It’s that time of the year when change is a word heard on many lips.
Resolutions or goals seem to be part of every conversation – and maybe we’re doing well so far but maybe we’re all wondering has it really only been three weeks?
At the end of each year I go through my clothes and “get rid of some.” AKA I push them to the back of my dresser drawers or hang them in the back of my closet. Because what if?
I could totally lose 5 pounds and fit into those jeans again. No matter that they’re from high school, I can do it!
Last year I came home and sorted through clothes I hadn’t worn once at college. If I hadn’t worn them all year, surely I didn’t need them anymore. But then I would hold them up, ready to fold and put into a bag to donate…and I’d remember:
Memories, attached with clothing, of times long ago. Shirts from camp when we went out on the dock and told stories, a dress worn at the beach walking through the damp sand on a long walk, shoes (too small even when I thrifted them) worn to a 90’s party – my first “college thing.”
I didn’t realize how much clothing I had accumulated until coming home – and suddenly I couldn’t hang up one. more. thing. in my closet.
And half of the stuff in there didn’t even fit.
I’ve settled into the fact that I’ll still have the memories without the clothes, and I’ll have less stress and frustration each time I open the sliding doors and reach in to grab a shirt. The clothes don’t define me, and what you wear doesn’t define you, either.
It’s your friendliness we notice, not your top.
Your necklace simply accentuates your beautiful smile.
I’ll see your kind eyes before I ever look down at your new shoes.
We – I – spend so much time on these outward things because they’re a covering, a protection, a shelter.
Maybe you’ll look at my cute striped shirt instead of the blotches on my face…I hope you’ll stare at my headband instead of my hips that are a little too wide for these shorts to be considered ‘flattering.’
I hope you’ll focus on these things and bypass the things I’m not as confident about, and in hoping that – I care way more about what you think than what He does.
Have you been there? I took a break from picking through clothes to check the Twitter, and Anna had just written: “Sorting and getting rid of years of clothing that don’t fit. Pray for me? (seriously) It’s an emotional process for me.”
The thing is, I’m really good at speaking truth to others, only to then realizing I need to hear it, too.
“Doing the SAME thing today. Listening to a podcast while I work to push the sad thoughts away. We’re more than this.”
You’re more than the jeans that are too snug around your hips. Your worth isn’t dependent on whether you can still zip that flowy blue dress up all the way. No one will like you any more or any less if you forgot to pluck your eyebrows before heading out the door.
You are more than what you look like, because when I meet you I’m looking at the you inside – the you that makes a meal for a new mama, the you who allows your little boy one more glass of water before bedtime, the you who invite the college kids over for a snack and prayer before taking a big test.
You who stay up late dreaming and wake up early for time with Him. You women who face tests and challenges with lists and to-dos and trust in the Plan of the One who ultimately holds it all, no matter the outcome.
You’re beautiful, no matter what you’re wearing today. That spit-stained shirt and your shorts with cheerio crumbs? They’re okay.
You’re okay. In fact, you’re beautiful in the mess, because then you’re relatable, welcoming, real.
As I pack up clothing that will never fit again, I’m reminded that my new clothes look just as good, and no one likes me because of my certain size jeans anyways. The truth is, I’m perfectly comfortable in my own skin, blemishes and all, but the too-small clothes are reminders of what I used to be – reminders I don’t even want.
That smaller girl was insecure, even in her small clothing. She didn’t know she would be loved for her, and she tried to look cute so at least it would appear as if she put time into her appearance.
This girl, the one who stands looking at her closet today and pulling out the old clothes, placing them in bags as worship music plays, she’s more than okay with herself.
Our beauty doesn’t come from our protection, it comes from the kindness in our eyes, the genuineness of our smile, and the sweet words that encourage as they leave our lips.
So on the days you don’t feel pretty, the days you want to be someone – anyone – else? I just need you to know that you’re more than a pretty face.
You radiate, friend.
And it’s all a bit funny to me because when I look in the mirror, there are so many different versions of me that I see. But lately I’ve been landing on this, seeing this face smiling back at me.
This girl, she isn’t the most outwardly beautiful version of me. Overalls, teased hair, and freckles are not the best mix.
And those may be the things you see first. But I barely notice them – all I can see are those pigtails and the smile of pure joy across my face.
In front of 2,000 people I danced with pigtails. We were farmers and really, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. That is, unless you know I had brain surgery and the scar will forever remain a piece of me.
And I don’t mind – I kind of love it, really. It bears the story He’s given me to tell. But a year ago come February, the idea of showing that scar, straight up the back of my neck to the center of my head, I just couldn’t wrap my mind around it.
Apparently, somewhere along the way I had come to think the scar on the back of my head wasn’t pretty. In this culture, scars aren’t beautiful things. They’re signs that something bad has happened, something painful and ugly.
But I wasn’t remembering this truth: scars are signs of survival – and they are beautiful.
I cared more about what I looked like in pictures and what the audience saw as I danced on stage, than pleasing my Healer of a Father – the One I was dancing for in the first place.
So a sweet friend parted my hair, stuck in a few hair ties and bobby pins, and I danced my heart out with my scar showing – not for the world, but solely for Him.
What never seemed pretty became the most beautiful piece of me when I offered it to Him.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt more beautiful.
Whether you’re packing up clothes that are now too small, looking in the mirror and trying your best to like what you see, or you’re covering up your scars because somewhere along the way you learned scars and beauty never go together – You. Are. Radiant.
Every piece of you shines beauty.
Whatever your version of it is, wear pigtails. Trust that His version of beauty is different than yours and to Him – you outshine the sun.
Every Wednesday Holley Gerth hosts the link-up Coffee For Your Heart and this week we’re writing on the prompt “You’re beautiful…just are you are.” I’m also joining Jennifer Dukes Lee and #tellhisstory for the first time today!
The beginning of this post has been adapted from the archives.