BY RACHEL AXTMANN
Clothing would fly out of my closet and into heaps on my bedroom floor. The more I took out and tried on, the more frustrated I would become and the faster the rate I would yank more things out – throwing them into the mounting pile. “I hate my clothes!” I would yell to my mother. “I have nothing to wear! Everything looks so stupid on me.” (Insert teenage tone)
Time to repeat this dramatic scenario in the bathroom while getting ready. “Ugh, another pimple! Great! Why does my hair look weird and bumpy when I put it up? Oh, never mind, I’ll just wear it down, AGAIN! My skin is too blotchy, my eyelashes are so tiny, my nose is crooked. I’m just so ordinary. I feel ugly!”
These were my thoughts and feelings on more than one occasion as a teenager. My identity came from my own warped sense of self. On days I thought I looked good, I felt more confident. On the days I didn’t, I felt down and withdrawn, like I was physically present, but inwardly wanted to hide.
If I was dating someone, my relationship status caused me to feel loved and cared for. I craved constant companionship. So, having a date or hanging out with friends, or just having a plan in general, boosted my self-worth. I felt like I fit in, like I was “doing the right kinds of things.” This probably explains why in my teenage years, I was single for no more than a few weeks before beginning a new relationship. I was in constant need of love, affirmation, and approval from others.
When we find our sense of worth and identity from others or even from our own perception of ourselves, we are often bound to feel less than enough. We fall into the comparison trap and begin to feel we don’t measure up to the beauty standard, social standard, or success standard the world has for us. We reach one status level to only find it is immediately replaced with the NEED for the next. Our emotions are on a constant, never-ending roller coaster ride, with more lows and twists than highs.
While the importance of the issues surrounding my teenage years have become less significant as I age, I also want to be careful to not sum this message up by saying, “I’ve figured it all out and I don’t struggle any longer! Phew, so glad to be done with that silliness!” Nope . . . wrong! Yes, I have matured. I no longer throw my clothing out into a big heap and whine to my mother about my wardrobe selection, thank goodness. (Well, sometimes I still complain to my husband, lol). And, I’ve become a bit more forgiving and accepting of my flaws, but I still struggle to see myself as worthy and loved. When I look around me in fact, it’s near impossible. The comparison game always makes me feel that I don’t measure up. As I age, sure, the areas of need or struggle shift, but the emotions are still the same.
I can often still find myself looking to others for approval. How about you? I’m tired of it, and my guess is, you might be too. We were created for so much more.
Let’s get real . . . If you’ve reached the end of your rope, it’s the perfect time to make a change! Won’t you join me today in shifting our focus to the truth and the eternal? It is the ONLY thing that works to change our perspective. We need to take our selfish minds, which are focused on who we think we are, and shift them to who God says we are. This isn’t a one-time deal. Every day I need to make this decision to keep my worth in check and aligned with the truth, and you do too!
When you look up to your Heavenly Father, instead of looking around you, look at what the Word of God says about you:
For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:10
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. – Psalm 139:13-14
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are . . . – 1 John 3:1