Honestly, this is a tough post to write. It’s something I’ve always struggled with and actually writing it out makes me nervous. Not only because it’s something that may change people’s perception of me but also because I could offend some people here (though I definitely don’t want to!). Let’s face it, I do care about what people think. I try not to as I should really only care about what God thinks of me but I think it’s a struggle that 99% of people struggle with. My husband is in that 1% that really doesn’t and I don’t understand that.
Since moving to a smaller town I’ve grown in so many ways. I’m so very thankful for that! I have been thriving spiritually here and I think a big part of that is because I feel more connected here in the 11 months we’ve been here than I did in 3 years in Omaha. Perhaps I’m just a “blue collar town” kind of girl but I feel so much more free to be me here.
For the first time in several years, since I lived with Nora in California & had several older women as friends, I have found some amazing, godly, wise & beautiful women of whom to look up to. These women exemplify grace when they speak and their hearts for the Lord is so very evident, even if you only get to talk with them for a minute or two. These women care more about their hearts and character, in pleasing God with their thoughts and speech, than they do anything else. They really are utterly gorgeous.
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” – 1 Peter 3:3-4
In bigger cities I’ve struggled to find my niche because it seemed everywhere I turned, women & girls alike had the same hair-style, the same trendy clothes (usually skinny jeans, riding boots, chevron blouses, adorned with jewelry to emphasize their amazing sense of style, etc) and I found it disconcerting. I don’t fit that mold. I look terrible in skinny jeans and my hair will not do the nice beachy wave thing or whatever it’s called. I’d rather be comfortable than be scared to sit down and show my tummy rolls through a chic, form-fitting top.
I want to make certain that I am not saying that women in big cities who do fit that mold are not godly, that is not what I’m saying! I’m saying that getting deep relationships with those women was hard for me. Perhaps it was because I have a hard time not comparing appearances and felt intrepid with trendy, fashionable & hipster women. Perhaps it was because I didn’t know how to handle myself when everyone around me looks like they are all related and I’m the black sheep of the family. Perhaps it was because I was still trying to figure out how to become a woman who cares more about what the Lord thinks than what others see. I don’t know.
But I do know, after reflecting on what the difference is between the women I have befriended here and others elsewhere, that I would much rather be a women who speaks with grace and has that immediate love for the Lord overflow from me than wanting to be accepted outwardly or for my appearance.
I feel like I finally see the entire point of Proverbs 31:30, “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
Practically speaking, this means that I am finally starting to accept my body, to feel comfortable in my own skin & stopping the guilt train that runs through my brain every time I think, “I used to climb 14ers and go rock climbing & hiking nearly every day!” Or, “I was a good martial artist that did nearly day-long tournaments.” And yet I somehow think I’m less of a person because I struggle with jogging down the block, in the flatlands, with not-thin air!
I am different and it feels like I’ve lived 2 different lives. I have had two kids & more than a few (4 to be exact) major surgeries in the last few years, so my body has new limitations that I’ve been reluctant to accept. I’ve kept clothes from a decade ago, determined to be able to fit into them again. I’ve gone through the rigorous self-shame avenues of heaping guilt on myself for not losing weight very well, or for needing new clothes that I can fit in. It’s been terrible, especially when I had not yet seen the glorious result of an older woman who exuded Christ so well as I have since we moved here.
God revolutionized my thinking about myself and I realized that my size, or the scale, or my struggles to keep active are not important. They are so trivial that I am amazed I could spend so much time feeling bad about myself and calling myself ugly. That is spitting at God’s creation. He doesn’t care about my size. He doesn’t care that I feel more comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt. He cares about my heart. He cares about how I think about other people, and about how I love other people. While I still try to get a work-out in, which is very hard to do consistently at this stage in our young family’s life, I’m not going to weigh myself anymore. I’ve cleared out my closet and got rid of most of my wardrobe. I will buy a few new outfits that make me feel pretty and good about myself, but I won’t compare myself with the trendy, skinny model-types that a bunch of my friends are. Since I have welcomed that I will not ever be the same as I was, I actually feel sexier than I ever have. I feel more comfortable with my husband seeing me and though it’s a bit uncomfortable, I am disciplining myself to let him see me and not try to hide myself. He thinks I’m beautiful, he tells me so, and I need to trust him.
I aspire to be one of these women I see here each week who minister to other women very well. Who is available for one-on-one discipleship. Who invites others, of all backgrounds & styles, into her home and serves them well from the heart. I don’t want to be “unavailable” or so far removed from being “real” that people don’t know me, or know my heart for the Lord. My husband & children are my priority ministries, but I don’t want that to be all. I want to impact and love women, where they are at, with wisdom and grace. That is my hope as I continue to grow and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to visibly see this in these older women I’ve come to know and love.
The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7