For most of my life, I’ve struggled with the way I look. I remember sitting in my parent’s bedroom as a child, on their bed, crying and asking, begging God to do a miracle and make my skin lighter.
When I woke up the next morning and looked in the mirror I was angry, sad and irritated. God knew the pain I experienced because of my chocolate, melanin-rich, sun-kissed skin. He made me this way and saw the way people teased me, called me ugly and how awkward I felt. He made me this way and He refused to change it.
I didn’t understand it and I refused to accept it. I grew up in a predominately white neighborhood, and at the time there were only one or two Black families around (including mine).
While walking home from school in second or third grade, a white classmate, who I thought was a friend, told me, “You’re ugly because you’re black.” The sad part is that he said this to my face out of nowhere, but even sadder is the fact that I believed every word he said. Then I believed that every white person I encountered felt the same way.
Later on, when the black kids started to move into our neighborhood, mostly in fourth or fifth grade, they made fun of me for my dark skin and called me burnt, crispy, black, etc. I was tall for my age, so I was made fun of for this, in addition to being called “raccoon” for the dark circles around my eyes. I was called raccoon so many times by so many different people that it could have been my nickname.
So, as you could imagine, all of this, plus puberty, teenage growing pains and feeling awkward led to low self-esteem, lack of confidence, not feeling that I was beautiful and almost no self-love. I allowed others to misuse and abuse me because I didn’t value myself. I accepted what everyone said about me as truth, in addition to seeing my worth based on the way they treated me.
This affected me so much so that when I looked in the mirror as an adult, even recently, the reflection I saw was these words – negativity mixed with dislike and depression.
Well, since last June, I’ve been going to therapy (counseling) and this need for validation, for affirmation from others surfaced. I’d always craved compliments, sexy looks and attention (from men) to feel good about myself.
A few months ago, I had a conversation with God in the shower about the areas of my life that I might have been hiding from Him, and I asked Him to reveal them to me.
And reveal them to me He did. When I laid in the bed that night, I couldn’t sleep, so I laid on my back. I normally end up talking to God when I do this, so I looked up to the ceiling, took a deep breath and siphoned the emotions and yearnings of my soul to my lips, and spoke directly to God.
I closed my eyes and immediately had flashbacks of events in my childhood that hurt me, specifically the things people said and did to me that hurt my feelings. Tears ran down my eyes as I saw and felt each situation as if it were happening in the moment.
At the same time I was crying and releasing the feelings associated with these hurtful moments, I felt a deep peace around and within me, and I heard God say, “What they said about you was not and is not true.” In this moment, I realized that I accepted and lived according to the words people said about me, and that it was time for me to accept what God said about me, not other people.
I instantly let go of the words I had implanted in my mind about myself and made the decision to view myself differently. I really began to believe in the meaning of my name, which is “beloved”.
I am loved. Not ugly, not crispy, I am who the great I AM envisioned when He created me with His very own hands and heart.
Two scriptures have helped me in this journey:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. – Psalm 139:14 (NIV)
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness…” – Genesis 1:26 (NIV)
Together these scriptures tell me that I am created with worth – with the same character as God, and I represent the diversity, the beauty that is Him!
God created and loves diversity – in ethnicity, gender, skin tone, features, hair, body type, etc. As a human being, I was created to reflect Him, who He is, His love, patience, forgiveness, kindness and faithfulness.
My worth, our worth, is not determined by our physical appearance or attractiveness, possessions, achievements or public acclaim. We are worthy because we are made in God’s image.
So with these 10 words I affirm myself, and so should you – on the days you love what you see in the mirror, the days you don’t, the days you said or did something you shouldn’t have, when you make mistakes or aren’t at your best.
“I am fearfully and wonderfully made, created in God’s image!”
In the Bible, the number 10 is “viewed as a complete and perfect number”, according to this.
In other words, you are perfect just as you are, and your relationship with God makes you complete!
Let’s love ourselves from the inside out because we are fearfully and wonderfully made by such an awesome, loving, caring, powerful, forgiving God. He created us exactly how He wanted us to be, and He loves us just the way we are.
Ignore what people have to say about you and focus on, accept and live everything that God says about you!
Have you struggled with low self-esteem? How have you learned to love yourself?
Be loved. Love you. Be love.
*Photo Credit: CreateHER Stock