How do I not doubt that you think I’m beautiful when you’ve only told me a handful of times? Because I see it in the way you look at me. Every single time. There is no hesitancy or glossy gaze. You’re enamored. And I don’t say this to be prideful, I say this to say: you look at me like I’m a work of art, delicately crafted with skilled hands, and when I see it in your eyes, it helps me better believe it for myself.
We praise our creative God for the mountains and canyons, for the oceans, forests, beaches, and watercolor sunsets and sunrises, for the unfathomable amount of living things on this earth, yet with the same breath we curse His creativity because we don’t look like the person we compare ourselves to.
“Love given is courage gained.”
I’ve recently discovered insecurities I thought I ‘dealt with’ a long time ago are still influencing my actions. It turns out, I’m just as insecure as I was ten months ago, it just looks differently today. No longer eroding my physical appearance, my insecurities have chosen to burrow themselves into the deepest parts of my being and make their way known from the inside out.
My lack of love for myself is based on my lack of ‘perfect.’ Somewhere in the past twenty years (age six sounds about right) I sold out to the lie that man owns the title to ‘perfect’ which left me a beggar shamelessly selling everything I had to get whatever man offered. Basically put: I didn’t love myself, so I became whomever it was I believed people would love. A complete give and take, this lifestyle became an addiction; anything for a hit of ‘glory.’
All the while, my own spirit was decaying.
I read somewhere that learning to accept yourself takes an abundance of “self-love” and “self-care.” Like “standing-bare-naked-in-front-of-a-mirror-and-complimenting-yourself” kind of self-love. The kind of stuff that bully victims in Lifetime movies do. The radical stuff.
In the past fourteen years, I have tried everything but the radical stuff, and although it sounded like a preteen’s manifesto, I was desperate. Because at twenty years old, I’ve tasted and seen a life that I dream of enjoying every single day- not just on days that I’m feeling thin or desirable. What did I have to lose?
So I found myself in front of a mirror: pale, raw, and real.
Typically at a time like this, I diverted my eyes from my reflection. Ironically enough, I hated anything above man’s influence. I praise God’s creative hands for each edge of the mountains and the carefully carved canyons, for the delicate tenderness felt in flower petals, the mysteries hidden in the night sky, the infinite watercolors of sunrises and sunsets, for the details in an animal cell, yet with the same breath, I curse and spit on His creativity when I don’t look like every airbrushed girl I see a photo of.
God, I need(ed) courage. I need(ed) humility.
Inhale; exhale. I prayed through waiting. Eyes closed, I put away the claws and asked for gentle, strong hands. Scarred hands courageous enough to love through pain. Hands skilled in creating and restoring; hands that could help me build a body I could love. The Carpenter’s hands.
They came slowly but faithfully. I built strong arms to embrace and serve my neighbors. I built a rib cage wide enough to protect a pair of lungs to sing and breathe in emerald Oregon pines. I built a soft tummy able to produce deep belly laughs and hold Salt & Straw ice cream. A soft tummy confidently wearing scars telling a remarkable story of redemption.
I am not naive; I know it will take time. I know there will be days I forget, but that’s all it will be: a day.
Psalm 139 says I have been “knit” together. Much more than simply being spoken into existence like the rest of creation, The Lord, in His dangerous untamed glory, “knit” me together. With His breath, He shared His wild holy magnificence with me, and I want to set fire to those wild holy fibers and let them consume me.
“Love given is courage gained.” The courage to be myself: His poiema.