The Struggle (With Self-Image) is Real

Let’s get personal for a minute, shall we? I’ve struggled most of my life with feeling like I’m not good enough. My very first memories are of being told that the things I liked weren’t “right”: girls were supposed to play with dolls and enjoy getting dressed up, not play football in the mud and climb trees. It didn’t improve as I grew, either. I wasn’t growing well. I was short. My face wasn’t pretty. I looked and acted like a boy. I was too skinny. Not ladylike. Too shy. Bad with math. My hair was messy. I didn’t know how to dress. I was frumpy. A nerd.

By the time I reached high school, my self-image was awful. If I’m honest with myself, the day that gangly redhead asked me to go with him to the homecoming dance, I thought he had to have been put up to it by someone who was trying to pick on me. I didn’t believe that anyone could be interested in me or find anything attractive about me at all. A year later, just sixteen years old and pregnant at the wedding that was more of a humiliating spectacle than a celebration of our union, I felt like I’d reached the pinnacle of failure. I was an embarrassment to my family, a burden to my new husband, and our child deserved better than what he had been born into.

I’m still struggling with all of those feelings. As much as I’d like to say that my faith is strong enough to push it all behind me and just rest in the belief that I’m so loved by my Heavenly Father that He’d let His Son die for me … I honestly identify more with the apostle Paul when he called himself a wretch. I still hear the voices in my head from my childhood telling me all the ways I’m flawed and that anything less than perfection isn’t good enough.

I’ll never be perfect this side of eternity. I don’t think I want to be. I know in my heart (and in my mind as well, even though it’s a fickle beast) that God doesn’t expect perfection of me because it’s unattainable. That knowledge doesn’t erase those feelings of being “less than,” though, so on my bad days I slog through life feeling as though everyone around me deserves so much more than I am capable of giving. On my good days, the imperfections don’t bother me as much. On my best days, I’m able to see just how beautiful those imperfections can be.

I don’t dare put myself out there as a know-it-all who’s got it all figured out and who is so strong emotionally that the yucky stuff never bothers me. I’m just a broken vessel who wants to share what I have learned in the hopes that it may help someone who may be in the rut I’ve made it out of. That’s what this life is about, right? The only reason any of us should look back is to see if there’s anyone we can help.

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