I texted a friend of mine a few pictures of my ball gown. There was a photograph which I didn’t like because I felt that it accentuated some parts of my figure that need some work… although the words I used in my comment to her were “back fat.”
She didn’t let me get away with it…
Because she is an amazing friend like that. “but you are not fat…”
Yeah, that’s great, but I don’t believe you.
Instead I just said “thanks.”
But in the next few moments I realized what had happened…the same thing that always happens: I am constantly tearing myself down internally. And in that moment, I realized that I was wrong for doing so. Listening to those inner voices whispering derogatory remarks has become so second nature that I believe them. I don’t fight them. I don’t tell them they are wrong. I just listen and believe:
“You are fat, you are a slob, you are a horrible mother, you are a horrible wife, you are a horrible Christian, why should anyone love you…” and they whisper on and on.
I don’t suffer from a lack of compliments or external praise. The REAL people in my life tell me the opposite of what the voices tell me. But I don’t listen to them. In fact, I let the voices argue with them in my mind. “Well, she doesn’t REALLY know you… He only says that because he is your husband and he has too… She has only known you a few weeks… She just says those things because she is your mother…” and on and on.
I decided in that moment that enough was enough. I was going to battle. But I had forgotten how. So I turned to my sisters in Christ…not for compliments or vain flattery, but for a battle strategy. I posted the following question on my Facebook page:
How do you silence the voices of self-doubt and self-deprecation that come from within your inner being? How do you BELIEVE the truths about you that you know in your head to be true, but fight to wrap your mind around? I don’t know where this struggle comes from (other than the fact that I’m a woman hounded by the unrealistic expectations of society), but I KNOW it’s sinful and I want to battle it, I just don’t know how. I’m NOT looking for compliments here. People can tell me that I’m loved, attractive, a good wife and mother until they are blue in the face, but I rarely believe it within, and will shoot down their compliments in my head. How do YOU do battle with yourself? Cuz most of the time I lose to myself.
The response was so overwhelming, helpful, and refreshing that I had to share them. I have known most of these things for years…but forgotten…but I’m starting this battle again:
From Carly: I think the “what you look like” and “if you are a good enough wife/mom” questions are different, but actually have the same answer: maintaining an “eternal perspective.” To address the first issue, it doesn’t really matter what I look like, how much I weigh, that huge zit on my face…it’s all temporary. In fact, I will probably weigh more, get more wrinkly and not-model beautiful before it’s all over. The reality is, God created me the way He wanted to, with all my faults and weaknesses, every wrinkle a minute closer to being with Him. I really love Isaiah 40 for that: All flesh is grass. Yeah, we are temporary and fading…but that’s supposed to be encouraging, not discouraging. As far as the “am I good enough” question goes, it’s all a matter of moving forward. If you are trying your best, repenting when you screw up (not just saying “sorry” but turning away from the sin), seeking His face…we won’t ever be good enough on this side of Heaven, but that’s okay, too. This is how I evaluate it: What was my motivation? Was it for my husband or kid’s good? If yes, then the screw up doesn’t matter much, if no, then I don’t do it again, or at least try. Weakness is good…it’s in our weakness HE is made strong, right? Plus, He created your weakness, not to give in to it, but so He could help you overcome it. He’s not surprised by it. Anyway, that’s how I deal with it.
From Ashley: It’s very hard and a constant battle. I think every woman struggles with it. It’s something that I’ve struggled with a lot. There have been plenty of times that I have felt like I just wasn’t good enough. But when you stop trying to live up the the world’s expectations of you and start viewing yourself the way God sees you, it makes a whole lot of difference.
From Carissa: I would also recommend saturating yourself in anyway, shape or form with God’s word. the battle we as Christian women face is that of the unseen world & we must fight with the tools God has given us. one verse that comes to mind, that i find myself repeating very very often is from Philippians 4:8-9. “think on things that are…..” if some sort of crazy, false thought comes to mind sometimes i have to repeat over & over “think on things that are true, etc”. replace the lies with Truth.
From Sarah: Whenever i am feeling “not good enough” or ugly, i have tried to make it a habit to give to someone else. sometimes that means writing a note to my grandma, sometimes that means helping someone clean their kitchen cabinets, sometimes it means baking something specifically for a neighbor (be careful – if the brownies burn, you might still feel bad). it’s great to replace my selfish “i’m not good enough” thoughts with “i am God’s and He is good enough,” but my brain sometimes doesn’t go there directly. i needed an action to get out of my rut.
From Gina: You have to change what you say to yourself. When you think a self depreciating thought, you must replace it immediately with what you know in your head…. Because by doing that you will eventually retrain your thought process. When you pay attention, you will be surprised how many thoughts you will be replacing! Imagine what God himself would say to his daughter curled up in his lap. ♥
From Mary: For me it’s staying in God’s Word. Some key verses I’ve found include ones that remind me that I’m created in HIS Image! I also enjoy the ones that tell us that the heart is deceitful above all things. Also knowing that the battle is not against flesh and blood but against the powers and principalities of darkness of this age. Another good verse talks about satan being the father of lies while another another tells us to not LET our hearts be deceived. That last one showed me it was a choice. I have to know the truth, especially when I don’t *feel* the truth. Finally came “take your thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ” So for me it is: Know God’s Word; Know that it is TRUTH. Recognize the lie, take it captive, think on positive truths like Phil. 4:8 that says “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Shine with God & let His truth be your beauty.
From Audrey: Usually when I’m dealing with an “I’m-not-good-enough” attitude, I’ve started focusing WAY too much on me. When I’m focused on me, I’m not focused on Christ. Whatever I am as a wife or whatever isn’t because of any ability in me, it’s because of what Christ has done in me and for me. I really do believe that if my view of Christ is correct, my view of self will be correct.
From Leah: I think all women struggle with this. And it is the result of being self-focused instead of God-focused. Confidence comes from God alone- it comes from resting in WHO GOD KNOWS WE ARE or what God knows to be true about us, not from our own perspective of ourselves or even God. From experience, I’ve found that when I’m totally depending on God, I am the most confident in who I am. Not depending on God destroys confidence.
That afternoon I went to put on a clean t-shirt and I just grabbed one of the first shirts I could find…my “Radiant” t-shirt. It’s just a bright pink t-shirt with the word “Radiant” on the front and “some verse” on the back. I’ve owned the t-shirt for about a year,…I bought it at a PWOC conference because I had packed all long-sleeved clothes, but the conference center was warm and I was sweaty. It was a short-sleeved tee that was pink. It served it’s purpose.
But as I put it on, the verse caught my eye:
They looked to Him and were radiant, And their faces were not ashamed.
Wow…was not that JUST what all those women were telling me?! King James Version renders it this way:
They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.
Well, lightened isn’t quite as pretty of a word as radiant… But as I dug deeper, I realized that the portion “unto him, and were lightened” all comes from one Hebrew word nahar which means to shine, beam, light, burn or to flow, stream. Three other times in Scripture this same Hebrew word is translated as “flow together.” Wow. So not only does it mean that looking to God will make you shine and beam, but by looking to Him your view and HIS view can flow together until you can hold your head high without shame!
I hope that this post has been as helpful to you as it was to me. How about YOU? Do you struggle with this? How do you silence the inner voices? How do you embrace God’s love and be RADIANT?