Standing in front of a mirror in June, getting ready, I found myself displeased with how my clothes fit. I sighed, wishing I had bought something new to wear for family photos.
The image I saw mirrored my own self image, not just my outward appearance:
- A wife who still forgets her husband sees her as beautiful, despite his words and compliments
- A tired mother, wishing she could have slept later than the baby who woke at 430 am
- A mother of two whose body is different than it used to be
- A woman who doesn’t spend time to get ready or to reflect on how she sees herself most days
On a normal day, I usually manage to put on mascara, face lotion containing sunscreen, and a little powder before a child needs something. On that particular morning in June, my husband was graciously taking care of the kids so I could spend a little more time getting ready.
But in this case, those added moments staring in the mirror weren’t doing me any favors. I was certainly NOT feeling pretty, no matter how many times I changed my clothes or makeup.
Instead, I was doing something very unproductive; sinking into the pit of self-loathing. I was annoyed with myself and my lack of exercise, healthy eating, and the realization that my body is simply DIFFERENT than it used to be.
I’m sad to admit that this problem didn’t start that day – it was bigger. Let me tell you how I got to this point. This moment was several weeks in the making.
During the weeks before our trip, I searched my closet and several stores for the perfect outfit. I was supposed to wear something navy, white, and/or khaki. Sounds simple, right? I had 3 tops, and own 2 pairs of white pants and several pairs of khakis.
These clothes are all in ‘new’ condition, but were all purchased before our second child (some before our first). I like them, but frankly, I felt like they didn’t like me! They no longer FIT as they did when they were purchased – a common problem these days and the reason why I wear the same few outfits over and over despite having a full closet.
After finding new clothes in the store also didn’t fit as I desired, I decided it was a problem with me, and resorted to wearing Spanx under my pants. You know, to just make something I had ‘WORK’.
So as I stared into the mirror in June, I was squeezed into spanx (which are NOT physically comfortable), in order to ‘FEEL’ comfortable in my BRAIN, in a navy shirt and khaki pants.
I thought this strategy would give me peace of mind so I could relax during photos.
Relax in Spanx. Ha.
I could hardly breathe. But at least I wasn’t having to focus so hard on sucking in my stomach?
That was my frame of mind as I coated my hair with hairspray to make it ‘stay down’ and put on more makeup than usual, in a weak attempt to cover my perceived tired eyes with mascara and concealer. As I applied mascara, my eyes caught words written at the top of the mirror in black marker.
“What do you see? What does God see? Do they match?”
I immediately felt the pang of conviction and mixed emotions. First, remorse that I had yet again forgotten this truth. And, at that same moment, I was overjoyed by the remembrance that God sees me as useful, beautiful, and of eternal value.
I can’t take credit for those words. You see, I was getting ready in my niece’s childhood bedroom. We were staying at her parent’s home. She is an amazing woman, niece and friend. She wrote these WISE words long ago.
I stood there, pondering the words as my son and daughter tumbled into the room a few moments later as my husband tried to rally them for a bath and to get ready.
They both had wicked bed head and mismatched pajamas.
Still struggling with mixed emotions, I saw the joyful sparkle in their eyes, high energy movements, and simplicity of my emotions as I watched them.
If I see my children as such beautiful, amazing, and earth shattering little people, how much MORE does the Lord see in me and in them?
He made us. Every detail. With loving care we can’t even imagine.
If you’ve given birth, you know that a tiny baby can only be made by a loving creator. They are too perfect. Tiny toes, fingers and noses. These children are EXACTLY as God made them, and their days and birth were all ordained beforehand by Him.
All these thoughts remained with me as I finished getting ready.
I put on a necklace and forgot to care what I looked like to the world and was just glad the necklace was a great distraction for my daughter to play with.
Because of truthful words on that mirror, I was just me. As I was that day; wife, mother, woman, and child of God.
We had fun taking pictures. There was much laughter, play and joy. My daughter had one outburst of tears, but that is expected from a 1-year-old. Everyone was relaxed and after taking some posed pictures, the entire family went down to the beach to wander and let the kids play.
Had I not seen those words, I am not sure I would have relaxed or stopped worrying about how I looked.
I would have missed out on having fun while preoccupied with my own perceived inadequacy.
Instead, I spent the day with a refreshed view of how God sees me, reinforced by how I see my own children.
Here’s one photo from the day that thankfully doesn’t look like I am slathered in makeup and fully doused in hairspray.
Not long after returning home, I came across this passage, and was reminded of that moment.
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.
Matthew 6:25-34 (RSV, emphasis added)
The next time you struggle with your body, clothes, hair, or skin, remember to check if your self-image reflects that of your maker.
What do you see?
What does God see?
Do they match?
When we know our true identity is defined through God’s eyes, self-critical thoughts are seen as what they are.
If you don’t know who God says you are, will you commit today to make time to find out?
This question will be written on our daughters’ mirrors when they are old enough to have one in their rooms.
And since this experience clearly demonstrates my own struggle with identity, it needs to be on mine as well.
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