When I was growing up I always felt like I was different from everyone else. Kids made fun of me for having red hair and freckles. I was called “freckle-faced strawberry” and told “I’d rather be dead than red on the head” by kids at school. As I got older, I felt like I was living in the shadow of my father who was a legendary football coach. Guys were scared to death to come near me because of my Dad’s reputation of losing his temper on the football field. Because of my father and being picked on, I felt alone and different.
I tell you this because I wasn’t comfortable in my own skin. It took me a long time to overcome those feelings. Every time I looked in the mirror I would pick at myself. I didn’t like what I saw. My hair color always bothered me. My face was too full. I had too many freckles. And my neck had way too many wrinkles in it. I hated my looks and I hated myself. I was full of self-condemnation.
I asked the Lord in my journal, “Could you help me please? Could you help me run to you instead of wanting to hide in a corner? Could you help me feel accepted and loved instead of condemned? Could you help me turn to you for wisdom first instead of turning to someone else? Could you help me to remember that you are here to help me and not hurt me? Could you help me to remember that your ways are not my ways?”
God had allowed many disasters in my life. I was scared to death to face anymore. I felt like the disasters had crippled me. I was done. I couldn’t get over anything else. I wanted to shout, “Enough! I can’t handle anything else in my life right now! Please leave me alone! No more!”
At this point in my life, I didn’t feel like I was improving through my counseling. I wanted to get better so much and I didn’t feel like I was. I didn’t see an end to anything. I felt like I was going to be like this forever. I played the comparison game all the time. I compared myself to others that seemed like they had it all together. I wasn’t listening to what God was telling me. I wanted to move ahead so much and I was stuck. I wanted to be done with all the counseling and the reading and the self reflection. I was sick and tired of looking at myself. I was actually waiting for God to get mad at me so I could say, “I knew you couldn’t handle me! I knew you would give up on me and tell me to go away!” I was so warped in my thinking and was looking for Him to send me away.
When I got like this, God had a way of pointing me to truth either from an author or in scripture. This time it was Beth Moore. I was in one of her Bible studies. She talked about how God can use anyone because He chose to use her. She mentioned how stubborn God’s love had been for her and how patient He has been with her. I started thinking, “Why should I be afraid of you, when you have been so patient with me and loved me with your stubborn love? Why do I wrestle with that issue?” The reason was because I hadn’t been shown unconditional love by my father. My father showed me conditional love. He only showed me love when I did it his way. I was so scared when I knew I had done something wrong because I believed my Dad wouldn’t love me anymore. I was always afraid of him not loving me anymore so I would try all the time to please him so he wouldn’t have an excuse not to love me. I was afraid that God would be the same way as my Dad.
I wrote in my journal, “Lord, I am mad at myself. I am a sinner and I can’t understand why you would love me. I can’t wrap my head around that kind of love. You are too good to be true. I keep waiting for you to give up on me. I hate myself. I know I am not supposed to hate myself, but I do. Please help me understand your love for me. Help me see myself through your eyes. I know you love me unconditionally but I don’t understand that kind of love. Help!”
He responded to me, “Laurie, I am not like your father. I will not yell at you. I have more patience than you will ever be able to understand. I will not condemn you. I want to love you and help you. I will bring you peace and healing. I don’t want you to hate yourself. I will never stop loving you no matter what you do. I am for you and not against you. I want you to claim my peace for you. I want you to lean on me and trust me. l want you to picture yourself resting your head on my shoulder and leaning on me. I have my arms wrapped around you. Just be still and rest in my love for you.”
Now, that I look back at this stage in my life, I realize that I hated myself for many years because my Dad wouldn’t love me with unconditional love. I actually felt responsible for him not being able to love me. I was convinced there was something wrong with me because no matter what I did my Dad couldn’t be pleased. I was loathing myself because I couldn’t get him to love me the way I knew a Dad should love their child. So, I was trying to pay for my sins by hating myself. Jesus death on the cross wasn’t enough. I had to pay too.
I was a total mess! I had so much trouble accepting the way God made me and I still struggle with looking at myself in the mirror. Getting old is not easy to look at! I am a work in progress. But now I can honestly say that I have more confidence in God’s love for me. He has been there for me and helped me with my self-loathing. The reason why I share scripture with you so much is because it is truth. My counselor and the books that I have read always point me in the direction of God’s truth. I hope you can realize how much God loves you and may you find peace and comfort as you search for truth. Until next time!
Isaiah 54:10 “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”