Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fixing the Real Problem

Have you ever tried to fix something, only to find that what you were fixing wasn't really the problem?  I know I have.  A couple of months ago we were having some trouble with our plumbing.  First we had rust in our pipes that came loose and clogged literally every faucet in our house.  And then that same week our bathtub seemed to have sprung a leak.  As we inspected the tub we discovered that the vent on the drain had gotten flipped and the kids were apparently splashing water up inside of it.  So we twisted it around and then secured it into place.  Problem solved.  Or so we thought...  The next day we had another puddle.  Turns out we actually had a giant crack in the grout around the tile that was letting water run through.  An easy fix if you know that it needs fixing!

Most "life" issues are not so easily fixed.  I have struggled with low self-esteem for as long as I can remember.  I always trace my issue back to the fact that I have been overweight for most of my life.  I remember being awkward and shy from the time I was in early elementary school.  I never really felt comfortable in my own body.  And of course, several of my classmates didn't help things much; they made it clear that I didn't fit in.  And so I grew up believing that I wasn't acceptable or lovable because I didn't look right.  

As a young adult I continued to struggle with my weight and with self-esteem problems.  I met and married a wonderful man who loved (and still loves!) me in spite of these issues, but still I had a hard time believing I was anything special.  I weighed more than ever before, and I thought that if I could just get the weight off I could be happy.  Boy, did I try, too.  I tried exercise programs and diets of all kinds, but to no avail.  And then finally -- finally -- I had a couple of years that I successfully lost weight, to the tune of nearly 100 pounds.  What an amazing accomplishment!

But guess what.  More than two years later, I am still struggling to believe that I am anything special.  I fixed what I thought was the problem: my weight.  I was sure that the key to finding my self-esteem was to lose weight.  I was positive that my weight was my biggest problem.  Boy, was I wrong.  Sure, I'm healthier and I fit in smaller clothes, but the same old insecurities still keep nagging at my heart.   "People don't see anything special in you because there isn't anything special to see.  You are and always will be COMMON."  "You're still fat and people won't like you when you're fat."  Those lies dig at my very soul and it's very difficult not to believe them.  But they are just that -- lies, told by the enemy of the One who created me and made me who I am.

I sat down to read my Bible this afternoon, and I opened it to the first chapter of Ephesians.  This is what I read:  "All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.  Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure."  Eph. 1:3-5, NLT (italics mine).  Those words hit me HARD.  I went back and read the passage again, and this time I traded the words "us" and "we" for for the word "me."  Wow!  Talk about powerful!  Tears poured down my face as the realization of God's love washed over me.  God chose me, and not like I would choose whether to wash dishes or fold laundry, but He chose me and it gave him great pleasure!  I am amazed by my God right now.  I am astounded by His love and overwhelmed by the fact that to have me in His family brings him pleasure.  I am something special and it has absolutely nothing to do with how I look or what size I am.  And that just blows me away.

I hope you know today that you are special, too.  Go back and read Ephesians 1:3-5 the same way I did, inserting "me" in place of "us" and "we."  Let the knowledge of God's love and acceptance soak all the way down to your heart.  Let it wrap its arms around you and embrace you and keep you there.  It is my prayer that I will never lose sight of the fact that the value of a person -- myself or anyone else -- has nothing to do with appearances, but with the fact that God chose us as His own and is greatly pleased to choose us.  After all, my "problem" isn't that I need more exercise, but that I need a better understanding of God's great and marvelous love.

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