Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How the atonement helped me overcome self-objectification



I was sitting in my PR Cases & Campaigns class bright and early this morning and we were watching examples of social ad campaigns. We observed this ad produced by Dove, one that I have seen numerous times previously, and the Spirit just hit me so strongly, right there in class reminding me of how incredible the atonement is! This is a bit of an interesting example and I have many, many more experiences with the atonement, but today I feel the need to share with you how incredibly powerful the atonement is through my personal self-objectification experience. 

Last year, from January to August 2014, I was more insecure of my personal image than I had ever been in my life. I feel prompted to share my experience with you even though I'm ashamed of it. I'm ashamed of it because of my perception now. I'm ashamed of it because the thoughts that I'm going to share with you are real and I know now exactly who they were coming from, the adversary. I'm ashamed because of the moments I wasted loving myself for who I am.

I had never really had much acne until January 2014, and it hit me hard. I was going through some stressful situations at this time, so maybe that triggered it, I have no idea because I'm still fighting it as I write this, but the words I am going to use to describe how I felt don't even slightly compare with the emotions that I feel now. Waking up one day with blemishes all over my face was a very new and real thing for me. I felt so self-conscious every single day. On every single date I went on, I wondered if they could see, I wondered if they noticed it. It was so hard for me to see past my acne, I would spend hours in my car crying, asking and pleading for comfort and trying to find my worth in the world. These words don't do justice to my feelings or emotions. It wasn't just my acne I was concerned with, I just didn't feel beautiful and glamorous like I desired. I don't look like a pageant girl, I never had. For some unknown reason the thought that I wasn't pretty enough and that's what mattered in this world would not leave me alone. My favorite place to go was the temple, I felt so beautiful in the temple. I felt my image didn't matter there. 

But on the days that I wasn't at the temple, every single morning I would wake up, put on my make-up, say "This is as good as it's going to get" and then I would cry and cry. How I looked was on my mind much more than I can proudly admit. These thoughts of what I wanted to change about my face and features consumed everything in me. I wanted to look like the stars you see on TV and in magazines. I would stare at these pictures, then go back and look in the mirror and I nit picked everything about myself. I'm telling you, these unhealthy thoughts consumed me like crazy. 

I didn't think any guy would ever desire to love me or marry me, because I didn't have flawless skin. I told you I'm ashamed to write out this post because huge mistake I had made in my thought process, mistaking guys for being that shallow. If you think a guy won't love you because you have acne or any other imperfection you would consider a flaw, then you are searching for the wrong guy. The right guy won't care one bit, I promise you this! Sure, there are plenty of conceited guys out there who will only date girls with a certain image, but do you really truly want to be with one of them? Love isn't based on image, attraction is very important in marriage don't get me wrong. But the right guy will be attracted to you just the way you are, I know this to be true. The right guy for you will first fall in love with you for your heart and everything will fall into place thereafter. 

I can distinctly remember sitting in my car, reflecting on my imperfections a few different times, I remember the exact location of where I was and how deeply my heart was grieving. Once again, I remind you that my description of my heart break doesn't even slightly reflect the worthlessness and heartbreak I felt based on my appearance. So I was sitting there just sobbing, and I asked Heavenly Father for a little help and understanding of why I felt the way I did and how I could feel beautiful and valuable once again. This was the beginning of my thought change process that took place through the atonement of Jesus Christ. 

Months passed by, every day I would wrestle with the Lord in my thoughts of my worth, why I thought it was all based on appearance during this time, I know not. July came and Colbie Callat released her new song 'Try'. I loved it but hated it. I would listen to it over, and over, and over again trying to convince myself that I didn't need to "try" to be beautiful and I already was. It didn't help that when Colbie takes off her makeup and all in the music video, the girl is still absolutely flawless. I should post a picture of me with no make-up on so you can see what I am talking about. 

As I prayed more and studied more of what it meant to be a daughter of God, my heart changed and grace carried me. It wasn't easy and it wasn't all over night, but I remember one day thinking, "You know, I stopped critiquing myself and crying over my image a few weeks ago. I really like who I am and I can see Christ's countenance in my image. It was then that I understood what Elaine Dalton meant by this quote; "There is no more beautiful sight than a young woman who glows with the light of the Spirit, who is confident and courageous because she is virtuous."

Suddenly I didn't care about looking like the girls in the media, I didn't care about comparing myself to others, and I didn't care as much about the flawed skin underneath my foundation. I just didn't care, and I felt beautiful just the way I am and I'm so grateful I was able to recognize that it was the atonement and grace that brought me to that point. I don't know why I had to go through those painful emotions over such a worldly thing, but I do know it helped teach me an invaluable lesson of worth and that it's the spiritual things that will always matter. Spiritual blessings can help you overcome or lessen any worldly pain you experience. 

I was spending all that time looking at myself through the eyes of the adversary. It was so damaging because it was distracting me of my divine earthly mission. Satan knows exactly what he is doing, don't let him win girls, fight back!! Did you wake up this morning and see yourself through the eyes of the Savior or the eyes of the adversary? It's a daily choice you get to make but I want to share 5 things that might help you to understand your worth and to feel beautiful inside and out every single day. 

5 actions to see yourself through the eyes of the Savior

1. Spend more time with the Savior

To see yourself through the eyes of someone, you really need to get to know them and understand who they are and what they believe in. Spend more time with the Savior than you actually spend getting ready in the morning. In fact, I challenge you to double the time. If you spend 30 minutes on your hair and makeup each morning, spend an hour with the Savior.

So how exactly do you spend time with the Savior? Learn of Him, learn of His teachings, learn of His attributes, and learn of His life and His legacy.

Here are a few suggestions...
- Watch bible videos of the Savior.
- Read '21 Days closer to Christ'
- Study Chapter 6 in Preach my Gospel about Christlike attributes
- Pray for gratitude and an understanding of the atonement + of grace
- Watch for Him daily in your life

2. Pray for an understanding of Individual worth and a love for who you are

So you've heard about individual worth, right? It's spoken of and recited all the time in Young Women's. Here's my favorite part about it though, even if you don't fully grasp what it means or understand how it applies to you personally, IT'S STILL THERE! Even if you don't feel individual worth and God's love pouring in your life or heart at this moment, that doesn't mean it is taken away. It is NEVER changing. It is perfect. It is infinite. It is there in the moments you feel and it is there in the moments you don't. If you don't understand it, pray to feel it, pray to understand it, pray to see it in your personal life. If you are diligent with this prayer, I personally testify to you that you will see it and feel it. I don't know when or how, but it will surround you and without a doubt you will know if you will just stay diligent!

3. Listen to empowering messages that teach you about who you are. Study what it means to be a daughter of God, more than you have ever studied anything ever before!

For me, this one was essential because if you are doubting your worth based on your outer beauty, you're missing the most important teaching in this church. For me, I had to really understand who I was and love that more than all else before I could learn or understand any other principle. This is the foundation for anything else to be built upon. Article of Faith number four teaches us that faith is the first principle of the gospel and if you don't understand that you're a beloved daughter of Heavenly Father and all that that entails, then you're missing something and that's why for me, this was the best place to start. 

Some great places to start:
- Daughter of a King playlist 
- Daughters of Heavenly Father talk
- Mosiah 5 
- This Lesson 

4. Dig deep into the scriptures

Really immerse yourself in the scriptures and get to know them inside and out. The goal is to know them so well that you find yourself reflecting more on scriptures and their stories instead of all the negative thoughts of worthlessness this world can have you believing. You want to be so focused on the goodness and gems the scriptures offer that you won't have time to really focus on the insecurities that you may be faced with. Study scriptures based on individual worth. Study the stories of the woman heroes and make it a goal to become as noble as them. 

5. SERVE

Lose yourself and go serve others! If you find yourself thinking too much about yourself, it's time to forget yourself and let Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ take care of all your worries and concerns while you serve Them. You are the chosen one to serve those in your circle of influence. If you find yourself dwelling on imperfections and insecurities, pray about, forget it, then go bake cookies and take them to a friend! I promise you it works. You deserve a treat too! (No bake cookies are my favorite, just in case you were wondering ;) 

Then watch this short clip!


But please girls, 
please remember that you are NEVER, EVER alone!


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