A friend of mine is a photographer, and she had asked me if I wanted to get a headshot for the blog. Of course, I said YES. First, I think it is nice to put a face to the words we read. Second, she’s a great photographer & I knew that she would do an amazing job. She told me that she had a great spot in mind and we began to work out the schedule. I asked her what she recommended that should I wear. She threw out some suggestions for colors and then said those haunting words “Wear something that makes you feel beautiful.”.
Ugh. Beautiful. I can’t tell you the last time I felt beautiful. Maybe on my actual wedding day, when people were doting on me. The perfect dress. The perfect hair. The perfect nails. The perfect make up. Quite possibly, that was the only day I have ever felt beautiful.
Sure as a kid there would be people who would say I was cute or pretty, but I can’t recall someone calling me beautiful. Not even a high school boyfriend. Not a friend, not even a member of my family. I don’t remember it, anyway. Maybe someone did, perhaps it was eclipsed by all of the negative comments I would hear over the course of my life. The few compliments lost in a sea of cut downs. I simply never felt beautiful, and on the few occasions where someone out of my peers threw me a compliment, I didn’t believe it. I figured it was sarcasm.
I was picked on for my hair color (red)… my skin color (or lack there of)… my shape (a slow developer)… and my weight (too skinny). Oh, to have the problems of youth again!
There comes a point where there are so many things you are being picked on for, that you wonder if there is anything good about you… let alone beautiful.
Oh the names I was called, just over the color of my hair and skin. I was always looked over when guys started talking about girls, I wasn’t on anyone’s radar. Girls would say that they hated me because I was so skinny, and then there were the anorexia rumors. I tried to hide the way I looked. Hair back, tied up tight. Let no one see it. When I got some spending money, I immediately headed for the hair color aisle. Brown. Black. Green. Anything but red. If I wore long sleeves and long pants, no one could see how pale I really was. Baggy was better, to hide my frame. Wearing nothing that drew attention to myself, that was the plan.
I figured if I couldn’t stop them from picking on me, I could hide myself. The words of my peers and others have haunted me all of my life.
Fast forward 20 years…. married to an amazing guy, three beautiful girls… yet I still have moments where I feel less than beautiful. Ok, more than moments, more like seasons. My body isn’t the same. My clothes don’t fit the same. I have an illness that literally makes my body fight against me.
I still don’t feel beautiful. I wonder how my husband even finds me attractive… at all. I pray, “Lord give me the eyes to see myself just as my husband does”. I hit the gym, hire a personal trainer. I start taking friends clothing shopping with me to help me find what works, because I obviously don’t know how to shop for THIS body.
“Wear something that makes you feel beautiful”, my friend said.
So I did. I grabbed the one pair of slacks I thought I looked good in. Bought a new shirt. Showed up for the photo shoot. She complimented me, saying that the shirt was very flattering on me. I smiled. She took photos, I smiled… while on the inside I felt ridiculous. Did I feel beautiful, not really. But, I did feel better. At least I wasn’t in mom jeans and a frumpy t-shirt.
She took the photos, showing them to me as we went along, and I couldn’t help it… I saw some of them and cringed. Maybe those were not the right pants after all. Maybe I should have picked a different shirt. All those words from my past coming back to haunt me, coupled by the ones I have added myself over the years.
But then… then I saw it. The photos where my personality was bigger than the image on the screen. Where what I was seeing was not a physical body… but seeing ME. Who I was, not what I looked like.
There she was, someone who was beautiful. My beauty isn’t, and never has, been my physical body. My beauty lies in the hands of God, who made me. He sees me beautiful, just as any parent looks at their child and thinks “you are beautifully and wonderfully made”. Our beauty lies in that exact moment when Christ shines through us, and the very air around us becomes electrified by His presence.
The words of my youth may still try and haunt me, from the shadows. Yet, I will stand in the light… where the shadows can’t touch me. I will see the beauty God created in me, an image bearer of God. I will see myself through His eyes. And others will see Him through me.
Words may haunt from the shadows. The Son is brighter.
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Thank you Jenna, for helping me see the beauty God sees.