I'm going to talk about something really personal for all girls, I think. It's the issue of beauty and acceptance of yourself. I know that this is something most girls - if not all - struggle with. If it's not insecurity of your weight, height, width, or body, maybe it's your personality, the way you talk, something you don't like about yourself that you desperately wish could vanish and be replaced with a revised and perfect version of it. Boy, have I been there. Still am, actually. It seems like I've been on this journey of finding my security for many years now, but as I look back now, I can see that I've come a long way.
When I was about eleven years old, I went through a major growth spurt and was always eating something. I would eat as much as my teenage brother at the time during meals and would still have room for dessert. By the time I was twelve, at 5'3 I weighed 180 lbs. It didn't bother me much at all and I didn't think anything was wrong until one day while trying on jeans my mom had a serious talk with me. As she handed me the size 18 jeans, she told me that maybe I should start to watch what I'm eating, and only put something in my mouth when I'm hungry. I didn't really think anything of it until I began dance again after a few year break. Let me tell you, at 5'4 and 180 lbs., fitting into a leotard is not something that looks good in a mirror... So I started watching what I ate, exercised, and let the rest go. I started losing weight, but as the pounds fell off, my security did as well. I kept feeling that I was never thin enough, never at the right weight, my face wasn't pretty enough, my nose was too turned up, my dancing skills too amateur for my age, ect. It didn't help that my two best friends were (are) absolutely GORGEOUS and perfect in every way. I wanted to be in every way just like them, but the mirror always told me I would never be as beautiful. My parents always encouraged me, though, that I was beautiful, I was perfect, and I didn't need to be a certain way to be gorgeous. I tied down my happiness to being thin. I told myself that I would be happy, automatically and always happy, when I would be down to my goal weight.
As I lost more and more weight, the doubt that brooded in the dark part of my mind gradually began to take over the way I looked at myself. Every time I saw myself in the mirror, a cloud of darkness would envelope over me. I told myself I was fat, I was ugly, I wasn't good at anything, my art was horrible, my dancing was childish, my writing was trash. Some nights I would cry myself to sleep, or stand in front of the mirror, sobbing silently so no one would hear me. It got bad at times. Really bad. For a while, I would refuse to eat as much as I should at mealtimes and nothing ever in between. When that happened, my parents told me that if I didn't start eating, they would pull me out of ballet. That scared me. So for the reason of being pulled out of ballet - and for that reason only - I started to eat regular amounts again. I wasn't happy about it, but I didn't want to give up my love either. So I ate... unhappily, I might add. Even though I had lost over fifty pounds and was down to a size 4 pants, I still wasn't satisfied. I would always curse my big thighs, my enormous calves, and my big hips.
I had been battling off and on with bouts of "Yes, God, I know I'm beautiful! I am and You made me perfect and beautiful in Your image. I won't worry about it anymore," and "I am so ugly and fat... Why couldn't I be beautiful and perfect and pretty like my friends..." My goal weight kept changing, going down and down and down. I kept telling myself "just five more pounds." Five more pounds later, "just another five." And I didn't feel any happier, just the opposite. My faith during this time became weaker, and that fire for Jesus I once had was starting to fade away, flickering and being blown out by the petty worries I had. But then something happened... I was in the car with my mom and younger brother and a song came on the radio. I'd heard it before, but the lyrics caught my attention and hit me in the stomach like a train going full force towards me. It was just a few months ago, actually. The song was "Who I am" by Blanca. I'd heard it before, but never paid attention to it, and it was just background noise, if you know what I mean. But at that moment of the day, I was just feeling so beaten down, like a heavy cloud was around me, because of my weight. But a part of the song goes, "Another voice, another choice, to listen to words somebody said. Another day, I replay, one too many doubts inside my head. Am I strong beautiful am I good enough? Do I belong after all that I've said and done? Is it real when I feel I don't measure up? Am I loved?"
Those words described where I was emotionally at the time, and it couldn't have described me better. The words that I heard through the speakers just touched me, and I started to cry. Inside I was sobbing, the truth finally breaking through. And when I heard the rest of the song, it just confirmed to me that I AM BEAUTIFUL, and not because of the way I appear physically, but because of WHOSE I am. God's words finally broke through the ice of my hardened heart, and a revelation was revealed. I don't need to be a certain weight to be beautiful, or a certain clothes size. The world might tell me that I do, or that I have to wear this much makeup to look acceptable, or get a certain grade of score on tests, but I know what the real truth says. The real truth, Jesus, tells me I am beautiful because I am his, and not because of what /I/ have done, but because of what /He/ has done. I am beautiful. I am loved. I am good enough. I am His.
Psalms 139:14 - I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
/I/ am fearfully and wonderfully made. /You/ are fearfully and wonderfully made. Fearfully... and wonderfully...
I'm not out of the forest yet (is anyone ever, truly?), but I am slowly - but surely - making my way back to that fire that once possessed me. Over 5 years, 3 inches, and 50 lbs. lighter, I have finally come to understand that, truly understand that. For years I had heard it, but never really understood it. Key word: understand. You might know it, but do you understand it? Do you believe it?
It's taken me years and a lot of heartache and tears to realize this... As you read this post, I hope you understand and believe that...
You are beautiful.
You are loved.
You are good enough.
You are His.
Helmut Thielicke quote
"Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."