This used to be a typical morning for me…except you could exchange the presentation with a meeting with ANYONE and I dreaded it. I didn’t want anyone seeing me or my face that made me look like a pre-pubescent teenager. I mean, here I am in my 30s and I’m still breaking out! People were going to think I was dirty or couldn’t take care of myself! Seriously. And you better believe I questioned myself and my worth based on whether a guy I was interested in had texted or called…or in most cases, hadn’t!
There were many mornings I had to force myself out of the house while saying, “Good enough for government work” (a typical saying I’ve grown to use)…hoping that the make-up job I did had covered up or hid the horrible break-outs…or hoping against all odds that nobody would notice.
It took me [too] many years to finally realize that most people don’t EVER recognize or notice the faults we have with ourselves. I would mention my break-outs to a friend, who would look at me closely and say, “I didn’t even notice them until you just said something.” But to me, there was a huge red arrow pointing at my face. The reality is that we don’t have time to notice anyone else’s faults, because we are too busy noticing our own!!
It also took me far too long to recognize that I was seeking approval and acceptance in all the wrong places. I thought that people were going to accept (or reject) me based on my looks. And I adjusted who I was as a person so people would like me. Yes, it sounds so shallow, but it’s true. It didn’t really sink in until the last weekend in June when I attended the Hungry for Hope (HFH) conference in Franklin, TN. I looked *everywhere else* for approval…I didn’t even give myself approval, for pete’s sake!!
But you know what I learned last weekend? Or really, what I had re-emphasized? That I am a person…and I will make mistakes.
And that the Lord has *always* pre-approved of me. I was so hard on myself for so many years, demanding the impossible…demanding perfection. And you know what? I *never* measured up. Ever. So I was always disappointed, angry, stressed out, anxious, depressed. Jennifer Dukes Lee, one of the speakers at the HFH conference, said it perfectly: “If we could have achieved perfection on our own, we wouldn’t have needed Jesus.” Duh.
Honestly, it was like a slap in the face…a huge wake-up call. I seriously looked everywhere else for approval…from my parents to friends to guys (big ol’ duh there)…I wanted approval and acceptance so badly, that I was [almost] willing to do anything. I sacrificed who I was and what I believed in far too many times to count.
But that, my friends, has changed. I now know from the bottom of my heart that I am pre-approved and always have been. There is nothing I can do to make God stop loving me. Nothing. Let me say that again…there is NOTHING I can do to make God stop loving me. He knows I am not perfect, but He loves me exactly as I am. There is no doubt about that. I finally realized I don’t need approval from anyone here on earth…people are going to like me or not, no matter what I do. So you know what? I may as well be myself, in all my glory!!
Prior to last weekend, I had come to terms with this on my own…the being myself part. I truthfully didn’t understand the full magnitude of God’s love for me until the HFH conference. Even with Him, I didn’t think I was good enough or would ever measure up to His standards. Because of that belief, that’s how I lived my life…like I wasn’t good enough for anyone or anything and that I would never measure up.
Sometime in the last year or so, I did a lot of soul searching and journaling and realized I was conforming to what other people expected of me or wanted from me. And I realized I wasn’t happy with who I was. I was looking to other people and/or things to try to fill a void in my life and make me happy. Until I realized that happiness only comes from within. *I* am the only person responsible for my happiness. Not any other person or thing or object. Just me.
So I made some changes. I started putting myself out there…I stopped worrying about what people thought of me (or my broken out face). Because no matter what you do (or don’t do), what you look like, what you wear, etc., people are going to judge you (it’s unfortunate, but it’s true). And I stopped pretending to be happy. I started focusing on what I had in my life to be grateful for. And believe me, I had so much to be grateful for. From the roof over my head to the yummy food on my plate, and not to mention my amazing family and friends who *always* made me feel beautiful and loved, no matter what my face looked like. I started ending my day by telling myself, “My acne does not define me.” It sounds silly, but it had such a powerful effect on my beliefs about myself. Because my acne, or whatever fault you think you have, doesn’t define you. It doesn’t make you who you are. For me, it didn’t take away from my sense of humor or smart aleck-ness or my intelligence or the fact that I am a sucker for babies and pugs (seriously, who isn’t??). It didn’t take away from my sensitivity or craziness or (sometimes) laziness. It was just a symptom.
Have you heard the saying, “You are not fat. You have fat, but you are not fat?” It’s similar to that. I had acne…but I was NOT acne. I was so much more. And so are you. When we take away these negative thoughts and beliefs about ourselves, it’s amazing what starts to happen in our lives. I started talking to myself in a positive manner and focused on all the amazingly good things I had going on…and the most amazing thing happened. I started feeling better, I started eating better (because I started valuing myself and recognizing my worth), and my acne started clearing up!
Cut yourself some slack…allow yourself to be enough. Because you are enough. You are very good! Genesis 1:27 states, So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:31 further states, God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.
Notice that He didn’t look at all he made and say, “Ahhh – perfection.” He made us very good. Because we can’t be perfect. We never will be. Nor does God expect us to be. So, to all the beautiful women and handsome men reading this, know that you are a very good person. You are very good. And you are enough! You are not defined by acne or scars or fat or depression or whatever fault you think you have. You are so much more than that!!
I’ll leave you with this: 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 – But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Allow yourself to feel God’s love…because it’s always there. His love is unending…and His love, His approval is all we need. Take a break from beating yourself up today. Embrace who you are! Because you are beautiful and strong and you are very good! Besides, who wants to be perfect anyways? It’s no fun. Be authentically you!! As Jennifer Dukes Lee pointed out at the HFH conference, “Authenticity trumps perfection every time.” Every. Single. Time.
With love and wellness (and lots of imperfections),