Do you struggle with believing lies? Do you have a hard time loving yourself – as you are, right now? If so, I’m confident this guest post from Bess Blanco will be an encouragement to you today. Her honest words are laced with hope and healing, and I’m happy to share them with you here.
In my years of coaching hundreds of beautiful souls through portions of their weight-loss or healthy-living journeys, I’ve seen the struggle of low self-esteem and a lack of self-love in a whole new light.
It has become apparent to me that the enemy seeks to “kill, steal, and destroy” us through his number one weapon: a lie! It’s the lie that we believe about ourselves in our own minds: that our identity or worth is in any way attached to our outward appearance or our body’s abilities!
How is it that my internal worth meter swings wildly between feelings of securely belonging to my Heavenly Father and feeling accepted by Him – to inner disgust for the outer shell of this body I carry and its shortcomings?
This back-and-forth in self-worth is not always about weight and appearance. Many times, the “trigger” is from my body’s inability to perform at the level of physicality it used to.
I was strong before I got this sick. So strong. I was ABLE to go and do and be at a level I can’t even TOUCH now.
This has broken me down in many ways, learning and resigning myself to this “new normal” that I don’t like and didn’t ask for.
I know I’m not alone in this, as many precious people I serve have shared through their own story. Many people are dealing with a profound loss of ability in this new age of increasingly-common chronic illnesses and unwanted weight creeping up that are robbing us of our strength, stamina and clear thinking. And many times, our self-worth is being stolen right along with our physical health.
As sickness has increased in my life, weight gain has too. Hormonal problems (thyroid in my case) over the years has only helped the weight pile on. I’m a tiny girl to begin with, barely 5 foot 2, so even the additional 30 pounds is embarrassingly obvious. Disordered eating began to develop (even knowing what I know as a food coach!) as I scrambled to deal with the “side effects” of chronic illness and an ongoing genetic spine issue that resulted in tremendous daily pain. It’s a LOT!
Turns out, I’m not alone in this part of the journey either. So many beautiful people I’ve been honored to partner with in coaching tell similar stories…and my heart breaks.
Some of the people I have spoken with have never experienced being thin or fit, so they had a difficult time picturing themselves that way. I believe it’s because they had never seen a physical vision of what “could be.” They had lived in an overweight body their entire lives. Maybe it also had to do with the absence of belief in them that they could one day look and feel completely different than their “normal.”
Others had found themselves putting weight on little by little over the years, slowly but surely morphing into a “whole other person living in my body in addition to me” as one woman told me. Hormone changes, physical limitations, chronic disease, childbearing, disordered eating…so many reasons, so many opportunities for the weight to creep up and the self-esteem to sink.
An interesting phenomenon in my observations over the years of those who struggle with self-esteem: the fact that a person 20 pounds overweight can be in as dark or even darker place with how they see themselves in the mirror versus someone who is 100 pounds overweight. There seems to be no prerequisite for the enemy to whisper dark lies of appearance-based identity in a precious heart’s ear…only that they be human and God’s child! That alone seems to qualify us as a target for the lie of shame.
It certainly doesn’t help that there’s a constant flow of influence from social media, comparison, social standards and verbal comments on what we “should look like” or be able to do. Not to mention the “looks” many speak of experiencing from society…the looks that can’t be defined, but they nudge that inner critic that waits to jump to action.
So the motivators for the lie of shame are both external and internal…and so many are suffering in silence with this deep issue of self-worth.
The problem is, when shame and guilt are the motivators for solving the problem, the fix becomes about appeasing the old slave master of our mind. And the crazy part is, the entire time, all of this is based on a bald-faced lie of the enemy of our souls! That our worth hinges at all on outward appearance or ability? That we somehow can earn God’s acceptance or the approval of others?
So what can we do to combat the lie? Is there a way out of the wormhole of discouragement and false identity of low self-esteem?
Yes, lovely you, there most certainly is.
I will tell you, it is not a 1-2-3 step process. There is no magic strategy to take someone from where they are in their self-love journey to a new mind overnight. No, it’s a long-term process, a deeply personal process. It’s adopting a new commitment to ride out the ups and downs in this area of growth.
Here’s what it takes:
#1 Stubbornly hanging on to the commitment of finding the truth about our identity.
Hang on to your commitment to truth as strongly as you ever did to accepting the lies that the enemy would tell you about your outward appearance, your self-worth, your abilities. You’ll have to be on-purpose, and strengthen yourself through loving and gracious people, affirmative words, Biblical promises and songs that affirm your worth.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8
#2 To climb out of this seemingly endless mind battle, we have to recognize our need for a new identity.
Our identifier can no longer be something we DO or DON’T DO to “earn” our own self-acceptance or approval from God or others. Our mentality has to be renewed to believe that what God says about us is TRUE. And He says plenty in His Word. We have to find it, fill our mind with it, memorize it, and say it out loud. Putting some of these relevant Scriptures on 3×5 cards all over our mirrors, fridge, car, computer – wherever we’ll see them most – is a powerful method of mind renewal!
“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking. Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration—what a creation! You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.” – Psalm 139:14-16 (Message)
#3 Lastly, your motivator has to change.
Instead of your motivation for change being about feeling self-disgust due to listening to the “voice of the lie” and appeasing it with desperate measures like crash dieting, extreme momentary exercising, and even quick fixes (like magic solutions, pills, anything they claim “melts the weight off”) – you’ll have to renew your mind around this.
Battling the behavior can NO LONGER be a solution, no matter how attractive the “quick-results” might sound. You must begin to make choices that heal from the inside out. These are choices that will affect you in the LONG-TERM, and they must be made ONE SMALL STEP, one day, one choice – at a time!
Only then can your incredible body begin doing what it was created to do! Heal. Grow in strength. Stabilize. Metabolize.
Only then will your body begin to release the unnecessary weight: naturally, easily, organically. Possibly even permanently.
And as you heal, you’ll be able to fully embrace the truth of who you are (inside and out!) as God’s beautiful creation.
Bess Blanco, Health Coach and Founder of FRESH Start for Health, lives her purpose daily as she coaches, writes, speaks, and shares the message of hope and healing all over the US. Happily married to her best friend, Juan, they live with their four kiddos and two fur babies together in the sunny southwest desert of Arizona.
For more encouragement and to learn practical ways to put this renewed mindset into practice, visit the FRESH Start for Health blog!