"What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition.
Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in." I Peter 3:3-4 (The Message)
(Trying to look my coolest in seventh grade, 1980)
One of my dearest friends at Ubangi Academy my seventh grade year was Cindy Matheson. This is the same Cindy of the cockroach story from my blog of last week ("Laughing at Fear"). Cindy was a year younger than me, but had the confidence of someone much older than her twelve years.
Our dorm was several hundred yards away from the school building. The dorm consisted of the girls' hallway and the boys' hallway, separated by the kitchen, dining room, and living room, all large enough to hold over forty occupants comfortably. Each hallway had over a dozen bedrooms. In an effort to mix us up so that we could get to know each other better, we students had new roommates during each of the four school terms during the year. That second term, Cindy and I roomed together in the bedroom directly across from the bathroom in which the door to the outside could be found. It was Cindy's and my ritual to look in the mirror at ourselves one last time every morning before we stepped out of the door to start another day of school at 6:30 a.m.
Who else besides me remembers how awkward those junior high years were? You couldn't pay me a million dollars to go back to those horrible days of total self-consciousness. Seventh grade for me was a time of feeling too old to hang out with the little kids and too young to hang out with the big kids. It seemed that me and my body were in limbo-land. It was a time of comparing myself to every other girl and feeling like I didn't quite make the mark. Insecurity was my constant companion. What was my hair doing? I knew my clothes were making a statement, but what kind of statement were they making? Was I dressing too young, too old...too...ugh!
I admired Cindy for encouraging both of us on those days when it was more painful than usual to walk out the screen door to class. As we would look in the mirror, our fingers trying to achieve that Farrah Fawcett feathered look, she would boldly say,
"Hey, slap it on and call it cool!"
No matter whether I felt cool or not, that phrase always lifted my spirits as we would laugh at ourselves in the mirror.
I wish I could say that those words rid me of all my insecurities. Unfortunately, the feelings of inferiority followed me throughout adolescence and throughout the ten years I spent in my twenties. I continued to gage my worth based on how I perceived others thought of me. I never quite could get the hang of being cool--whatever that meant. My failure to measure up caused anxiety and robbed me of joy continually. What I did not realize was that most everyone around me felt the same way. We just didn't talk about it. Too scary, too vulnerable, and way too revealing.
It wasn't until I did Beth Moore's Breaking Free Bible study at age thirty-five that God started doing major work on my skewed way of thinking. There are some Scriptures that have hit me like a lightning bolt and have shaken the very foundations of the wrong perceptions I have had. There have been instant moments of clarity when I have recognized that what I believed one minute before is nothing but a lie. That happened for me one day while doing my Bible study homework in Breaking Free. This is what changed me forever:
"The king is enthralled by your beauty;
honor him, for he is your lord." Psalm 45:11 (NIV)
The king...the King... is enthralled with my beauty? Could it be true? I never really believed my precious daddy when he would tell me I was beautiful growing up. But now, incredibly, I realized that I did not have to do anything to get my Abba's favor. I didn't have to wear the latest clothes, have the latest hairstyle, or do anything to impress Him. His Word told me that He not only thought I was beautiful--He was taken with me. The pressure to look a certain way was off. I just had to believe that what He was telling me was the truth. And somehow, He gave me the ability to do just that--start believing His truth instead of my untruth.
Hey, girlfriends, no matter if our clothing is from Neiman Marcus or the clearance rack at Goodwill, our God is enthralled with our beauty. So when we look at our reflections in the mirror today, no matter what that reflection says back to us, let's just slap it on and call it cool. Our heavenly Father is enthralled with you and me today--just as we are!
Jesus, thank You that Your love never adds any trouble to my life, but always brings healing, blessing, and godly confidence. It corrects the lies I have believed. Help me not bow to the scale or a mirror or let them tell me my worth today. Your opinion-not my wardrobe, my waistline, or anything I do-brings me dignity and honor. And You say You are enthralled with me, not my outward appearance. Let me live as a daughter of the Most High King today.