Me, My Self Esteem and I

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a blog written by Jennifer Lynn

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Who or what is staring back at you in the reflection? Do you like what you see or do you go straight for the self loathing and personal critiquing parts? Perhaps what you see is every decision you’ve ever made, the good, the bad and the oh so ugly. I honestly don’t know which is worse. I mean, the physical appearance we can always do something about. Hit the gym, eat healthy, get a new hair do etc. But those things we can’t change, the things we can’t take back, that guilt and shame staring right back at us. What am I supposed to do about that? How do I choose to see who and what is staring back at me?

I’ve always had issues with my self esteem to some degree or another over my entire life. And not just how I look although that’s been a big part of it too. Especially as a woman, I think there is a whole other layer of self loathing that we are inherently “gifted” with at birth. As if life wasn’t difficult enough. I’ve tried keeping myself as thin as possible over a long period of time. And then adding bouts of depression here and there later on in life was a great help in that. If you ever want to lose weight quickly by completely losing your appetite, depression will take care of that for you. (Not that I highly recommend it.) It’s taken me YEARS, along with some rewired thinking, to be able to look in the mirror these days and think, “Okay, not too bad…not bad at all.” Especially after looking at some old photos from a few years ago and being able to see just how unhealthy I was…and looked! It’s made it easier to accept gaining some weight (on purpose) and actually embracing having a figure again. I can still have off days if I’m not careful so I am always mindful to remind myself that being strong is better and healthier than being “skinny”.

My physical appearance has only been a part of my struggle with how I see myself. For the longest time I didn’t even like the sound of my own voice. I love to sing. Music is a passion of mine. But getting more confident in my abilities and using my voice has been a long process as well. I’ve had many wonderful people in my life along the way (and still do) who God has used to help, mentor and encourage me to confidently use what God has given me and to them I am indebted for life. I have had wonderful opportunities that have come out of those relationships that mean so much to me.

Usually in a room full of other singers, my voice has more often than not been the one that stands out. Not because I’m better, but because I’m different. Especially in certain circles where you’re often expected or preferred to sound like the latest trend. My voice isn’t “pretty” or sweet or cute sounding. I can’t do fancy vocal runs to save my life. And I’m not usually the one belting out power ballads with everyone applauding along. My voice is twangy, raspy, loud. I was always drawn to female singers that had that same sound. That sang with soul. I knew I could sing along with them rather than the typical female “pretty” sounding vocalists.
I’m finally in a place in my life where I’ve accepted what God has given me, the WAY He’s given it to me. I will never sound like anyone else. I will never sound like the latest trend or whoever is popular and I don’t want to. I don’t want to blend in, I want to stand out!

I remember, a few years ago when I auditioned to be apart of a church’s worship team (not the church I attend now). I remember being so nervous. It had been a long time since I had sang in front of people but I knew I wanted to sing. I met the person I was to audition for at the church and we sat at the front of the sanctuary. I sang a couple short verses for them a capella and then they accompanied me on guitar for a short hymn to see if I could harmonize as well. After I was finished I was welcomed on to the worship team. But more importantly it was what this person said as to “why” they said yes that meant the world to me. They said “We don’t have anyone that sounds like you… .” To be honest, it still makes me tear up when I think about it, even as I’m writing. I’m SO thankful for that day! Something that still resonates with me today and continues to give me the confidence to use my voice the way it was intended. Unique. Different. One of a kind. That’s me baby!

I think out of all of the issues related to my self esteem, the hardest part has been living with past choices. Looking in the mirror and remembering every little detail. Every little memory. I’m 36 years old and now every new line on my face is a piece of my life that I can’t take back. There are no do overs. Forgiving others is a whole other battle but learning to forgive yourself? Learning to let things go and be gracious towards the version of you that didn’t know better or had to learn lessons the hard way. Where do you even start? It’s never easy and it’s a daily process but ultimately, the only way to see myself the way it was intended is my faith. My relationship with Jesus.

There are many noises, many distractions in our world today that will attempt to tell us how to think about ourselves. Every time you open a magazine, every time you scroll through your social media feed. Or even people from a past life that for some reason enjoy reminding you of who you used to be, even though you’re not that person anymore. Anytime we try to move forward there will always be voices that pop up to remind us of every flaw, every poor choice, every consequence. The question is, who are we going to believe? The voices in this world, the voices from our past, the voices in our own head or the voice of God?

Go ahead and take a look in the mirror and let me remind you of who you really are.

You are a child of God.
You are loved by God.
You were thought about, formed and created with love and intention.
You are not an accident.
You have a God ordained purpose for your life.
You are unique on purpose.
You were created for relationship first and foremost with God and second with others.
There IS hope.
Peace of mind IS possible.
There IS life and joy after sorrow.
A broken heart CAN be whole again.

His name is Jesus. He is my mirror. He is my reflection. And He can be yours too, if you let Him.