I have fairly recently discovered that I actually need other people.
And I’m somewhat of a people person… who knew?!? A crucial part of being a human being is interacting and forming relationships with other people, and that includes the elusive other half of the species known as the male gender. This terrifying, and super startling realization has caused a fair amount of distress to me. Mainly, because I am overweight.
For a solid majority of my life, I believed that my extra weight made me unlovable. I saw my body as “unworthy” of male attention, or affection. The lightning shaped stretch marks, the rolls around my waist, the bulge of a second chin… each of these physical characteristics marked me as defective, grotesque, fat. Societal expectations defined the parameters of beauty in my world, and unfortunately I never made the cut. I believed that no man would ever look at me and see someone worthy of attention, affection, or even simple kindness. Some of that had to do with male middle school bullies, who realllly enjoyed pointing out my weight, but a solid majority of this mindset that I carried towards the men around me was self-imposed. They may or may not have found me unattractive, but because I found myself lacking I projected these feelings of inadequacy onto them. I later learned that an extremely low self-esteem is oftentimes seen as highly undesirable. I essentially created a “fat and ugly” prison for myself. I projected feelings of dislike onto the guys around me, they caught on to my intense self-hatred, and then would proceed to actually find me unattractive, which caused me to feel more isolated and unlovable… It became a cycle that I was caught in for many years. It led me to seek male attention in any way that I could, which ultimately led to some of the biggest mistakes of my young adult life.
It took a lot of time to realize that all of the aforementioned things were really not the problem at hand. It wasn’t the guys I was into, the cycles I fell into, or even my extremely low self-esteem. It was the issue of Identity. Everything that I believed I was, was completely wrapped up in worldly things. I was searching for some amazing, emotionally stable, teenage guy to save me. I had no real sense of self, and whoever or whatever I really was I was certain I hated.
It took me a long time to understand that the only amazing, emotionally stable guy who could actually give me my identity was Christ. I was saying that I was fat, unlovable and disgusting. Jesus told me that I was his holy temple, a place for him to dwell, and his divinely inspired creation. I said that no man could ever find me beautiful, and Jesus told me that I was created for so so much more than being physically beautiful to men. I was telling the God who knows all, that he had somehow committed his first mistake with me. That maybe he forgot something, or maybe he fudged up the part where I was supposed to be 125 pounds soaking wet. He told me I was knit together in my mother’s womb, with purpose and future intact. He gave me a new identity.
I still struggle with this. I struggle with the idea that maybe someday, God will bring a man into my life that I’m meant to marry. I struggle with insecurity. I want to get out there and date, but oftentimes I feel those creeping feelings of inadequacy grow. But I do know this, when God brings a man into my life, I will have boundaries, and be able to love him with the love I am shown by my Creator daily. I will be able to love from a place of wholeness, and not from a place of self-hatred. And most importantly, That relationship won’t define me, because my identity is found in Christ.
A very valentine-y addition
On today, of all days, I’m reminded of this post and the truth Jesus has spoken to me about my identity. I wanted to write a little addition to encourage those around me in a similar position. (And also for myself, because I need to hear this too!!)
Learning to see yourself as Jesus as Jesus does is a lifelong process. Seeing yourself as someone worthy of the ultimate sacrifice, when you cannot see your own inherent worth is such a huge painful journey. I write this to remind you (and me) that we are never alone in this. For every isolating “only I feel this way about myself” thought you have, know that their are at least a couple million people feeling the same way At the same exact moment. Acceptance and love are hard-wired into our biological needs, and you are no different than anyone else in that regard. Let others love you. Let them into your struggle, let them shine a light onto your insecurities and show you that you are still a person worthy of their love. Jesus designed us for connection, and denying that part of yourself denies others the joy and privilege of seeing life through your personal perspective. And to all my single ladies, know that just because we crave connection and acceptance from our male counterparts (which is totally a good and normal thing) If you find yourself without a man on Valentine’s Day, know that you are no less of a person, or incomplete for it. Take the time today to love the one who loved you first, or take steps towards loving yourself. There is 100% nothing wrong with buying yourself flowers. (I’m gonna see if I can find some peonies, my fav!!!)
All this to say, whatever your relationship status, wherever you are on this crazy weird journey of loving yourself, you are not alone and I’ll be here to celebrate your victories along the way.