This afternoon my dear friend Holly Thompson wrote a note on Facebook that hit home with me. No, I haven’t had children, but still I find myself finding things to hate about myself. And I’m horrible at accepting and truly taking to heart compliments. I think we all are and that this note can be a great reminder to love ourselves as we are for all, not just us ladies.
Here is her note:
Listen Up, Ladies
Today at Walmart, a complete stranger peeked at Jerica in my cart as we stood in line to check out. “She’s adorable!” She said, to which I readily agreed. “How old is she?” I explained she’d be three months old on Thursday. “No way,” the woman said, “you look way too good to have just had a baby three months ago!” And that’s when I did it. I began explaining that I did NOT, in fact, look good. That I still have at least 10 pounds I’d like to lose, and I just don’t understand it – I’m almost back to pre-pregnancy weight, but my arms and legs are still fat – what’s up with that? Because they weren’t before! And seriously, I would totally have been in the gym before now, but she’s been so colicky, and it’s like I just can’t have a minute to myself, so I’ve just been EATING and EATING, haha, and I thought breastfeeding was supposed to help, and…
She was a stranger, you guys. A STRANGER. With no idea what I looked like before I got pregnant. With no clue that my life is hectic, that Jerica is the fifth child in our household, that I haven’t been to the gym, etc. What she knew was that from her experience and in her opinion, I looked good. And she made the effort to tell me so. We’re women. You know how we get; we compare everything about ourselves to everything about everyone. And if that weren’t bad enough, we’re catty. So we often withhold praise, or give passive aggressive compliments, etc. This lady, knowing the struggle, reached out to make me - a stranger - feel good. And I shut her down HARD.
This is just the latest example; I do this all the time. And I have a feeling all of you do, too. My sister (who is also my best friend and confidant) and I were just having this discussion the other day. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why do we do this to each other? Why are we so dead set against receiving compliments or – gasp – feeling confident? I know she and I aren’t the first to ask this question, but then the question becomes why are we all STILL asking this same question? It’s time to be as gracious to ourselves as we are to others. I’ve always envied my sister. She’s younger than I am, but she’s also a thousand times prettier than I am. She’s got this gorgeous little waist, legs for days, boobs that are in the right spot, hair that always looks ridiculously good (and she’s always like “I seriously just woke up and left it like this”), etc. As we sat having this conversation, she told me how she doesn’t feel pretty, how she’s gained weight, how she wishes she had a nicer butt, etc. We started thinking about virtually every girlfriend of ours; they all complain about at least one thing they hate about themselves – something that we’d either never noticed or didn’t see the same way. If we don’t see the flaws of our friends and loved ones, why is that all we see when we look in the mirror? And this isn’t just physical, ladies – this is personal. There are plenty of things about my personality that frustrate me – things I wish I could change, things I wish I could hide. There are plenty of highly public mistakes I’ve made that I wish I could undo or at least have stricken from everyone’s memory. And because I think about them all the time, I feel like everyone else probably does too. Like I can’t walk into Walmart without perfect strangers going “not ONLY does that girl have fat arms, but isn’t she the one that…”
But instead, a perfect stranger at Walmart told me I looked great.
And these are the people I don’t even care about. Why do I put THAT much thought and concern into what strangers at Walmart might think? My kids love me. They love me so much. They’re so blissfully ignorant that I’m a terrible mother! They don’t hold it against me when I’m impatient, when dinner is disastrous, when I forget to send something to school, when I don’t have enough money to do x, y, or z cool thing…they just LOVE me. And they tell me I’m a good mom. And I’m THEIR mom, so maybe I should let them be the ones to make that call. And my boyfriend (who is outrageously fit and attractive) tells me daily that I am the sexiest woman alive. That I have a beautiful soul. That he loves the way I think about things, that I challenge his beliefs, help him to grow, and give him peace. He has said on more than one ocassion that I am everything he has ever wanted in a woman. And what do I do, guys? That’s right. I start proving him wrong. It’s like I make it my mission to make him change his mind – and the last thing in the world I want him to do is change his mind. If I don’t want him to SEE the cellulite, why do I point it out? If I don’t want him to remember my mistakes, why do I keep bringing them up? We pay Hollywood to pay actors to say these things so we can ooh and ahh and cry over them, and here he is, a real live man that I’m ridiculously attracted to, saying them to ME. And he’s the most honest person I’ve ever met (seriously, I’ve had to tell him on several ocassions that we don’t have to tell everyone everything we know). So why shouldn’t I believe that he finds me sexy? Just because I don’t see myself that way? I am robbing myself of joy. That’s all.
I know that God sees us perfectly through the filter that is Jesus. And yes, that should be enough. But I’ll be honest, guys. For me, it isn’t always. Almost never, in fact. It’s hard for me to lean on the the acceptance of someone I can’t see or speak to – or some days even feel. And so I care what everyone on earth thinks. And you know, to a point, I guess we should. Anybody who says “I don’t care what anyone else thinks” is 1) lying and 2) misguided. The problem is that, as I mentioned, I’m letting it steal my happiness – and it probably isn’t even legitimate. When I stop and think – really think about it, from the most objective standpoint I can manage – I’m doing well. I’ll kick the rest of this weight – I will. It took nine months to gain it. I can be gracious with my body. After all, it just performed a miracle. And things ARE hectic. If I had a nanny and a personal trainer, I too would look like a celebrity after they give birth. But I don’t. And so for what I’ve got, I’m just fine. I should be proud. And so I’ve made mistakes…I’m not alone. They’ve been big. They’ve been public. But I have learned from them, and I have learned humility and the power of grace and forgiveness on top of the multitudes of other life lessons. I’m a better person now than I was just a year ago. That’s nothing to be ashamed of; I should be proud. I have three amazing children of my own, and two that I’ve inherited but love just the same. I’m not always good at the things that I feel qualify one as being a good mom, but the kiddos are all well fed, well dressed, well behaved and well loved. I should be proud.
I know that there are people who would love to have my life. It’s high time I be one of those people. So from now on, the next time someone compliments me, I’m going to do my best to say “thank you.” And the next time I see an opportunity to judge someone who I now realize is struggling with a thousand insecurities just like I am, I’m not going to. And the next time someone points out a flaw, or brings up a mistake (because there’s always going to be a hater or two, am I right?!) I’m going to say “I’m working on it.” And instead of letting it get to me, I’m going to try to do just that. Work on it. And throw a little grace in the hater’s direction, because I know they’ve got struggles too. And when they realize all of this that I’m slowly coming to realize, they’re not going to want to be a hater anymore. That’s exhausting. And I’ve been my own biggest hater for far too long. I’m Kevery, Layna, and Jerica’s mom, I’m Joey’s girlfriend, and I’m the daugher of the King. I am good enough for them. And so I am good enough for me.