Yes, this is me in the picture. The photo was taken my 5-year-old nephew which explains the angle. I decided to use this photo because today’s post is about embracing all of who I am, all of who God created me to be. It is something that I struggle with and I wanted to share my story with you.
As I sit down to write this I have tears welling up in my eyes. This is painful for me to write because it takes me back to a time in my life that was very painful for me. It was a time that a lot of people I know say was the happiest time in their lives, but for me it was a time of pain and depression.
Why am I writing about this time now?
Because lately God has been showing me that a part of me is stuck in my past.
I am overweight and insecure and fighting to keep myself from falling into depression, and all of it leads back to this painful time in my life. A time that I have to continually and intentionally let go of over and over again.
It is my back story. It is the story of what has shaped my life and defined in my mind what it means to be a woman.
It is what comes back to haunt me every time I mess up and in every relationship I have had.
It is a story that hundreds or thousands of women can relate to.
Over twenty years ago, I was attacked. Oh, I wasn’t attacked physically, but I was attacked mentally and verbally. Not just once, but again and again.
I was attacked at the core of who I was. My femininity, how I saw myself as a woman, was attacked.
It started when I was in the 5th grade and continued through to high school.
By the time that I graduated from high school, I was severely depressed to the point that I contemplated suicide. The only thing that stopped me from actually attempting suicide was my love for my family. I just couldn’t do that to them.
When I did finally try to open up about what happened, people’s reactions just made me feel worse about myself.
I saw myself as a victim and worthless. I truly believed that I had nothing to offer anyone.
I put up walls and shut myself down emotionally.
If I did allow myself to experience emotion, it was usually anger and bitterness.
I didn’t allow myself to see myself as feminine, as a woman. Most of the time I just tried to see myself as just a person, not male or female.
The only thing that really brought me out of myself was working with young children.
I threw myself into becoming the best preschool teacher that I could be. I worked with the children’s ministries and youth ministries in the various churches that I attended.
A couple of years after high school I let go of my anger and bitterness and allowed the Lord to change that part of me. I became a happier person and learned to make friendships with people my own age as well as with children.
But I still kept a part of myself hidden, the part that wanted to be married and have a family of my own, the part that was romantic and sentimental, that part that loves getting mani/pedis and feeling beautiful and feminine. You know the part that sighs when a man brings you flowers or tells you that he wants to spend the rest of his life with you. The one that loves watching romantic comedies and candlelight dinners.
It wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I even realized that I was still hiding this important part of me. I was dating someone and he said that I wasn’t very feminine.
A couple of years later someone asked me if I wasn’t married because I was a lesbian.
A year after that I was talking about being engaged and a co-worker said, “Oh, but I thought you were…” and then stopped herself.
I’m not and never have been a homosexual.
I just hadn’t embraced the feminine or womanly part of who I am. I have suppressed it until recently and then shocked people when I suddenly started opening up to that side of me.
Oh, I’m never going to be a woman who loves lacy, ruffly and flowery, frilly things, but I am more inclined to wear pink and dresses than I was. I am learning to embrace the woman in me, the soft and sentimental side, the romantic, the dreamer.
Now is the time…the time to reclaim that part of me, the time to rejoice in being a woman.
It is time for me to stop hiding…behind the walls that I have built, behind the weight that I have gained, behind my fears.
It is time to open myself up and to learn how to love myself and others the way that Jesus loves me.
It is time for the caterpillar to become the butterfly.
It is time to embrace all of me and become the woman I was meant to be.