Happy Friday again!

Today I feel like the Lord is tugging on my heart, eager for me to know Him and to see myself the way He sees me. I have recently been struggling with my image, both physically and mentally, wondering what it is that I can be proud of, what is good, and what is really beautiful about me. I've never had deep self-esteem issues regarding my looks, and I attribute much of this to my parents, who were always encouraging and wonderful. I feel confident in myself but, of course, I have my own demons to fight off. When I was ten, I was lucky enough to get braces, which took away my biggest insecurity. I have always been slender and what many would call flat-chested (a second major insecurity until I got married =), but I have nice hips and I love being tall. My entire life I've been very physically active, either playing sports, walking everywhere, dancing, etc., but since I started working full-time and, now, holding down two jobs, I never have time to work out. And I'm not just saying that. I get up at 7, work from 9-12, drive to my full-time job for an hour, work from 1-10 at a desk (I try to walk around the building alot and take the stairs), and then get home with enough time to see Pierce, chat, and get ready for bed. The weekends arrive and I want to do so much and visit with my loved ones, and workouts get put on the backburner. In short, I am at my heaviest weight ever. I will admit that it's only ten pounds more than what I weighed in high school, but I have been at this weight for two years and I hate it. I have no muscle definition anymore, and I like to be fit and active. My clothes feel weird on me. My work is hindering a truly healthy lifestyle. Mostly I am bummed at myself for my inconsistent eating habits and for continuing to put so much pressure on myself. I don't want to obsess about my looks, but it seems to be all I can think about. My teeth have been shifting back, causing an overbite and other issues, and I need braces again. I hope to get Invisalign by the end of the summer to fix everything, but it's frustrating because I already went through this for three years! My parents worked so hard to make sure I had what I needed, and now I will need to get my teeth straightened a second time. =/

In short, I have long been critiquing myself based on how I think I should be, and not on how God sees me. I am constantly rethinking how I speak, what I say, what I wear, how I feel, or how I look and it is bearing heavy upon me. This is not the type of attitude I want to have. I want to trust in the Holy Spirit to help me honor God in the way I treat others and how I approach life. I want to take a step back and start making little changes that make a big difference. Degrading myself is not going to bring back my old size or a better outlook.

One of my my best friends has struggled with her weight for the last couple of years, even though she's curvy and beautiful, and she's been running on her treadmill everyday to get in shape. She made a commitment to a little change in her life, and she seems to feel much better about herself than she has in a long time. She looks incredible, and she has made me want to do the same. I need to start listening to the people around me who are loving and supporting, rather than listening to lies and irrational expectations. It's just very difficult to drop a habit that has been slowly working itself into my daily life for two years.

Why do we do these things to ourselves? In my heart, I know that I am beautiful and that there are a great many things I should be proud of; why do I focus on the negative instead of the positive? I will always strive to be better, but that's just life. It's a process, not an event.

I want to encourage everyone who reads this to know that you are loved by an incredible Creator, who made you who in His image, and there is nothing ugly about that. Although it's much easier to give advice than to take it, I'm going to try and do the latter, inch by inch, from now on.

"I want to be beautiful, make You stand in awe,
look inside my heart, and be amazed.
I want to hear You say who I am is quite enough,
just want to be worthy of Love.
-Bethany Dillon, Beautiful

Have a wonderful weekend!


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