Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hump Day Hmmm March 26, 2008

I have probably said this before, but it's ever so true, so I'm restating it: I LOVE HUMP DAY HMMS!!! Julie's blog hosts a hump day hmmm once a week, and this week's topic is "For Wednesday's Hump Day Hmm, take this issue---this idea of rating people according to how they fit or don't fit some arbitrary ideal---and debate/discuss some angle of it. Make it general or make it personal---how it affects you, our culture, your kids, your morals...however you want to approach it. Next week we'll discuss atonement. (That will make more sense when I share the story behind it.)"

I have spent many hours musing over this issue, and this is the conclusion to which I have come. Basing people's worth off of the way they look or the way we think people should be is probably the Devil's strongest tool. I say this for two reasons. The first reason is because of scripture (1 Sam 16:7) "Look not on his countenance or on the height of his stature. For the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." The second reason is because of my own personal experiences.

Maybe the four people who grow up looking like the mold agree with the world's assessment of beautiful. However, I was certainly not one of those people, and although I'm no longer at the complete bottom end of the world's scale, I'm still not gorgeous. I am now completely OK with not looking like a super model. However, I had an uncommonly long gawky stage.

Everyone has a stage in their lives where their arms and legs are too long, and they trip over stuff. Most people call this gawky stage puberty. My gawky stage started way before puberty. I was a beautiful baby and little girl. Everyone who saw my picture go across the screen in high school ooohed at my baby picture. I was beautiful. Then I turned 7. I was one of the first children in my class to get glasses, but because I was a clumsy and rambunctious child who liked to climb and jump out of trees as well, I got some extra large, sturdy pink plastic frames. They covered about half of my face, and my teeth were falling out. This also became the time when I stopped wanting my hair brushed and I would scream until my mom finally gave in, just long enough until I could go to the hairdresser and get it all chopped off.

In seventh grade, I had to get braces. I was already teased mercilessly about just about anything one could find to harass me about, and then I had to have braces as well. Seventh grade started a time in my life where I was about as depressed as I could get. Even worse, as other girls' bodies were developing into lovely young ladies' bodies, I was still flat as a pancake and as gawky as ever. I thought that I was just slow, and I was, but I was REALLY slow. Therefore, when I got to high school, every other girl in the class was starting to look beautiful, and here I was, running into lockers, boys calling me a heifer, and really feeling like God must not love me like he loved the other girls and wondering if it was worth trying to stay alive for another day.

In 10th grade, I finally started to fill out. The first picture that I didn't feel like cutting up with scissors or ripping to shreds and flushing down the toilet was taken, and I started to feel like maybe I was worth something after all.

I think that trying to make us compare ourselves to other people is one of Satan's very biggest tools. I'm not like anyone else. There are places where I have similarities, but the beauty is that I'm me. I'm only myself. I love to be myself. It's OK if I'm not a concert pianist. I don't have to be. It's OK if we go bowling and I get a 40 while everyone else gets 80 or 100. I'm alright with that. The true beauty of life is when I try to do my very best. Regardless of how everyone else does, my best is what really matters to me. If I play a concert, and I make mistakes, that's OK as long as it was the best I could do that day. I'm just working on becoming a little better day by day. At the end of life, that's what really matters.

7 comments:

Julie Pippert said...

Reading this, and having just spent quite a bit of time reading about social comparison theory, I feel some heartbreak. Like you, I spent a lot of time comparing myself to what I wasn't instead of loving what I was. What I really want is to see good ideas to help this with my own kids. I think good self esteem is crucial but I think there must be more, as well. So I will be thinking a lot about it. I am so, so glad you shared this story. And so glad you took that Bible verse to heart for yourself as well as for others. :)

Our Crazy Family said...

I can't say that I didn't do that, I don't think anyone can, but some comparisons can be good. You can look at someone and see the good things and want to be that. If you want to be like someone you respect it might drive you to be a better person. If someone that is over wieght looks at a slimmer person and wants to look a little better, it can be good if it motivates them to be better. I'm not saying becoming the worldly norm, but becoming a little better.

Katie said...

When I read this story it breaks my heart, and totally confuses me. I knew that you felt that way growing up, but honestly I never knew why. I have always thought you were beautiful and talented. I remember comparing myself to you, and wishing I could be more like you. You are totally beautiful on the outside, and even more beautiful on the inside. I have always thought myself lucky to be your friend.
I agree with you that this is one of Satan's biggest tools. I struggle with this in my life as I am trying to raise healthy confident children. I don't know how to make that happen other than to NOT do with them, the things I did with myself. This is actually something that I have been studying a lot lately; this feeling of self-worth. Because of some of Ethan's disorders, and his past he honestly doesn't believe he is a good person, or worthy of love, and it is amazing to me how that affects every single aspect of his life, from his behavior to his health. It makes me cry to think about it, as Ethan is one of the strongest, most beautiful, most Amazing people I know. It was interesting for me to learn that this way of thinking that you aren't good enough is a real brain connection. If you tell yourself that long enough it honestly changes your brain to believe it is truth, not just opinion. If we all saw ourselves the way others saw us...
Good topic, lot's to think about... Sorry, this turned into much more than just a "Comment"

Robert said...

I've certainly learned to ignore a lot of the negative ways people might view me and focus on what I can do to better myself. I'm still not the best at it, but I'm working on it.

Great post.

Katie, I completely agree with your assessment of Ellie. Obviously, I married her, but I found her to be incredible right from the first time I got to really know her. I still can't comprehend why she had such a low opinion of herself. I'm very fortunate to have married up in the world.

le35 said...

Julie,

From my experience, one way that I'm going to help my kids is by explaining that there is a difference between teasing and harassing. Teasing is when both parties are having fun. Harassing is where one of the two people is not having fun. One of my goals is to teach my children that if they see kids teasing each other and one of them isn't having fun, my children need to stick up for the person. Hopefully, it will help my kids stick up for themselves in these situations. I have learned that through fighting back with the truth, you stop believing the lie. The truth is that all people are inherently good. The lie is that being different is automatically bad. Therefore, I want my children to know that different is OK, and harrassment is not.

Katie,

I believed the mean kids. I heard it so much that I believed it. The horribly mean teasing had already been going on for three years before you met me, and it had started to stick. I honestly hated myself. I have been blessed to have had a change of heart.

Our crazy Family,

I think that we really need to be careful whom we try to act like. It's great to take someone's good trait and try to put it into our own lives, but every good trait has an opposite side to it, and I think that if we use other humans as our examples too much, we get the bad sides of those traits along with the good ones, if we use Christ and try to become like Him, we end up with better results.

Rob,

I love you, too!

jeanie said...

Aww - feels like I have stumbled into mutual admiration societies - and that is not a bad thing!

I think all too often we place greater value on how the world at large thinks rather than how the world at our level (such as those who love us), and that is where the real poison seeps.

Good post.

Melissa said...

It can be so hard to overcome all the negative things you hear, but you seem to have found the right way. Not that it was easy, of course, but you did and seem to be a stronger person for it.

Thanks for sharing!