This post is inspired by the very popular book Girl, Wash Your Face. Each chapter starts with a lie Rachel believed about herself, and goes into the details about how this affected her life and then what she did to combat the lie. Today I really want to share what one of my own chapters would be out of this book: a lie that took root in my mind and has done so much damage along the way. I hope you'll read it and be encouraged to look at your own life and see what lies you may be believing about yourself.
The Lie: I'm not enough.
As far back as I can remember I’ve wanted to fit in. To keep up with my big sister and older cousins (they used to chase me with locust shells, and they gave me the superhero name "Fruit Juices", which I thought was SO cool, much to their amusement). Be in the latest “club” on the elementary school play ground. Be noticed by the popular boy in 5th grade (I still remember a group of girls getting him to pretend like he was coming to tell me he liked me, and then them all laughing). Stand in the popular kids' spot before classes in middle school. Get my ponytail as high and my bow as big as the girls in eighth grade. Be on the high school dance team.
As I reflect back on all of these years I see the pattern. The longing to be included, liked. And then a lot of the time consequently being rejected. I see how this pattern continued into my adult life. For some reason, turning thirty this past year has made me become more retrospective. And honestly I’m left heartbroken when I think back on the things I’ve done throughout my life to try to matter. Like when I told one of my best friends in middle school I couldn’t be her friend any more because she wasn’t “cool” like I desperately wanted to be (thankfully I got over myself a couple years later and she became one of my closest friends again). Or when I changed the music I liked and the way I dressed so I could be more like a new group of friends I wanted to have, and ultimately catch the eye of a boy I liked. Or the time I welcomed the flirtation of a coworker, and, if I'm being honest, even encouraged it, even though I had a boyfriend and he was...married.
I think that moment was a rock bottom moment. Realizing how badly I had screwed up in this quest for validation. It was the wake up call God needed to send my way. That I couldn’t keep looking for my worth and validation in other people. The consequences of that were not only damaging to myself but potentially, and especially in this instance, damaging to others. I wish I could have learned that the easy way, but I’d apparently missed all of the lessons He tried to show me before that moment. And while this event caused a shift in me as far as constantly seeking and needing the attention of others to feel “enough”, I still struggle with feeling enough on my own sometimes. I’ve still found myself stuck in a room of people fighting to figure out where I fit in and what I needed to do to be accepted.
It’s just been over the course of the last two years that I’ve found myself breaking that cycle. The cycle where I struggle to just be myself. To just like the things I like and feel the way I feel and not be swayed by someone else’s opinion. I’ve never felt more free in that regard. But this “enough” monster still shows up for me. Telling me I’m an outsider. That I’m an after thought. That I’m not quite as good of a friend, mom, wife, artist, writer, WHATEVER as the next person. It’s exhausting and overwhelming fighting that lie some days. But that’s just what it is: a lie, straight from the enemy. I’m thankful that I’ve finally grown enough to see that.
The lifetime of seeking validation and ultimately facing a ton of rejection has taken its toll. The wounds are real. The things I struggle with as an adult make sense as I look back over the course of my life up until this point. It’s easy to brush off the choices and the wounds of our childhood and adolescence, dismissing them because they were small and so long ago. But there’s a reason therapists dig into your childhood when you sit on their couch. Patterns of thinking and responding start early and are only emphasized over time.
I'm going to venture to guess I'm not the only person who has or does believe this lie about themselves. That your worth is tied up in what you do or who you're with or in someone else's opinion. It's exhausting, isn't it? We have to choose to stop believing it. We have to fight against this lie. And let me tell you now, the only defense and the only chance we have against a lie is when we combat it with the truth. The enemy has no weapon that can stand against the truth of God’s word.
So here’s the truth: your worth is not based on a single thing you do or don’t do. You are worthy just because you are you. Because you are loved by a God that believes you are worth the price of His own Son. You are His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). Someone else's opinion of you does not have the ability define your identity or your value.
My hope is that reading a little bit of my story will put some kind of a wake up call in you. I don't want you to have to learn hard lessons the way I did. I don't want you to be stuck in this ugly lie another second. It's time to get rid of the junk and embrace the good, embrace who you are.
Let me also leave you with some practical things I have done to get past this lie.
Say it out loud. Look yourself in the mirror and remind yourself all of the wonderful things about you. That you are fearfully and wonderfully made. That you are God's masterpiece. That your worth is set, and there's nothing you can do to change that. Saying these words out loud is powerful. And when your brain hears you saying them out loud, it will begin to process these things as true. I’ll say it again, Truth is our only defense against lies.
Invite your friends into your junk. You think your own voice is powerful? Add the voices of your friends into the mix and hot damn, y'all. It's a beautiful thing. Find friends that will literally punch you in the arm when they hear you saying something entirely not true about yourself. Surround yourself with a tribe of women who you can be vulnerable with, who listen to you, and who build you up. Take the power out of the lie by letting others know your are struggling with it. Satan loves nothing more than for us to be stuck in the midst of a struggle on our own.
Go to counseling. If there are some deep patterns that are trenched in your brain, find someone who can help you decipher them, learn where they came from, help you fully process them, and point you to the truth. There is no shame in asking for help, even if you don't think your problems are that big of a deal. YOU are a big deal.