What do you mean you’re not beautiful?

Most of my day was spent at the church (not complaining, those are the best days!). I spent the morning in church, headed home for a bite to eat, back to church for pinewood derby car making, home again to have a snack, and finally youth group. It wasn’t until the ride home from youth group that the words in the title of this post truly sunk in.

Before we started building the cars, I was chatting with two of my favorite 5th and 6th grade girls. I’ve let K help me take pictures before so I was giving it to her when she asked for my picture because “I’m beautiful” which I replied with my “heck no/Ed” face (Jenny and Kim know this way too well). K, bless her soul, then asked “What do you mean you’re not beautiful?” At the time I shrugged it off and life moved on. I had no idea how this small moment would affect me just a few hours later.

Currently, Rick is teaching/using videos with Francis Chan’s amazing book “Crazy Love.” I absolutely recommend it to anyone who’s a Christian, wow it’s good. Tonight’s lesson was on what does it mean to have God love us with this “crazy love.” At one point he poses a question about a point in our lives when we truly got what God’s love means. Immediately, I thought of my breakdown at camp a month and a half ago. In that moment I saw how much God must be hurting to see me so sick and at times fighting against Him. Thinking about it now almost brings me to tears, in a good way. I still don’t understand how God could love ME, with my brokenness and scars and faults and baggage. How could I possibly be good enough to be considered His child?

After thinking of the night at camp, I realized how much what K said relates to it. These past few weeks I’ve sunk into a depression. I’ve questioned everything: my value, abilities as a youth leader, academics, and other things I don’t feel comfortable speaking (or blogging) of. Thinking about how God sees me is so much like K’s (and the other kids/girls) view. She loves me. She thinks I’m beautiful. She treats me like I am the best person in the world. Not that she knows anything about my eating disorder or depression and whatnot, but I feel like she would see past those things even if she did. She isn’t the only one though. So many kids at Awana look up to me. I get more hugs than I can count every day. My girls have assured me they love me too. Rick praises me on what I’m doing during youth group Wednesday nights almost every time I see him. Kim no doubt loves me and values our friendship. Mama Joyce always always hugs me. Mrs. Hall always talks about how great of an AP student I was and how I continue to be good to her kids and help her out. The list doesn’t stop at church and this isn’t even everyone at church, but for space and the point of this post, let’s pretend it does 😛

Each of these people mentioned are all showing God’s love to me, I just didn’t realize it before. They don’t care what I’ve done. They aren’t forced to love me or even like me, but they genuinely do. This love is pure and true. I didn’t see that all before. If all of these people, and the creator of the universe love me, how could I be as terrible as these bad thoughts say? Not one of them have ever said anything remotely close to what my thoughts constantly echo: you’re fat, you deserve to die, you’re too broken, no one could ever love you, you will never be enough, you aren’t worth anyone’s praise, perfection or you’re a failure, on and on. Why is it that I still believe these thoughts over everything else that I’ve ever heard? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question but I am going to try and combat it just the same.

Starting today, I am keeping a “Love Journal.” I am going to put all of the nice things people say/text/whatever about me. The first entry will be what K said today. I want this to look back on. Even if I can’t believe them yet, they are much closer to the truth than any self-talk I’ve ever had.

I feel so full.

Today was amazing. I knew it would be good and fun but it was even better than expected. I am full of love and life and happiness.

We went apple picking with a group from our church and then came back and baked apple pies. Before all that, we had church, sunday school, and a luncheon.

The message today was really really good. It spoke to me because it was all about how God will bring you through battles that will ultimately make you stronger. My eating disorder is the hugest battle in my life right now and I am beginning to see how I can use my testimony and all of that pain I’ve gone through as something positive.

On that note, I took Kim aside because I wanted to touch base with her on telling the high school girls and how I could prepare. We had a really great talk. She is beyond supportive and understanding. I couldn’t ask for a better support outside of therapy and MH professionals. We decided to hod it off an extra week because she and a couple of girls won’t be there next week, but by doing that we will be making a much better time arrangement. The boys all will be paint-balling so we’ll have just girls meet up and talk then go to the park or coffee shop. I am going to talk some about my past before the ED and then really focus on my struggle and how my relationship with God has been affected. I have some great verses I’ve found about beauty and things that I’ll share too. I want to make them comfortable but also have them see me as who I really am: broken but made whole b God. I want them to ask questions or come to me for things they have going on too. I have no doubt that they will also be supportive as well. I was pretty nervous at first, but as I talk more with Kim and plan it out I am glad to be doing this. I am also thankful to have her there because I know it will still be hard to talk about. I am praying for the right words and that I can make some kind of impact on them.

I didn’t end up helping with sunday school today and instead prepared lunch with some other women. It was pretty fun and we joked around tons as always. Lunch was walking tacos and it was pretty doable. I freaked out a bit but in the end I ate. It definitely helped to have my middle school girls sitting at the table because I had huge motivation to eat right.

After lunch we finally headed to the orchard. The car rides there and back were a huge highlight. I sat by the sweetest little girl and two HS girls and showed them tons of chinchilla pictures. We also played around with some of the boys there. I don’t think there was more than a minute where we weren’t laughing. Apple picking was also great. We ended up with 12 bushes and ate tons of apples too.

Baking pies was so so fun too. I was on the mixing/filling pies table with some HS girls and we had a blast. I was really glad to spend time with them since I hadn’t too much before. We baked 110 apple pies and had lots of laughter, smiles, and stolen apple pieces as we “tested if they were edible.”

I don’t feel so alone anymore. I have my church family and they are the best people I could ever ask for. I was hugged no less than 20 times today from youth girls, an adorable one year old, Rick, Kim, and so many others. I am loved. They all believe I deserve to be happy. They all see so much worth in me. Many of them look up to me. It doesn’t matted what the ED voice tries to say because nothing can take away how any of them feel.