One of the things that scares me the most is showing my weaknesses to the people I know. So I have a tendency to hide the things I struggle with as a result.
It’s not that I want to appear better than others. Not at all! I am just afraid that if I come clean with the things in my life that keep me from fully experiencing God’s love and peace, that people will think less of me. Or worse, that they will pull away from me completely.
For a few years I have struggled with eating and body-image issues. It all started innocently enough, with a desire to lose those few extra pregnancy pounds that had attached themselves to my hips, as well as be healthier for my family. But after awhile, that desire to be healthier and stronger became an unhealthy obsession with counting and cutting calories, and beating myself up for the tiniest slip-up. Rather than feeling I was a beautiful woman of God, I began to believe the lies I told myself, that I was fat, that I was ugly, and that I was a failure.
I couldn’t tell anyone about how I felt. I mean, all my friends had been so encouraging (and some slightly envious!) of my weight loss after the birth of my son. How could I go to them now and tell them what a nightmare I was living in?
On many occasions, I felt God nudging me to share my struggles with someone. But I was too afraid. I was afraid they would dismiss my fears. I was afraid they would be disgusted by the bingeing habits I had picked up.
I was afraid they would stop loving me.
And so I hid it. I hid my bingeing from my husband. I hid it from my friends. I hid it from my family. I would pretend that dieting meant nothing to me, that I wouldn’t have anything to do with it because it was a waste of time. I was all about being healthy, not trying to lose weight.
Yet all the while all I could hear in my head were the thoughts that if I didn’t lose this extra weight I would be a failure. A big, fat failure.
It wasn’t until about a year and a half ago that I finally began to have the courage to talk about my struggle. I had written about it on my blog, feeling that since no one I actually knew read it, I was safe in being transparent at least there. It was extremely difficult for me to come clean about my issues. I was especially afraid of the judgment and criticism that may come from me revealing such a dark secret. But I felt so strongly that God wanted me to tell someone about it, that I just couldn’t keep it inside any longer.
Do you know what surprised me most? The outpouring of support and encouragement from other women who knew exactly what I was going through. Even today I still get e-mails from women who will tell me how much my story touched them, either because they see themselves in it now, or they once experienced the same things as me. The beautiful thing is some days when I most need it, I will receive an e-mail encouraging me to not give up hope, that there is healing, and that God will get me through it.
I’ve realized that as women, we all have things we deal with on a daily basis. It could be struggles with body-image, the loss of a child or loved one, perfectionism, a painful past. But we’ve also bought into the lie that we need to hide these things, to put on a brave face, and let everyone around us think we have it altogether. But I don’t believe this is God’s desire for us.
I believe that God wants us to encourage one another in our struggles. Hebrews 13:3 says we must “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called today, so that none of (us) may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
Can you imagine if each of us came along side each other and encouraged one another by sharing our own stories of how we struggled and how God triumphed? If we overcame our fears of allowing others to see our true and vulnerable selves so we could really minister to one another?
I don’t know about you, but that thought excites me! How different our relationships with one another could be if we dropped all pretense and were just our true, authentic selves.
It takes a lot of courage to do that. And believe me when I tell you, I still struggle daily with this. But I pray that not only myself, but all of us women of God would find the courage to do so.
The courage to encourage one another.Leave a Comment
thank you for this encouragement today.
i know i often feel that desire to hide away the junk… but forget that the junk is part of what makes me who i am, like it or not. but eventaully, it all seems to tumble out… i needed your words today. thank you.
Thank you so much for encouraging us by sharing your story. I understand hiding what you struggle with, that is very much my personality… but how wonderful to know God will triumph!
I’ve been hiding my true self all my life. I’m so afraid someone will find out I’m an imposter and I’ll lose everyone I love. Thank you for the opportunity to say that “out loud” for the first time.
Angela Nazworth says
Thank you for sharing your struggles and being real. I deal with some of the very issues you mentioned and I rarely talk about it because I know that in the eyes of many I am thin…not a size 2 anymore, but still thin…yet I often times want to add an er to many of the adjectives that describe me, both psychically and mentally. I want to be thinner, wittier, smarter, etc.
And while sometimes this sounds innocent, I have a difficult time determining when that er should stop, when enough is enough. When good enough is good enough.
Surprisingly it is when i get he courage to share my thoughts and feelings with others when I learn that I am not alone.
Sharing our imperfect selves is a great tool in God’s kingdom for His glory!!!
We are not perfect! Let’s get comfortable with saying that and exposing our struggles to help one another and ensuring our each other that we are not alone.
The best way to fulfill this is to be honest about self!
You did great to share!
Donna O says
I have fallen into that trap of pride and self degradation more often that I care to admit! It is amazing to have friends that stick by you, but oh so sweet to have that “friend that sticks closer than a brother”! When we “ruminate” over things in our own minds, situations, flaws, trials, etc. all seem to get so much bigger than they are! When we are humble enough to share, we can often times gain a perspective we never thought of and be renewed through the encouragement! Thank you so much for sharing this—and for this new site in general :0).
I am so proud of you for sharing this then and now! Lately, I’ve actually been taking a weird sort of pride in skipping meals, even though the skipping is never intentional. You just shook the sense back into me! Love you!
Jen@Balancing Beauty and Bedlam says
Andrea – this will hit a HUGE cord today because most women can relate in some aspect of your journey. We all struggle with believing the lies. Thanks for sharing.
Joanne Sher says
What a wonderful reminder that we ALL struggle like this. I hide things too – for the same reason you did. I’m getting better about sharing, though. Thank you for reminding me that all I’m doing is believing Satan’s lies.
Christy Klein says
We all have our inner demons feeding us lies about our personal failures & making us feel unlovable. Maybe we don’t all struggle with eating, but we ALL DO STRUGGLE. What a wonderful sisterhood we could share with one another if we’d just come clean and be authentic about our weaknesses.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says it this way: Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up.
Great post, Andrea!
I have several relationships that I struggle with being transparent in. In one of them I need to be the encourager…no, actually, the admonisher, but I allow myself to think that I have nothing to bring except all my failures, so who do I think I am that I could help her anyway? Thank you for this post…it may be the impetus I need to conquer my fears and talk to my friend!
I think it is easy when I hide behind my blog or my Facebook persona to act like the person others expect. Like the Angela I think they want me to be. Instead of just being me. Thanks for the encouragement! 🙂
Mary @ Passionate Perseverance says
Thank you Angela for sharing your struggles with so many. To be authentic is to be the woman God is calling you to be. I too have struggled for many years with “eating” issues. Mostly the “over” kind…overeating and being overweight. Food holds a strong emotional pull that is at times hard to deal with. However together with God at the center of it…we can do anything. May you continue to feel our Lord’s presence as you walk each day embracing how beautiful you are in His eyes. His are the only ones that count!
Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect says
Andrea, thank you for sharing your heart with us today. In my life, I find it easy to admit and discuss SOME struggles. But the ones that truly break my heart? It’s a whole lot harder to let those show. Thank you for being brave – and urging us to do the same!
This is why I love you lovely An. Thank you for sharing your struggles I know it is something I struggle with too…
Those lies are so strong to us at times but I am so thankful that our God is bigger than all of those lies. His truth is that we are all beautiful and loved, His Daughters!
Thank you so much for being courageous enough to share your struggle. Know that God is using you to encourage others (including myself) who struggle with this very same thing . . .
Hillary @ The Other Mama says
Thank you so much for your honesty. I think that so many of us have some sort of body image issues and this is definitely needed. And if that isn’t your issue, I love your desire to share what it is to encourage others- surely that is the Lord’s plan for us. Thanks to encouraging me today!
Patty Wysong says
I’ve missed so many opportunities to share God’s greatness and grace because of hiding my struggles and weaknesses. …I must decrease so that HE can INcrease! and that means allowing Him to shine through my struggles.
Thanks so much for this.
Patty, thank you for your honesty. I can fully relate to those feelings, even if not in the same way. I enjoyed praying for you.
I just got the results of a custody battle that I’ve been having over my 5 year old who has autism. His father doesn’t take care of his medical needs. The judge decided to leave my son with his father for the next year to give him another chance. I am completely brokenhearted right now, and just need strength to go on at this point. I have three other children (one also special needs) and a husband that need me to be a wife and mother. We plan on a custody battle, if that is God’s will, but right now I just need to not cry. I need to be able to lay down and go to sleep instead of being awake all night until I pass out.
Thank you, I know it’s a lot.
Besides the whole pregnancy thing (never experienced it, we just adopted) I can relate to this post especially the not wanting to appear weak in front of friends..Oh how I struggle with this
Katie B. Pensacola, Fl says
When you think about it- it is the most authentic people that we get the most blessed by. That is when God really touches you through people is when they show you who they really are and you realize you are not alone and God really does do miracles everyday.
Oh to be better at it, like all the people I admire most. I think we can all use help in this area at different times in our life. God is bringing me to this place along with so many others at the moment. I love Him and am so grateful He loves me enough to change me from glory to glory.
This sounds so familiar. I too have tried for years to lose weight. Not that I am seriously overweight — just that I don’t like to weigh as much as I do.
I too have a lack of trust issue with God. Even though I have seen Him provide over and over– Everytime I or we have a crisis in our home or life I am afraid that things won’t turn out this time. Now it is a fear that we won’t have the money for rent or a place to move and we will be on the street. Pray for me/ us.
This was really my post. I wanted to read this, because I’m a volunteer of the Red Cross and as a volunteer my job is to incourage others and help people in need. And 3 years ago I got a calling from God to join the Red Cross, because I had experienced pain in my life before and now I want to help people to get over their problems, loss and sadness. I love telling my testimony to people how God first healed my depression and then guided my way to the Red Cross.
And when I was a little girl I always wanted to act proud and strong to my parents. If I felt sad I’d hide it from my parents every time someone bullied me at school. I wanted to show them I can make it fine alone, but the truth was I every time cried on my teddybear.
And what you said about painful past… I’m struggling to forget it, because my only friend deceived me with lies and I was so shocked, because first time in my life “a friend” used me that way. So even today I have difficulties to trust people: my fiancé is my only friend…
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