There are always opportunities to help others and we reach out but it is harder to accept help. Over the years I have really struggled with compliments. Oh don’t get me wrong, I will accept them and say thank you and maybe even blush but on the inside… it is a different story. This has little to do with anyone else other than me and my internal issues. Don’t judge!
I mentioned in an earlier article about an exercise coach gave me to stand in front of the mirror and look at myself, really look at myself and deal with the feelings it created. It sounded simple enough but I couldn’t do it immediately. I was raised to have a moderate opinion of myself and so this simple act felt like vanity. What??? Stand in front of the mirror and stare at me? Have I lost my mind? That is the doorway to vanity.
Don’t get me wrong. I use a mirror to check my hair, makeup, earrings, outfit, is the colour working? Do I look good? Yet to do any more than that was totally unheard of. It was vanity as far as I was concerned. It was an opportunity to think more highly of myself than I ought. It would be an opening for all kinds of madness I didn’t want to find and I wasn’t about to do. Shock on me a few days later, when God reminded me of the assignment!
Now I was cornered. If God is reminding me about it, it means that I can actually do this and it would not be vanity. I battled with God for a few more days because I had so many questions but as He pulled back layer after layer, it became apparent that the real reason I didn’t want to look at myself in detail was because I was certain that I would hate what I saw and I didn’t want to do that.
One Wednesday afternoon, when everyone else was out of the house, I set up the exercise. I stood before my full length mirror and looked at myself. I looked for a couple of seconds then I looked away and tried to remember what I saw… blank. I looked again and again for a few more minutes. Then it struck me…it wasn’t about vanity, it was about shame.
I was ashamed to look at myself because I felt I had failed to live up to my end of the agreement with God to take good care of my body. I was ashamed because I had insisted on reaching forty weeks in my pregnancy because I wanted to finish class so I got stretch marks that last week. I was ashamed for my love for chocolate that was still pushing more sugar than I needed into my body that was being turned into fat and stored. I was ashamed that I had been too weak to keep to the agreed exercise routine over the years and therefore had put on weight….and the list went on and on.
Every time I looked at me I saw a failure and that isn’t what I wanted to see.
I shared this with coach and his response was classic. ‘Just do it again.’
Again? Have you lost your mind? I’ve just told you how it made me feel and you want me to repeat it
Why? Why would I do something like that?
It is an exercise.
An exercise in my books is something you do repeatedly until you get it right or you overcome it.
I don’t want to.
You know that is not an answer right?
Right now it is! (as tears filled my eyes. He couldn’t understand even if I explained it again.)
Are you sulking?
Just know you need to do it again and again until you get it right.
I couldn’t believe his audacity. Why did he want me to go through so much pain? Why was he least concerned about my emotions? Why couldn’t I just ignore him and get on with life? why was this thing bugging me? Then my Father whispered…
Child…this isn’t about coach and his directions, it is about the instructions I have given you and how you must do everything I have asked you to do.
You didn’t ask me…coach did.
Isn’t he my vessel?
I don’t know!
Didn’t you ask me for help?
Didn’t I send him?
Then, the instruction is from me.
But why must I do this Father?
You need to see beyond your physical appearance to who I have said you and how I see you. You need new eyes and a new perspective; you need Me.
I walked back to stand in front of the mirror and though that first time I still saw faults, it was less painful to see them.
Why? I began to see through His eyes.
I came back the next day and the next and the next and the next and slowly, it all changed. A smile emerged, a giggle at a new white hair, a smile for a new shape, a loose skirt, a longer dress, space in my sweater…every change celebrated.
Finally I understood, He had a plan for me once I could see myself through his eyes.