BEHIND THE MASK: LETTING LOVE IN

 

“There is no other like you on this Earth, you are the only you God created. If there were no you, there would be a vacuum, a void left on this earth, God’s words He has you speak would not be there, something precious would be missing, YOU are more valuable than you know… Come out of HIDING, stop lurking in the shadows, step out of the shadow of death.” ~ GOD.

I could not feel the water, was it hot? Was it cold?… Steven was gone with the kids, he would be gone for hours, it’s was a rare moment to be alone in my own home. That night, I should not have been alone, that night I should have been with my family surrounded by those who loved me… I cannot say that it was premeditated, for I did not plan it. Rather the opportunity presented itself, it was a moment of weakness and of absolute deceit… In that moment I had no desire to carry on in life. I didn’t want the pain to continue… It was a deadly cocktail that opportunity had mixed for me… Down the hatch… What was done was done… Thick heavy tears fell with a great sigh of relief, my pain would be over soon… I longed to feel nothing… I longed to not struggle daily with illness any more, I wanted to be numb, but I had over shot it… In a moment of weakness I was about to self exterminate… Was it postpartum? Was it self hate? Truth be told it was both…

I could not feel the water…. Was it hot? was it cold, was it wet? I just felt pressure, I just felt pain, I hurt… Like my heart hurt… It had hurt for so long…I couldn’t even tell you what wholeness felt like, I was so fractured…always had been… I didn’t measure up in life, everyone and I mean EVERYONE rejected me, my mother, my father, my mother-in-law, my siblings, my peers, the church I grew up in… Even my new baby I fought for life for… If ever there was a screw up it was me… I HATE me….
Is it hot? Is it cold? I just feel pressure….I cranked the knob up higher… Nothing, numbness… I knew it was hot but, It didn’t FEEL hot… I was spiraling downward, I was past danger I was on self destruct and nobody knew… NOBODY had known… You see I hid it so well, with a pretty little mask, I was “okay” and “fine” fake smile nothing to see here folks…Truth be told I was far from okay, and in a few short hours I was to be dead… Desperate to feel something I turned the shower up hotter… Until the burn itched my legs… Finally, I feel something, I leaned my nakedness against the tiled wall, “You deserved this… You deserve every bad thing that has ever happened to you… What a meager existence it has been, what a perfect ending to your sad, pathetic life…” I started to cry, the pain inside was unreal… I STILL hurt… I am no good, I break EVERYTHING I touch… You’re fat, you’re stupid, you’re ugly, you’re insignificant… Steve hates you, like he REALLY hates you… Your were his plan B, he married you out of pity and a sense of duty…”

Hot salty tears stung my eyes… I hated me… The record replayed over and over again…I deserved to die…I was pink all over from the burn… It was almost scalding, most would pull away…But in that moment the burn was comforting and I sat under the spout with the broken record playing over and over again FEELING something other than devastation for a change… Letting the enemy rip me to pieces with his “truths”, it was like he held a mirror to my face to force me see what I longed to forget. Like my mother who withheld favor and love from me that I, as a little girl and young lady so desperately needed, every slap of her words and fists… Her rejection had rocked me to the core… I longed to feel something more than my smashed to pieces heart… So many tears… I hate me, I HATE me, I hate me so much… My eyes were heavy, the pain had stopped, I could barely breathe the air was so hot and my lungs felt heavy… It was time, I turned off the water and somehow found my way into my bed…I don’t remember much of what happened next…. But I laid down and fate stepped in… As I tried to extinguish me, God had a different plan. THIS was not how I was to go, this was not the end of my story. In my misery and self hate, in the middle of my sin, He came to me. He chose to love me in my unloveliest hour. There in that bed He came to me and picked me up and said, “You’re not done, you are down but you are not out. He loved me even though. He drew me close to Him and in my darkest hour He found me, in the enemies camp He unchained me, picked me up, and carried me to safety… In my ugliness He called me beautiful, and it was there that He took all of my ashes and He showed me how to make them into something beautiful. It was when I was full of self rejection, He loved me all the more and He accepted me for who I am. In my wrath and destructed He spoke kindness to me, diffused me and taught me to love again….

So how?… How was I spared? Well He sent me Steve, Steven came home early… He knew something was wrong… He sat me up and quickly my body responded to being jostled by him, it let go, and let go, and let go… I was so sick, things spun around like the wheel of a kaleidoscope, I was gasping and fighting for my life, in a dream like haze I remember him asking me what I took, in a haze I remember him telling me that he loved me and I don’t get to do this to him. I remember him trying to sit me up and that only made me more sick and up it came…all of it…every lie, and all the poison, and the realization of what I had just tried to do… I was so sick… I could barely lift my head for a whole week, I laid there so ill that I could barely move. In that week, I had a lot of time to think about things, and Steven had a lot more to say to me. It was time to be real, the masks had come off… For days it all came up… For days I was so sick I couldn’t lift my head, for days I laid in bed, I wrestled with all of it… I became very aware of my self condition and I didn’t know how to hide it anymore. My mask of being “okay and fine” had just come off….And I was far from both.
Dear Reader, I do not expect you to identify with my whole story, but I feel as though there will be different parts that speak to you as you start to see the fracture in your own mirror… We all wear masks, we are all afraid of something, to show the unlovely, the thing we don’t want others to see… This blog is my mask coming off… I am not afraid anymore… I am set free… My story is my testimony, the good, the bad, the unlovely…. It is a road to redemption marked by love along the way. My life reflects the mercy, grace and power of God. Not the condemnation and judgment of man, I hold no fear of judgment. For I AM beautiful and lovely, I have GREAT worth in my own eyes and in the eyes of my Creator. He made me beautiful, He made me in HIS image and THAT is something to behold, that is something I had to own… “He knitted me together… I am fearfully and wonderfully made… Nothing has EVER been hidden from Him, not in my past nor in my future He knew me well (Psalm 139)”… He knew all of it… He KNOWS all of it… and He STILL loves me and with that I am set free….

This blog started in 2013, in a coffee shop with a friend named Jena, and a friend named Melinda. Separately they met me one on one… as normal for coffee and catch up… But this time, this time the focus was mainly on me….I Had just let a very large cat out of the bag, I hated myself and they just found out many months earlier I had attempted to end my life. Melinda gripped her cup, she and I would meet consecutively over the next few weeks and months at Denny’s…. In that season she was faithful to call me daily, her little hands gripped her coffee, she sighed deep , looked worried and leaned back into her seat… “So… How are you today?… Good?…” Long pause, so much had changed, I wasn’t at church anymore, I had no desire to go. In their eyes I had gone rouge… The truth was 3 years of church counsel didn’t touch my hurt… The truth is, I still ached after every formulated way known to mankind to just “give it to Jesus.” had been done… So there Melinda was gripping her cup with so much grief on her face knowing my truths…
And then there was Jena, with her “I love you honey, you know that you are special to me… I fight for you, I don’t let anyone say anything bad about you… I just wish you could see what a treasure you are to others around you… I just wish you could see how much you mean to them too… Your spunky, your feisty, Scarlett she’s just like you… I wish you could see the you i see… take off your mask Nichol, your not alone in this… I cannot wait for the outcome of this journey. Im kinda excited.” Jena has always been a spin doctor, she can tell you the hard truths you need to hear with out the hurt. She knows how to meet you where you are at and pull you up and reset you… and Melinda well she loves without borders. These two have loved me so well, through that season, and even still… THANK YOU LOVELIES….
And then there was my Steven, he was the first person to love me well, he loved me for me. He loves my persona, my fight, my spunk… He is the gravy in my mashed potatoes, and the glue that’s hold this family together when it all falls apart… He makes my life palatable.
And then there was Kevin Lumsden with his word of knowledge, the catalyst that began the undoing of me… “There is no other like you on this Earth, you are the only you God created. If there were no you, there would be a vacuum, a void left on this earth, God’s words He has you speak would not be there, something precious would be missing, YOU are more valuable than you know… Come out of HIDING, step out of the shadow of death. God knows your heart, He knows your every thought, your every intention, what you’ve done, what you did, and what you hide…”
There was so much in my past that made me want to hide, there was so much devastation that I became so weary from it all… My hands were limp from fighting for so long… Every abusive moment from my childhood taught me to hate me and reject me. I became good for only one thing, it infected the very essence of who I was and I filtered everything through that process. It haunted my life force and identity, it dwelled in every relationship and my marriage. I learned to EARN love and to despise my heart and my body… To the core I hated me, so how could I love? Let alone receive love the thing I desperately needed.

The truth is dear reader, that ever since I had met Steve I had always asked him, “Do you love me?” His response was always, “Very much.” But for whatever reason I never allowed it to penetrate, HIS love never got in… Truly all love never got in, I was too afraid of it and in fear I hid, I kept people at arms length… Most saw this as a slap against them, but the truth is it was self preservation… The walls around my heart were iron clad and fortified. For years when I opened my Bible it would willing fall to Psalm 139, a heavenly message wrapped in love to me, but it would not penetrate, it never got in, I would scribble it out like an angry lover… “HOW!? How do you love me?! YOU CALL THIS (my life He gave me) LOVE”… My self condition was a ticking time bomb… I was ready to detonate.
“Love your neighbor as yourself…” Mark 12:31
God commands us to love… He commands us to love our enemies, to love Him, to love our neighbors, and to love ourselves… But what if WE are our own worse enemy? And HOW on earth can we love others when we don’t even love ourselves… I believe it is impossible to genuinely love others when self hate and self loathing is a condition set deep within our hearts. It stains everything we see, hear and understand. Self loathing is a state of being, an emotional, but more importantly a spiritual condition. When we self loath, we are rejecting what God designed for us, we are rejecting HIS design for us, His creative act of us… We have somehow grabbed hold of the lie from the pit that we are unfit in every way. We reject God’s truths and believe that God makes mistakes, because “I” am an error, a blemish, something that should not have been… Self hate is a dangerous condition to be in, it’s destructiveness reaches into all aspects of thought process we contain, it makes us believe that EVERYONE else is better than us and deserves more than us. We wallow, we reject ourselves and therefore reject others and their words towards us… We believe that others pity us and it perverts every true act of love as an act of pity. We think others just say things to be nice, or they feel sorry for us… Self-loathing brings upon self pity, a lack of self worth, and a often spirit of rejection. You become your own worse critic, you ARE your own worst enemy…. and it is all an assignment against your identity straight from the pit of hell…
THIS is what I started to realize as I lay sick upon that bed… What Steve had helped me to see… and I realized that the pretty mirror that I so willing gazed into was horribly flawed, it was ugly and fractured and far from the truth of who I really was. The mirror was a dark one and it lied straight to my face for all of these years. In that bed I was rescued from the Hydra’s lair my Him found me there and started to undo the barbwire that pierced me so… It was in that bed that I started to see that I mattered to those around me… That I truly had value, weight, and worth. It was there I started a journey INTO LOVE and began to let love in.

The process was thus, the first person I needed to let love me, was me… As a little girl I used to look into the mirror and tell myself over and over, “I hate you.” Inwardly I would recite things that I heard at school, and in the home, that made me start to reject me, my body, my persona. This is where I started, I needed to undo that. So the first person I faced every day was me, I looked into the mirrored reflection I hated and I stared at her… And She stared back, I looked at her every curve, her every flaw, her every scar, and I said, “You’re beautiful, and Im sorry….” Her sad eyes would look back at me and I would go on… “I am sorry for not loving you enough, for not loving you well, and I will learn to love you.” And so I did. I learned to gaze into the mirror and learned to love every scar, every blemish, every flaw. I would sit and say to my reflection, “I love you.” And in the beginning it didn’t register, it didn’t sink in… it felt fake but I did it just the same. I looked at her, who I was taught to hate, and eventually the hate fell off and love came… Love started to sink in… My words grabbed root and became truth. I faced my every fear by letting love in… I learned to set boundaries with people, and I learned to navigate people them. I learned to trust few and love most. I even learned to receive love from others. How? By allowing them to serve me, by allowing them to spend time with me, by believing their “I love you”s. Even when their actions didn’t back up their words. I took my power back from toxic people. I learned that even if they are family NO ONE has the right to hurt you emotionally, sexually, spiritually or physically. I left people and places behind that were toxic to my well being and a new self respect grew out of doing so. Truthfully, in the beginning it hurt, it was hard, but Steven and myself learned to stand on our own two feet despite all adversity. And I loved myself all the more, I developed a self identity I had never known… I went from orphan to heir…
I learned that people who love well are not afraid to be real with others, they can be themselves and if people do not like it, its a flaw within the other person and nothing against you…
But above all of these things I learned that my salvation doesn’t hinge on good behavior, that if I don’t go to church for a year, I don’t automatically forfeit my salvation, that NO ONE can take that away from you. It was bought at a price of a life and given to you, it and you have weight and great value to God the Father, and Holy Spirit loves you deeply for it. I hit the ground running, got plugged in elsewhere and discovered what true community looks like. For the first time I was free to be me, and I was surrounded by people who do not let one another fall… For the first time I was in a community that was a family to me… I was affirmed… It started to sink in, I was indeed well loved by Steve, by God, by others… and by me… I had no need for a mask any longer… My mask has come off. I am set free.

For you see, I have been on a journey, a voyage of discovery, learning to not only love myself, but love others and to allow them to love me in return… And at the start of my 36 years I think I finally have arrived… I LOVE me for me, I LOVE myself, The silly creature God made me. For the first time in my life I love me, I AM COMFORTABLE in my own skin, in all the feisty, fiery, and spontaneous plus sized roller coaster I am… I LOVE ME!…. I look in the mirror and I am realistic about WHO I am … I am plus size and I rock it. My value and worth doesn’t come from my pants size, or what others think of me, it comes from deep within, it comes from my Heavenly Father and from loving who I was created to be even if that still remains to be seen. I no longer hate the girl in the mirror, I love her, she is lovely, she is a survivor, she has purpose, and weight, she is stunning, she glows from the inside out. The truth is I still see me for me and I am not unrealistic about who I am. I see myself in the mirror and do not despise myself any longer. For I am beautifully flawed, my back bares scars of youth, my face bares scars of abuse, my navel bares scars of illness, and my lower abs bares scars and stretch marks from child birth and weight gain… not to mention all the unseen scars upon my heart. And I love every imperfect morsel of me… It doesn’t matter what shape, scar, or bulge I bear, I am beautiful…I am the me I am supposed to be. I rock her well in the world… Because I am the me HE created me to be… HE made ME perfectly… I compare to no other, for there is no other me. I am a beautiful work of art straight from the throne of grace… For I AM the very essence of HIM… Because HE made me, because HE dwells within me…. And all of my scars are battle wounds from the journey…. Every single one of them marks a victory, a memory of overcoming the world, and overcoming the dark one….
I left the enemies camp, and there I left my little mask behind… I started a new journey with my Him, out of self destruction and hate into self love and acceptance. I have started to heal, my illness has even started to self correct, it seems to be controlled with the new level of nutrition I have found… I am on a new journey of becoming a better me. But that is another story for another time…
Now Dear Reader, This is where I leave you… reflecting into your own mirror… What is it you see? Where is your self condition? Who has lied to you? Its time to take off the mask, to come out of hiding…. What is it you see? I see a lie there that was never meant to be believed. I see a fracture that needs resetting to heal… I see a mask that hides the real beautiful you… I see a you in you that someone else can never be… I see an ancient love song written before time came to be… I see Eden’s garden and Eve restored… I see the power of an old rugged cross, its three nails, and the resurrection story of an empty grave dwelling within… Behold! Beloved, He comes! My Ancient One with healing in His stride… Behold and beheld, He never left you behind… Reach out and see the YOU, you were meant to be… Let Him write His name upon your heart… That lie? Toss is down, the Serpent is dead, THE HYDRA’S NO MORE… Step out, step out love is at your door… He loved you then, He loves you still… He loves the you, you refuse to see, He loves you, you were ALWAYS meant to be. I break shame, rejection, and self hate off you now… You SEE?!?…Come… take my hand… You are free… Come be free with me… You are a slave no more…

With Love,
Nichol

P.S. If you need a friend I am here for you… Reach out to me… come out of hiding…

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