There is a hymn I've always loved. Since I was a teenager I've always felt STRONG when I sing it. Often the pianist will slow it down for the last first, and let the congregation really feel it as they sing
That soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I can not, desert to [her] foes.
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake
I'll never, no never, no never forsake.
But I couldn't ever really figure out who my foes were. I don't really have any real enemies to speak of. I'm certainly not fighting any kind of literal war. So when God has my back, who does He have my back against?
The past couple months have had me reeling in self-doubt. I'm not sure where it came from, but all of the sudden I became painfully aware of my shriveled and suffering self-worth. One day as I was walking, and listening to this hymn, it occurred to me that in my life, my foes aren't any awful people that prevent me from loving my life and myself. My foes are the voices in my head that tell me that I'm not okay the way I am. The voice that tells me to be embarrassed of what I have, or don't have. The voice that tells me to hide parts of myself around certain people. The voice that tells me I need to change before I can be acceptable. The voices that constantly over-think and over-analyze something as simple as a comment on Facebook or a message sent on Voxer. Those voices are my own personal enemies.
And I started to cry, walking down the bustling streets of my city. Why is self-esteem so elusive? My goodness it teases me!
Accepting myself, loving myself, sharing myself with confidence has become the object of my existence for the last few weeks.
On a somewhat related note, for International Women's Day some friends and I recited [most of] this poem in an assembly at our children's school. It is so beautiful.
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.
Out of the huts of history's shame
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
(Still I Rise - Maya Angelou. Read the entire poem or hear it read, here.)