Thursday, January 17, 2013

Beautiful

Today I am going to be very real with you. I am going to share a part of my life with you that I never talk about--a part of my life I spent years trying to forget. I have always felt like I shouldn't talk about it--like it was a blemish on my "record" that I should ignore. It seems that it has always been expected that I should keep quiet about it. But my conversation with a sixteen year old girl today is causing me to break my silence. A beautiful sixteen year old girl who thinks she is quite the opposite of that because others and the way our world views beauty have made her feel that way.

I am here to tell you that I make a lot of mistakes. One of the biggest mistakes I made and that I regret the most, was listening to the world's view over God's and allowing it to control my life.

There will be people who read this and automatically mark me off as crazy and that's ok because they won't be the first. I've been called that before because of this part of my life. It used to hurt, but now I only see it as ignorance of a true problem plaguing young girls today. There will always be ignorance and I have finally learned that and that you just have to ignore it and pray for them. If this post helps just one of the young girls that read this blog, then I absolutely do not mind if everyone else considers me crazy. There may be people who think I shouldn't be posting this or sharing it and that's ok too--I write what I feel led to write. I answer to Him.

So I'm going to share my story--though I spent years trying to forget this part of my life, it is and always will be part of my testimony. It is a reminder to me of the depths God can pull you out of. I shared with you a couple of weeks ago that I gave my life to the Lord on December 28, 2004. I was fourteen years old and I was so excited about it. I love that raw excitement of discovering the Bible and God's promises for the first time. I have to be honest with you that though I went to church a pretty good bit growing up, I rarely listened and the only verse I knew was John 3:16. While this is a very powerful verse, I only knew it because we memorized it at a VBS I went to for two days once because my best friend was there. So when I gave my heart to Jesus and dove into His word, it was exciting! I wanted to do everything I could for my Jesus--this Jesus who had saved my undeserving self.

Of course, when you are living for Jesus, the devil will attack and he knew just where to attack a fourteen year old girl who just wanted to fit in. Growing up, I was always tiny. I ate all the time and never gained an ounce. Right around this time I turned fourteen, I also started to fill out like it is completely normal to do. But in my fourteen year old mind, I was getting fat. Now, looking back now I can tell you I was not, but I truly believed it then. People would make harmless comments and in my mind I would mold them into See, I am getting fat. Even so and so agrees. I developed an eating disorder, and it consumed me.

I battled with anorexia and bulimia for almost three years. It started out mild and gradually worsened. There were times when I would desperately try to get better because I was tired of being consumed by those thoughts--I wanted to go to a restaurant with my friends and not have everyone glance my way to see if I was eating this time. I just wanted to enjoy life. During those times, I might have a month or so where I did ok, but eventually I would go right back to my old ways the minute I realized I couldn't get into my size 0 jeans anymore.

I knew what I was doing was wrong. I knew that I was not respecting the body God blessed me with, but I couldn't seem to truly hand it over to Him. I was selfish. I wanted to follow God, but I wanted to be skinny while I did. I was listening to the world instead of to the One who gave His life for me and loved me far beyond anything I could fathom.

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body,"
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

This verse was shared with me often during that time in my life--and it convicted me far beyond anything I wanted to admit. To cut my story a little short, when I was sixteen different things caused me to be angry at God. I tried to run from God--which, by the way, you cannot do. I pushed away my friends who genuinely cared, and I spiraled out of control until I found myself in the juvenile ward of a hospital a couple of hours from home literally having someone watch me 24 hours a day because I couldn't be trusted.

I have to be honest that the week I spent there scared the life out of me. I finally came to a place where I genuinely wanted to get better. Spiritually I was still nowhere near where I needed to be anymore and I wouldn't be for years. I wrongly let myself become extremely angry at God. Though this place finally helped me to heal mentally and physically, it wasn't until this past year that I went running back to God instead of away from Him. It was in this hospital that I started to write a lot. They encouraged it and it was one of the things I was allowed to do during the free time. If it was something I didn't want anyone to read, I would write it anyway and then tear it up into tiny pieces and throw it away. It was almost as if some of my thoughts and things I wanted to say but couldn't were eating me alive on the inside and when I wrote them down, I always felt better--they were no longer choking the life out of me. I've been writing ever since.

Now to the point of me sharing this story--where did our current world's view of beauty evolve from? Why do we make girls feel like that have to look a certain way to be beautiful? Why can't we accept that the true beauty of everyone is the fact that we are all unique on the outside and the inside? For me personally, I look back and I wish I could tell myself then that none of that mattered because I had all I needed in Jesus.

I look at my own daughter and her teenage years scare me to death. It is very important to me for her to know she is beautiful both inside and out. I think it is important for her father and me to affirm that for her often, and mostly through the Scriptures that tell us that.

I heard this song today after my conversation with this girl, and I was just amazed. It was on an old CD I had burned in high school and I haven't heard it in years. Why did I put that CD in today? Yes, I was curious to see what was on it, but I believe that curiosity was stirred up because God knew this song was perfect for the thoughts that were on my mind today.

Beautiful
By: Bethany Dillon

I was so unique
Now I feel skin deep
I count on the make-up to cover it all
Crying myself to sleep cause I cannot keep their attention
I thought I could be strong
But it's killing me

Does someone hear my cry?
I'm dying for new life

[Chorus]
I want to be beautiful
Make you stand in awe
Look inside my heart,
and be amazed
I want to hear you say
Who I am is quite enough
Just want to be worthy of love
And beautiful

Sometimes I wish I was someone other than me
Fighting to make the mirror happy
Trying to find whatever is missing
Won't you help me back to glory

[Chorus]

I want to be beautiful
Make you stand in awe
Look inside my heart,
and be amazed
I want to hear you say
Who I am is quite enough
Just want to be worthy of love
And beautiful 


You make me beautiful
You make me stand in awe
You step inside my heart, and I am amazed
I love to hear You say
Who I am is quite enough
You make me worthy of love and beautiful  


For anyone out there struggling, not necessarily with an eating disorder, but self-esteem in general, please remember this: You were created in HIS image. You are beautiful. You are loved. Just the way you are.

This is the first time I have ever shared this part of my life. For years I almost tried to pretend it never happened. I knew people judged me harshly for my "weakness". Even when they didn't say it, I could see it on their faces. By keeping silent, though, I am denying God some glory He is due. Yes, the doctors at that hospital helped me physically and emotionally, but only One could fill that spiritual need that reminds me that I never need to go to that place again.

It's gotten even worse in recent years since the internet and social networking have exploded. Kids who are bullied can't escape it. Kids are constantly bombarded with images of the world's view of beauty in magazines, television, movies, books, and now the internet--even when I was on Facebook, I would notice the ads and the photos that say things like "Like for beautiful, comment for ugly" etc, etc are constantly being thrown in the faces of our youth. It makes me want to be even more protective of what my own daughter sees.

How many times have you heard: God loves you. He thinks you are beautiful. It doesn't matter what you look like, it's what's on the inside that matters?

Guess what. It's all true. But the problem is it only makes a difference when you truly believe it. Someone telling you that or even saying it yourself doesn't always mean you believe it. You will only truly believe it when you really understand the depth of its meaning. How do you understand that? How do truly accept that you are a beautiful person created in His image? Dive into His word and let Him tell you. Don't just listen to me or anyone else. Read His word and discover His unending love for you.

A friend of mine in high school would always share this beautiful description: When Jesus was on the cross, every drop of blood that was spilled was screaming your name. With every drop He was saying I love YOU. I love YOU. But when my friend shared this he would throw your name in there and it would always resonate with you. So do that. Go back and insert your name where it says YOU and know that He loves you enough that He suffered and died for you and He would do it all again just to be with you--because He loves you. He truly loves you. There is nothing you can do that will put you out of His reach. Trust me because if His love was conditional He would have been done with me a long time ago. Unconditional love. That is what He has for you today. Are you ready to truly accept that and let Him radically change you?

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 
Psalm 139:13-14

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”  
1 Samuel 16:7

Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. 
1 Peter 3:3-4

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them
Genesis 1:27

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  
1 John 3:1

Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. 
 Luke 12:7

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  
Proverbs 31:30

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?
Romans 8:31-39

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
John 3:16-17

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.  
Zephaniah 3:17

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.
Psalm 8:3-5

For we are His workmanship, created in Jesus Christ for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10

Knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.  
1 Peter 1:18-21 
 

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