Today marks the beginning of our much-anticipated Approval Addiction series. Trust me when I say it is rare to find people who are willing to shine the light on who they used to be, just to help others like themselves. I’m thrilled to have Celine Chukwu, a dear friend, and a sister, share her story – Not Good Enough. Her testimony is proof that God cares about those things we think He considers insignificant. As you read, I pray God opens your eyes and gives you the courage to step out.
Not Good Enough
“Celine, you are not good enough and you never will be… No one really thinks you are beautiful or smart. You have to prove them wrong so that they will like you. And you’re dumb!!! You can’t achieve much on your own. Your friends make you look better and without them, you can’t achieve much…”
These were the words that tortured me each day I lived. For as long as I can remember, I lived in fear – constant fear of people rejecting me as well as the fear of failure and insecurity of how I looked. I felt I was not good enough. And oh! Don’t even get me started on my appearance. I never saw anything good about my body – I figured God didn’t do well in giving me such a small body statue. And people just had to make it more obvious by calling me “smallie”. I hated it when someone called me smallie and then went on to call me beautiful. It didn’t matter how many people complimented me, my mind consumed all those compliments and produced bitter words that kept shrinking my self-esteem.
Yeah! I smiled most of the times but at the end of the day, alone in my room or someplace quiet, I threw a pity party for myself, asking God the infamous question, “Why me!!!” Actually, some people loved me but that was not good enough for me. I just didn’t love myself and I always felt insignificant.
To me, I was not good enough and thus, I assumed the worst of myself.
Before I continue, I should say this. I know you don’t know me but what I’m about to tell you might just be what would get out of the prison of self-pity, mediocrity and self-esteem issues. Mediocrity was my middle name. Low self-esteem was my shadow yet no one but me knew all these. Perhaps, you feel as though you are not good enough… Some people feel this way but they spend most of their lives denying it and covering it up with sarcasm, a bad attitude, layers of makeup, expensive clothes amongst other things. I would know because that’s what I did – I covered mine with so much that no one could break in and help me even if they tried because they couldn’t see the hell hole I was in.
I criticized myself, using other people’s opinions as a yardstick. Because all my friends had boyfriends and I wanted to prove some silly point as a result of the gossip going around, I dated guys for no more than a week or a month at most. I didn’t need to be in a relationship neither did I really like them, I was just so bent on being someone I was not. It got to a stage where I went hungry because I emptied my bank account and pockets just to look trendy. It helped boost my self-confidence for a while, at a great cost and I spent most evenings being moody, soaking my pillow with tears and not knowing why.
People thought I looked smaller than my age and that really upset me. So, I resorted to heavy makeup. I ate all sorts of concoction so I could gain some weight in all the right places and become curvy “sexy”. Nothing about my appearance and intellect satisfied me. Each time I felt rejected in any way, the words “you are not good enough” poked more holes in my self-esteem. I was slowly diminishing but no one could see that – not even the ones closest to me.
Back in school, I called myself a dummy.
I depended on my friends so much that I somehow convinced myself that I couldn’t do without my friends in the exam hall. “You are not good enough!” that was the devil’s lie to me which tormented me, stole my joy and left me wearing a fake smile. Even when I tried to be happy, something just came along and stole my joy.
Please listen! I know someone reading this might be going through something similar or even worse. You’ve been told that you are not good enough so much that you’ve started to believe it. Or like me, you just don’t think much about yourself. This is for you. It’s my letter to you and God’s word to you, telling you that you can break out of that prison cell of mediocrity, self-pity and low self-esteem.
How do you recognize that you have self-esteem issues?
Many of us haven’t even recognized that our problem has mediocrity and self-esteem issues as its roots. Some call it being shy while they hide under the shadow of “I hate failure and I hate spotlight”. Others are so aggressive that they are ready to beat down others with words if possible.
How do you even admit that you have a mediocre mindset? My low-self esteem was based on fear of rejection from others as well as fear of failure and insecurity of my body stature. At some point, I convinced myself that I had to talk back to people who tried to talk me down. That way, I didn’t feel so small. Whenever I looked in the mirror, I saw the body I hated and the “me” I couldn’t love. I spent so much time mourning my body statue and absorbed in self-pity that I couldn’t tell when my smile was genuine or not.
I should mention that when I say self-esteem issues, I mean high and low self-esteem. High results to pride and low results to fear. I was struggling with both. It first was low then it became high which was very toxic. I literally became a bit aggressive, giving savage comebacks to people who tried to make fun of me in any way.
Here is how you’d know that you have self-esteem issues.
You always complain about your body stature, pointing out things you obviously can’t change about yourself? Perhaps, you wonder why you feel so dissatisfied with your appearance, calling yourself ugly. So, you start to depend on heavy makeup to boost your self-confidence. You prize people’s opinions of how you look, holding on to their negative comments and magnifying it in your mind till it depresses you… Or you blame yourself when things don’t go your way and thus, you settle for less than who God created you to be.
You think too highly of yourself that you start to walk over others, hurling insulting words at them so that you can feel better about yourself. Are you so afraid of failure – looking bad before the eyes of others, that you go to great despicable lengths to succeed? I mean, you lie to keep up with the expectations of others. Do you dress to impress people or perhaps, dress indecently because it is the latest trend and your boyfriend/fiance loves it when you wear those skimpy clothes and expose your cleavages? Perhaps, you do so to keep their eyes on you and away from those ladies flocking around them.
Are you a one that can tell a lie about your biography just to make people regard you as some sort of perfect or cool person. I mean, you lie about where you live, the things you’ve done and so on, just to appear big in everyone’s eyes but yours. Are you the type that doesn’t believe that you are good at anything? You call the things you do failures before it even happens? Are you so much afraid that you are not worth having a good man thereby you do everything humanly and spiritually possible to cage a man? You accept every form of abuse just to be in a relationship? Or are you like me that my low-self worth was based on the unattractive features I hated about myself.
I think I have given enough instances. One thing I know for sure is that the fastest way to stop a weed from growing is to pull it out – most especially, the root. So, if you don’t deal with the problem from the root, it will grow back.
Here’s the truth.
No matter your size, complexion or shape, there is a unique beauty and grace God has deposited within you. Yes, people may not recognize it but don’t expect them to. They are unreliable sources most of the times. Your problem isn’t your size neither is it your complexion. It isn’t even the people who dictate your life for you in the negative point of view. The problem is not them, honey, the problem is you!!! The problem isn’t how you look honey, the problem is how you think you look – your mindset. You’ve trained your mind to believe the opinion of others.
Your problem won’t be solved by hitting the gym so you can look good. Yeah! Bodily exercise is of some value but it is worth nothing if that is a priority over your spirit man – who you really are. I worked out yet I was always stressed out. Those workouts did little to save me, in fact, it became an obsession and I did it to prove a point. The makeup and new clothes can’t change your mindset either can it save you.
I did all these. It got to a point where I started overfeeding and taking all sorts of multivitamin to add some flesh in the right places. Buying cream or pads to enlarge your breasts and buttocks size won’t make you any more confident or beautiful. Pretending to be who you are not and lying to be perfect will just get you trapped in an even bigger mess. Your problem won’t be solved by complaining and keeping count of the list of people who do not like you, wallowing in self-pity and shame. Acting and talking bigger than you really are, make it harder to walk away from that kind of life. Only Jesus saves.
The only solution to the problem is a mind renewal.
The kind of mind renewal that can bring about a transformation. You act this way because there is this void – emptiness in you, that no man can fill, No matter what you do and how much you try; no matter how good they are to you, the void keeps getting deeper. The Holy Spirit is calling to you. Jesus said, “Come to me all of you are heavy burdened and I will give you rest.”
Most of us are too afraid to walk away and come to God because we are afraid that we’d have nothing left. We think we are going to miss out on something if we just surrender it all to Jesus. You know, that’s a lie the devil uses to keep young men and women in chains. There is a whole lot waiting for you on the other side if you’d just let go and let God.
It wasn’t an easy process for me
I didn’t know who I was neither did I admit that I had a problem at first. But I knew I was tired. Tired of the depression, the endless tears, the abusive thoughts that ran through my mind… I was tired of feeling insignificant and putting up my body statue as a reason to become moody. It was exhausting and when I realized my emptiness, I came to Jesus. I dropped it at his feet and asked him to take over.
It is not shameful or bad if you have done stupid things in life. What is shameful is, if you decide to remain or swim in the ocean of stupidity. I also did a lot of stupid things while in this prison but not anymore. I am a child of God – righteous and forgiven. You also can be righteous and reconciled to God. But it can happen if you would give Him a chance and open up to Him. Only if you would sincerely decide to leave your past behind and allow Him to beautify you. There is no limit to where God will take you and how much He wants to heal and restore you. Trust me.
But it doesn’t end at saying the words.
To surrender means to give up. When I gave my life to Christ, I didn’t know that giving my life to Christ and letting His Word transform me were 2 different things. You can ask God to be the Lord of your life but your actions determine who is really Lord over your life. With time, I got to realize that if you want to see transformation – which can only be caused by the Holy Spirit, you must make out time for Him. He is the teacher and he can’t teach you unless you pick up the Bible, invite him to reach you and then start studying. He always had something new to teach me.
Due to the mind renewal that came from studying God’s word and applying it to my life through prayers and actions, I experienced a transformation that was so evident that even my friends could testify to the turnaround. Of course, they didn’t know what I was dealing with but by the time God started his work in me, they didn’t need to be told that something beautiful was happening to me.
Where the Spirit is, There is Liberty
Now, I can boldly shout out loud “That was the old me!!!”. The blood of Jesus redeemed me and washed me clean. His Word transformed me. I can tell you this right now because I have been saved, therefore I have nothing to be ashamed of. That’s what you get when you surrender to Christ. He gives you beauty for ashes. Life isn’t worth living and is too stressful outside Christ. He meant it when he said you can do nothing without Him. It means you’ll keep struggling to please others, seeking their approval. Unlike others, God will not condemn you. Rather, He’ll give pull you close and open your eyes to see yourself just as He sees you. I would love for you to take this step towards God. He is the only hope you have.
From Me to You
I wish you knew how much God loves you and realize how much the devil hates you. The world has nothing to offer. I wish you will quit being ashamed of your past and be transparent about it; allowing God to heal you and take control of your present. Oh! I wish you’d let God open your eyes to see that you are beautifully and wonderfully made by Him.To see how you do not need to show any part of your body to be attractive.
I wish you will reclaim your self-esteem by coming back to God and quit hiding under the umbrella of indecency, toxic relationships, addictions, and pride. My greatest joy would be you realize that no one can fill in that void in your heart except God. Absolutely nothing!!! I wish you will realize that all you need is Jesus in your life. He is the only one who understands your pain, heartbreaks, abuse, weakness, and fear. I wish one day you’d stop giving the devil so much room in your life and stop looking at people. Forget about their opinions and embrace Christ. I wish one day you will be bold enough to say that Christ is all you got and you will serve Him.
And finally, I wish that when you read this, God will touch your heart and take away the stone heart and replace it with a heart of flesh. Please, God loves you regardless of what you have been through. He loves broken people. I was broken but God didn’t discard me; He fixed me and cleansed me. He is waiting for you too.
Remember, bodily exercise is of value but spiritual exercise is everything. Place your priorities right – first your spirit man then your body!!!
If you think you are overweight and people are telling you they love you like that, sweetie.. you got all it takes to love yourself by reading the word of God and as well hitting the gym. Look good and be healthy. I will never advise you to keep eating and getting fat. I will love you for who you are but will also advise you to keep in shape. You are beautiful my love, there is no flaw in you and you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Do the spiritual workout then the physical. The both of them are intertwined – one cannot live without the other. But first, come lay your burden at His feet.
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Celine Chukwu, a fitness enthusiast, natural hair and skin care consultant, is one who is passionate about reaching out to women – teenagers, and youths who are held down by low self-esteem, mediocrity, and abuse. Having gone down the same road herself, she started a movement called the Best of Me, encouraging these women to embrace a new life in Christ. You can follow her on Facebook @thebestofme