On this Second episode of the Approval Addict’s Journal, I have a dear friend of mine, Muna Blossom Ike, sharing her testimony on how God delivered her from bitterness and low self-esteem. I looked Nothing Like her is just a glimpse into what used to be Muna’s life vs what God is transforming her into. I hope it blesses you and I pray for the eyes of your understanding to be opened as you read through.
I Looked Nothing Like Her
“When I gave birth to you, I expected my baby girl to look like me but no! You looked nothing like me. How can a newborn be dark? I had to ask the nurse to take you away because you weren’t what I expected…” So I guess that’s how it began for me – I looked nothing like her…
These were my mum’s words to me and they cut deep into my soul. I looked nothing like her and the fact that it was such a big deal to her, broke my heart. You can’t even begin to imagine how it was for me. I know that there are several others like me out there, which is why I decided to share my story. I grew up feeling so unloved and not good enough because of the repeated verbal abuse that went on at home and even in school. Sometimes, we say things that we don’t mean or because it sounds right in our ears. However, we forget to ask ourselves, “How would this person feel if I say this to them? How will I feel if I were in their shoes?”
My mum, brothers and everyone else didn’t really think about the effect their words would have on me. I seemed so strong that my mum assumed I could handle anything. So, although I appeared to have it all together, deep down I knew I was struggling with bitterness and a dying self-esteem. What hope do you really have when your own family turns against you? And to think that it all began because I looked nothing like her… I was crying out for help but I wasn’t getting any because everyone was so focused on the part of me they wanted to see – the “ugly” side.
My relationship with my Mum was strained.
As I grew older, I tried to get my mum’s approval and love but she wasn’t really looking closely in my direction. Everything I did seemed to upset her and those actions earned me yelling, a slap on the cheek and sometimes, a good beating. That was her way of keeping me in check. My mum is loving but also a disciplinarian. I got to see the disciplinarian part of her but not much of the loving part. I always assumed it was because I looked nothing like her and that may have frustrated her. In my own little way, I tried to get her to see how much pain her words were causing me but she wasn’t really paying attention. She always fell back to the same thing a few minutes or a day after I confront her about it. I couldn’t bring myself to outrightly call her out on her attitude towards me and so all that bottled up pain and anger produced bitterness.
I remember each time we went out together, people would always ask my mum if I was her daughter. Her response was always yes. Now, it’s the next response that got me. They’d then tell her that I looked nothing like her and she’d laugh saying, “Yeah. She looks like her dad…” Now, my mum sometimes told me jokingly that I was ugly so I figured that if I was ugly and I looked like my dad then we both must be ugly. As a result of this coupled with other things, I started to dread my own skin. I wondered why God disliked me enough not to make me fair like my mum. To me, being dark was a curse and fair was beautiful.
My Relationship With My Siblings Wasn’t Any Better.
My brothers seemed discontent with me probably because I didn’t turn out as they had expected. Perhaps, they’d hoped for a “beautiful” sister and I was nothing like her. Instead, I was a tomboy struggling with loving herself the way God created her. They were always ready to remind me of how ugly I was. It got so bad that my older brother hated to be seen walking alongside me back in secondary school. I was like cancer that everyone was avoiding.
Because of this, I was always in a squabble with my brothers. My older brother and I fought all the time. I became so violent that I hit my younger brother with wood one time we had a fight. The wound was so deep that it took four months before it healed completely. One time, I broke a bottle and threatened to stab a friend with it. I made sure that I had a response ready for anyone who wanted to attack me verbally just so I could make them have a taste of my pain and hide my true feelings. Due to the numerous fights, we had at home, my dad had to send me to the boarding school. My mum, on the other hand, was obviously pissed with my behavior. She once said that if I get married with this kind of misbehavior, she’d beat me in my husband’s house. That goes a long way to show you how violent I was as a growing child.
My School Wasn’t a Safe Haven Either
It was as though I had no peace or love everywhere I turned. I remember something happened in primary school that made me almost give up on trying to be the woman God created me to be. Although I was the best in my class and I was good at debates too, I was denied the opportunity to represent my school in debates with other schools. Why? Because I was a stammerer!
I didn’t choose to be born this way yet it didn’t matter to those around me. The students in my school would laugh at me each time I tried to express myself. After school, I’d see them mimicking me and that tore me up on the inside. So I stopped trying to express myself altogether. In that moment, the devil had me – I was bitter, depressed, frustrated and had no one to confide in. I withdrew deeper into the shell of sarcasm I hid under but my desire to be loved and appreciated didn’t die. I studied hard and passed my exams which earned me some kind of respect.
Somewhere along the line, I started having friends…
Or so I thought… This was in my senior secondary school. Because I didn’t want them rejecting me, I started to put up false appearances. I figured that since people didn’t like the real me so much, I should try being someone else. So, I started demanding money from my dad just so I could keep up appearances. To me, it was a way to keep the friendship alive because these girls were the “big girls” in school and I always had to look “up to standard” to be accepted. I told my dad a lot of lies just so I could get the money I needed to keep up appearances.
Instead of filling me up, the friendship left feeling emptier than I ever was. This same feeling went on to follow me to the university. I always felt I had to please people – conform to their expectations of me, just to keep them in my life. At some point, while in the university, I started wearing revealing clothes not because I loved them but because that seemed to be the only time that people genuinely appreciated/admired me. Sometimes, I’d change my route each time I saw a friend I considered to be more beautiful than me, headed in my direction. I didn’t want my friends thinking I was a lesbian – because I had no boyfriend and I acted like a boy. So, I got into a relationship after being pressured by them and remained there even when it was obviously abusive and displeasing to God.
The truth is that I cared so much about what my friends thought.
Their approval of me was like food to my soul. It meant I didn’t have to be lonely anymore. And I didn’t care about pleasing them as long as they remained in my life. That wasn’t too hard to do. All I had to do was listen to and observe them – I was great at that, and then I’d just copy them. But you know the thing about this is that you can have so many “friends” around you and still feel so alone. That was just me.
My friends never really knew the real me neither did my family. Whenever holidays approached, I dreaded the thought of going home. I mean what exactly was I going home to? More insults? Beatings? I just didn’t have the strength to deal with all that. There was no comfort anywhere. Everywhere I turned seeking comfort, I found stress – the kind that made me keep withdrawing more and more. I wasn’t even sure I had a self-esteem anymore. It was sold out to the people whose approval I sought.
Everyone always thought I was funny. Little did they know the pain behind the fake smiles I was flashing at everyone. I was drowning seriously and I didn’t want that anymore. Sometimes, I reflected on my life, thinking about all the terrible things I had done in my quest for approval. I was angry at my mum, my siblings, my teachers and pretty much everyone. The whole thing was heavy on me and I was getting tired of bearing it. The kind of life I was living was different from the life that I wanted. And, I couldn’t forgive myself for all the bad things I did.
It got so bad that I couldn’t come into God’s presence at all!!! The guilt was so much that I figured God wouldn’t want anything with someone as dirty as me. It turned out I was wrong about God! He wanted me more than I wanted Him. I just didn’t see it at the time because guilt made me blind.
My Encounter With the Comforter
It all started on a Sunday. God had me in mind that Sunday because it was just as though the pastor was talking to me specifically. The Word of God preached on Unforgiveness hit a mark! I couldn’t wait to get home afterward. When I finally did, I stood before a mirror and I said to myself, “Ike Blossom Munachimso, I forgive you.” I broke down in tears seeking for God’s forgiveness and asking Him to help me. Some months after this, I finally took the bold step to give my life to Christ – surrender it all to Him.
I had to forgive myself first before I could start to experience God’s mercy. In prayer, there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part – you can’t access God’s mercies no matter how much He wants to give it to you. He is a Principled Father who never goes back on His Word. Forgiving yourself is the first step in finding healing. It is a way of laying your burden down at Jesus’ feet and letting Him restore you.
Since then, I have been getting to know Christ and my mind is being renewed.
I now know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. It doesn’t matter the color of my skin. God made no mistakes while creating me and I refuse to let anyone make me feel less of who I am. Jesus paid in full and I will hold on to this truth, living for His Pleasure till I die. And I don’t need people to be my shield and comforter because I’ve already got One. The Holy Spirit [God in me] has that spot in my life and I’m not about to give that spot to anyone. Man fails but God never fails.
I feel we get so carried away with trying to fitting in with everyone that we forget to live out the life God created us for. The devil hates me and he hates you too. That bitterness, low self-esteem and whatever it is that is causing you to chase men rather than chase God is the devil’s way of robbing you. The longer you let Him, the longer you will remain in chains – constantly seeking people’s approval and never getting it. You can break out of this. Jesus paid in full for you too!!! You don’t have to prove anything to anyone. I found Comfort in Christ and you can too.
Are Things Patched Up Between My Mum and me?
Before I wrap up, let me answer a question you might have already asked in your mind. Yes, my relationship with my mom is much better. And my brothers too. There have been times where I was tempted to get mad at my family because of their attitude but God has been really faithful. His power is truly at work in me because I’m no longer that angry person I used to be anymore.
Neither am I bitter. I finally had the talk with my mum. Before then, I prayed for love to reign in my heart first and then in the hearts of my family members. She apologized to me but I didn’t believe it at first until she burst into tears. That’s something only the power of the Holy Spirit can do. I was completely honest with her and she sincerely apologized. She wasn’t too happy that I withheld such important information from her and lived in bitterness and hurt. “How would I be the reason you are bitter and think less of yourself? Why didn’t you just come to me?”, she asked me. I had to make her understand that I had been trying to communicate it to her all this while.
In every relationship, communication is key.
Without it, that relationship is as good as dead. It is true that she made herself unapproachable but I could have been more open at least. My mum always figured I was a strong girl who could handle anything. It could be that your parents or whoever assume you are someone you are not. How will you know unless you speak to them about it? No matter how unapproachable we see our parents are, we should come boldly and tell them how we really feel. Even if you cannot come boldly to your parents to tell them how much pain they are causing you, you can come boldly to God’s throne for mercy and grace. He will give you the boldness you need and strengthen you, renewing your mind as you get to know Him. So don’t worry. God’s got you.
From Me to You
God uses situations to glorify Himself. You may be one who is angry with God for letting you pass through all this but can I tell you something? It is no use getting upset with God. He created you, knows your end from the beginning and uses situations like this to glorify Himself. You’re not dead yet which shows how great and deeply God loves you and wants to begin a walk with you.
Also, pray for love to reign in their hearts but first forgive yourself and let God begin His work in you. You need to pray because your understanding/strength will fail you. Yes, you may have good intentions while trying to get them to see how much pain they caused you but they won’t get the message unless the Holy Spirit intervenes on your behalf.
Note to Moms
What do you do when you see your child exhibit aggressive behavior? Do you beat them up with your fists, beat them with your words? Or do you pull them close and find out what the real problem is, with the intent of really listening to what they have to say?
Now that I think about it, I realize that because I had so much bitterness bottled in, I couldn’t hold it in anymore so that was my cry for help but no one heard it. Everyone was so concerned about how stubborn, strong-willed and aggressive I was getting that they didn’t see that these were only symptoms of the real problem. The real problem – the root was a lack of love and constant verbal abuse that transformed my mindset especially the way I perceive myself and others.
If there is any parent reading this, I’d like for you to start paying more attention to your ward. If you can’t figure it out, please ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom. The thief you see in the prison, the prostitute amongst other people you see around and condemn, were once children who needed love but never really got it. If you take it for granted, the child might just grow worse in silence. And if you have one giving you trouble, don’t write them off. Ask God for the wisdom to be there for them. While it is true that some of these people I mentioned had good backgrounds, you should take a closer look into that “good” background and see what really went on behind the scenes. How is your relationship with your ward? Don’t assume it’s fine. Go back, check and do it right while there’s still hope.
I should mention that I had the talk with my mom after I began to let the Holy Spirit renew my mind. A mind renewal is so important because that is the only way the Holy Spirit can lead you. Trust me, you need Him. As I get to know God more and more, I find that my mind is being renewed and I am becoming confident in who He created me to be.
There’s something my mom said and I feel it’s important to share with you. “Some mistakes you made in life, I was responsible for while you made others on your own… I may not have been the perfect mom you hoped for but I had good intentions doing all I did. Honestly, I just didn’t know the negative effect they were having on you. I am really sorry…” Don’t be too quick to apportion the mistakes of your past to your parents or whomever. Yes, they may have played a role but you still had a choice to make. Own up to your mistakes and ask God to forgive you.
You can begin again, you know. In Christ! You don’t have to live bitter or keep seeking for people’s approval. Your self-esteem can be restored. Perfect Love casts out fear. You are unique and beautiful but you won’t see that no matter how many people have told you. The only way to come into this understanding and quit wasting your time chasing people is by seeking Jesus. You commit it all to Him and be willing to spend time with Him. I hope this blessed you and I will keep praying you make the right choice. God bless you!
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