Monday, February 10, 2014

When I Don't Feel Beautiful

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.  -Confucius

I want this space to be somewhere where I can be real and honest.  I want to put my thoughts out there, as I believe there is power in making oneself heard.  Sometimes the hardest step is giving voice to a challenge.

What is it about how women are wired that we constantly find ourselves engaging in negative self talk?  I've noticed it more and more in myself recently and I don't like it.  Here's a [gracefully redemptive] example.

A few Fridays ago, we had our biggest fundraiser of the year at work.  This event brings in 1/3 of the operating budget of our organization, and there are a lot of influential people that attend.  This being my first year on staff, I had little idea of what to truly expect.  But I knew that I wanted to look the part.

We cancelled program with the kids for the day, since the event was moved to a Friday this year.  LA and I spent a few hours in the morning moving things and generally rushing around, getting set up.  My one job was the powerpoint for the event.  I was charged with creating two - one to play it in the background during the mix and mingle, and one to list the live auction items during the event.  They looked awesome [in my humble opinion] and I was proud of my work.  A few hours before go time, I'm at the computer reviewing and making final touches, only to discover the first show won't play and loop automatically.  Even now I don't know what the problem was.  I'm not especially technically minded but I can usually figure things out given enough time.  I realized I created the show on a newer version of software than what is on the computer I'm using, and I do everything I can think of to make it work.  Finally, after no positive results, I resolve to take it home and see if I can run it off my laptop.

During my two hour break between set up and the event, I find not only can I not fix the show, but the IT guy can't offer any help either.  I had spent about 45 minutes troubleshooting only to see I was going to have to recreate the 50 slide show in the older version of software.  Game, set, match.  Technology 1, me 0.

All the "excitement" set me back quite a bit in terms of time and I jump in the shower 15 minutes before I'm due back at work.  I wash my hair quickly and, rather than dry it like I planned, I desperately try and get it to stay in a bun.  At one point, as I'm twisting wet hair into a knot on my head, my arms aching from being above my head for a little two long, the clip I'm trying to use slipping from my damp fingers, I almost cry out in sheer frustration.  I drop my hands and plead aloud that this comes together quickly.  I'm supposed to be at work right now.

I finally get the majority of my hair pulled back and I'm pinning some loose pieces in place as I catch myself thinking:

"This isn't turning out at all like you planned."

"People are going to know you don't belong here."

"Everyone will know you don't know what you're doing and you're trying too hard."

"Your hair is wet and your makeup is rushed and you don't look pretty."

Whoa, stop right there.

I was lucky this time.  Finally, I am able to recognize these negative comments and know that they are not true.  I'm not exactly sure where the change and recognition actually happened.  It used to be that I would hear the negative and know that it wasn't ok, but I couldn't give voice to anything else.  The negative would just sit there, acknowledged as wrong but not truly defied.  It wasn't challenged; it wasn't corrected.  It was at some point during my trip to Nicaragua, and shortly after I returned, that I began to see myself as the Lord sees me.

When I look in the mirror, I see an average girl, with hair that needs a trim and bangs that are too long.  She doesn't have the best skin, but overall she's alright.  Maybe her clothes don't fit exactly right, a little big in places, and there's a slight fold throughout her middle when she bends at the waist.  I see a girl who has big dreams but isn't always sure how to achieve them.  And it doesn't matter how hard I try not to put any stock in physical appearance, I care.  Although I appreciate my body and celebrate what it does for me every day, I can be honest in saying that sometimes I want to look a certain way.  Usually this ideal image does not match up to reality [does it ever?].

I find more and more than I am quick to remind myself and take comfort in knowing that when my Father looks at me, He is delighted.  He is overjoyed at what he has created and he sees that it is good.  The complexities of our physical bodies is awe-inspiring, and the intricacy with which everything works together blows my mind.  I remind myself that He knows me so well that "without the will of my Father in Heaven, not a hair can fall from my head."  [Heidelberg Catechism].  He sees into my heart and knows my dreams.  He knows the places in my life where I struggle or lack discipline.  He knows my insecurities.  And He loves me anyway.

And in that moment, staring into the mirror, I work hard at trying not to find my worth in the frustration of hair that won't stay up and makeup that I use to cover up insecurities.  As I watch myself try and step into this role I think I need to fill, He stops me.  And He speaks to me in a way that I never expected, audibly, through my own voice.  I look at myself in the mirror and I say, "Thank you that I don't have to be beautiful to anyone but You, and to You I am always beautiful."

And I know it's true.

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