This week I have been struggling a little with self-pity syndrome. Silly I know – distasteful to me too, and really rather annoying because I know part of it is due to the change in my emotions that occur with the monthly shift of hormone levels too. I spend a fair amount of time with women younger than me, in a friendship capacity but also a discipleship one. And I find time and time again that it is the issue of a poor self-image that crops up. It just seems to be rife among young Christian women. I can understand why, given the way our culture and media bombard us with images that, rather than ‘doing their job’ and encouraging us to aspire to be like the women pictured, belittle us and make us feel somehow of less worth than others. I am glad that we don’t all rush out to spend money on trying to be like those photoshopped models, but nevertheless those images do take their toll. I know I have had to fight to fill my mind with the knowledge of who I am in Christ, of how he sees me, but I confess since having two children and speeding ever closer to the big 40, being around younger women, or those supermums who have managed to have kids and still retain no ounce of fat on their bodies, does make me ashamed of my physical body at times.
But it isn’t just the physical. Sometimes I feel like a waste of space. I know that may come as a surprise to some, but I am still, at heart, a pretty shy person. I have to work hard to push myself through the barrier of wanting to just hide in a corner. I have worked particularly hard at it in church – just as well really as people do not expect a pastor’s wife to hide! Having lots of useful jobs helps – behind the scenes ones are my most comfortable but I am also happy leading worship and talking up the front now. However, put me in a situation that is fairly new to me, or where I am surrounded by much louder, more confident people, and I seem to shrivel a little. My natural instinct is to close down – especially if I try to speak up but someone louder speaks over me.
The reason for this week’s struggle is the age-old playground scenario. My daughter has a lovely bunch of friends, and the mums are nice too. However I am one of the quieter ones, and I can be ignored or overlooked at times. For the second time in recent weeks my daughter was one of the few not invited back to a friend’s house (actually this week she was the only one) and I was really upset for her. On top of that I learned that while I had been away last week they had arranged a group collection for the teachers and not included me. I thought I’d make a special effort and invite them all back after the kids break up on Friday, but one by one they texted back to say they had already arranged to go to the park. I really wished I hadn’t bothered at that point. Now my sensible hat knows that one of the mums knew I had bought a little something for the teachers already, so may have thought I didn’t need to be asked about the collection. And I also realise that I don’t always do the dropping off to school as my husband works nearby, so I probably just wasn’t around when they arranged the park. I don’t know if it is my ego, or my insecurity, but my reaction inside was to think that it isn’t that hard to think about who is missing from the group and send a quick text. So I immediately began to spiral and think that they obviously don’t think that much of me. My lack of worth was further emphasised to me when I read that two other writers were in the middle of writing for a publication that doesn’t seem to want me.
I’m not in the best place today, but I have been working hard to remind myself of who I am, of who loves me – and that it really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things! Even writing it down makes it seem rather petty – a bit silly – and yet, being honest to myself – and you – shows me that it has affected me this week.
It is hard when something you thought you had worked hard to conquer comes and seems to overtake you again – but I guess it is a good reminder that I can’t do things in my own strength so need to press into God more. He is the source of my life, goodness, sense of worth etc. Yes I feel sheepishly humbled – yet again – but at least it has reminded me that without him I can do nothing!