I put on makeup today. If any of you know me, you know that is very unusual. My husband asked me if it was a special occasion. But it wasn’t. I just thought, “why not?” When I finished, I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, “You are beautiful!” Then I got sad, because it reminded me of my teen years when I would look at myself in the mirror and think, “I think I am beautiful, I don’t understand why no one else does…” I have spent much of my life comparing myself to others. I am fatter, and uglier and grumpier. I am not the bubbly one that can walk into a group of strangers and everyone would fall in love with. I am not good enough. I am not a good enough student or I would make better marks; I am not a good enough nurse or I would know every possible thing that could be wrong with someone; I am not a good enough mother or my kids would be perfect; I am not a good enough wife or my husband would be more passionate about me; I am not a good enough person or I would have friends. There is something less than perfect about me.
While we were travelling though the west we got to see the mountains and the prairies and the badlands. It occurred to me that God created all of these places. One wasn’t more perfect than the other. They were all created perfect for their purposes. While the mountains are majestic, they are also freezing cold and only habitable by grizzly bears and mountain goats. The badlands are arid desert, but house a teeming population of prairie dogs. All of creation was made for a reason and God declared it perfect (Gen 1:31). He didn’t declare the mountains more perfect than the wilderness, or the oceans more perfect than the lakes, or the tropics more perfect than the arctic. All were created perfect. But what if the mountains thought that the desert was better? What if they tried to flatten themselves and get warmer and drier? First they wouldn’t be able to, but in the process of trying, they would mar the beauty that God gave them, corrupt their purpose, and push away the life that would be supplied by them.
Because of the less than adequate way that I have felt about myself most of my life, I have tried to hide who I am. I generally wear clothes at least two sizes too big for me. I don’t do my hair or makeup. I find that this way I can enter a room unnoticed for the most part. People will only give me a passing glance and then dismiss me. Then I can find a corner or a wall and “blend in” so that I don’t stand out in the crowd as someone who doesn’t belong. However, when I acknowledge the way God has actually made me, I have to admit that I am a woman passionate about helping and supporting others. I am a natural leader and teacher. I want to encourage people to see their precious value in Christ. I want others to know and accept the truth about how deeply they are loved and how important they are to the world. I want them to realize that they are irreplaceable. How can I do all of that if they don’t see me? I have had a hard time loving others as Jesus told me to because I have had a hard time loving myself. All of the layers of self-doubt and feelings of worthlessness have stunted my ability to be who God created me to be. And thus I have not been fulfilling the purpose for which I was created and have not been able to breathe life into those around me because I have been “dead” myself. Colossians 2:8 warns us, “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” I have been bound by these lies. I have been believing that God made a mistake with me. But God is perfect, and I have been created in His image (Gen 1:27).
This is a good day to throw off all those things that hinder me (Heb 12:1) and stand confidently as the person I am. I may not be a mountain or an ocean, but perhaps I am that stately oak that provides shade, shelter and strength to all who are near. Why should I be ashamed of that?
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers” (Ps 1:1).