You see, I was a prisoner. No one would have ever noticed as I didn't wear prison stripes. This prison was inside of me. And worst of all, it was one I had created for myself. The walls were made of unrealistic expectations I imposed on myself. The mirrors were covered with outlines of others who I thought I needed to be like. The ceiling of unmet expectation hung low. The floor made of the mud of self-condemnation and jealousies.
I had convinced myself that because I was not just like everyone around me that I was worthless or that I was doing everything wrong. I was insecure. I was jealous. I just thought this was how life was. Happiness was meant for others. And if I did find happiness in different things than others, I needed to do everything in my power to destroy that as it wasn't proper to be happy in that situation.
I'm not sure how I became a prisoner. I do know that it was a subtle slow process. I was relatively happy as a child. I knew at a young age that God had made me & that He was my Lord & Savior! I remember singing songs to Him & conversing with Him in prayer as if He was my best friend. But as I grew older, that changed.
I know that as I got older and was put in age groups, I found I didn't belong. I was teased for my love of reading & learning. I was teased for my love of singing because I wasn't the best singer. I loved nature & animals as they didn't judge. I started to put up walls. Walls to protect myself against the words of others. I started to judge as I was judged. Instead of turning to God & asking Him to help me find who I was & finding my worth in Him, I started finding my worth in the words & actions of others.
|I'm on the left!|
Before I knew it, who I was was defined by what others said. I saw myself as ugly because the boys wouldn't date me. I saw myself as fat because TV, magazines & other girls said I was. I saw myself as not measuring up because I didn't do, say or wear things others did. In reality, I was a normal girl. I was fairly pretty. I wasn't fat just not a size 0. I had friends and was even fairly well liked. But in my mind, I was not any of these things. I was a prisoner. I was not free.
This mentality followed me into college and beyond. I continued to put up walls between my real self and the self I projected outwards. I don't even know if other people realized that inside, I was insecure & hated myself. I took everything to heart and felt if I wasn't who others were then something was wrong with me.
Even after I married, I continued to judge myself and my marriage by what everyone else's marriage looked like. I think I was driving myself crazy as well as my husband. I think my first breakthrough came when I was a new mom.
Thankfully God used my husband to help me see that my instincts were not wrong & maybe everyone else didn't know what was right for us! It was a breakthrough for me. I saw that for us, we needed to keep her in our room & not let her cry it out.
Over the next 11 years, I experienced more & more freedom from the traps in my mind. It has taken lots & lots of prayer & Bible study to change my thinking. One of the things that helped so much was to pull every verse out that I could find that said I was special to God and uniquely made. I have these written on a paper that I pull out and read when the prison walls threaten to close in on me again.
I have to watch closely because this prison is one that doesn't like to give up it's prisoners. Our minds, when not focused on God, want to condemn and entangle us. I love the freedom!
Freedom to know that I am the woman God made me to be. My life is meant to be lived in a way that no other woman can live. I have NO other woman to live up to! I only have to strive to be more & more like Christ! I don't have to think like others. I don't have to act like others. I have freedom!!
In finding freedom to be who I am, I am finding freedom to let others be who they are. I don't have to be jealous of others. I don't have to compare myself to others. How can you compare an original work of art to something else?
Along with freedom comes joy! I can enjoy life! I don't have to worry if my life measures up to someone else's life! I can enjoy every moment of every day! And I can let everyone else enjoy their lives! I love my life. I love the adventures we go on because we homeschool & Hubby travels for a living. I am embracing being different and having a totally different lifestyle than most of the people I know. It's making life a real adventure!
I do slip sometimes and start pulling myself into my prison. But I recognize those walls quicker now. I pray sooner and find freedom quicker. I find that my eyes are open to the traps now. I see that so many women are in the same prison that I was in & I pray they find freedom. God does not intend for us to live in a prison of self-condemnation & constantly comparing ourselves to others. He wants us to see ourselves as He sees us! He created us & He loves us!