lessons from a prostitute {'fishing' for compliments}

lip stud hanging from her lip & her hands all flamboyantly gesturing with those long shiny nails as she told her story, shared what it was like getting out of "the life", what it was like getting out of hell.

"when yous just gettin' outta the life, yous probably gonna still think 'hey, he loves me' but you gotta start doing for yourself... and when you lay your head on your pillow at night you say to yourself, 'i am beautiful' because when yous sayin' it, you are powerful. believe it because you say it not because he be sayin' it."

although i have never lived anything even close to "the life", never been subjected to the cruel rules of the street, this young girl's wisdom reaches deep.  illuminating my own dark secret, of how much i depended on the praise of others to account for my self worth. giving all my power to the thoughts & opinions of others. allowing a self-imposed tyranny. even more toxic than the thoughts of others, i battle my own fickle opinion of myself.

the voices in my life have rarely been harsh & if anything, have been overwhelmingly positive. the trouble with compliments is that they can become addictive & when you become too accustom to positive attention, you can end up questioning your identity if you don't get it.

it was the girl with the long shiny nails & the lip stud who gave me one of the clearest truths about maturity. you can't let others do all the confessing, all the believing, all the declaring over you. there comes a point where, in order to mature, "you gotta start doing for yourself".  i'm not saying we don't have weak moments where we need a sister to pick us up. but at the end of the day, you have to confront your own self-loathing with the truth of who you believe you really are.  otherwise, your identity & self-esteem will always be at the whim of the constant flux & flow of the opinions of others. you can depend on men, mothers & mentors to tell you your whole life you're beautiful. heck, you could have aibileen clark herself confess over you daily "you is kind. you is smart. you is important" but if you don't believe it, if you don't say it, it holds little power.

it's like that old chinese proverb says, "give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime". teaching myself to fish, to feed myself off the nourishment of what Christ says about me & making that what i believe about me takes some intentionality. it's choosing to guard what i believe about myself by focusing on what He believes about me & that is how you get fed for a lifetime. it's cutting out the middle man, going straight to the source & only i can do that.

and so when i lay my head on my pillow, i quiet the roaring waves of self-analysis & turn down the day's loathings, & i hear His voice & i begin believing, i begin confessing, i "start doing for [myself]... because when yous sayin' it, you are powerful".

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