#WarfareWeek: The Fight to Love Yourself

Today, I am delighted to welcome the lovely Emerald Barnes to share her fight with learning to love herself. Every day, she is out teaching others to love themselves, too, not only through her books (Entertaining Angels, Before We Say I Do, and the soon-to-be-released Delivered by Angels), which deal with important teen topics such as self-esteem and forgiveness, but also through promoting #loveyourself and #youarenotalone on social media. I am so honored this fierce warrior chose to spend this week with me!

Ladies and gentleman, without further ado, please join me in welcoming the one and only Emerald Barnes!

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For years, I hated my body. I hated my looks, and I didn’t feel worthy of much of anything, especially God’s love. I was beat down and broken, and I didn’t even realize that I was being held back from my full potential. I honestly thought it was “normal” to feel this way, but in time, I have come to realize that was just the devil blinding me from the true love of God and from being who God has called me to be. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t learned from my experience, and now, I’m using it to show others how they too can overcome their hatred of themselves.

Warfare is nothing to joke about, and it’s even worse when you don’t even realize the battle that you’re fighting. I had no clue that I fought a battle on a daily basis to love myself. I didn’t realize that that was a tool used by the devil to hold me back and to make me seek validation from people instead of God. I was so dumb looking back it, but it just goes to prove how smart the devil is.

I’d fought small battles before: fear, doubt, mild depression. Those were so small in comparison to the battle the devil was using against me to beat me down into his submission when I should have been under submission to God.

Submission to God

As long as I can remember, I’ve been overweight. I’ve been the fat girl, the “DUFF”— Designated Ugly Fat Friend—, the “friend” to the guys I’ve had crushes on. I was the girl in the hallway everyone else made fun of. The bullying from them was nothing compared the bigger plan the devil had in place for me.

All of these years of the devil using people to beat me up, spreading lies in my ear as I looked in the mirror, wore me down. I used food as a means to replace my emotions. I literally ate my emotions. I didn’t live a healthy lifestyle, and so I gained more weight.

I yo-yo dieted my entire high school and college existence, thinking that if I lost weight I’d feel better. Thinking that if I lost weight, men would find me more attractive. I longed for a relationship where people would love me for who I was, the fat girl longing for love.

I dated guys who weren’t good for me. I had convinced myself that they loved me, but instead, I was foolishly being used. They didn’t love me, and I didn’t love them. I was just in love with the idea of being in love because I had spent so many years longing for that, even writing romances and daydreaming of finding that perfect guy. (I also daydreamed of being skinny—and that is when I would find my “true love”.)

I lived completely in a fantasy world, longing for something that I didn’t have, and wondering if God would ever send me someone who loved me like I had hoped they would.

It never happened, and I fell into this strange, almost depression like mood, and I would literally cry, begging God to change my body and send me someone who would love me. I never expected the answer that I would receive.

I’ve told this story many times because it’s the moment that I realized that I had been under an attack of satan for most of my life. It’s the moment that God showed me just how much I was truly loved, and it wasn’t by any earthly man. It was the Man who died on the cross for me.

I was driving home from my cousin’s house one night when MercyMe’s Beautiful came on on the radio (K-LOVE), and at this time in my life, I rarely ever listened to Christian music. (I had gotten to the point where I thought hearing it in church was enough. I was wrong, of course.) I almost stopped in the middle of the road as God’s presence filled the car, wrapping me in His love. I knew then and there that God was telling Me that that song was about me. That I was beautiful because He created me, loved me.

From that day on, I began to look at myself differently. I began to try and see myself the way that God sees me. The devil’s lies were still strong within me, but God showed me that I was in a battle, and He had just given me the means to fight back. Love. Love for Him, love for myself, love for others. Love was the answer.

Weapons

I had never thought that my hatred of my body was something of the devil until God had me write Entertaining Angels. As the idea came to me, I saw that I had been fighting the devil and his minions the whole time as I struggled to love myself and see my own beauty.

If I had never heard God tell me that I was beautiful, I don’t think that I would have grown as much as I have and be a witness to others. The devil knew that God was going to do something big with my life, and he had been tormenting me, breaking me down slowly over the years trying to stop me. He almost did because I was ready to give up on all kinds of love at this point, but God—oh but God—saved me.

Loving myself is still a struggle at times. I want to look like this or look like that, but I see with each battle how much God loves me. And I know without a shadow of a doubt the devil will not win. The love of God is what keeps me going, and I know that He loves me, despite my size. Despite the way I see myself, He loves me. And He loves you too.

War isn’t easy, but God has prepared us for such a battle. I know it won’t be easy. It never is, but we’re winners. Because God loves us, there isn’t any demon on earth that can stop us. Put on the armor of God today and lift up your sword because whatever battle you’re going through, you’re victorious!

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What did I tell y’all? I just love Emerald’s testimony. If you’d like to hear more from her, please connect with her on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Emerald is also opening up her blog during April for others to share their stories of depression, self-harm, and suicide attempts to show people who struggle with these things they are not alone. If you have a story, please sign up here: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c044faaa923a4fc1-youarenotalone. I know she would love to have your perspective.

 

Entertaining Angels: A Review

“God wants you to know you’re beautiful, inside and out, and you have no reason to doubt Him or the people He’s put in your life to remind you of your beauty.” ~from Entertaining Angels

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[CLICK HERE TO BUY]

About Entertaining Angels (from Amazon):

Madison Andrews can’t face her reflection in the mirror. All she sees is a big, fat nobody. Yet, deep inside she longs for something more, something that’s not skin deep. Along comes Zach, the new guy in high school. He’s smoking hot and totally out of her league. She somehow catches his eye, and he makes her feel beautiful for once. But just as she gets close to Zach, her nerdy best friend, Chase, won’t let Madison doubt her true beauty, no matter how many meals she skips. Dark forces are at work, darker than the lies and mocking from her peers, stopping her from amounting to her full potential. With her newfound Christian faith, can Madison find true happiness in her own skin amidst the battle of angels and demons?

About Emerald Barnes (from Amazon):

Emerald Barnes graduated with a B.A. in English with an emphasis on Creative Writing at Mississippi University for Women. She resides in a small town in Mississippi and has the accent to prove it. She’s an auntie to three beautiful nieces and two handsome nephews. She’s a Whovian, a little bit of a nerd, a reader, a writer, and a family-oriented person. God is number one in her life, and she thanks Him continuously for His love and favor.

She blogs on WordPress and Blogspot and you can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

My Review:

I give Entertaining Angels by Emerald Barnes 4 out of 5 stars.

Like most of us, Madison Andrews doesn’t like what she sees when she looks in the mirror. In spite of assurances from her best friend, she remains convinced no one else likes what they see when they look at her, either. Even with the heavy subject matter, Entertaining Angels is nevertheless a sweet, inspiring read.

I’ve been overweight (and teased and/or poked at about it) since I was a little girl, so I get Madison. I loved seeing a character so real about her view of herself. I identified as she put on weight: “Could they tell that I’d put on some weight? Gosh. I hoped not, but how could they not? I was huge.” I identified as she longed to be noticed: “I glanced at Zach again and wondered what it would be like to be loved, or at least liked by a man like him. But hot guys didn’t want me.” And I identified as God pursued her, and she found ways to avoid Him.

In a few instances, certain characters responded to Madison being antagonized by insulting the antagonist’s body type and actions. I fully expected those characters to come to the conclusion that their comments equally as damaging as what was being said about Madison, but they never did, and that was a little disappointing.

Overall, however, I think many women (young and old) will identify with Madison and her story. The message that we are beautiful and we are loved as we are is powerful and much-needed.