There are many girls at war with themselves. Many women also. There are females in this world that are not just struggling but viciously fighting with themselves and the world to embrace their beauty. They are fiercely fighting to cling to their identity, to find purpose, to accept contentment with who they are, and to grow based on all of that.
Hi. My name is Hannah and I am currently learning how to embrace my identity and fight back against insecurity. For more than half of my life, I have battled insecurity, specifically when it comes to appearances. Growing up, life was easy. I was carefree. Mud and dirt were great. Barbies were only fun if we got to include the action figures in rescue missions from wild animals on deserted islands (think Jurassic Park 3, but with tigers and stuff). When I was about 5, the neighbor kid refused to leave my friend alone and he ended up with a bloody nose. But the world we live in is meaner than my right jab. It can be an ugly place and kids can be downright hateful.
My hope today is this: Jesus came to reconcile me to God. He came to exchange my insecurity for His identity.
A few weeks back, someone made a comment (with no hint of malice or mean spirit in the least) to me that touched a very sensitive nerve regarding who I am as a woman. I ran for my Bible and spent some time working to fight the lies that were rushing in. I had just done this several days before and thought I was making progress but now, again, it felt like I would be cast right back into the raging sea. The next day, I woke up and dressed for church. I found a place on the floor near the heater and sat down to read my Bible before I headed out. The house was empty and quiet. My soul suddenly longed for a break in the routine. God urged me to stay home from church and enjoy Him alone instead, just me, my Bible, and a Spotify playlist. That morning, God had been guiding me to Scriptures about beauty. It became clear to me that in all of my reading the day before in combating the lies of appearance, had just been topical. Yes, I was doing better but I had not really worked out the roots of these issues. So I grabbed my journal and began to write as I read and listened and sang.
One thing I am not accustomed to doing with people (particularly those outside of my “inner circle”) is sharing my weaknesses and struggles. However, God will not let it rest. In my soul there is a truth yelling out to me, “you do not fight alone. Others are struggling as you are!” Last month I studied through 1 John and was struck by the beauty of the fact that those that live in the light are those that love God. Loving God means pursuing light, running towards it; this comes by baring our dark places to the light. Insecurity is a sin. And in getting serious with dealing with all sorts of sins in my own life, I was realizing this was one I was disguising as a “non-sin”. But it is indeed a sin. If you can identify with me in this struggle, then you will be validated to know that you are not fighting alone! Your sin is not unique to you and it needs to be dealt with ASAP. Do not fear exposing yourself.
Vulnerability is the threshold of intimate community.
-excerpts from my journal that Sunday as I sat on the floor-
“As I sit on the floor reading passages about beauty, I see myself; mascara coated lashes, faux pearls, leather bracelets, in the jeans with the holey knee and a flannel that has never fit me the same way it fits store models. I see the adult who was raised in a society that breeds insecurity and vanity with every whim. I see the girl who grew up a tomboy and smile as I recall the days of more carefree attitudes. Yet I jump ahead and see that she fell prey to the vicious gossip and harsh words of the pre-teen and teenage peers around her. Labels were forced upon her, most unfit for me to repeat. . .my insides began to crumble. In the adult I see each day in the mirror, I still see the shadows of that little tomboy, confident and carefree in her dinosaur shorts being stomped on by that insecure teen. The pieces of each that I hold in my hands are still at war every day as wonder who will win.
The cargo short wearing, baseball capped kid playing football in the yard with the boys, or the one listening to the words of the world around her telling her she will “never be as (fill in the blank) as so and so”?
. . .
Relationships came and went. Insecurities abounded in the wake of each. I was struggling to embrace me because I was emotionally dependent on others.
. . .
I was too tall.
My shoulders were too broad.
Kids (and sometimes adults) would ask if I was a boy or a girl.
I wanted to be pretty, but I hated the fit and look of most “girly outfits”.
I never felt comfortable being pretty and I never felt pretty being comfortable.
Wondering if my friends would ever stick around, I became distrustful. From bad relationships with the boys I had “dated” I wondered if I would ever “deserve” a guy that would peer beneath my skin. Then I realized. . .I myself was not looking beneath my skin. . .
I would like to tell you those feelings are gone, but they manifest every now and again. The insecurities bred in my early years have been hard to gain victory over. . .when I look in the mirror, I sometimes see the tomboy and the evil one is fast to tell me how non-feminine and non-pretty that person is. Somedays, I see the teenager and fight the desire to cover the mirror as I did in middle and high school. It seems the most true and satisfying days come less frequently. . .the days I am truly CONTENT and SATISFIED with the face I see, the body I was given, and the heart that purposes it all.
While I battle to win the wars of self confidence, it is hard. It is hard not to compare myself to “pretty” faces. . .It is hard not to compare myself to “ideal” bodies. It is hard to accept (at times) that I am single. Does not having a boyfriend or not being married “at my age” somehow make me less than what I should be? Am I single because I do not “deserve” to have such a relationship? NO! I know those are lies, but in the face of so many who are worrying more about my marriage status I am, Satan brings those lies to the battle.
In fighting the LIES of “ENOUGH”, I have to remember that GOD sees, WANTS, and LOVES MY HEART. I am His and outside of Him, no thing and no one has my best interests in mind. He is what is good. I do NOT deserve Him! And yet, He is MY. GOD. MY LORD. MY Savior. He gave me life and He purposed it. He desires me completely. He delights in loving me and desires that I take joy in HIS PRESENCE ALONE.
The battles will still rage, but HE is my VICTORY.
The words of careless, thoughtless, and ill meaning people will come, but HE is my VERITY.
I will doubt and question my worth, but HE gives me VALUE.
I will fall prey to the evil and embrace the lies of the evil one, but HE is my VIRTUE.
HE IS WHAT MAKES ME WORTHY, VALUABLE, VICTORIOUS, LOVELY, BEAUTIFUL. HE IS MY IDENTITY.”
So, today I sit, still processing this beautiful time of worship together with my God and I desire simply to share this with others. I do not fight alone. I am not unique in this battle. Society will tell you what pretty is. You will struggle to embrace the truth behind those cliche truths about beauty being deeper than your heart. And even on days when you know you are beautiful on the inside, you will still struggle to be confident because you want to be pretty and you do not feel like you are or will ever be. I have realized that if I want to be accepted as pretty by the people around me, I am working toward the wrong goal.
Instead of seeking validation of man (not just by gender, but mankind in general) I am working to embrace that God has given me His righteous record, calling me perfect through His sacrificial justification. This means giving up my pursuit of what is vain. At the same time I am working to embrace the deep heart of my God that defines my own. My identity is in Him and he does not desire that I make myself pretty to others. He only desires that I become confident in who I am because of Him live knowing that I am who He created me to be. He wants my heart and He wants it completely. He wants to take it and reshape it. He wants me to surrender it to Him so that He can reinforce it with confidence in who I am as a person. . .as a woman. He wants me to stop striving for the vain pursuits of this world and focus on pursuing Him and His heart with 100% of my energy.
If you are struggling in this way, reach out. Talk to God. Find someone you trust. Expose your darkness; name your sin and work hard to fight against it. Pursue the light. And if you are not sure who you can go to with it, my ears are open and my heart is ready to build intimate community with you!