I married just before my 22nd birthday. I had my first child at the age of 24. Life was good. I was fortunate to have a loving husband and two beautiful babies. (Pause.) Life was good, most of the time. The truth is I believed for much of my young life I was never enough.
Me, age 7
I struggled with low self-esteem from childhood until I was nearly 40 years old. I was a strong-willed girl, which helped me persevere. I was also very spiritual from a young age; I had long talks with God, sharing my little girl heartaches and telling him how I longed to see his face and to be with him. One of the strongest and vivid memories I have is of me sitting on my bed pouring out my heart to the One I knew would listen. I was seven (and younger). I had no way of knowing I would later make some poor choices that would alter the course of my journey. Despite my connection with God, this strong-willed, spiritual girl grew into a passionate young woman who lacked self-esteem. I was a loving, stand-up-for-the-underdog kind of person. It was easy to defend others. I loved from the depth of my soul.
Life wasn’t always easy, If I were to talk to my younger self, I would share some highlights that I hope she would embrace. I would take my young face in my hands and look myself in the eyes; I’d say something like:
- You are and always have been lovable.
- You are not perfect and you shouldn’t strive to be or believe that you should be.
- You were created beautifully, in God’s image. You are enough.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. A day will come when you look back, and “this” won’t even show up on your radar screen.
- You are a kind soul, and you know it. Don’t waste time thinking about what other negative people think of you. (Sometimes people choose to be unkind, or down-right mean.)
- Focus on the positive. It’s a choice. It takes a little effort, but you’ll be happier.
- Surround your life with people you aspire to be more like.
- You are stronger than you think.
- This (fill-in-the-blank situation) will pass. It may seem like the worst situation imaginable, but it will pass. The sun will come out tomorrow, and life will be good again. Get through the day, and focus on anything positive (you’ll see it if you look for it). Keep your eyes on Jesus.
- You are beautiful.
From the time I was 20, I was surrounded by wonderful people who loved me unconditionally – no one more than Rob (who would later become my husband). Even so, I questioned many things because of continued poor self-esteem and not feeling worthy of the life I was fortunate to now have. I was somewhat of a perfectionist, and that mindset is based in fear, and a breeding ground for loneliness at times. I would like to be able to turn back the clock for a moment and invest in my younger self some wisdom, with the hope that I would have embraced it and believed it wholeheartedly. I would continue the message to myself:
Young Geri, you are precious. You are young and strong, and you have a zest for life that is fun-loving. Your enthusiasm is contagious. You have a desire to help others that will only grow. Make choices that are God-honoring. You are enough. Even with imperfections, YOU ARE ENOUGH. You will grow through your poor choices – even the ugliest of them, and you’ll use what you learn to help others. God sees you, and I want you to see yourself through God’s eyes – not through the eyes of man. You don’t need people’s approval or acceptance. You will have a family that loves you unconditionally, and who embrace the traits in you that were once mocked. Go forward in confidence with that knowledge. Remember, life isn’t just about the destination. The journey counts. Your perseverance will see you through; stay the course. Keep moving forward and honor God with good decisions. You won’t always. Even still, you are precious to him, and to many others. He is the one to please. He loves you with an everlasting love.
You know who you are; don’t question it. Don’t wait for approval. Just keep walking, loving, caring. Embrace your life. Keep talking to God. Watch the sunrise and know that each day won’t be perfect. Be kind to others. Remember to love yourself. And keep singing! Your lifelong musical dreams may not come to pass, but singing ignites your soul and it will always be at the core of who you are. What a life God has in store for you!
Me, age 18
In a later season of my life, I finally changed my self-talk into an honest and positive message. I can honestly say I am content, and incredibly grateful! I continue to be surrounded by the most amazing, wonderful people who love me unconditionally. Life still has its challenges, but I’ve learned effective ways to work through them and thrive. I’ve been on a journey of self-improvement and growth for more than 25 years. I’ve chosen to never stop learning and growing. Failures are just pauses to learn something new, and if repentance is necessary, I know what to do. God is good. I am loved. I love others. And I use what I’ve learned to help others. To God be the glory!
– When was the last time you changed a negative thought into a positive?
– What do you do to stay focused?
I’d love to hear from you…
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