While I do have much more excitement to share about my new wonderful world of sewing, it's time to break out a bit of utter honesty.
For many, many years of my life, (I'm almost 30 you know!), I struggled with a deep hatred of my body and the way I was made. Many tears were shed in my childhood due to the intense struggle and frustration I endured from feeling like nothing in the world was made to fit me. I always felt frumpy and not quite sure if I was beautiful at all. Not only did I have the "bubble butt", (now a feature people pay for; then a shameful, hurtful nickname), but I also had those 80's/90's heavily hairsprayed bangs. You know the ones. Ugh.
My mom and dad both worked so hard to help me, but I was just not built in an easy way to be helped. I'm pretty sure I did not wear jeans until I was a freshman in high school. Why then? Because that year was the beginning of my two and a half year battle with anorexia. Many from my home town know the story well; most who know me now would never guess. It was a journey that would serve as some of the most defining years in my life, as well as one of those major times God exerted his strength and proved just how strong and able to overcome he is. Fast forward to college, where I painfully struggled with who I was and my feelings about my beauty, and went in the opposite direction. I was quite overweight and overwhelmed, incredibly insecure and scared out of my mind about how to live life so far from home. All this time, through each of these situations, I was crying out to God, loving him with all of my heart, longing to please him with all of my soul; I desperately wanted him to be pleased with me. I longed to live surrendered and have worth. I just wanted to be beautiful.
The long road to realizing the true essence of that beauty began when I read a book called Beauty by the Book: Seeing Yourself as God Sees You, by Nancy Stafford. I remember one of the most powerful things she said in that book being about how beautiful Satan was when he started out in heaven with God. He was the most magnificent of the angels. But he became obsessed with it. He just couldn't get enough of himself, he was the epitomy of staring at oneself in the mirror all day, thinking this gloriousness about him was where his worth lied. How tragically wrong he was. In an effort to build himself up and believe he deserved the highest of honors, he missed the glory around him; he lost sight of his Creator, the very king of glory. So he lost...everything. He was kicked out of heaven, and unfortunately we know the rest of the story for him. Now he literally despises all beauty, all that God has made. He delights in our hatred of ourselves; when we weep over the uniqueness we carry from the design of our Creator. He thrives on reminding us of our faults, plaguing us with our failures. He still wants the glory all to himself. He shudders at the thought that we might realize the glory within us that comes from the great Redeemer who created, forgives, and delights in us.
During those years I also read Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge for the first time, (which you already know I love!), and began to truly grasp that my questions of worth such as, "Am I valuable? Could I possibly be lovely or even beautiful?" could only be answered by my Creator. I cannot answer those questions, no matter how many futile and vain attempts I might make. (The blond hair I pay for has nothing to do with my beauty.) No man, friend, or child can answer them, no matter how often I might be tempted to take this deep desire for value and beauty to any one of them. God holds the answers for me...I must go to him, listen to what he says, and believe it.
So the more this truth began to sank in, the more I began to transform. Guess who began to glow a little more and smile a little deeper? Because of this, I made the choice to get rid of my full length mirror my final two years of college. I was finished with the obsessing. It had been exhausting to say the least, and I was done with it. To this day that is one of the most freeing choices I ever made. When I quit obsessing over the parts of me I hated the most, the weeping over them surprisingly lessened as well.
Then, I bought the jeans.
Oh the jeans. I smile even as I type that line. At the age of 25, I had never owned any sort of "brand name" pair of jeans. I grew up simply, frugally, and 45 minutes away from a mall, and was determined to continue living that way even in a big city. That was until I finally got a clue and was done with the hours of failure in dressing rooms. I was tired of waiting until I fit into a size or number that was "socially acceptable" to talk about. Not going to happen. Even so, there were still many more hours of failing in "brand name" dressing rooms with 20 pairs of denim that fit every body shape but mine.
Until, one lovely day, we met. GAP's "Long and Lean" (two things I've never been) jeans in who-cares- what-size, met this short, "ankle-fit," curvy girl's body. Instant love. Trust me, that was the first day I ever smiled in a dressing room. Not because I was skinny, (the only times in my life I was ever truly skinny, I was probably also hungry), but because they fit me! At that time, it was the best $60 I had ever spent. And I wore those jeans until there were holes from where my legs rubbed together. (Yes, I just said that.) Trust me, they're everything that today's "skinny jeans" or dare I say, "jeggings" will never be on this body of mine. This whole post was inspired by a delightful little fling that occurred in GAP just one day ago. It has been awhile, and yesterday afternoon we were lovingly reunited. (40% off this time though - double joy!!)
So what's my message to you through this silly story about a pair of jeans? Quit trying to fit into the world, and delight in what fits the 'you' God specifically designed. Like me, he just might use that body of yours to bring you to your knees in realizing your focus must only be on him, so that you will experience the joy of your own beauty. He'll help you see that this temporary, over-emotional and hypersensitive shell is just another part of our lives that we were given so that we might glorify him with it; not so we could bring glory or attention to ourselves. When you start to believe this, you might even like what you see. Trust me, I am far from conquering this to the point of true freedom, I could write other posts on very different "defining moments" of my life in the not so distant past that strike this same nerve. Yet this is just one of the many ways he keeps bringing me back to Him. I love that even in the midst of surrendering to this difficult truth, he will often give us little jolts of great joy and reminders that he cares about even the smallest cares of our hearts. For me, one of those jolts was through one simple pair of jeans.
In a few weeks I am doing a three-part session for a group of teenage girls on the meaning of "True Beauty." I am thrilled about this opportunity, and prayerful that God will use me to begin to unveil the beauty of Him that lives inside of each of those lovely young ladies. I would be honored to hear your stories, either through comments or email, and glean any insight or wisdom you might have to offer! In the meantime, go be beautiful...just be you!
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.