**NOTE: Near the end of the article, don’t miss the FREE PDF download that I’ve created for you.

I love to watch houses being built.  Women usually take great care and pride in building/making a home.  There are so many choices.  Where do you want electrical outlets?  What flooring?  Paint colors? Cabinetry?  Electrical and plumbing fixtures?  The choices are endless in every category.  You make the best choices you can based on the products and information available to you at the time.

Then when it’s completed, sometimes disappointment creeps in.  Especially, when you visit someone else’s house and see the dining room chandelier of your dreams.  Or, the fact that one small built-in feature could have made your kitchen the neighborhood marvel.

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. (Proverbs 14:1)

It’s no different with our self-image.  At best, we diet, exercise, pick out clothing that we think flatters our figure…  Then we see another woman (perhaps in a magazine or in a movie) and we question everything we were and have become.  I have been guilty of this, even before children.

But, the depression and comparisons really began after I had my twins.

I was 35 years old at the time and had been on hospital bed rest for 7 weeks.  The only time I was allowed out of bed: bathroom privileges, a weekly ultrasound two rooms down, and a total of three wheelchair rides.

My pregnancy was so high risk beginning in the first trimester, I was discouraged from even the lightest of exercise by my doctor.

I went from running a 5k three times a week to nothing.  Dead stop.

After my girls were born, I practically lived in the NICU for 2 months.  Just wanting to be near my girls while they fought for their lives.  Exercise, shmexercise….  Who needed it?

And life didn’t get any easier when they came home, as any of you can attest.  Breastfeeding them for 6 months helped with calorie burning, but lack of sleep kept my body from losing weight properly.

As you can imagine, my self-esteem plummeted.  Any struggles I had with my self-image before were magnified a thousand times.

For a while, though, it didn’t matter in the scheme of things.  I wasn’t getting out, because of flu season being in full effect.  Preemies with heart monitors and respiratory problems don’t need the exposure.  No one but Husband, Mom, Mom-in-Love, one babysitter, and four friends were allowed into the germ-free sanctum that was home.  So, who cared if I brushed my teeth or my hair, took a shower…or EVER got out of my bathrobe?

When the babies turned 10 months old, postpartum depression surfaced.  That’s another story for another post.

Suddenly, the woman I used to be wasn’t there.  I couldn’t believe it.  How could my husband love this?  How could my girls be proud of their mom?  Who would want to be my friend?

After months of struggling, I came across that scripture and the Spirit quickened within me.

Let’s read it again.

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. (Proverbs 14:1)

I have worked so hard to make a peaceful, fun home for my girls.  Feeding them all the right foods (organic as much as possible).  Teaching them about Jesus and His love.  Their first real words being “hallelujah” and “thank you”—praise and gratitude.

But, I realized that I was going down one path the wrong way VERY quickly.  I wasn’t teaching them to love themselves, because I wasn’t loving MYSELF.

I would see things that I didn’t like about myself in them.

At first, calling attention to those things that I had in common with them was like a bonding exercise.  My daughters took after me in some ways, if only a few.

“I can’t do anything with their hair….  They take after me, poor things.”

“They’ve got short legs like me.  Bless their little hearts.”

“Poor baby, she’s an emotional roller coaster… She’s gonna be a drama queen like me.”

“Thank God, Honey….they have your feet.”

The little blessings that God had given to me…  The very things I was building, I was tearing down with words.

Grant it, they are only beginning to understand.  Thankfully, God chose to convict me before I can do further damage.  But, in an appearance-driven culture, it’s important that my girls know just how beautiful they truly are.  Not just to me and their Dad, but to God (and someday, worthy spouses).

Don’t think of yourself as beautiful?  Reading this book will change your perspective:  Do You Think I’m Beautiful?: The Question Every Woman Asks by Angela Thomas.

Now, how do I keep from being a one-woman demolition crew to myself and my daughters in the future?

My daughters will see themselves as I see MYSELF.

On my mirror as a reminder:

 

1.  I am unique and wonderful. Psalm 139:14

Every little thing about me, God handpicked from the characteristics of my parents, grandparents and ancestors before me.  I am not a carbon copy or an accident, but a carefully thought-out masterpiece.  I am what God made me.  My nose, my eyes, my hair, my voice, my laugh, my feet.

 

2.  I was on (Divine) purpose. Jeremiah 1:5

God loves me because He created me.  He knew me (my life, my choices, my struggles) before I was even a thought to my parents.  He stepped back from the canvas that was my mother’s womb and said…”It is good.”

 

3.  I will take care of my body. I Corinthians 9:27

Maybe I don’t like my legs and could probably give half of my calves to some little bird-legged-looking creature for her calf implant with plenty to spare for myself.  Ahhhh…. See? It’s so easy to fall back into self-deprecation.

I can improve the way my legs look and my body feels by running.  Moderate exercise along with healthy eating fine-tunes our bodies and makes them function at optimum efficiency.  It doesn’t hurt self-confidence or sex drive either.  My husband always finds me more attractive when I’m exercising and eating right.  I quote,

“It’s not because you look better, even though you do.  It’s because you feel better about yourself.  And that makes you sexy.”

I’ve also found that if I don’t get up before everyone else and exercise, my daily responsibilities swallow up any time I would have had to do so.  I am a reformed night-owl and this book by Andy Traub, The Early-to-Rise Experience, helped me to see the light.

Verily, verily I say unto thee… I do have more energy on the days I wake up before the chickens to exercise.

I like to see self-discipline looking back at me in the mirror.  Nothing like it.

 

4.  I will not compare myself to others.  Romans 12:2

It’s all been said many times before, but somehow we just can’t keep the idea rolling around in our heads long enough for it to sink in.  The model on the cover of magazines has been air-brushed and Photoshop-ed to the infinite degree.  It’s amazing what my graphic-designer hubby can do to a photograph.  Even in movies, makeup artists and film editors perform magic.

C’mon!  No naturally-occuring human being can compete with that!  I’ll work on what God gave me by being the best ME I can be.  Trying to be someone else is not a precedent I want to set for my daughters.

 

5.  I am blessed with joy.  John 16:21

My little mommy pouch may never fully go away.  The scar left by their delivery definitely won’t.  And, sure, I could have a tummy tuck (might).  Or do planks and crunches until I’m blue in the face (definitely), but….  These little things are reminders of my experience.  My struggle.  My pain.  My wonderful anticipation.  This scar is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.  I think I’ll keep it.

Raising confident daughters starts with a confident ME.

Let’s raise a generation of confident children with healthy self-images…confident in Christ, confident in their abilities, and happy with their reflections.  

 (You can print out the free PDF version of these 5 affirmations by clicking HERE.)

Need more daily inspiration to show you how to love yourself so that your children have the best example?

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7 comments
Kristen
Kristen

Great words! I don't have little girls, but I also carried twins, and being married only 3 months before slowly blowing up like something from the National Geographic large water mammal archives...well, any self-esteem was "blown out of the water." Thanks ;)

Brittany
Brittany

Insightful words of wisdom and truth; beautifully said and written! I bought the book and can't wait to read it! :) Thanks Hevyn!

Nichole Smith
Nichole Smith

Wow, Hevyn, I really needed to hear that. Thanks for sharing. I blew up like a balloon after (not during...well, except my belly) my pregnancy. After sinking into a pretty deep depression about my weight, I have only recently been able to motivate myself to exercise. So difficult to do when you're depressed. And it's hard not being depressed if you're not exercising. It's a vicious cycle. Maybe I can now have the courage to stop my self-deprecating language and furthermore stop projecting that onto my son. I didn't realize till your post (my words about my don bring quite similar to your words about your daughters) that I was even doing it. Thanks again for your openness. :)

Hevyn Allen
Hevyn Allen

Some of us aren't cover ready for The Rolling Stone like Demi Moore when we're pregnant. But, I'm sure your husband and family thought you were never more beautiful.

Hevyn Allen
Hevyn Allen

Let us know what you think once you've read it...right here reply to your comment! Thanks, Brittany!

Hevyn Allen
Hevyn Allen

Right you are about the vicious cycle. I'll talk about "baby blues" and postpartum depression in another post, but exercise was THE KEY. More than anything else I tried. AND...suffice it to say, I've never been the athletic type. Some very sad (pathetic) stories about Phys Ed in high school! :0)

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