A few weeks ago, I wrote a paper called, “Plain Jayne.” The title was a play on my middle name, Jayne, and my struggle as I’ve fought to see the value in my identity. In the paper, I disclose my battle with my appearance and a deep-rooted fear that I’d never be loved because I didn’t “measure up” to an invisible standard.
I believe decent art is vulnerable. Raw. Real. So, what would be better to write about than my fifteen-year battle against believing that I was genuinely ugly, and my fear that I’d never be enough for anyone?
I knew I wasn’t the only woman, or human, to ever struggle with this. But I didn’t want to vomit up words and depression on to a piece of a paper. It had to have meaning. It had to have truth.
But as I neared the end, I started to panic realizing that I didn’t have a happy ending. Oh, I had answers. But, my role in the story had little closure. The shred it did have, was blind faith, clinging to the knowledge that God’s word was truth. Regardless of my feelings.
I texted a friend, “I don’t have a pretty bow to put on it. I hate that.”
My friend texted me back simply, “Then put an ugly bow on it. Or don’t wrap it up. Leave it strewn about.”
I hated that response, because it meant I had to come face to face with the truth about where I was at.
I’m sorry to say, but even as a believer, I’ve struggled to accept that I was made in God’s image. I could tell you differently. I could quote scripture to you. I could probably even convince you that I had peace. But, I know my sin. I know my flaws. My shortcomings are ever before my eyes, and yes, sometimes they’re temporarily blocked by pride, but when pride is removed I’m left a shattered woman. The enemy is quick to remind me that I will never be enough, and that I am unworthy of love leaving me on the floor of my bedroom in front of a mirror, with clothes all over, sobbing, as I mourn my plight.
I couldn’t tell my professor and fellow classmates how to live without fear that they’d never be enough. Because, truth be told, I live with it every day. My head knew truth, but my heart just wasn’t there yet.
So, I rehearsed truth over again, like I’d done so many times before. I shared with them that I knew in my head that I was made in the image of God, and that He alone gives me worth. But I stayed honest, and told them that I was still battling. I was still learning what my role and value was not only as a woman, but also as a Child of God.
I put an ugly bow on it.
For the first time in six years, I genuinely looked at where I was in this area and let it be. I was honest with not only my class and with the reader, but with myself. There is freedom in being messy with the Lord.
We had a lot of work to do.
Yesterday, I had a break through. I listened to a sermon where the speaker shared about art and the value of words (which made my little writer’s heart happy.) In the midst of the sermon the speaker says something that was supposed to be a quick fact, but it caused me to freeze.
In Genesis, the author writes about everything God creates, and after He creates something it is said, “and it was good.”
The original definition of “good” is beautiful, precious, best, better, fair, graciously, joyful, kindly, pleasant. The list goes on, and on.
I paused, and chewed on that for hours. Something about that caught me, and then it hit me.
Since I was five years old, almost all of my life, I have always tried to define beauty. I have always tried to be beautiful, and enough. But, if the true meaning of “beauty” is goodness, then it isn’t a stretch to consider that the question I was truly asking was, “What is good?”
The answer? God’s creation redeemed by Jesus.
Therefore, this battle I’ve fought has never been about being beautiful. Since the beginning, it has always been Christ drawing me and pushing me to seek out what is “good.” Although, I wouldn’t know Him personally for another nine years, and then not even realizing His faithfulness in this area for another six.
How beautifully painful it is that the Lord did not allow me to see beauty in myself, but instead, used my struggle to allow me to see beauty in Him alone. The only One that is truly beautiful.
I see this in the world around me now! Of course, beauty cultures, and the trends change so frequently. People are striving to see what is, “good” but they have no standard. Unfortunately, they will never see it until they fall before the throne and gaze upon His face. “Those who look on the LORD are radiant.” (Psalm 34: 5)
All people are made in God’s image, I’m not going to sit here and declare that only Christian’s are beautiful. Creation is beautiful. But a creation redeemed by Christ’s death and resurrection is good.
I have a long way to go. I’m not completely healed of this battle. I may never get to a place where I am completely satisfied in what I look like. I may always have days where I wonder if I’m “enough.” But that’s okay. I don’t need to be good enough, because He is.
“Those who look on Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him from all his fears.”
Psalm 34: 5-6