There are some things that are just easier. Easier to talk about, easier to write about, and much, much easier to live through. On the same hand, some things are easier to learn.
Learning to love yourself and daily choosing to be confident isn’t one of those.
I found myself in a dark place as I was deciding how to approach this topic. A list of steps, “ten
easy ways to have a positive self-image.” Or maybe even a list of things to tell yourself every day, and to write on lovely lavender sticky notes and post all over your mirror. I can promise that won’t do it justice, and I read enough of that in Seventeen magazine.
Let me be real with ya, baby girl.
Because what we need is more real in a world full of plastic surgery and instagram filters.
Because I pray that you know inner beauty matters and lasts, but I also know that the world tells you it isn’t enough.
The roaring voice says, Let me tell you, that sweet little heart of yours ain’t taking you no where. You gotta look the part. Here, let me help. Oooh, two to five inches off the waistline would be a start. And that HAIR! Come on now, do you seriously think those curls are gonna cut it? Ditch the glasses, get some red lipstick, and some sort of tan on that skin. Yeah girl, that’s why you can’t get a boyfriend. And honey, in this day and age, you need one. If you want these people to take you seriously, then look the part. Your natural look is cute and all, but this is the real world. Shape up.
I know exactly what the world says, not because I plant my ear on the asphalt and listen for her vicious demands, but because her words have bore a heavy weight on my shoulders for many years.
I don’t suppose I am qualified to make the list, or even to try to decide what phrase of self-affirmation would magically pull you out of the maybe-the-world-is-right rut. But I can tell you my story. I don’t have to look back at journal entries or pictures. It’s all right here. It’s stitched into my heart, and I have such a passion for helping those who bear that weight on their seemingly steady shoulders, too.
Jenna Elise Musgrove. I would like to think that the people I have crossed paths with would describe me as what I now see myself as: A girl with green eyes and a genuine heart that beats for God. A girl who loves: Jesus, people, and writing. A girl who gives: her whole heart, time, and energy. A girl who goes: because her Savior is worthy, and the world is much too small for people to go unseen.
But, you know what?
Not everyone would say that, because there was a time when I saw a different green-eyed girl.
I saw a girl who loved cheerleading, but always felt less comfortable in her uniform than her tiny, tiny friends. I lived in the shell of a girl who never really enjoyed pool parties as much, because you know what you wear to pool parties..bathing suits. Ugh. And I was a girl who cared way too much about the way her hair didn’t look as polished and put together as friends who probably spent an hour each morning fixing theirs.
All of that seems shallow, but it was my world. I was happy, and I was in love with my Savior, but I couldn’t fully embrace every aspect of being a child of God because I was listening to another voice saying I was not enough.
That’s how and when it hit me. Nothing in this world, not the acceptance of others or satisfaction of finally “looking the part”, is worth devaluing the fact that you are a child of God. Created in His image, for His glory.
There was a lesson I only half-applied to my life. The lesson was that the world is broken. I accepted that and embraced it when I needed to understand why there were earthquakes and children dying. I didn’t accept it when I heard the voice of the world. I didn’t accept that those lies (you’re not enough, you’ve got to look like her, walk like her, dress like her) were the result of the same brokenness. I didn’t accept that I was, in essence, worshiping myself.
And when I did, when God gave me that wake-up call, I cannot tell you just how much of a relief it was. I asked the burden of the world’s voice to kindly exit my shoulders, and begged it to never inhabit another set of shoulders.
Let me be clear, I love to run. And that’s ok. There is nothing wrong with exercising or fixing your hair or dressing cute. In fact, those are all great. But when they consume you, when they take an incredible amount of time, effort, and energy, then you are building your own kingdom. May we never stop filling our sand buckets and building the Kingdom of God to, instead, stray away and build our own.
Baby girl, stop striving. Stop worrying and hiding and hurting yourself to fit into the terribly tiny and temporary mold that the world says you have to.
You, my dear, are a one-of-a-kind, magnificent, messy, marvelous masterpiece. Embrace that.