oh friends. you’re in for a treat. i asked one of my very best friends, alese, to pop over and share a bit of her story with you today. this is a friend who has been in the trenches, and has been refined, not defined by her battles. if you’ve ever battled with insecurities, body image battles, believing lies…
do not miss a syllable.
So—I will just start off by apologizing. I am not a writer. If you were to look up my name in the dictionary, writer’s block would be found under my description. I struggle with writing for a multitude of reasons, but for time sake I will just mention two.
- Writing makes things real. Saying or thinking something is one thing, but writing it? It is in a field of its own. Which totally freaks me out.
- I hate following rules. I hate having to worry about if my grammar and punctuation are on point. So if poor writing skills make you shriek, I’d advise you focus your attention elsewhere and spare your neighbor’s ears. All silliness aside, one of my very best friends asked me to write a little something for her blog, so I will happily accept the challenge.
I, like many men and women, have struggled with body image issues from a young age.
At ten years old, I watched my closest friend battle an eating disorder. That is a fight that no young girl should ever have to face or watch a friend succumb to.
I would walk through the halls in high-school wondering what my classmates saw when they looked at me.
I remember living in the dorms my freshman year of college and overhearing girls talk in the bathroom about skipping meals to save calories for the drinking they would be partaking in that evening.
I still can’t seem to shake these memories. It’s as if they are ingrained in my mind forever and still haunt me from time to time.
For most of my life, I figured that having body image issues was the norm. It is a casual conversation amongst girls like guys talk sports over a beer. How bloated they feel. The calories they consume. How often they exercise. The parts of their bodies they hate and want to change.
Over the years, I allowed this seemingly innocent behavior, turn into an obsession that threatened my life.
One of the most impactful moments in my journey took place in 2011 when I was in Uganda. I know, I know, it sounds super cliché but keep reading.
One evening, a small group of us were hanging in the back quarters of the compound where we lived. My friend asked if he could pray for me.
I remember sitting, hunched over, with hands pressed on my shoulders and back, and uncontrollably weeping (and if you know me, crying is NOT my jam). Every word spoken in those ten minutes was, without a doubt, divinely inspired.
He described a vision of me standing by a beautiful river, but I was enclosed behind a clear glass wall. I was trying to break the glass to get to the water but I was struggling immensely. I couldn’t do it on my own.
Once I realized I could not break the barrier with my own strength, God shattered the wall so I could freely move forward. The problem was, I kept being lured by the broken pieces from the wall that was once holding me back.
The sharp edges of glass would continue to cut me deep when I reached back for them. I was given freedom to move forward but I kept wanting to return to the thing that imprisoned me for so long—like an addict returning to their substance or a dog to its vomit.
I learned so much from this moment.
I learned that my internal struggles will not just disappear. They will be a temptation on a daily basis.
And I have the choice to move toward what enslaved me or toward what God has set before me.
Two years after that experience, I married the love of my life.
Let me tell you, there is nothing more humbling than having someone knee deep in the trenches with you. It is extremely difficult to have someone holding you accountable in something that was once your hidden secret. But looking back, I can see exactly God’s reason for it.
Discovering Christ in the way my husband relentlessly fights for me is fuel to continue to focus on the eternal rather than the external.
i am learning from my past experiences where true beauty resides.
Looking in the mirror is not where it lies.
Hearing that you’re beautiful from others is not where it lies.
The trendiest outfit and most expensive makeup is not where it lies.
The latest fitness craze or fad diet is not where it lies.
It is found in relationships. In the time spent in the Word. In the intentional eye contact to the person experiencing homelessness on the street corner. In the smile sent to the struggling mom of three at the grocery store. In the handwritten letters when a text message would have been easier. In spending your day-off doing something to serve other people.
Beauty is found in there.
God is at work in my life. He has power over those ingrained memories that tempt me from time to time.
I was made in His image. My life was created to be His masterpiece. god calls me his beloved. i am beautiful because he says so. i am enough because he says so. My identity does not lie in my struggles.
My identity lies in the One who shattered them by the water.
alese had this crazy-GENIUs idea to make prints that reflected truth back to you when you look in the mirror. at first glance, they look garbled and impossible to read. its only when looking in the mirror that you can see the truth of who you are and who’s you are. post these on walls opposite any mirrors in your house for a simple reminder of your enough-ness. of your beauty. of your true identity.