For as long as I can remember, I have found value in myself based on appearance and accomplishments.

I judged myself in the mirror each morning. Am I having a good hair day? Is this outfit flattering? When will I lose the 10 pounds I put on last year? Am I pretty enough? These thoughts were built into my routine every single day. They have shaped my perspective of myself since childhood.

I was just a girl standing in front of a mirror hoping to love herself.

Pleasing others was the driving force in most of my relationships. I was a teacher’s pet who worked hard to stay ahead on assignments. I set a goal in middle school to be on the A-honor roll every grading period and was determined not to fall short.

This pressure followed me through grad school as I earned a 4.0. Disappointing my parents was worse than any punishment they could’ve dished out. I found value in others being happy with me.

I was just a girl working hard for others to hopefully take notice.

These destructive behaviors caused my relationship with God to waver. I felt near to Him on the days I was happy with myself. Maybe I was feeling pretty or had done something good that day, but the emotion was definitely stronger based on my personal circumstances. I felt distant and unworthy on days that were low as if I hadn’t done enough to earn His love.

I allowed my relationship with God to be on a teeter-totter under my control. I became good at manipulating the direction based solely on looking within. I worked hard to fix what I decided was the problem and didn’t feel better until I made adjustments.

I was working to belong in the Kingdom of Heaven and was constantly falling face down in defeat.

Oh, how misguided my entire approach to life was. I was raised in the Word. I know the two most important commandments we have been given. Mark 12:30-31 tells us to first love God with all that we are and then to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is humbling to wake up in your thirties and realize you’ve failed time and time again on the second part of this mission.

You see, how could I love my neighbor as myself when I didn’t love myself? I was constantly missing the mark. I still do.

I struggle daily with fighting against the defeating cycle of life I was trapped in. I am rewiring my brain by replacing each negative thought that races through my mind with one thing God has blessed my life with. I consciously make an effort to remove my focus from within and purposely fix my eyes on Jesus. I know we were created to serve and love all people, including ourselves. 

I’m just a girl on a mission to see herself through the eyes of God.

You may also like:

God is For Me

Sister, Don’t You Dare Question Your Worth

When you Choose To Love Yourself As Much As You Love Your Kids

Erin Uhlaender

I am a child of God and saved by His grace. I am a single mommy raising my daughter in Austin, Texas. I teach first grade by day and blog during my free time. I would love to connect with you via my blog, http://throughgritandgrace.com, or Twitter at handle @gritandgrace_TX. We each have a story and I can't wait to hear yours!