I’m not proud of the way I’ve treated her. Without even thinking about it, I’ve been more cruel to her than I care to admit.
I’ve made fun of her, calling her names — so many names. Fat. Ugly. Worthless. I’ve stolen phrases others said about her — “You look like a boy!”, “Do you even wash your hair?” — and repeated them to her again and again. I might as well have spit the words in her face.
I’ve turned my back on her. Acted like she didn’t matter. Worse, I’ve acted like life—not just mine, everyone’s—is better without her in it. I’ve pushed her away, not wanting to hear what she might say, not wanting even to look at her. I was ashamed of her, ready to move on and live the rest of my life pretending she didn’t exist.
Oh God, forgive me. Forgive what I’ve done. Forgive how I’ve treated her. Forgive the thousands of ways I’ve mistreated my younger self.
She was overweight — something I began to resent about the time I started high school and something I’ve fought tirelessly to run away from ever since.
She was odd — preferring to make up worlds and talk to herself out loud, rather than run around with cliques or act cool. She spoke to trees like they were friends.
But oh, she was kind. Gentle. Sweet. She loved herself and others and life. She liked French fries, and it wasn’t complicated. She liked bean burritos from Taco Bell with extra packets of mild sauce. She watched country music videos until her mom made her turn the TV off. She wrote songs, dozens of them, about love and relationships she hoped to one day have. She was creative, happy, and carefree.
I read Psalm 53 this week, and the first verse says, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (ESV). When I read this again out loud, a phrase stuck out: in his heart. I realized these words may have never crossed his lips, but they affected him anyway—deeply, daily—and they would continue to through eternity, if he didn’t take the time to straighten some things out.
For me, the words I say in my heart are not “there is no God” — of His presence, I am sure. It’s words like “I am ugly,” “I am fat,” “I am worthless.” Words I’ve carried with me for years, words that sunk their teeth into me back in middle school when other kids made fun of me on the bus, words that I began, over time, to consider and believe and repeat, over and over, if only in my heart.
Words I want to release.
There is a God! I would yell those words from a roof if I could. But to say, “I am beautiful” or “I am perfectly and wonderfully made” or “I am enough” … these words will take some time for me to believe.
I’m working on it. Working on letting them take root and, at the same time, inviting into my life a younger version of me I’d almost completely let die. Thank God her will is stronger than my cruelty. Thank God He is willing to forgive and forget. Thank God for another day to try and welcome her back: my imperfect, but oh-so-free, me.