Be real! Take your “mask” off. Your children can sense if you are pretending or if you are not “present” with them. Love yourself and all your imperfections. Cure your shame and rejection by being authentic. Don’t compare yourself to other moms. And don’t compare your child to other children or their siblings. Let go of what others want you to be. As my close friend says, “You be you, Boo.”
It hasn’t always been easy being authentic and taking off my masks. It was hard work. I would meditate on scriptures that encouraged me. I would read books that helped me see my worth. I would look in the mirror and tell myself amazing truths about myself. I wrote out my whole life story. I have been to groups and counseling that gave me tools on how to heal. I knew I needed to reroute my brain and renew my mind since there were years of it being off track. But even still, I battled negative thoughts that sometimes would immobilize me and distract me from fulfilling my purpose.
Turning 40 was hard for me. One day I was getting out of the shower, and I happened to glance up at the mirror. Immediately, I began feeling very worthless. All I saw was my imperfections, my pooch on my stomach, and stretch marks that went all the way up past my belly button from carrying five kids. I was getting gray hairs and some wrinkles around my eyes and forehead. I had puffy eyes that looked like I hadn’t slept in days. As I was blow-drying my hair, I could feel my arms jiggling. The strong muscles in my arms were starting to get flabby. My thoughts just kept getting worse and worse. I am “used” goods, an abandoned, divorced, old lady who has to raise five kids all by myself. I am not lovable. Who in their right mind would ever love me?
I was having a huge pity party that day called, “How ugly is Erica? “… I started crying deeply, almost mourning the body and life I used to have before I got married.
At that moment, God spoke to me so clearly, “I SEE YOU!” It wasn’t an audible voice but an inner voice that was so sweet and loving. I knew it was God. “I see all your imperfections and all your labels, and I love every inch of you.” I fell to my knees, weeping. I felt the tangible presence of Jesus hugging me. I had never felt so loved before. That day deep healing took place in the bathroom. I left with a beautiful smile on my face and a new spring in my step. And why shouldn’t I? To know that the creator of the universe sees ALL of me and still loves me, even my faults and my many imperfections, was an incredible revelation and life-changing moment. The realization that God can be my husband went from my head to my heart that day in the bathroom.
Weirdly enough, God helped me fall deeply in love with myself. Not in a narcissistic way, but in a healthy way. In my mind, I ripped off the imaginary labels that had defined me for so long…ugly, divorced, abandoned, ashamed, abused, lonely, single mom with five kids, and tore them all up and burnt them, so they could never haunt me again.
Knowing God loves you no matter what you look like or act like should make you love yourself in a way that no earthly person ever could. It no longer matters what the whole world thinks of you, “if God is for you, who can be against you?” -Romans 8:3
Sadly, many women forget to love themselves first after God. I now see that if I had taken off my masks, taken care of my body, emotions, and spiritual health first before I ever tried to be a wife or mother, my life would have been much less self-centered and more God-centered.
Jesus knows your deep wounds, unrelenting pain, shameful thoughts, ugly labels, and brokenness but loves you anyway. He sees you as beautiful, amazing, and unique, faults and all.
God hides his greatest treasure in the weak, those who are scarred and can no longer “perform.”
“In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” Romans 8:37-39