Self image. A version of ourself that exists solely in our minds yet holds greater power over us than any other breathing thing.
I’m sure it’s not obvious at all that I am a very girly girl. I enjoy fixing my hair and wearing makeup. (I don’t love picking out clothes, but adulthood says I have to.) I have always battled with self image and the need to look “perfect” all the time. Be it weight, clear skin, makeup, outfits, you name it, I have always been self conscious that something won’t be up to par. (Ask me what sets this bar. I couldn’t tell you.) Sometimes I think that I have outgrown this self-deprecating mind set until I catch myself skipping a meal, going an extra hour at the gym because I ate a Reese’s cup, budgeting for a manicure every two weeks, scheduling hair appointments around events or trips, editing and re-editing pictures before posting, putting makeup on just to sit at the house so my snapchats aren’t “ugly”, feeling the need to apologize for caring too much, accepting degrading comments that I know aren’t deserved or earned, constantly feeling guilty for things that make me happy (like chocolate chip cookies or skipping a workout), spending time and energy on boys that don’t intend on loving me well in hopes of validation, the list goes on and on and on some more.
It’s sad and embarrassing to sit and reflect on how poorly I treat my mind and body. I know I am not alone in striving to give kindness, love, patience, and encouragement to those who surround me while starving myself of a single uplifting thought. We operate in such an outwardly facing society that every thing we do or say must be to impress others. To impress people who are too busy trying to impress you that they don’t have time to even notice what you’re doing. A vicious cycle of pretty faces, perfectly pressed clothes, empty motions, surface level conversations, and a lot of hurting people.
My students ask me weekly why I don’t wear my “real face”. Truth is, I did once. Early in the school year I ran late and put on the bare minimum before coming to work. Several kids asked me that day if I was “okay” or was I “sick”. Never again have I come to work without a full face on and that bothers them. I have an easy out when they ask about my “real face”. . . I put the blame on them. “No! I’m not wearing my real face, because last time I did you told me I looked sick!”
But, my dearest 12 year olds, it in fact isn’t your fault. Despite my efforts to pass it off onto you, you are not the root of my insecurities. All of my broken places, missing pieces, and tainted ideas are rooted in my own heart. A heart that is so fragile when not protected by the proper armor. A heart that is not rooted in prayer but in self. A heart that will forever be “without” until it has found it’s rightful place.
May I recognize my weaknesses, my faults, and my inability to master perfection and learn to cover it all with Your will and not mine. Thank you, Jesus, for a door that never closes and grace that sees far beyond our layered masks.