I remember I was in a health class, and the teacher was talking about self-esteem. She asked us what we'd like to change about ourselves... and I sat thinking so hard. SO HARD. I was in middle school and these were still the days when my parents words were the weightiest and my family said I was the most beautiful girl in the world. I believed them. So when she asked this question, I said... absolutely beaming with excitment... "Nothing." I am literally about to fall to pieces like a baby recalling this vivid memory, because this woman looked at this 11/12 year old mixed girl sitting in her class with thick glasses, unruly hair, in size 16/18 clothes and couldn't fathom for the life of her that there was nothing I'd like to change. I finally succombed and said I'd maybe like to have a nose more like my mom's instead of my dad's 'flatter' one. That's the most I could come up with. I'd been through a history of difficulties and storms that would probably make for a New York Times Best Seller. And someday I'll tell the stories... I wasn't sheltered from the facts of life, in the sense that I knew what was going on from a very early age. But, I was sheltered from most of the devastating effects and for that, I am eternally grateful to my family and school and friends of family who loved so well to make sure that was possible. That day a seed was planted, because I didn't understand what wasn't to love! haha. Not in a cocky way. I knew what I was good at... wanted to get better at some things, but didn't freak out if I couldn't do something as well as someone else, generally. I just had a really healthy self-image. I was loved deeply. I was loved well, and I flourished.
Since then, things began to change...Words came like a rain... gentle at first and then a storm... of: You'd be beautiful if... you lost weight. You'd be perfect if... you weren't emotional. You should maybe be a bit more... concise. You should wear your hair straight. You should wear it in an afro. You shouldn't wear glasses. One day I dressed up for spirit week in highschool and took off my glasses and let my hair down and a few girls squealed in the bathroom at how lovely I was without those things. So I'd get out my chisel and carve a graven/false image... and I butcher myself in the process and hide behind layers of guise.
So, I lost a lot of weight in highschool. I didn't realize until then that I was eating out of comfort... so my relationship with food changed and so did my body. However, the damage had already been done. What could have been very healthy lifestyle changes, became unhealthy control methods fueled by this fear I wasn't ever going to be beautiful enough. It went on for years and played out in many different ways. I began to loathe the way I was...and punished myself as a result until I saw change. Or to put it a different way, I was unloving to myself (impatient, unkind, envious, proud, self-seeking, rude, kept records of every wrong...) because I am simply myself.
The most ridiculous thing that I can do is to wish to wake up as someone else.
I can't even tell you how much of my life has been spent trying to fashion myself into a new version of me or to hide this existing one. So many of us work so hard to lose ourselves to be accepted by someone or as many other someones as possible. And why, when there is no universal definition of beauty? TLC and Discovery have tried to figure it out and in every program I've seen, when beauty is made out to be a science, it becomes ridiculous and loses the beauty altogether. Why do we try so hard to be exactly like this or that or a mixture of this? ANYTHING but ourselves.
And let's take the endangered species list and all of these efforts to guard and respect and help take care of our planet by being more 'green' for an example. Why is this important? Because it's a tragedy to see parts of creation endangered or becoming extinct... or damaged by our mistakes.
OK. So, if it is a tragedy to see beautiful creatures wiped out, why don't we have the same respect for ourselves - the crown of creation? If we lose respect for life... for our uniqueness... for the beauty that is only mine and yours won't be found in anyone else the same way... is that any less tragic? Because everytime this happens, there is a direct connect with the way I allow myself to be treated by others... (Or to take it a step further, there is a direct connect with the way I treat others) Most often, these are the times I 'stumble' into unhealthy relationships. I create something for someone to love or to spend time with. I work so hard to be everything to everyone I'm relating with and then I get taken advantage of, because really, I'm in some weird worship ritual of yeilding myself to their desire. I am erasing and destroying myself. And afterward we cry and sing along to radiohead with tears streaming down our faces - "For a minute there, I lost myself."
Love casts out ALL fear. Including the one that says we aren't beautiful or we aren't enough. We are. Can't help it. We were made that way. All of creation is beautiful... because it is. It just is.
All I want to do is just get lost in Love Himself.
It's scary at first... cos everything we've made disappears and falls down.
But in that slow reveal, we'll find ourselves. We'll flourish. Because we are loved deeply and loved well. And there's nothing we can do to diminish it or change it. Ever.
"Here it comes a beautiful collision is happening, now. There seems no end to where you begin and here I am now, you and I collide." - david crowder