leetle teedbit/lent confession:
[I came across a very well written article that did wonders for me and this is my followup/reflection to it. This is something I’ve been struggling a lot with recently so of course my first instinct is to share with everyone and humiliate myself to no end so one day, one day, I will only care about Jesus’s opinion. Sadly, the article is unavailable for now but I’m leaving it here in the event it comes back up again]
There was an interesting phenomenon that I discovered back in high school – when I was busy enough with homework and classes (I swear that math/science centered charter school was more difficult than college), I barely had enough time to catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror. So when the weekend rolled around and I had time to focus on my appearance and get-up and try to look nice for once, I would be pleasantly surprised when I looked in the mirror and found that I looked quite alright (would I even dare say – pretty). It happened enough times that I’d purposely avoid looking at myself in the mirror for days at a time so I could glance at myself a week later and be pleased to find that my face was not a chore to look at. My theory at the time had been that if I don’t constantly see myself and scrutinize every line and pore on my face, then I wouldn’t have time to pick out all the flaws and inconsistencies. One quick glance every once in a while would do the trick – if I didn’t look closely and frequently, I saw nothing wrong. You’re your own worst critic, but if you’re not looking at yourself – nothing to criticize.
But the strange thing – as I grew up and started garnering attention based on my looks: “oh, you look nice today; you’re cute; you’re really pretty; you’re so skinny,” I became more and more concerned with whether it was true or not. When a boy would flirt with me and offer a compliment, I’d turn bright red, rush home, and look at myself in the mirror, poking and prodding at my face, turning this way and that. “Really? Am I cute? Well, I guess I am, huh?” I became very, very focused on myself and subsequently, I started seeing everything ugly about myself.
I’ve been telling a couple of my girlfriends this because it flabbergasts me how I ended up getting caught in all of this – me, who stays clear away from make up, me, who throws on whatever is comfortable, me, who despises the concepts of diets and exercise and cutting. But, if I’m honest, it’s all a self righteous facade. Deep down I care like mad. I care like mad what I look like and it shows in the way that I always look at my reflection in the buildings on my way to work. It shows in the guilt I have when I eat excessive amounts of food. It manifests when I go through ten outfits in the span of one morning because I’ve suddenly decided that I want to look nice for whoever I’m going to see that day. But, the terrifying thing is this: I fit into size zero pants and I still think I’m fat. I’m not trying to fish for anything I’m literally stating what is confusing the heck out of me – I pulled on jeans that were size double zero less than a week ago, shimmied around the fitting room and rejoiced for two seconds until I noticed how my thighs still look wide, how my calves are not as thin as they used to be when I swam in high school, how my belly is muffin topping over the waist line of the pants, etc. It is at that moment that I know I seriously have a problem. If an objective measurement is telling me I am a healthy size and I don’t believe it – rather choosing to believe a comparative standard based off of mannequins I see in store windows and girls who run by me in the street – then when am I ever going to think myself beautiful? Where does that leave me? I can’t tell you how many times my day was ruined because I felt so uncomfortable in my own skin, thinking about what others may be thinking about me, whispering behind my back, scrutinizing the way my clothes fit about me, etc.
What I am starting to grasp is this: I was half right in my theory that the less I look at myself, the less I find myself undesirable. But, the solution isn’t to just never look at ourselves in the mirror ever again. What I’ve been missing is what I should be looking at instead.
I should be looking at Jesus. Because, ultimately, we care about the opinions of other people. When an attractive person of the opposite sex passes us by in the street, we want to look our most attractive. When we show up at a high school reunion or at a party with people we want to impress, we make sure we look put together. We care about opinions and for some strange reason, we think the opinions of other people about us are valuable and valid. But, what I am struggling to remind myself every day is that nobody will ever have a higher opinion of us than Jesus. In addition to that – no one will ever have a more accurate view of us than Jesus. Jesus, who sees us at our lowest, God, who formed us in darkness, knows every dimple in our bodies and every knot in our soul. He finds us worthy. He finds us valuable. He finds us beautiful.
The question is this – do we find Him the same way? Because, if He was beautiful to us, if He was valuable to us, if He was worthy in our eyes – then wouldn’t we be rejoicing like there is no tomorrow that He loves us? If we find Him more attractive than the guy at the bar and know that He gazes upon us jealously and longingly – would not our hearts skip multiple beats and our stomachs flip multiple times? Ultimately, His opinion is worth heaven. His opinion is worth everything. And His opinion of me is good and if I do not believe Him, then perhaps I never valued His opinion in the first place.
So, I guess another goal of mine this year is to look in the mirror less and to look more at Jesus. To look at the cross and remember – Jesus found me so beautiful that He thought I was worth dying for. And I refuse for another second to spit on the cross and say, “no, you were wrong Jesus, I’m not.”
Because, I am, oh beloved daughter of God, I am – Jesus help me believe it.