After my divorce I knew no one would ever want me. I had a Scarlet Letter “D” written in bold, italicized, and underlined font on my chest.
I was labelled for life. If a man told me he was divorced, my first thought was, “Oh no, what’s wrong with him that his relationship failed?”
Why would I be judged any less harshly? If anyone were to give me a chance, it would just get too complicated. I found myself performing a balancing act. I would let them in just enough to trust them with my deeper, darker secrets, but I wouldn’t let them invest enough into me that they would be destroyed by my even bigger confessions – like the fact that I have actually been married twice.
“What do you think of me now?” I would ask like I was challenging them, testing their response.
But through all of this, there was a deeper-rooted issue.
I didn’t even love myself.
How could I? I was miserable. I felt every single label that society had slapped on my forehead. Stress, Anxiety, Divorce, Bad, Ugly, Fat, Sad, Miserable, Slacker, Pathetic, Unsuccessful, Guilt, Shame. My shoulders felt the weight of every single one. But then someone told me that those labels did not make up my identity. They revealed to me who I really was. I am royalty.
We’ve all seen those movies where the common girl is swept off her feet by a prince and she goes through a painful and sometimes comical process of trying to figure out how to act like the princess that she now is. This was exactly how I felt. I didn’t know how to dress, talk, walk, eat, act, or look like a princess. I didn’t even think I was worthy of being called royalty. I certainly didn’t know how to identify with that.
Who knew you could so drastically alter your mindset by giving up lies and replacing them with truths?
I created sticky notes with true labels. I am beautiful. I am strong. I am compassionate. I am loved. I am a daughter of a King. I scoured my Bible to find more truths about me and how God sees me. I am perfectly made. I am an heir to the throne. I am free. I am not condemned. I am forgiven. I am obsessed over. I plastered these truths all around me. They were stuck on the bathroom mirror, taped to my front door. I created wall art with these words. I stuck them on the dash of my car and even had some hidden in my wallet in case I hit a rough patch in my day. Every day as I got ready for work I would read these little notes to myself over and over. And something started to happen. I started to believe them.
I don’t use these sticky notes anymore, but I am careful who I keep around me, what I keep around me, what I read, and what I listen to. I protect myself from thoughts and words that aren’t true and I am careful with what I allow myself to meditate on. If it doesn’t line up with how God views me, I discard it. It’s easier said than done, but part of that is the “who I keep around me” part.
I have, in moments of weakness, called a friend to cry out in panic just to have her react with a, “Whose voice are you listening to?”
She nails it every time. I am not perfect yet. I occasionally forget what I’ve learned. And, just like growing pains, none of it is fun. But it’s necessary and the end result is stunning. I have confidence. I’ve had people pull me to the side and tell me that I’m strong. People see my heart because that is what I allow to shine instead of my fears and shame. But the most important thing I’ve gleaned from it all is a healing that doesn’t just fix something broken, but the kind of healing that causes the Phoenix to rise from the ashes. It’s a new life, a new identity, and a new, solid foundation to build on.
I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.” Revelations 21:3-5 MSG