I've struggled with it for pretty much as long as I can recall. There have been times in my life where it wasn't such a battle... Sometimes because it didn't feel so forcefully overwhelming... and other times because I stopped fighting, and allowed it to carry me wherever it willed.
In the battleground of my mind and mirror I've bled in anguish and experienced victorious freedom. I've walked securely in that freedom that my Savior offers for years, only to have it rear its ugly head, and in an instant revert my mind and heart to my insecure fourteen year old self... Apparently she's still around.
And apparently she's not overly impressed with the 32 year old version of herself. With my stomach that's been flatter, arms that have been stronger, eyes that were sharper, legs that used to run faster, hair that was blonder, skin that used to be clearer, mind that was smarter, smile that's been straighter... And when her criticisms showed up in my mind sounding like part of the "Mean Girls" script, but in my own voice, I was not prepared.
See, I thought I had starved her to death. I revoked her regular diet of magazines and air-brushed-people watching, restricted her appetite for the constant comparison game, and got a new "tape" to play in my mind based on Truth. I had even learned to swallow the sweetness of compliments from honest loved ones... But she hadn't disappeared.
She was just hiding.
Hiding behind the thick "make-up" concealer of the right hair style, better fitting clothes, acquired make-up skills, clever responses, harder efforts, consistent workouts, well-behaved children, fashion advice, slightly impressive drum skills, handsome husband, edited selfies... Behind my shell of having it "all together"...
A shell I don't even remember constructing.
A wall that I fear to look behind, yet have no clue what I'm guarding.
A blockade that stops true intimacy, even with the God who created my deepest parts...
It was my seeking Jesus for that deeper closeness that loosed the ugly issues I had been concealing. God does answer our questions, be sure of that. It was the gentle hand of my loving Savior that removed my ability to ignore that deep down in my core I still clung to the perception that I am ugly. Physically: ugly. Emotionally: crazy. Skillfully: inept. Practically: annoying.
I don't yet have clarity as to why I would cling to these assumptions. Possibly as a self-depricating defense against the chance that others found me this way... But there I was, staring in a mirror, seeing ugly, hearing Jesus call me "wonderfully created", and not knowing how to reconcile these. I prayed. I cried. I shared with close friends. I studied His Word... But the same passages I'd highlighted on my journey to past freedom just added to the question "why am I back in this pit?"
God still speaks. It wasn't Isaiah 43:4 calling me precious & loved. It wasn't Psalm 139 telling me I am hand-crafted wonderfully. It wasn't Romans 8:35-39 stating that nothing can seperate me from God's love... Although those are all amazing truths. It was Philippians 1:6 that God used to whisper to my warring heart "be confident that I WILL complete this work in you that I started."
Not in myself...
Not in my appearance...
Not in my mirror...
He is faithful. He is true. He is working in me...
So I'm planting that seed of Truth deep in the dark recesses of my heart. I'm not just swallowing it down lightly to feel better momentarily, but truly letting it do battle with what I fear so much. It's scary. It's hard. Yet I'm convinced there will be a harvest of true freedom and beauty that is worth more than the fight can hurt.
"Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Philippians 1:6