When You Feel Like the Ugly Duckling

I’ve never been super comfortable in my own skin. Sometime right before my teenage years everything seemed to change. I had always cared about clothes, they’ve long been one of my creative outlets, but hair and make-up were never a big deal. I was a wash and go kinda girl, as most pre-teens probably are. I cared much more about my friends and fun than thinking about eyebrows or lip gloss.

But then puberty started and everything got weird. My hair got greasy and my skin broke out and I hated how I looked when I saw my reflection or when people took pictures of me. I never smiled in pictures because I didn’t like my teeth and I mastered the smug, closed mouth grin.

I worked a few things out through the teenage years after experimenting with hair dye and different looks (hello, grunge!) and I finally landed in a place that I was content with. Sort of. Kind of. Okay, not really.

It wasn’t something I obsessed about daily. But when group photos happened, I always felt like the ugly duckling amidst my sea of beautiful friends. Everyone else had straight, gleaming white teeth. Everyone else had baby smooth skin. Everyone else could rock the world’s perfect messy bun and basically looked like a model upon waking up.

At least that’s what I thought.

It’s plagued me through my life, but I thought it would just always be. I mean, it’s not like you can just get prettier. Instead I just put on the punky brewster persona. Quirky. Uncaring. Walking to the beat of my own drum and acting like I didn’t care.

But of course, I did.

At 38 you’d think I’d be over it. Instead, I realized that I wasn’t over it at all!

But something had changed. I was now comfortable talking about it. And somehow that seemed like a good step in some sort of right direction.

I was planning a trip with two of my very beautiful friends. Days before I sent them this text,

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It led to a beautiful conversation amongst the three of us. One confessed jealousies and another put forth the insecurities she was feeling because she was pregnant and felt like she’d be the fat, awkward one. As if her beautiful bump could be called fat.

We laughed and cried and encouraged and realized how silly we were being. Each one of us feeling insecure against the other, comparing ourselves and allowing petty issues to creep in to our hearts and minds.

We decided right then and there that we needed more Jesus. Less insecurities, more Jesus.

The issue is a common one among women, I think. We tend to be critical of ourselves, or we fake a confident air to mask what’s really going on underneath. We judge and we compare and we belittle others to make ourselves feel better. Or we belittle ourselves and live in a place of constant discontentment.

This is where I found myself. So critical of everything that stared back at me in the mirror. That scar on my forehead and the deep lines between my eyes from constantly furrowing my brow when thinking. My less than perfect skin and the hair that had a bit of an issue the last time I got it done and ended with results I wasn’t thrilled with. My eyes weren’t big enough and my smile lines too deep.

It’s only in the last while that I’ve begun to grasp that this issue has nothing to do with my physical appearance and everything to do with my heart.

It’s only because I’m not seeing myself as beautifully made in the image of my Saviour. If I did, I simply couldn’t be this critical.

I look around at the people surrounding me, my friends, the people I pass at the grocery store, the elderly couple out for a walk and I see nothing but beauty. I see that God has created a beautiful world full of fascinating and delightful humans. And His word says that each one of these humans was made in His own image, in the image of our creator God. I see it all around me, but I disconnect it with myself.

I’ve been praying that God would change my heart on this. That He would help me to see that I am His child and no matter what the outsides look like, His beauty is within me. I’ve been praying that it would be far more important for me to cultivate that inner beauty and care about the nature of my heart then it mattered if I had wrinkles around my eyes or not.

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I posted that selfie today. Something I’ve never done before, just like that. I knew it was something that I needed to do in a sort of get-over-yourself sort of way. To showcase the imperfect of my face (hello scar on my forehead, tell me your stories) and yet be confident in who God has made me to be. To not be worried if people were judging that line on my chin (where did that even come from?!) or that my eyebrows aren’t exactly what 2016 is telling us they should be.

I will admit that Beautycounter has made my skin better, something I never thought possible,and I’m so thankful – Β but a product can only change the outside. God is working on my insides and He’s teaching me more about who He is and who I am in relation to that. That’s the important stuff.

Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.

 

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