March 14, 2014

For Anyone Who Has Ever Felt Ugly

Have you ever felt ugly? I don't mean that you had a bad hair-day or a little pimple. I mean have you ever looked in the mirror and hated what you saw? I've been there. This is kind of a difficult post to write but if I'm being totally honest with myself, there have been plenty of days when I felt downright ugly.

From my coke-bottle glasses/frizzy hair/chubby childhood to my awkward teen years and beyond, I've never thought of myself as beautiful.

Having people in my life, including my southern beau, who speak kind, complimentary words to me helps...and this is not something I take for granted. But there are many people who have nobody to offer up daily affirmations or compliments. And what's more, it really doesn't matter what nice things anyone else might say to us if we feel a certain way (i.e. badly) on the inside.

In the past few years, I've started developing a new understanding of God's amazing grace...and not grace as a churchy buzzword, but what it truly means: divine influence on the heart. This is the only thing that has led to me to finally believe it's possible to experience being beautiful from the inside out. And the ironic thing is now this idea of beauty has got nothing to do with how I look.

Each day I'm learning more about the One who made me...the one who imagined every aspect of my personality. And when you come face to face with that knowledge, the only possible feeling is awe. I am awed that someone wanted me to exist so much that He spoke me into being. I am humbled and honored to be one of His creations. And you are one of His creations too.

I'm learning that this body, while I do believe it is a temple, is not really who I am, but instead just a home for my spirit. And yes, I want to take care of it and treat it with respect...but how it looks isn't really all that important.

I wish I could go back in time and communicate this to my 10-year old self...the one with the crooked teeth and the weird looking toenails. I wish I could say it to my 15-year old self, scared to death about being in high school and wanting to do all the right things as to avoid drawing attention to myself. I wish I could tell it to my 20-something college, feigning confidence with that "fake it til you make it" attitude but all the while feeling like such a fraud.

I'm certainly not saying I've arrived or that I've learned all there is to know. I still have lots of days where I feel like I'll never "get it together." Days when I don't realize for several hours that I have peanut butter on my face...or spill an entire glass of iced tea into the lap of the person I'm having a business meeting with. I'm certain I'll make mistakes and stick my foot in my mouth and hurt people's feelings and say the wrong thing. But little by little, I'm feeling a bit more comfortable in my own skin.

I'm grateful for each new revelation of grace. I'm grateful that it means I have permission to be my far-from-perfect self. I'm thankful that I can share about it here and maybe encourage just one other person who feels the same way. Of course, I hope none of you has ever felt this way. But I'm guessing some have.

And if you have felt this way, I want you to know that those ugly feelings are a lie. You are beautiful. Inside and out.

{images via 1:cobalt123; 2:Martin LaBar; 3:haribote}