that I don’t really fit into the group. Sure I might have actually finished college and be working but somehow that doesn’t stop the devil from kidding me that really it was just because my college work was super easy and so it doesn’t really count. He whispers that everyone else has this adulting thing way more figured out than me and I’m just the kid who doesn’t fit in with the popular crowd.
When he’s not whispering that lie it’s something about how my introverted personality makes me less charming and confident than my coworkers (or any number of people for that matter). I mean, aren’t they always the ones who speak up in meetings and have all the cool ideas and seem to know what to say? I’m just the quiet one who thinks everything through a million times before I raise my hand. Yeah, I’m the one straining for all I’m worth to engage in conversations with strangers and escaping to some empty bathroom stall for a moment of quiet whenever I can while everyone else just flits around like perfect little social butterflies. No, I’m not the center of attention at the loud table, keeping everyone entertained by my charm. I’m not the one who has the energy to go to every social event imaginable. I’m not the one who makes every stranger feel at ease by having the perfect thing to say. And I’d be lying if I said the devil didn’t rub that in sometimes and convince me that I am somehow less valuable than everyone else because of it.
Yeah, you reading this who is struggling with the same things… you who have your own reasons for being convinced that you are worthless and somehow inferior to every other more put together person on the planet… I get you. And you’re not alone.
But you know the cool thing? All that stuff I just told you about? All that inferiority and worthlessness? It’s all lies.
Sure I may not be as skinny or perfect as the people I mistakenly compare myself to, but I was still made in the image of God and He has said that I am wonderfully and fearfully made. I might not look my own idea of perfection but because of Him, I can still be beautiful. I don’t have to beat myself up over my flaws but instead I can do my best to be all that He made me to be and be perfectly content— even thankful— with that.
I may not think I have this adulting thing down and some days I may still feel like a little kid inside compared to everyone else, but He’s told me that He’ll hold me up and show me along. Truth is, most of the people I look at as so accomplished probably still feel like they have no idea what they are doing either, and really it’s just about letting Him show me the next step instead of trying to copy theirs.
Yeah I might not be as charming as some of my coworkers… I might not be the social butterfly who can endlessly entertain and interact with a crowd but maybe that’s because He needs me in the backroom to give a hug to the kid who is crying or to take a walk with the one who feels like life isn’t worth living anymore. I may be the quiet one and while that may mean that I am never as popular or visibly influential as others, God can use my quietness to touch His kids in ways that the loud and charming will never know about. I might not be the coolest leader ever but if it means I am quiet enough to hear His whisper and the whispers of the broken around me, it’s ok.
You see, every lie of our own worthlessness normally comes with another lie about how everyone else has it together. The truth is, I don’t. None of us do. We’re all in this battle together and we all have broken pieces and insecurities that He is still healing.
I don’t know who you are and what lies the enemy has been rubbing in your face, but I’m here to tell you that they are simply that. Lies.
Those words we talked about earlier? Those words that we have allowed to define us? Scratch them off the list. They are not you.
Fat? Created in the image of God.
Stupid? Learning and growing.
Unattractive? Perfect in His eyes.
Useless? Worth all the world to Him.
Failure? Trophy of His grace.
This is who you are. This is who I am.
How do I know?
Because He’s said so.
The moment I being to forget and start to beat myself into the ground is the moment that I know that I have not listened to His gentle encouragement in too long.
If you’re grinding yourself into powder, go and ask Him what He thinks of you. Ask Him how He sees you.
And then believe Him. And go free.
This is who you are.