Last week I embarked on a new study. I’m not really into self-help stuff. They cause me to dive too deeply into my flaws, my mistakes, my ugliness, and usually lead to thoughts of what I’m not doing right, self-loathing, confusion, and often periods of depression. They may provide tips for improving one’s outlook, one’s attitude, one’s prayer life, or whatever–and usually set one up for failure. Long-term solutions rarely really come out of reading these books.
There have been a few, in my experience, that have proven truly beneficial. The first was Breaking Free by Beth Moore. It taught me that breaking free of strongholds and lies we believe about ourselves is often a long hard process. The second was Waking the Dead by John Eldredge that illustrated how every human being is part of an epic story, that we are continually under siege and the prize at stake is our heart.
Neither of these books/studies is typical self-help. Self-help is not their purpose. Seeking God’s help is the point they make. I have tried to fix myself on my own, and invariably I fail.
I expect Stasi Eldredge’s Becoming Myself to have that same theme. I need that theme. My husband knows I struggle with self-image, esteem, certain issues that crop up and ruin a perfectly happy day. So out of love, he bought me Stasi’s most recent book and the DVD sessions. I wanted the 8-session study guide also and ordered it to help me dig deep and record my feelings, thoughts, reactions, progress.
So last Tuesday, we started. I saw “we” because my husband decided to watch the sessions and do the discussion time with me, even though the study is geared toward women. He wants to know me, he wants to be a part of my healing process. I find that so precious and extremely romantic.
I’ve watched Stasi talk before, and always she was sitting down next to John, but in the sessions for Becoming Myself, she is standing up, moving around, with camera shots showing her head to foot. Anyone who has read anything by Stasi, they know that she has struggled with eating addictions and self-loathing over her physical appearance. So I was proud to see her standing up in front of the camera and showing her lovely self to her viewers.
Then came the week of answering questions in the study guide and reading Chapter 1 of the book. I thought, replace “food addiction” with “anger and self-control” and I could’ve written this opening chapter. Stasi pinpoints my insecurities, my frustrations, my feelings about my failures so perfectly, that my jaw kept dropping. “That’s me!” I kept thinking. So I guess it’s worth exploring the rest of the book.
My favorite quote from Chapter 1 is this:
God has a thing for human beings. Though you look around the planet, this does at times seem hard to believe, it remains true. We are loved. Born out of love, into love, to know love, and to be loved. Yes, we were born into a fallen, sorry world, which is at the same time more lovely than a fairytale. It is both. And in this beautiful, heartbreaking world, God—the eternal, omniscient, amazing One—loves human beings. Including you. Especially you.
You are amazing.
Well, okay, maybe not every day. Every day the wonder of you is amazing, but many days the wonder of you is buried beneath the rubble of a world gone mad. You were born into a glorious mess, and we all have become something of a glorious mess ourselves. And in the midst of our mess, God has a thing for us. He does not despise our humanity or despair over our condition as we sometimes do. He does not turn his face away from us in our failings or our self-centeredness … .He is not surprised. He is aware that we are but dust … and he has made arrangements for us to not stay that way.
Let me say this truth again: you are loved. Deeply. Profoundly. Unimaginably loved. And you are a wondrous creature.
Becoming Myself, page 20-21
I guess I need that reminder on occasion. Well, maybe more than occasionally. More like every day. So I’m excited to embark on this journey and see if the destination is a me more beautiful than I can imagine.