Thoughts for the Girls, (and you boys need to know this too).

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We girls are prone to self doubt aren’t we? So many of us worry rather more than is wise or productive about what other people think of us. And oh boy! Do we develop some varied defensive strategies to help us deal with our anxieties.

Asked to describe myself, for example, I will tend to veer towards the following mildly embarrassed self-deprecation. I’d tell you that I talk too much, especially when nervous. I have big feet and hair which leans toward the ’gone through a hedge backwards’ school of fashion. I am not the kind of girl who tends to be well turned out in the general run of things, and my love of gardening and horses are displayed by the state of my hands and fingernails – I call it a Cotswold manicure. On the plus side, when I do actually put some make-up on, brush my hair and find something smart to wear, I can turn out OK. My strategy is more cunning than you might think; one, everyone is so astonished at how much better I look when I finally make the effort, that they all leap in with effusive compliments; and two, Kevin is more inclined to take me out every once in a while, because he knows it’s the only way he’ll ever get to see me looking tidy.

But I also know that there is more to me than this.

I have a sense of humour which often lands me in trouble; I love banter – witty repartee with someone who will tease me as mercilessly as I tease them. Sometimes I am left with the feeling that it would be nice if my mouth had checked with my brain before it launched into saying something. Fortunately, those that come to know me realise that I mean no harm.

I have a lot of great friends, but there are also other people who, I suspect, find me difficult to handle. I have a fabulous husband who seems prepared to forgive me everything and anything; but then, my relationships with some of the members of my birth family can be difficult to say the least.

I have moments of supreme self confidence, and I have moments of crushing self doubt.

So who am I really? I want to be thought of as a nice person, and, being female, I tend to view myself through the apparent eyes of whoever I have just been speaking with. A friend caught me up short one day, when I was clearly having a moment of crisis, by saying “Penny, you were made by God, designed to be just the way you are, because he has a purpose for you that needs you, exactly as you are”.

It was, for me an Emmaus moment. A moment when I began to realise that I wasn’t just an unfortunate freak of nature… but a created, whole being, loved by God, just as I am.

We are fearfully and wonderfully made. None of us will be everyone’s cup of tea. Yet we are all exactly as God made us. And what’s more, those little bits of nitty gritty in our personalities that leave us feeling vulnerable and inadequate are often the very bits of fine tuning that render us perfect for His purposes.

Learning to love ourselves as whole beings, just as God created us sets us free to be truly grateful to Him, and also, importantly, sets us free to be kinder and more generous to each other.

With all this in mind, I prayed for help to see myself the way that God views me. It was well worth doing, and I would recommend it to anyone who sometimes lacks self worth. For me, personally, I only caught a glimpse, but it was enough to help me view myself with a kinder perspective.

So here’s the prayer…

’Dear Lord, you know the agonies that I sometimes suffer when I look at myself. And I know that You created me as I am – so Lord could You please give me a glimpse of myself as you see me, show me what You love about me, and show me how You would like me to see myself.’

Pray this prayer and you’ll be amazed at how loved and beautiful you are in God’s eyes.

And let’s face it, His opinion is the only one that really matters.

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