For many years, I literally didn’t see myself when I looked in the mirror. Instead, I saw the faces of the kids on the playground – the ones that I wanted desperately to play with, but I didn’t ‘fit in’. I saw the face of the guy in junior high that made it his personal mission to make my life a living hell. Every. Single. Day. I saw the faces of relatives who criticized my hair – too long, too short, too straight, too curly, too fluffy, too flat. My make-up too thick or not enough. Or *gasp* not wearing any at all! I saw the doctors’ faces telling me there was nothing more they could do to ‘fix me’. The people in various religions blaming my physical condition on some pre-mortal sin I must have committed. I saw my ex-husband telling me I was a horrible mother, and the ex-friend telling me I was a horrible friend. I saw the faces of total strangers that would approach me and have no interest in something as simple as my name, but instead (referring to my wheelchair) ask, “What’s wrong with you?”
Each comment, each criticism was internalized to the point that I actually ceased to exist. Everything MUST be inherently wrong with me! I became an existing shell that smiled on cue while completely disconnecting from a world that had made it crystal clear that it didn’t want me. I couldn’t even kill myself, as I was convinced that, as the sinner I must have been at some point, God didn’t want me, either. I was just a monster’s carcass in limbo.
Looking back, I can’t remember any epic ‘aha!’ moments when I decided to turn the world on its head and not believe everything I was being told. Maybe it was the little girl in the park that told me my hair was pretty? Or the guy in high school that actually wanted to be my boyfriend? Perhaps it was the lady behind me in the check-out line that sympathized with me regarding my cranky baby, because she’d ‘been there, done that.’ Or the new husband that told me I was beautiful and a good mom. Maybe it was all of them together that built me up, instead of the other ‘gang mentality‘ that was constantly tearing me down.
Whatever it was, the turning point did happen. Little by little, I started to see – and fight for – the person I was born to be. Regardless of what the rest of the world saw, I was more than whatever they saw me lacking. More talented. More spiritual. Prettier. Worth more. Not some ‘diamond in the rough’, but a diamond – regardless of any perceived rough spots!
That’s not to say that I don’t see my flaws. Trust me, I’m still acutely aware of them. But I’ve chosen to embrace them, instead of hiding my head in shame. I’ve learned that what one person perceives as a flaw is a unique and beautiful quality to someone else.
I stopped listening to my devils and turned my attention to my angels. To my Savoir. The One who loved me SO deeply that He gave His life to save mine. Literally. Even if I was all the awful things people had told me my entire life, even if I HAD done something horrible to ‘deserve’ my physical fate, there was ONE who had constantly and consistently stayed by my side. The. Entire. Time. Had I always felt His loving arms around me? No. Had I always recognized His infamous ‘footprints in the sand’? Nope.
But THAT was my fault. When you’re so consumed with the ugliness of life, it’s ridiculously hard to see the beauty. Seriously, I know! People talk about being spiritually or emotionally blind, and I truly was. I absolutely couldn’t see past the constant barrage of ugliness I was experiencing in my life, and it took a LOT of time and my own effort to turn it around. If it was to be, it was up to me.
My friends, if you’re reading this and feel ANY kind of familiarity with my story, I beg you to open your eyes and look beyond your current circumstances. Take notice of individual snowflakes – each one different, yet spectacular in its creation. Listen to the birds – Do you hear that each one has a different song? No two clouds are the same. Even identical twins have qualities that are totally their own. I could go on forever. But the beauty in your life is there – I promise! Just stop, take a deep breath, square your shoulders..and look for it!
The point is, we are ALL uniquely and gloriously made. Look in that mirror, look past your past, and demand to see you! You are worth the fight, whether the rest of the world sees it or not. We are ALL worthy, and important, and beautiful. There is nothing wrong with you – and there’s nothing wrong with me.