What I’m about to say may offend my Christian friends. Hopefully, you will allow me a little bit of leeway here.
I find truth in a lot of places, not just the Bible.
Now it’s out in the universe.
Yes, I believe the Bible is the Word of God. I believe what it has to say can guide you, heal you, set you free from what binds you. However, those words can also slice and dice. We must be careful how we wield that sword.
Yesterday I was shopping for a birthday present. This lovely person enjoys thrift stores and shops at Goodwill regularly. I started there first. I wandered through the clothes and shoes – my weaknesses – and realized I didn’t know her size or particular taste. Having gotten some bizarre clothing gifts in my past, I figured I better skip an absolute purchase unless something I knew she’d like jumped out at me. I moseyed over to the housewares. Geez, some of the china and glassware items were hideous! People buy that stuff?! Or maybe not, because it was sitting there alone. I couldn’t foist those things on her. Somehow, I ended up looking at the movies. Would she like “Down With Love” with Renee Zellwegger and some other guy whose name escapes me – Chris Whozit? Nah.
On to the books. Margaret Cho’s book, I’m The One That I Want jumped out at me. I’d seen her before doing standup on TV and she’s a regular character on the show Drop Dead Diva. Margaret Cho is…raw. She’s Korean and she has a lot to say about that, being female, and coming out as bisexual. She can be raunchy. Honestly, she’s not my favorite because of that. Sometimes another person’s truth – how they state it or portray it – can be off-putting. But the book intrigued me.
I started flipping through it. By all accounts, her childhood was difficult. Her parents didn’t show her much approval; it’s not part of the culture. She wasn’t skinny. She didn’t appear to excel at anything at first. What she desperately wanted was to be approved of. She wanted to be white. She wanted to be thin. She absorbed what the culture valued and took that on herself. If you read on Wikipedia, you will see that she got into a performing arts high school and eventually turned to comedic routines. She’s found a way to deal with her truth by discussing her parents, her old neighborhood, scorn of friends and rough relationships with men and women.
What hit me was the cycle of self-hatred. Hey, I recognize that! She starved herself to be thin, heeding the direct criticism of others as well as the media in general. She tried to tone down her personality so others would like her. She wanted to desperately to “fit in”. The more she tried, the more miserable she became.
Sound familiar, anyone?
The quote that jumped out at me was this: “Self-esteem is a hard-won battle”. And I thought, Amen, sister! Now, I want to go on record here saying that I don’t agree with all of Ms. Cho’s opinions, political stances or necessarily how she got to her truth. I’m not even saying she’s a role model. But the point is that she got there. After years of struggle, she stumbled on a piece of God’s truth. She decided to believe she was beautiful and worthy. She might not phrase it this way, but the reality of the Imago Dei within her started to rise up. She stopped starving herself. She got clean. Everyone *does* have to fight the self-esteem battle, even if you’re the most beautiful woman in the world. Eventually, someone will open their mouth and criticize you or you will fail at something you put your whole heart into. That includes you, Beyoncé!
And so, fighting my own demons today, I pick up the truth I know: the Bible. I have a fail-safe weapon. I strike back against the darkness and choose to believe what God says about me. I am beautiful. I am loved. I have a purpose. I am not forgotten, but written on the palm of His hand. Because the truth will set you free, if you let it. It wins every time.