This post has been so much harder to write. Probably because I am about to get more honest with you a lot sooner than I had intended. I had a list of topics I was ready to write about—lessons God has taught me that I hoped others could glean from. But as I set out to write those posts, the words just would not come. I couldn’t stop thinking about the journey that I have been on my whole life, learning to see myself as God sees me. I hope you will bear with me, as I’m about to get very real with you very quickly.
Before I recommitted my life to Christ, I was a selfish, manipulative, and broken person. I had dropped out of college, had my heart broken a few times, and was making decisions that were impacting my life in a negative way. I hated who I had become. I had so much potential growing up. I was smart, I was sweet, I was funny. No one would have predicted the situation I was in in my mid-twenties. But there I was—living a life I was not proud of, as a person I couldn’t stand. The one thing I had going for me was the fact that I was pretty. It was such an empty existence. I tried my best to hide my pain. I put on a big smile, I did my hair and makeup, and I dressed cute. From the outside, I looked like a happy and healthy young woman. In reality, I was anything but.
Finally, in a pit of despair, I called out to God. I asked Him to carry me, to heal me, and to make me new. He was patient and gentle as I learned how to live my life differently. I began to see the world through a new lens. I allowed him to heal the broken and tired parts of my heart. And He changed me from the inside out. After nearly six years of following Christ, I can say with confidence I like who I am now. I am funny, I am caring, I am empathetic, I am endlessly optimistic, and I am encouraging. Because I am becoming more like Christ, I can see the beauty of who God made me on the inside. Now, what I struggle with on a daily basis is seeing myself as beautiful on the outside.
It’s almost funny when I think about it. When I was at my lowest, the only solace I took was in my physical beauty. I was convinced that all I had to offer this world was my looks. I thought my value rested solely on the fact that I had a pretty face and a nice figure. I was nothing more than an ornament. And now, half a decade later, I am in a place where I know how fully loved I am by God. I know that I have a unique purpose in this world (you do too, and we will talk more about that next time ☺), and I want to share my story to help other people.
But in these last few years, some things have changed on the outside. I have had a baby, and it left a lasting mark on my body. I have stretch marks, the skin on my stomach is not tight like it once was, and after nursing for almost two years, you can imagine the toll that has taken…. I no longer color my hair or have the desire to wear as much makeup as I once did. I am in this strange season where I am trying to no longer mask who I am with those things and finally accept and love me, Brittney, in my totality. And it’s hard.
Here’s what God has been telling me these last few days. It has blown my mind, and it is setting me free. I feel like God has called me to public ministry. I don’t mind getting vulnerable and sharing about my painful experiences because it helps me heal from that pain and will help others to know they are not alone. Best of all, it gives glory to God. And that is precisely why the enemy is trying to distract me by getting me to worry about my appearance. He wants me to focus on the way I look, to see all of my flaws, and he wants to cripple me. Why would I want to stand before a bunch of people and talk about myself? Then they will see all the issues I see. My shirt might not be covering the roll I am trying to hide. Or my hair might not be cooperating like I wish. They will see that, and they won’t hear a word I am saying…. I can be so focused on these trivial things that I am too distracted to even share the message God has placed on my heart.
I am reminded over and over again of 1 Samuel 16:7, “The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” The world might be judging my physical appearance, but God is not. He looks at me and sees his child. Beautiful. Pure. Whole. And if I am living for God, that should be enough. His approval should carry me alone. And before this week, I hadn’t really thought about that verse in this light, but people of God, if they are truly followers of Christ, don’t focus on the outward appearance. They focus on the heart. I do that for other people; it is time I start doing that for myself.
So, if you’re like me, feeling insecure about your appearance, I want to give you permission to forgive your body for not looking like it did 10 years ago. Ask God to free you of that comparison trap and to remind you of your inward beauty. Let’s take care of ourselves, because we only get one body, but let us, as people of God, focus on the heart. See the beauty in others, and see it in yourself. And whenever you may feel like you are starting to fall for the lie that your appearance holds your value, remember Proverbs 31:30,
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.”