Monday, July 29, 2013

My Emancipation Proclamation Revisited

As I was reviewing old posts, I came across this one, called My Emancipation Proclamation. 

It was written two years ago during a time when I was really struggling. It is poorly written and raw (apparently my spelling and grammar take a back seat to sentiment when I'm feeling emotional.) And it is very real.

A lot has changed in two years. Though I have moments where I don't feel the greatest about myself (like today when a crown fell out of my mouth while snacking on a rice-crispy treat. So not feeling beautiful then!) On the whole, I feel good about who I am. In fact, I like who I am. And it's not because I look a certain way (in fact, I'm heavier and wrinklier than I was when I wrote the post). It's because I look myself through God's eyes now-- not the worlds, and not even mine.

My concern is that I please God. And that makes me feel beautiful.

But, for those times of weakness and doubt (because they still come), when I struggle to find my inner and outer beauty, this Emancipation Proclamation rings true.



I am apprehensive as I write.  There is a part of me that feels that I am the only one that struggles with this.  I must be, because everyone else looks so lovely, so happy, so sure of themselves. And yet, I know that there are others.  I have talked with them. They have told me they feel the same way.  But, in spite of shared secrets and fears, there still is a voice that tells me it is only me.

I am talking about feeling insecure. I want so badly to say that I am completely happy with who I am all the time, but it is a struggle.  Especially lately.

There is someone that I compare myself to.  Most of the time it is a subconscious haunting. It crops up when I walk by a full-length mirror, or stand next to someone that reminds me of her. I begin to look at myself, not for who I am, but for how much I am not like her.  I am not as thin as her, or as confident as her, or as eloquent as her.  I am not as good of a mother as her, nor am I as smart or beautiful as her.  I cannot cook as well as she can, and her house is always clean. There are times when I don't feel I am good enough- because I think I am not as good as her.

She is you. It is of no fault of your own.  You just have so many qualities that I wish I possess.  It becomes a problem with I begin to think I am not as good in whole, because I am not like you.

I give myself kudos for admitting that.  It takes courage to admit that I compare myself to you and other women. I like courage. It's cool.   I don't like insecurities.  And yet, I have them. I typically feel very grounded and happy, but lately the doubts and insecurities are cropping up more frequently. Not cool.

I have thought a lot about the genesis of these feelings, trying to figure them all out.  Here's what I've come up with.

1. I've been a little emotional lately. I am a woman.  Women are emotional creatures with high self-expectations and a desperate (albeit sometimes hidden) need to be needed, desired, and loved. When we (I) feel unattractive outside and/or inside, we  (I) doubt that we (I) are worthy to be loved, desired, and needed.  Granted, this is a blanket statement that may not apply to every single woman- but for the other 99% of us (me), I think it applies.

2. Lately I have lost  view of the correct definition of beauty. We are seeds of Deity- daughters of God- and because so, we have an innate drive to progress, to improve, to get better.  That is a good thing.  This good thing, though,  becomes distorted when we look someone beyond God in Heaven as the yardstick for our progress, our success and our beauty.  The media is a terrible God to worship and follow.  It tells us that if we are not a size 2 we are fat.  If we do not have perfect skin, we are ugly.  It tell us that if we do not dress fashionable (again- fashion according to the Media God) than we are frumpy and out of style.  It tells us constantly that we are not good enough.

The Media God tells us our chest is too small, our thighs are too big, our hair is the wrong color, and our face is too saggy. And we listen. Sometimes I listen.

The messages creep into our minds and breed self-doubt and unhappiness. We look at other followers of the Media God and compare ourselves to them, even try to keep up with them.  So we get cosmetic surgery, color our hair, take diet pills, get botox, have fake tans, and get fake nails--all the while denying the Media God's influence in our lives. We say it's not about comparing,  that we 'just want to feel good about ourselves.' But, that is not completely true.

So, I look at the celebrities in the magazine, then to myself - not the same.  I look at women around me, friends, then to myself- not the same.  I see so many beautiful and talented people, and I see me and all my weaknesses, and I allow myself to feel less.

This is not a new dilemma for us women (and men.) In the Middle Ages, women would concoct toxic treatments to remove all facial hair- eyebrows, lashes and even hairlines- all for the sake of their definition of beauty.  In 100 B.C. Greco-Romans women would bleach their hair using carbonized beechwood and goat fat. Women of the Han Dynasty in China would ingest a powder three times a day whiten their complexion. In 2,500 B.C. Egyptians applied a mixture of kohl and animal fat around their eyes as eye-liner. In 300 A.D. Japanese Women would lacquer their teeth black with iron filings. In Elizabethan times, women would painstakingly pluck their hairline back to make their foreheads appear larger.

Culture dictates what is beautiful and we conform. It has, and always will.  It is how the world works. But, we know that we are not of the world.  We have a divine lineage that did not begin, nor does it end, in this life. But, we allow ourselves to become immersed in it as it dictates who we should be, who we should follow, and what we need to be happy.  We all get caught up in it to one degree or another.  It is nearly inescapable.

So, the golden question is: How do we find the balance between feeling beautiful and secure in who we are - not comparing ourselves to others (or what we looked like in high school), all while staying beautiful according to God?

The answer.......... I don't know.  I don't know the formula for amazing self-esteem, impervious to outside influences and inside perception.  Otherwise, I wouldn't be feeling this way! But, what I do know is that I am done feeling this way.

So today I decided to make a stand. This is my personal Emancipation Proclamation (EP). Join in if you'd like:

I, (insert your name here),  hereby free myself from unrealistic expectations and guilt.  
I decree that I will love my muffin-top, embrace my stretch marks, laugh-lines, old clothes, and frizzy hair.  
I free myself from the oppression of comparison.
On this day, I declare myself free from pressure to be "perfect."
Today, I give myself the right to see me as He does - and agree.
I will hereforthwith recognize and find joy in my God-given talents and strengths without apology or dismissiveness.
I do not stand with the world and judge myself.
Today, I choose to stand with God and tell the world (Media Gods) to take a hike. 
Today, I love myself.
Today I am free.



  1. I admire you so much Michelle. You see, I am one of those people that cannot write well. I know how to spell and how to diagram sentences. I have no problem writing a great essay or 10 page paper, but my writing never SOUNDS like ME! You have a gift and talent for it! There are many times that I read your writing and I say, "That is exactly what I would write if I could sound like myself"! Thanks for your writing. I find so much comfort and direction from reading your posts and trying to incorporate your lessons in my life. Thanks for writing. I feel like you write for me!

    1. I do write for you, my friend! And for me! We are a lot alike--one of the reasons I miss you!