I've cried a lot this week. Your responses overwhelmed me. You were vulnerable, honest, and raw. You shared your stories with me, a practical stranger. Although, I feel like I know you more deeply than ever now. Here are three (anonymous) stories that touched my heart.
"After my son was born I had visited New Jersey where I am from, and I was standing in front of the mirror putting mascara on. My mother walked by the bathroom and said, "what's the point of putting makeup on when your body looks like that?" I closed the bathroom door and I cried so hard. This kind of treatment of course led to an eating disorder when I was 16 and starved myself for months. As well as years of extreme exercise, starvation diets, and binge eating, and relationships with people who treated me bad. I had zero self esteem. I learned that the only value I had was the way I looked and I was nothing without that, and that's all that I had. I'm 39 years old now and it's been a long journey, but I am at the place now where I completely love myself. I know my value is inside and I'm determined to help other women know that too."
"I was a pastor for almost a decade and told countless girls they were beautiful and meant it and then secretly struggled with certain things I saw in the mirror (big knees being one) and I quietly made changes in my life to cover those things. (Yes I chose capris and longer dresses over shorts and cute skirts to hide those big knees). But those big knees held the weight of my babies as I carried them inside. Those big knees have carried me miles and miles when other people gave up, hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing etc. and those big knees allow me to get down on the ground to play with my babies and then lift me back up to carry them along in life close to me. I’m so thankful for these big knees because they have shouldered a big burden that maybe smaller knees might not have handled so well. Gonna be proud of these babies from now on and not hide them…because my daughter got my big knees too and hers are beautiful!"
"Since I was in 2nd grade (I'm now 61) I was teased and told, 'you're stupid', 'you're fat', 'you're ugly', 'you're poor'. Hearing that EVERY DAY in school and not getting affirmation at home that I was not those things, they settled deep within me and left scars. Deep, painful scars. I've been able to overcome much of it over the years. My husband of 41 years tells me constantly that I'm the most beautiful and gorgeous woman ever. That I'm his queen. My kids tell me I'm so beautiful and remind me I'm created in the image of God. I KNOW that to be true, but it's releasing the lies and choosing a different truth that takes time. I've gone thru counseling and much prayer and devotions. I'm not fully there and may not get there until I'm with my Savior."
There were so many more beautiful and heartwrenching emails. Even though I can't share them all here, just know that I've read every one of them. Thank you for bearing your soul to me and for trusting me with your stories. I know that each one of you has a powerful story to share. Not one experience goes to waste when you share those stories and help support others going through similar circumstances. And, if you're one of the ones enduring a hardship right now, be encouraged. Your story is not over. There is light, even in the darkest of moments. Even if you can't see them now, you will.
Until next week,
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