Monday, March 12, 2012

Self-Esteem Series 2: You, yes You - You are good.

My dear friends - D, M, A and I will be sharing our wonderful stories through the next couple of weeks of moments in times when we were pretty low and how He came through to remind us of truths that are solid irrespective of how we feel. I hope you read and enjoy and come back each week through the month of March to share in our testimonies.      

You can catch the first installment of the series here

Please sit back and enjoy the second installment of the series from my dear friend D.   
                                                 My Ash Wednesday, 2012

             Today, my day began with the best intentions in the world.
             I was joyful and happy to be alive. I made my to do list in my head which included fasting through the day with a 30 min prayer before I head out, catch my bus, be a bomb at work and then get to church at seven. Oh and let's not forget, read "Grace for the good girl" during intermissions of the day (awesome book y'all should read it).
             Anyways, first of all, I was late for my 30 min prayer and had to bold out of the door to catch my bus. No biggie right, i'll just pray on the bus, which I did. Work: the experiment starts fine (I am a researcher by the way) and my fasting could not go any better. First experiment - raging success, I pat myself on the back, high five the Holy Spirit and continue to the next one. I'm on fire. Then, my supervisor confirms that my previous experiment, similar to the one I am in the process of up was a raging success: "We got AWESOME data, Keep the good work going" She says... My self esteem is up a 1000X. God loves me and the birds and the bees all chirp and buzz in my favor!
            Ten minutes before the end of the experiment, the machine froze. This machine never freezes!!! It is almost 6:30p.m., the bus will leave and I will miss church. What is even more heartbreaking is that my experiment might be compromised. 10 minutes later and with a defeated attitude, I exit work. "Let me get a honey bun to break my fast" I thought to myself (I have been craving a honey bun all day). The vending machine did have a honey bun. But it was behind an apple dutch whatever and in order to get I would have to pay twice. I only had a dollar. I settled for some fruit snack instead (me not remembering the name tells you how annoyed I was). Everything had gone wrong. My plans thwarted.
            While walking to my bus stop it occurs to me that God is still God and I am still his servant. How does my day relate to self esteem? 
Well, I started the day full of myself but in the end I was emptied of me. And did I tell you I had to go through the day with a gaping hole on my shirt?!?!
I had the expectation of my supervisor, of the world around me and most of all, my self-imposed expectations to satisfy. But when did I ever consider the expectations of God which are to lay my burdens, these expectations of the world, at His cross and to rest? Our self esteem is shaped as Newton's third law, every force has an equal and opposite reaction. The world tells us we are not good enough,  but God tell us "I died for you". The world says you have a gaping hole in your shirt, God says "I have made you in my image and I said you are good." The world said you couldn't even meet your own expectation, God says "Stop expecting and start living in me."
             In God our needs are met, so why do we keep on expecting what we already have? We are beautiful because we were made in His image. If you say that you are ugly then you are insulting your God (oh noo u didn't). God loves you and knows your very core - the one you hide from the world. He still found you so worthy of His love that He made an entire earth for you to dwell, mates for you to chose, animals and plants to feed you, and as if that was not enough, He gave you eternal redemption with no fear of death. So when every honey bun is hidden by an apple treat that you didn't intend on having, and you are broken in your hunger with a gaping hole in your shirt and a so so experiment, dear friend - laugh and enjoy for the One in control has pushed you off the driver's seat and showed you that you do not drive that car, but you are a passenger - a beloved and well taken care off passenger.

Be blessed,

Friday, March 2, 2012

Self-Esteem Series 1: In the Beginning...

Warning: Long Post Alert!

Hello Lovely Readers,

            Let’s just skip the part where I neglected this blog for almost a month and get back to being friends? Please? You forgive me now? Okay - thanks. Let’s hug on it now :D

Over the past couple of months, I’ve had some pretty intense internal struggles that God is still molding me through... the biggest has been self-esteem. I’ve wanted to write about it for a while because this is something that I know I’ve always grappled with. Maybe this is something you have dealt with or are dealing with and you’ll like to share your experiences with us here? Maybe you’ve never struggled with it and maybe you want to share your frame of strengthened mind with us? I’m not writing this as someone who has overcome, because I know as long as I’m on this side of heaven, I’ll have to keep fighting thorns in my side that continually reminds me that HIS Grace is sufficient for me (1 Cor 12:9)... and that I am more than a conqueror!!! (Imagine that? Not just a conqueror, but MORE than a conqueror. Does anyone have a noun that describes someone who is more than a conqueror? I know I don’t know one...)

            My dear friends - D, M, A and I will be sharing our wonderful stories through the next couple of weeks of moments in times when we were pretty low and how He came through to remind us of truths that are solid irrespective of how we feel. I hope you read and enjoy and come back each week through the month of March to share in our testimonies.

Remain Blessed,
Mwajim Al.

                                                In the Beginning by Mwajim Al.

Over the past couple of days, I’ve been trying to pinpoint the very first moment I began to think less of myself... I can remember being scared of the neighbors’ dog when I was three... I can remember the first time I climbed out of my bedroom window to play with the neighbors’ kids when I was four because I didn’t have siblings to play with... I remember my cousins making fun of me because of the way I spoke when we first returned to Nigeria... I have distinct memories that stand out from childhood... but I can’t remember the first pin of low self-esteem. Maybe that is a good thing, not to remember a single moment when such a seed was planted. However, that bothers me more... it makes me think that it was a gradual build-up from friends, family members, television shows... of how I view myself. Not to say that people always said or did things to bring me down on purpose... but personal perspective and my reaction to things were not always with the lightest of feelings...

            What I do remember is the first time my mum reacted to my view of self .This was probably in my early teen years. I can’t recall what it was I said... most probably me comparing myself to someone and thinking I was less because I didn’t have what I coveted. I remember her being so upset and saying out loud that she wondered where I got that perspective of self from. It was then that she became more rigorous with her trademark saying to us as kids. I used to think it was really annoying whenever I would complain about something and she would say: “You are different...” and then she would repeat it and wait for us to complete the sentence... “ You are what?” and I would grudgingly reply “... different.” I hated that. Being different meant I had to accept that I could not have Simbi’s nose, or Aisha’s hair or Patience’s skin tone. Being different meant that I would probably get a different college education from my home mates, move out of home at seventeen or not get to see my family as much as I would love to. It took me a while to accept my differences as unique... as beautiful... and as mine.

            Perception of self goes a long way in allowing what makes you and what breaks you... and sadly to say, some “friends” are not in employed in the building up process. Sadly, that took me a while to realize... and even longer to realize that the people you surround yourself also reflects on your thoughts, and who you are... well, except if you are either a very-strong-willed person or live in a bubble :D I was neither of those growing up. So on the one hand, you have heavy societal influence shaping and affecting my perception of self which outweighed all the good and the strong efforts my parents vested in me. The funny thing about that was how strong I looked on the outside, while on the inside I was squirming and running and hiding and hoping no one would notice me because then they would realize that the truth I thought about myself... that I’m not good enough...

            Then college came. My emancipation as I like to call it at times... My friend D always reminds me that I once told her I was a flower blooming slowly! I don’t know how it happened but somehow I began to work hard to accept myself... it was either I accept myself or die trying... My small stature, my dark skin, my flyaway hair, myself... all mine... nobody else’s... all mine. And for the longest time, I thought that was what I needed - fortifying myself to be strong for me. After all if I wasn’t strong for me, then who would be? Who would hold me if I decided to be in shambles and all broken up? 

            One the one hand, I had all this self-buffering up to do just so I would not let anyone’s words bring me down, or any situation put daggers into my heart... on the other hand, because I grew up hearing Bible stories and striving to believe in Jesus “so I wouldn’t go to hell”, I was trying to see if God said anything about me loving me... me accepting me. I always remembered Luke 10:27 (NIV):

“He answered: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all of your soul, all your strength and with all your mind’. And ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’”

Somehow, the ‘Love your neighbor’ part always clicked... I HAVE to love people; I HAVE to put them first... I HAVE to please them... even if it means I get pushed down, even if it means they take it for granted... I mean after all, I will get my reward in heaven... RIGHT? Somehow, the ‘... as yourself’... never resonated, never clicked.

            A lot happened before I came to the above realizations... and the truths that have always been but I’d never accepted till recently. I will expound more on those truths and how I came to them in the final installment of this series.

            Happy Reading!!!