Believe it or not, the question for me hasn't always primarily been "Am I lovable?" No, for years, it used to be "Am I as lovable as Idina [my sister, not her real name]?"
From about the age fourteen on (as I've already touched on), I watched as friends preferred my sister over me. What I haven't told most people are several incidents in which they indirectly stated their preference of Idina.
For example, one time, my friend told Idina and me that Idina was prettier than me.
Another time, a different friend was talking on the phone, when she randomly asked to talk to Idina. I was suspicious, so after I gave the phone to my sister, I (stupidly) picked up the other phone and listened in. All I heard before I hung up and went to the basement to cry was "I don't want to talk about this when I see you next, because it'd be awkward with Cassandra around."
Or the time when I introduced one of my closest friends to Idina, and before long, she started setting up dates to hang out with Idina...and not me.
I think part of the reason they started preferring Idina was because they could sense that she was going through pain. People with guy problems, self-harm addictions, eating disorders, etc. automatically gravitated toward my sister, because I think they could sense that she was in great pain. I guess I was always far more successful at wearing a happy mask than she was (and as much as it hurts to admit it, I say that with pride. It's one area of my life in which I was better than she was).
The question of my heart only morphed into "Am I lovable?" later in life. But that's a different story.
Today, however, I came to terms with something. Something absolutely incredible. Something that I never thought I'd ever believe.
I am just as lovable as Idina. Whether or not the people around me believe this, that's okay, because God and I believe it. And if my life is centered on God, then honestly, God and I are the only ones who need to believe that I am as lovable as Idina.
After my sister went off to college and dropped most of her old life, I took it upon myself to tie the ends she'd left untied. To become the caretaker of the friends she didn't communicate with anymore. To make up for her absence in our home. To continue the ministry she'd once had.
But that's different, suddenly. This morning, as I mulled over my life (which I do far too frequently), I decided that firstly, I don't have to be anybody's caretaker. I shouldn't be anybody's caretaker! Secondly, I am Cassandra. Not Idina. I could never be a different daughter than I already am. Thirdly, I have an entirely different ministry than Idina does - and entirely different talents and weaknesses. There is no way I could take on a ministry that was given to her, because I truly am not equipped for it.
I don't have to try to be as good as Idina. I don't have to try to be Idina. I am as lovable as she is. And if she's lovable (which she clearly is), and if I'm as lovable as she is, then...indirectly, this means that I am lovable.
There really wasn't much a point to this. Now that I've finished writing it, I'm trying to find some way to turn this into a pep-talk about how you guys can do the same, but let's face it. None of you guys are a sibling to Idina. So I don't know if I can make this relevant to your lives, too.
But anyways, I just wanted to tell you my victory, so that you could share in it, too. 'Cause you know, we're all in this together.