Not a Valentine's Day Post (Okay, Well Maybe Just a Little)
Margaret Wolf Hungerford
|Me (left) and My Sister (right)|
I am not sure when the insecurities of not feeling up to par as far as my looks went came into play. It was quite possibly in elementary school when I shot up taller than all of the other kids and stood towering over them. I remember one time when we were playing a game in gym and one of the boys was making fun of me because I had big feet (which was sadly true). I also remember a neighbor friend's brother taunting me with, "Dorothy, Beaver tooth!" from time to time (now I embrace them, saying they lean more towards English aristocracy). I am pretty sure that was about the time when I began to slump my shoulders and walk looking at the ground (the huge purple glasses probably didn't help things either).
When I was in junior high and high school I had my random and not so random crushes. I had a ton of friends who were guys, but no one ever really bothered to take things to the next step. As any other awkward teen would deduce, I assumed it had to be something about my appearance that was lacking. I remember my mom had pictures of us kids hanging in the hallway that we would walk by daily. I remember telling people when I would show them my baby picture, "I used to be cute." I felt that my value as a person was determined by social status, how I looked and other people's approval of me. Since I didn't have any of those things I assumed I was ugly and everyone else thought so too.
It's funny now I look back at those pictures of myself and wonder, "How did I not think that girl was pretty?" (And quite stylish too) Part of it was because I was so wrapped up in what everyone else around me thought of me. I tried to act like I didn't care with over-sized t-shirts and pants that were way too big, but I did. I remember one time a girl in high school told me I was a preppy and I was deeply offended. I simply thought she was pretty and I wanted her approval.
My entire childhood I wanted the approval of my peers and believed that only by their approval would I have value. To this day I still continue to battle with this struggle. The truth is, the definition of beauty is constantly changing (and idea not original to me, but taken from a series our pastor did at church). As Heidi Klum says, "One day you're in, the next you're out." Even the people that we think are beautiful that are on the cover of magazines don't think they add up (or at least the editors don't, which is why they are photo shopped).
Who we are isn't defined by our outward appearance. So who are we? The Bible says that when God created us he made us in his image. Not only that, when God looked at everything he made, he said it was very good. So regardless of who you are, you are God's image bearer and that makes you beautiful. Margaret Wolf Hungerford said, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder". If God is the beholder, then who are we to say different? Every person you walk past, whether they are tall or short, brown hair or black hair, have big feet or small feet, they are beautiful. Regardless of what size they wear, they are beautiful. Regardless of whether they are married, dating or single, they are beautiful. Regardless of whether they have children or not, they are beautiful. Regardless of whether their face has laugh lines or is baby butt smooth, they are beautiful. They are beautiful because they reflect God's image and are loved by him.
Brennan Manning said it best, “Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion."
So, this Valentine's Day (I know I said it wasn't a Valentine's Day post, but I will keep it short), when you look in the mirror tell yourself that you are beautiful. I love Valentine's Day. I think it is an awesome holiday. But what I do not like is that it has been commercialized so much to make people who don't have a "special someone" feel less than adequate. I have friends who are single and aren't dating anyone and I think they are fan-freakin'-tabulous. I don't think they are less of a person because they aren't dating or aren't married or don't have kids. They are at a place that God has brought them, so who are we to question their "status"? Your Valentine's celebration doesn't have to include a significant other. I remember in high school (all of those years that I didn't have that person), my mom would make us breakfast and buy socks and candy to give us to make us feel special and loved. At night, we would rent chick flicks and gorge ourselves on popcorn. And looking back, those are some of my fondest childhood memories.
Let's make this Valentine's Day, and every day after, about celebrating who people really are: being loved by God and being made in his image.
|Me and my Valentine 2012|