Life is hard.
But Jesus is good.
This is a story about His goodness and grace. This is a story of His victory in my life.
i remember the moment as vividly as i remember getting dressed this morning. i remember looking at the picture and thinking, “i’m not pretty enough.”
It was all down hill from there.
The initial thought was followed with a “Wait, what? I think that? What?” and i genuinely did. Every bone in my body was convinced that i was worth nothing, wanted by no one; i convinced myself that i was not beautiful, i was a failure, a no body who people only spoke to out of pity. i remember being asked if i could see myself as someone that someone could love or want and believing that i wasn’t.
i remember realizing that i hated myself.
At the time, last spring, my life was dramatically being shaped and molded by The Father. He was walking me through a lot of healing, starting with depression, ending with self love. When He revealed to me that i thought about myself the way that i did, i knew that He was going to heal me, i just didn’t know how or when. i craved His healing, i craved the resolution to this problem that was absorbing my every day.
There were nights that i would sit in my dorm room and just think about everything i saw wrong with myself. After every conversation, i would tell myself that it wasn’t worth having or that the person i was talking to didn’t actually want to talk to me. i would point out what i did wrong and ignore anything i ever did right. i would get dressed in the morning with an attitude of hopelessness at the thought of feeling pretty. i couldn’t even admit it if i was having a good hair day because i thought i had to be seeing myself wrong. i wouldn’t ask people to hangout because i was convinced that they would only say yes because they felt bad for me. i told myself that stupid, silly things like my food choices influenced what people thought of me. i stopped wearing a lot of color so that i wouldn’t draw attention to myself (i’m still not a big fan of attention, but that’s just cause). i only left my dorm room if i had to. i was sick, i had put myself inside of a prison of self hatred, and i didn’t see the way out.
The thing is, i knew there was one. i knew that The Lord was going to heal me of this in His perfect timing. i knew what He said about me, i just didn’t believe it and i didn’t know how to believe it. i was stuck, trying to climb out of this deep, dark hole that i had put myself in. i tried to find beauty, find worth, in my clothes, makeup, friends, anything. i needed hope. i needed to believe that it was possible for me to love myself. Yes, there were good days, where i maybe felt a little pretty or thought myself a little successful, but they were very rare and when they did happen i very quickly convinced myself that i was wrong.
Then, i went to Guatemala and everything changed.
i got on the plane with a big, full suitcase with no makeup, none of my normal clothes (Jesus specifically told me not to take jeans… i love jeans), no hair product. i had a lot of self worth and nothing with me to try to find worth in (yes, this is me publicly admitting that i have tried to find worth in this crazy head of hair that Dad has given me). The Lord knew what He was doing when He helped me pack. He’s funny like that.
A month into the trip, i had convinced myself that every member of my twenty-five person team hated me. i thought they only spoke to me because they felt like they had to. i didn’t think my team leaders wanted me on the team. i didn’t see myself doing anything productive or worth while. i was in a foreign country sweating my face off and hating myself every second of every day.
i spent an entire week crying out to God to help me, to fix it. i couldn’t do it anymore. i couldn’t live in self hate anymore. it was exhausting, spending every minute of every day that you aren’t worth anything.
He told me to talk to one of my leaders, and i, being the stubborn daughter that i am, said “Only if you make it happen.” and He did. i ran into Mae when i was going to my room and she, in the most random way, asked me, “How’s your heart?” and then, we had a conversation that changed my life.
After i hesitantly told her every detail of every bit of where, when, and why i hated myself, she asked me a really, very important question. She said, “Ashton, have you ever asked God what He thinks about you? i’m not just talking about what the bible says, i’m talking about a one-on-one conversation with Him, you asking Him specific things about who He has made you.” and i realized that i hadn’t. i had never even thought about doing so. i had never thought myself worth asking the Creator of the Universe about. So, she said, “Well, why don’t you do that?”
And that night, sitting in a plastic lawn chair at our house in Guatemala, i did. And that night, i began believing His truth, and the chains were broken, and i was healed. After months of self hate, after a lifetime of convincing myself to believe lies, the Ultimate Healer, our Heavenly Father released me from my personal prison. He set me free.
It’s funny, isn’t it? Months of struggle taken away in seconds. Funny, yes, but mostly a perfect picture of the power of God. It is the gospel. Truth has power. The things that are the hardest for us, the things that weigh the most are so easily fixed by Him. He is a miracle maker.
i would be lying if i said it isn’t still a struggle. i’m still learning. No, i do not hate myself, i no longer live bound by chains of worthlessness. i am learning to live the life of someone who loves them self, who knows the truth about who God has made me, one who is confident in that. It’s a process, like anything else. i know that i am worthy, that i am lovable, that i am beautiful. i know His truth and i believe it. It is all just a matter of changing the way i have thought about myself for a majority of my life. i am proud of the person i am, i am proud of where God has brought me from and i am living a life that reflects that.
The enemy has no victory, his lies no longer hold weight in my life. This is not a story of how bad i used to think about myself and how sweet my life is now, it is a story of Jesus winning in my life, which is why i am able to tell it. My willingness to open up and share this is only by His grace.
My favorite part of all of it is that what He says about me is also true about you. He has made you worthy and loved and forgiven. He has made you new. You are His child, you are so beautiful and so pursued by your Maker. You are so loved, friend, and so am i.
He has overcome.
(also super photo creds to zoe sturges for the top photo)