Years ago, I had a dear friend who had anorexia and bulimia. One night, very early in our friendship (when I didn't know about her eating disorders), she looked at me and cried, "You are so thin, and I am so fat!" I was so confused. Her size-zero pants looked baggy on her. I will not tell you the size of my pants, but I can tell you that I was (and still am) not a size-zero.
I told her that she needed to love herself more.
A year after that incident, I was asked to give a workshop in the juvenile justice facilities on
sexual harassment. I walked into a classroom containing twenty-two blank stares in blue uniforms. By the end of the workshop, we were a wreck. Some were crying, most were distraught, four admitted that they
had been raped.
I left them with colorful bookmarks telling them to love themselves.
Weeks ago, Yohanan was teething (the well-used excuse for fussing). He just had a flu shot. His skin felt warmer than usual, a slight fever. He looked at me and his hand patted his chest, signing "Please." Hold me, mommy, just hold me.
Then, I understood
of the colorful bookmarks,
of telling my friend to love herself.
Girls in blue uniforms stood before my mind's eyes, their blank stares judged me. No, Miss, we cannot love ourselves. Can't you
see, Miss? We are hurt, and broken, and sick.
How do we see ourselves?
Are we gods and goddesses -- the way they sing about us on the radio?
Or do we see ourselves as God sees us?
Children, toddlers, babies--
faces of beauty in the fullness of their glory,
helpless, rebellious, center of our universes,
always manage to get our hands on some poison or choking hazards,
prone to wander, falls, and pain.
We are children
we are not able to love ourselves.
When I see my children sinking in their self-inflicted misery, I don't
tell them to love themselves. No, I tell them that Mommy and Daddy love
them. I tell them that their Maker and Savior loves them. And then, we
would dance, and sing, and hold on to one another (until, of course, I
have to make dinner).
looks to others.
When love looks to the self, it becomes something else.