First, I made friends with myself.
I don’t know when or how it begins, but if you’ve ever battled insecurity, then you know what it feels like to look at yourself and ask, “Have we met?” For me, it started after I had kids and began to settle into middle age. One morning I flipped the light switch on in the bathroom and startled myself. Who was this strange woman staring back at me in the mirror—the one whose face looked familiar yet somehow more like an older sister or a doppelganger cousin who shared just the right amount of genes?
The first few times I stared at my reflection and wondered why I looked the way I did. Was I just tired? My skin certainly didn’t look the same. I’d aged 10 years overnight, or had a decade really passed?
At first, the stranger didn’t greet me every day, maybe once every couple of months when I’d not had enough sleep or wasn’t feeling my best. Then she began showing up more frequently until she became a familiar bully—the one who always told me I was aging and that my belly would never be flat again. I could see the extra pounds crawling up my hips and wrapping around my stomach and waist like a giant, squishy jelly bean.
I didn’t need her insight.
At first, I’d counter her comments with, “This is only temporary. Soon I’ll be motivated to work out again. Then you’ll see.”
She would only give me a side eye and a shrug as if to say, “Yeah, right. I’ll believe it when I see it.”
Then months turned into years, and before I knew it, my “enemy me” was greeting me every morning when I turned on the bathroom light. She no longer startled me. Some mornings I’d barely give her a glance before moving on to get dressed and go about my day. I resigned to the belief that there was nothing I could do about aging and all of the negative body things that came along with it, like creaky knees, weird sleep, strange muscle aches, and inflammation. My “enemy me” had won by making me think we were one and the same.
Then as quickly as things had spiraled downward, suddenly things began to change.
Years before when I first noticed my body behaving like a rebellious teenager, I prayed to God about my insecurities and heard Him whisper deeply in my spirit . . .
“Start by loving yourself.”
I didn’t like this. It made me uncomfortable. Loving myself meant I would have to forgive myself for my past mistakes. It meant not being so critical of the things I didn’t like about myself. It meant being vulnerable, which meant I wouldn’t be in control.
Nope. I wasn’t a fan.
Initially, I put what He said on a shelf because I wasn’t ready. Sometimes His words would slide off the shelf and drape across my shoulders like a warm scarf, but then I’d take the scarf off and place it on a higher shelf.
Then without realizing it, I stopped looking in the mirror. When I didn’t look in the mirror, I didn’t see my insecurities. When I didn’t pay so much attention to my insecurities, I didn’t have to contend with the negative words hurled in my direction from the backside of the bathroom sink. When I stopped focusing on the reflection and started focusing on the real me, something switched.
Soon I began waking up every morning and sitting on my front porch with my favorite hot drink and just spent time being quiet. When I was quiet and still, I could hear God’s whisper—not my voice, not the world’s voice.
I began taking my “love yourself” scarf off the shelf and outside with me.
Before I knew it, I was wrapping it around my neck every day and inviting others to wrap up with me. I found that I was thinking about others more instead of just what was going on with me, and it felt really good. I felt really good.
Then one day, I woke up, walked into the bathroom and flipped on the light switch, and saw a friendly but familiar face staring back. Sure she’d aged a bit, but her face looked warm and inviting. Yeah, she had more gray hairs, but her eyes were kinder. They weren’t shadowed by fear, bitterness, or insecurity—only love. So, I smiled back with a “Hey, girl!” brushed my teeth, and got ready for my day. I had a new friend who I knew would walk next to me on my journey ahead.
This is the moment I began to heal.