Tuesday Topic: Self-Image

Tuesday Topic (4)

Someone told me I was beautiful today.  She said there was something about my smile and the way that I articulated myself when I spoke.  She told me I am bold and full of confidence. She told me that I was enough because God was enough.  She told me that I was created in God’s image and that the likeness of Him that I carried seemed to light up the room.   She told me that my freckles danced with every smile.  I smiled on the outside, but on the inside, my head hung down in disbelief because I did not feel like those words held any truth.  As I looked to the eyes staring back at me in my broken mirror, all I could do was smile at the girl who handed out compliments in the form of bright yellow and hot pink sticky notes.  I put on my red lipstick, filled in my untamed brows and walked with her words whistling in my ears.  With each step, I became that person she spoke so highly of.

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” – Genesis 1:27

This month on the “Tuesday Topic,” we’re discussing self-image.  A lot of us walk around like we are so full of confidence, but on the inside we see an image of a person we do not want identify with.  So many women are in competition with one another to the point that they are actually tearing themselves down.  They cover up behind pounds of makeup, extensions, and fancy clothes and create this outer shell of manufactured self-acceptance.

Sticky Notes

At one point in my life, I literally depended on sticky notes to get me through the day.  I posted these notes with scriptures, affirmations, and words of encouragement all over my house, my car, and my purse.  I would find these notes stuck to my children and crumpled up or torn in random places.  I’d dust each one off, unfold them and place them back in their designated place.

Yep, I was broken.  So much so, that I felt that a few sticky notes would literally keep me together.  I truly broke out of that place in my life one day when I realized that my encouragement was within.  God did not create me in broken pieces but he created me as this whole person with a whole purpose.  He created me in the likeness of His own image which is an honor.  I got tired of piecing myself together and acting as if everything was fine while not really dealing with how I felt about myself.

You are okay!

I’m saying all of this to say that we must be able to get to this place in our lives as women where our smile is purely a smile and the words “I’m okay” are just that, not two words masking an inner scream.  When we look ourselves in the mirror, we must be able to look at ourselves the way that God sees us.  In love, grace, and compassion.  It took me to fall a few times and literally lose some hair to realize that I absolutely love this woman I see in the mirror.    I realized that I was hand crafted by my created and what I might have seen as a flaw was His imperfect perfection.   I’ve literally just gotten to the point where I can go out in public without filling in my eyebrows.  Yes, that is a true accomplishment for me.  I’ve learned to embrace my insecurities over time and turn them into what I love the most about myself.  Many women deal with issues of self-image on a regular basis and it’s not an easy hill to climb.

“Before I knew you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you.  I ordained you a prophet to nations.” – Jeremiah 1:5

While dealing with my own issues on how I saw myself, I realized that I needed to make sure that my daughters did not have the slightest opportunity to feel the same way I did.  I’ve learned to not only speak life over myself, but over them and to them as well.  This world outside of our household can be an ugly place and we must make sure that our daughters are equipped for what’s out there.  My daughters know that they are beautiful both inside and out and that they are intelligent and loved.  We write each other love notes and whisper compliments in each other’s ears.  We play dress up and makeup artist and have a “girl’s night out” every weekend.  They know that they are the most beautiful girls in my world.  They know that they are capable of doing all things.

My shadows saved me

I watch how my oldest wants to be like me.  She dresses like me and follows my every step.  These girls are part of the reason why I love myself so much more.  They see me in a light that I would not normally see myself in.  They are my shadows and follow my every move.  They encourage me and find beauty in my flaws whether I’m “dolled up” or dressed down.  Who knew a 4-year-old and a 7-year-old could teach me so much about myself?

What do you see when you look at your reflection in the mirror.  What is your perception of yourself.  How can you change that perception? What do you do to encourage yourself each day?   Let’s talk about it in the comments.

 

 

Tuesday Topic- Uncomfortable Conversations: Depression

Tuesday Topic (2)

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance. …For You are the God of my strength…”

-Psalm 42:5, 43:2

This month on the “Tuesday Topic” we’re discussing depression.  Depression is definitely a topic that leads to uncomfortable conversations in today’s society.  I’ve been seeing this topic slowly come to surface more and more on social media, which is a good thing.  It needs to be discussed.  There are more people dealing with depression than you’ll ever know.  Some don’t even know they are dealing with it themselves. It could be your best friend, co-worker, or even your spouse.  Depression is something that needs to be understood and dealt with carefully in order to fully see healing in that area of a person’s life.

For most people, depression is one of those things that they just don’t deal with.  It can be perceived almost as an invisible creature that doesn’t really exist, as if it were the “Boogie Man.”  It’s constantly brushed under the rug along with other happenings that often occur in the household that are left on the hush, such as eating disorders or molestation.  We’re told to close our closet doors and cover up our truths with our security blankets in the hopes that it would somehow just go away with the rise of daylight.  Depression is a silent monster that seeps its way into spirits without a trace of its entry.  It is a spirit that is not of God.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, depression is defined as follows:

a state of feeling sad :  dejection anger, anxiety, and depression (2) :  a mood disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant increase or decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies bouts of depression suffering from clinical depression

Depression can occur in any woman at any time for several different reasons.  It can be caused by abuse, medications, conflict, death of a loved one, genetics, major events, personal problems, illness, and substance abuse.  So basically, it can be caused by almost anything in life at the drop of a dime.  Some are more susceptible to depression than others and it can take a toll on all aspects of one’s life.  According to an article from Mental Health America entitled Depression in Women,  “approximately 12 million women in the United States experience clinical depression each year and about one in every eight women can expect to develop clinical depression during their lifetime (2017).”  Depression is NOT a normal part of life and it must be dealt with, but delicately.

In my own personal experience, depression can feel like drowning in a river while tied down with cement blocks.  I’ve felt immovable and lifeless during the state of depression.  It feels like intense pain inside disguised as comfort.  It feels like being sucked into quicksand and falling into an unknown sunken place of darkness filled with doubt, anger, sadness, and low self-esteem.  Depression is a constant battle that I’ve fought continuously in my life and I still do at times.  It’s something that hurts my soul and somehow leaves me breathless.  Sometimes, as I find myself crawling out of my “sunken place,” I slowly slip back down with my arms stretched out helplessly, but I find that others don’t quite understand.  I’ve only recently expressed this to my husband, but there is still a disconnect when it comes to explaining the feeling.  It’s like I’m yelling at the top of my lungs, but only the sound of silence reaches the tip of my tongue.  It’s hard to fully describe or explain what the feeling is to someone who has never felt it.  To someone else, it may be just a phase that can be cured with a little prayer.  Yes prayer works indefinitely, but I would often find myself hiding away from my faith in the comfort of my depression when things got tough or just hard to deal with.  I would see myself at a standstill as the world around me is continuously spinning uncontrollably.  My faith during these times was tested immensely.

So how do we overcome depression?  How do we assist others that we are close with that feel like they are battling depression alone? Support from others is key whether it’s by giving a person space or being by their side every step of the way.  Either way, you are supporting that person by respecting their wishes within reason.  Do not ignore signs of depression and do not sweep it under the rug.  So many take this topic lightly and don’t realize that depression can easily lead to suicidal thoughts.  “Over 90% of people who die by suicide have clinical depression or another diagnosable mental disorder (WebMD, 2016)”.

For some people, alone time and space is necessary for healing. It allows them to sort through their thoughts and emotions to enable them to push through the process.  Sometimes they just don’t want to be bothered.  They know what they need to do and how, but it just takes time to get out of that dark fog.  Some prefer to just be alone in their bubble, so allow them that time for healing whether it’s in the course of days, weeks, or even months.

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Others may be seeking support and understanding from loved ones.  They may need someone to be a listening ear to let out any pain or frustrations they may be dealing with while in their depressed state.  A pillar of utmost support is needed without judgement. Hold that person’s hand every step of the way and be present.  Understand that it will not be easy.  What is not needed, is negative energy, or being told that it’s a phase or to just get over it.  You see, depression is not so simple for those who are in the midst of it.  Coming out of depression is truly a process and staying out is even more of a task.  Being depressed can really mess with a person’s mental and spiritual state.  The state of depression can have a person off track in their spiritual walk with God in a major way.  Each day that they fall deeper, they can find themselves further away from Him.

Between  molestation during my childhood, a time of separation in my marriage, diagnose of a disease, stress, doubt, and low self-esteem, I felt completely broken to a point where only God could put my pieces back together again and He is… one by one, piece by piece.  While finding my way out, I’ve made bad decisions that led to even worse mistakes.  I remember nights of sleeplessness to the point of insomnia because of deep depression.  There were days when I just could not function at all.  I felt incapable.  I felt worthless.  I was to the point where I felt as if my presence was no longer needed on this earth.  Through many trials, I had to realize that my life did have a purpose and I was needed.  I had to pull through the pain, hurt and frustration in my life and turn it into something I can use.  I realized that all I was going through was a test and I needed to pass in order to see a true breakthrough in my life.

Createherstock Happy New Year Pack 5

Of course the ultimate cure for depression is God.  He is always the answer and the cure.  During my times dealing with this, God and His word were the furthest things from my mind.  I found it easier to just sit and sulk rather than to push through and lean on His word.  I would feel the spirit tugging on me to get on my knees and pray or dust off my bible and see what the Lord had to say about my situation and I would turn a deaf ear to it all.  Now, I’m not at all saying that breaking out of a depressed state is easy, but what I am saying is that with God there is ease.  His word is the complete handbook for the ins and outs of our life’s daily struggles.  I find so much release and relief in His word.  Daily, I would make baby steps to find my way back on track.  I would immerse myself in song, journaling, and devotion to keep my mind steadfast.  I’ve used sticky notes around the house with positive reminders and scriptures to get me through the day.  I constantly reminded myself that the storm I was going through was temporary and that God would pull me through as long as I had faith in Him.  I wouldn’t allow the devil the satisfaction of using my soul as his playground.  I smiled through my rough days and encouraged others as I encouraged myself.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things”

-Philippians 4:4-8

Don’t think for a second that you are alone in this.  Regardless of your situation, God is available.  He is listening to your prayers and requests.  He hears your cries.  Be encouraged and keep pushing through, whether it be a loss of a loved one, difficulties in the marriage, or issues in health, He is the only way out.  It may seem like it’s hard right now, but just know that this is only for a season.  Jeremiah 29 verses 11 and 12 states, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”  God’s plan for your life does not end here in this moment.  If you have fallen in depression because of fear or guilt, please know that God is not mad at you.  Your mistakes are not who you are.  They are your testimony of where you have come from, not where you’re going.  He created you for a purpose whether you see it now or not.  You are needed.  You are loved.  You have purpose.  You are capable.  You are enough. Trust, believe, and know these things.

“We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed… Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

-2 Corinthians 4:8-9, 16-18

Have you ever dealt with depression? If so, how did you deal with it? 

 

Merrium Webster: Definition of Depression Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/depression

Recognize the Warning Signs of Suicide. (2016)  Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/recognizing-suicidal-behavior

Depression in Women (2017) Retrieved from http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression-women