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I've cried a lot this week. Your responses to this series have 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:
"When I was 11 years old, another girl in my grade asked me a question. 'Would you wear socks if you didn’t have feet?” Of course, I said no. Her response was 'Then why do you wear a bra!?' This was in front of an entire crowd of 6th graders. I’ve been a late bloomer my whole life, and my bra size has always been a source of displeasure when it comes to how I perceive myself. That situation also shattered my confidence in more ways than a 6th grader could ever realize. I have spent my life trying not to be noticed and staying behind the scenes. It wasn’t until I met Jesus and realized my worth is in Him that I could ever imagine being bold and outspoken. I’m still learning and retraining myself, but it’s so freeing not to care what others think of me - as long as I am abiding in Christ!"
"After my son was born I 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, binge eating, and relationships with people who treated me badly. 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."
"My mom told me that my breasts were like fried eggs, that you can’t be skinny enough, she criticized my dressing, my hair, and pretty much everything. When I made a comment in my 40s that she and I have the same jawline ( Jowls) she was so offended that she up and had a total facelift and was absent for 6 weeks. When she returned back to everyone’s life, she promptly told me that she did it so we do not look alike. So, at 68, it’s still a struggle so I work on not caring. Not so much acceptance. Just not caring how I look. Sad, huh? I guess she did the best she could."
"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 heart-wrenching 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 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.