I have to tell you something. It’s a something you already know. You’ve heard it before, probably a thousand times, and have even told yourself this very thing – and yet it bears repeating: You’re being lied to. You have been lied to, are being lied to, will be lied to again.
There’s a little voice that nuzzles into your ear and whispers lies right into your heart, into your spirit. It tells you you’re a bad mother because you lost your patience this morning. It says your thighs are too big and your nose is all wrong. It hints to you that you’re not a real runner, so why bother tying up your shoes today? It reminds you that your sister is the creative one – you’re the studious one. It tries to convince you that you’re messed up and unlovable and God couldn’t possible forgive you.
Lies – even the ones based on truth. Those are the best ones, because we hear the sliver of what is true, buried deep under all the falsehood, and buy the whole package.
Yes, quite likely you lost your temper, and are not always patient. It’s quite likely your thighs are bigger than those of the girl in the magazine, and it’s possible your nose is a little wonky. It’s a fact that not all of us are built to be runners, and it could quite possibly be true that you were/are studious. There’s no doubt that you have messed up – at some point or other in your life – and that you feel unlovable.
You and me, we’re not perfect. I don’t know what a man’s experience is like, but I do know that women struggle with the concept of perfection, and some of us struggle with it a lot. We expect a lot of ourselves, and that is compounded by the messages that pummel us through the media, by how we compare ourselves to friends and neighbours, and by the nasty, insidious lies whispered to us by the Prince of Lies himself.
If we can be made to spend more time thinking about our thighs than being free and fulfilled, or if we start believing that we are too far gone for mercy, then we’ve been distracted from our purpose. Insecurity steals our sense of who we are as children of God and we drift away from the full life we were meant to live while our gifts and talents lie fallow. Eventually – as must always happen because none of us lives in isolation – our families and communities are affected.
It can be so very hard to tune out the noise that comes at us from ‘out there’. But the messages we need to turn to again and again come from the scriptures, from the lives of the saints, and from insightful contemporary Catholic writers – especially those who address issues concerning women – like Alice von Hildebrand, Teresa Tomeo, and Emily Stimpson. We need to hear the truth repeated again and again so it sinks in deep and firm: we are loved. We are worthy. We can turn to God for forgiveness and mercy.
We are more than our thighs and our nose and our inability to make cupcakes. We are held in the palm of the hand of God. He courts us, desires us, knocks at the door of our heart… and all this while knowing all about the imperfections and shortcomings.
Don’t wait to be perfect. Don’t listen to the lies. Be free.
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