I've always struggled with believing that I am not pretty. For a long period of my life, I even believed that I was ugly.
Sixth grade was when I first 'realized' that my face was unacceptable.
No one ever flat out told me that my face was unacceptable, of course. I had acne, though, that was developing at that time of my life. And I've always had a reddish skin-tone. I remember peers asking me, "Why is your skin so red?" I remember the dermatologist suggesting medications to help even out my skin-tone and decrease the redness, and I remember her mixing a special medicated foundation to cover up my blemishes.
From 12 years old, up until I was 21, I never went out of the house, actually never really came out of my room, without makeup on. I remember waking up early on a camping trip on purpose to put makeup on, and going back to sleep until everyone else woke up. I had concluded that a red skin-tone was a shameful thing, and that because of it, I wasn't good enough...I compulsively tried to cover up, cover up, cover up.
I believed that there was something wrong with me. Something about me was flawed, defective, and it made me not able to measure up to everyone else. And I couldn't let anyone know about it.
I've dealt with this demon of 'not good enough,' 'unacceptable,' 'flawed,' 'defective,' and so on and so forth for as long as I can remember. It's moved back and forth from my appearance to who I am in my personality, from my opinions to my mothering, from friendships to who I am deep inside. It shows up again and again, the compulsive urge to hide me and not let anyone see.
One of the top seasons of deepest healing that I've experienced in this area has come as I've chosen to not cover up anymore.
When I was starting to realize that I thought I looked OK with makeup on, but that I was completely ashamed of my natural face without it, that I wouldn't let anyone see me without it on, I sensed that God Himself was asking me to do something drastic to believe things that He said about me. He was helping to find out that He created me. He planned out the way I would look. The Bible says in Psalm 139 that He 'knit me together.'
I had an inkling that I couldn't just all of the sudden 'believe' these truths. When I looked in the mirror, all I felt was disgust. I knew I had to do something drastic. So I committed to not wearing any makeup at all for 7 months.
I'd stand in front of the mirror and look at myself. I'd say truth about the way I was made: "I am beautifully created, fearfully and wonderfully made. I am beautiful because God Himself is beautiful. He made all women to display something specific about Himself to the world: beauty. I can't be a woman and not be beautiful; if I am a woman, I am beautiful. The world has confused me about the definition of what is beautiful and what is not. Beauty does not equal perfection. Beauty does not equal ideals. I am unique in my beauty."
It sounds somewhat trite to write those words now, but I assure you that it was far from trite when I stared at my un-covered-up self in the mirror. Sometimes I would cry. I felt ashamed at having people see me without any way for me to hide. They could see me as I was, and I had no way to avoid judgement. I had to use my strength and energy to believe what God said, to entrust myself into His hands.
And little by little, I started feeling less self-conscious. I started believing the words I was saying in the mirror. I felt more restful inside. The way I saw myself started to change.
Those truths I recite to myself in front of the mirror are invaluable to me now. They are the bedrock of what I believe about myself and other women. They guide how I interact with my daughters.
But I know I never would have assimilated that worldview if I hadn't followed God's leading to take a strong stance against the unbelief I found in my life. And although I still find SO MANY instances in my life today of wanting to hide who I am in shame so that people don't find out that I'm defective and flawed, it's a little bit easier for me doubt what I am sure is true about me because of those sessions in front of the mirror.