I’ve had a box of home videos—the digital Hi-8 type they no longer make players for—in my closet for years. Out of 80 tapes, only 20 or so have labels, which made converting them into DVD’s an interesting gamble. This was risky business because even with a coupon, transferring those precious memories cost us $15 per tape! Not wanting to spend money on an entire DVD of nothing, I did my best to select sixteen hopefuls and sent them off.
One of the lucky videos to make the switch was the footage from my wedding. The new DVD edition arrived just in time for my husband and me to celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary. (Bet you didn’t know UPS could be so romantic.)
On our special night we went out to dinner and came home to enjoy chilled milk with a delicious chocolate cake…and our movie. As I watched a younger me stare lovingly at a younger Bill while he serenaded me with a song he wrote, I felt a few older-but-still-strong butterflies leap in my tummy.
The video was so sweet that I thought I’d get my 12-year-old son to watch it with me the next day. I just knew he would appreciate seeing the catalyst moment of his very life, and I thought he would enjoy seeing his dad’s one and only public singing performance. I’m sure you can imagine how very much this touched his heart … ha!
He was a trooper, sitting through the entire wedding song without movement, and then…as the camera focused on me…the question came.
My sweet son looked at me and said, “Mom, you were a lot thinner then.”
“Yes, son, I was.”
“Well, mom…what went wrong?”
What went wrong? Hmmm. Let me think. Giving birth to your sister. Your brother. You. That started it all. And then the anti-depressants I had to take because I could never ever sleep. And then the chocolate that helps me out because I don’t drink or smoke or have any other vices. Maybe…just maybe…that’s what went wrong!
Although these things flew through my mind, I said none of them. What actually came out of my mouth was a roar of laughter. What went wrong? Leave it to my son to ask something with such hilariously unbridled honesty.
Truth is … something did go wrong. But it isn’t the fact that I’ve gained 50 pounds since my wedding day. And it isn’t the fact that today I wear pants from the big-mama section.
What went wrong was that I spent the first half of my marriage hating my body. What went wrong was all the times I wouldn’t let my husband touch me because I was ashamed of my soft parts. And the times I didn’t go swimming with my kids because I felt hideous in a swimsuit. And the brutally critical things I would say to myself as I put my head on the pillow so many nights.
Praise the Lord I don’t feel those things today. Thankfully, I was healed of my self-hatred before it ruined everything. But I’ll never get those younger years back. I can’t go back in time and tell that newly-wedded wife that loving herself would be the best thing she could ever do for her marriage.
But I can tell you.
Love yourself. Do everything you can to embrace that person in the mirror. And don’t think it’s just an issue of self-esteem, because it’s far more. It’s God’s will for us.
God tells us this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39)
We’re supposed to love our neighbors (and for us married folks, the closest neighbor we have is our spouse) as we LOVE … ourselves.
I think God specifically added that last part because He knew we would try to skip it. He knew we’d go straight to the loving our neighbor part and leave ourselves out of the mix. And the enemy of our souls hopes we will, too, because when we don’t love ourselves, everyone in our lives misses out.
Some of us have spent so many years not loving ourselves that change seems impossible. But we serve a loving God who wouldn’t ask us to do something that couldn’t be done. His Word says that He longs to heal our broken hearts and take care of our wounds (Luke 4:18). He defines Himself as love, and He promises to complete the good work He has begun in us (Phil. 1:6).
Truth is, the God of Wonder says we are wonder-full; and since we are made by the Master, we are each one a masterpiece. And what’s not to love about that?