I’ve struggled for years with self esteem and the ability to love myself. But I’m on the path to everyday holiness and learning to live as a daughter of God.
This post contains a review of a workout tank from PioPrints. All opinions are my own
Two weeks ago, I did a photoshoot with my talented friend, Rachel. We had a blast wandering around Old Town Manassass for an hour, pausing in doorways and lounging in stairwells in search of the perfect shot. It was hot, and to be honest I wasn’t feeling all that well. But Rachel excels at making me feel fabulous. I left the excursion feeling confident and strong.
Until I saw the proofs.
Looking at them objectively, I knew the photos were good. Rachel had captured my personality, and I looked comfortable and at ease in front of the camera.
But do you know what drew my eyes instead?
My frizzy hair.
My wrinkled skin.
My thick waist, made all the more so by the band of my favorite white skirt.
Why didn’t I spend more time on my appearance? Why did I have to look so old? Why didn’t I remember to stand up straight and suck in all that mummy tummy?
“Because you aren’t perfect or beautiful,” a voice whispers.
And I hear it so often I believe it.
A battle’s been waging in my heart for years.
It started in high school, when like everyone else I idly complained about my weight and my skin and my lack of a steady date. None of it was true: I wasn’t remotely heavy; my skin was in pretty good shape. I even dated some nice boys throughout high school and college, but the doubt was far stronger than truth.
As time passed my perception worsened. At my dad’s funeral in 2005, I weighed ten pounds less than I had at my high school graduation.
And still I thought I was fat.
The next few months found me in dire straits. I avoided mirrors. I exercised excessively. Every morning began with “I’m disgusting. I hate myself,” as a daily affirmation.
Why? My parents had been supportive. My husband showered with me love.
Why did I feel so terrible about myself, and so far away from God?
I’m teaching a high school writing class for homeschoolers, and my class just finished up The Great Gatsby. It’s a quick, beautiful read, but the narrative is heavy, populated by empty people desperate for something to fill their souls. The women in the novel – Daisy, Jordan, and Myrtle – exemplify this most strongly: in the attempt to fill that aching emptiness, they wallow in liquor, materialism, and destructive extramarital affairs. Their self concept hinges on external factors; their loneliness can never be filled.
These women are Fitzgerald’s indicator species, a harbinger of the impending culture of death. Like many women in modern society, including me, they are victims of a flawed, imperfect narrative, one which tells us we are broken by virtue of that which makes us whole.
But here is the truth we must fly in the face of society:
God’s design for femininity is perfect. His plan for womanhood isn’t flawed.
We must rest in the knowledge of Psalm 139:
You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I am wonderfully made.
On the Path to Everyday Holiness: Learning to Love Myself
Over the past few days since I saw my new headshots, I’ve come to a few conclusions. Loving yourself takes courage – it takes believing that you are perfectly made. It also takes a healthy, holistic approach to living, one focused on union with the heart of Christ.
I’ve been working toward that with a few things, like the mass, sacraments, and scripture, for starters. But I’m also diving headfirst into a renewed sense of purpose in my physical endeavors, seeking to reorder my workouts in a healthier way.
The rosary’s been a fixture of my runs for years, but lately it’s become more of a habit than devotion. Where I used to meditate on the sacred mysteries, I’ve been meditating instead on the food I should haven’t eaten or the five minutes I cut from my run. My workouts have been a mode for punishment lately, and I needed an encouraging boost.
I found what I needed in an unlikely place. Pio Prints carries a line of fabulous workout tanks, featuring empowering quotes from the saints. They were kind enough to send me one, and it’s the softest, most comfortable take I own.
I also happens to be emblazoned with my favorite quote from St. Joan of Arc:
I am not afraid: I was born to do this.
I’ve worn this top for several workouts now, and with each adventure I grow more united to my role as daughter of God. It has kept my focus on the beauty within me, reminding me that Like Joan of Arc, I was born to be the woman he made. I have a renewed sense of purpose and focus, quieting the desolations which creep into my heart.
I’m no longer running to punish myself. I’m beating a path to holiness, instead.
When you find yourself grappling with the same struggles, take courage.
He created you and loves you, without question or qualification.
Please don’t be afraid to find holiness in your womanhood.
Learn to love yourself.
You are a beloved daughter of God.
This post is part of the CWBN Blog Hop: Everyday Holiness: Different Ways to Pray. Hop on over to read the wisdom of my colleagues!