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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

All Life is Sacred . . . Including Yours

girl looking at mirror Pictures, Images and Photos

Psalm 139:14     I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well (NKJV).  

Just in case you didn't know this, January is Sanctity of Human Life month.  During this month, we remember the Roe vs. Wade decision that occurred 39 years ago, and try to spread the message of how precious human life is, all human life.

However, that's not the point I wish to make today.  God laid another aspect of this glorious verse on my heart.  If you are anything like me, you probably agree that God considers all life sacred; the unborn, the elderly, the poor, and the disadvantaged.  But, do you ever find yourself doubting your own value?

As a teenager, a college student, and even as a young married woman, I was able to see the value in others, but was terribly critical of myself.  As I looked in the mirror, every perceived flaw seemed to scream out at me.  I didn't like to look at pictures of myself. The aspects of my face and figure which made me unique, I saw as faults.  When preparing to go out, I would try on outfit after outfit, my frustration growing as each one was rejected, and end up throwing a fit.  I would yell, call myself names, and throw the offending clothes to the floor.

It was rather ironic that on one hand, I offered acceptance to others, while completely rejecting myself.  My husband would get angry at me, and tell me "not to talk about his wife that way."  I thought he just didn't understand, or was trying to shut me up.  These outbursts occurred less and less over time, but the underlying attitude remained.

But when I was expecting my first child, something changed in me.  God spoke to me in a way that I'll never forget.  As I was getting ready one morning, God spoke to my heart.  He said, "April, do you think your mother is pretty?"  Of course I did!  I remember watching my mother put on her makeup in the morning and admiring how beautiful she looked.  God then said, "How would it make you feel as a child to hear your mother say some of the things that you say about yourself?"  It knocked the breath out of me.  I knew exactly what I'd feel.  I would have thought, If my lovely mother thinks that she's ugly, then I must be really ugly! Then God asked me, "Do you want your child carrying around such feelings?"  The answer was, absolutely NOT!

Then God began to show me, detail by detail, that all the things I hated about myself were things that set me apart from others.  He made me unique not only in abilities and talents, but also in appearance.  I was hand-crafted by the God of the universe, and who was I to criticize His masterpiece?

As I reached the end of my pregnancy and nothing seemed to fit, I had to buy more clothing, which was never something I enjoyed.  I tried on maternity outfit after maternity outfit, and nothing worked.  Finally my husband said "stay in the dressing room, I'll look for clothes for you."  In the next few minutes, clothing was handed over my door.  Each outfit I tried on fit me!  With each success, my stress level dropped, the tears dried, and my hurt began to heal.  Finally, he offered me one last piece of clothing.  It was a long-sleeved T-shirt, delicately designed, with the word "Beautiful" emblazoned upon the front. 

I was finally able to see myself the way my husband saw me.  I was his, and he thought I was beautiful just the way I was, even at 8 months pregnant.  It truly hurt him to hear someone criticize the one he loved, even if it came from her own lips.  I apologized to him, and asked him to help me stop tearing myself down.

Why am I sharing my painful experience with you?  Because I know that many of you struggle with image issues just like me.  We allow the same serpent that whispered to Eve, to whisper lies into our hearts.  We might be able to see the beauty in others, but we fall for the lie that we are somehow not included in the "fearfully and wonderfully made" equation.

If all life is valuable, then so is mine, and so is yours.  God takes delight in our differences, just as I take delight in the differences between my own children.  You were not meant to be a cookie-cutter image of someone else.  You were uniquely designed in form, mind, and abilities.  You were so designed to complete unique plans and purposes, set by God, Himself.  Marvelous are all His works, so don't let the world or the devil tell you otherwise. 


Ima said...

This really touched my heart...and my tear ducts. You are beautiful inside and out,through and through. Your hubby and bitties are blessed to have you as theirs. Me too <3

Amy said...

Wow! Have you been in my head? Hearing my thoughts? This is something I struggle with and have had to learn to watch what I say and how I say it. I don't want my children to ever feel the same way. Thanks for speaking to my heart.

April M. Anderson said...

Thank you both! I think all women struggle with image issues. We live in such an image-oriented society. However, just because the world is loud, doesn't make them right. You are both beautiful women of God, and I'm blessed to know you!