I'm trying out this new thing. I know when I blog that I tend to write about what is going on around me as opposed to the journey and the struggles going on inside my own life. In sharing with a friend the other day I was challenged to be real not only with the outside journey but also the things going on inside my head... so, here we go. :)
A couple days back we arrived into Penang, Malaysia, which just so happens to be a pretty bustling city. Malls, restaurants, movie theaters... you name it. Being a girl, one of the first thing I explored was, of course, the shopping. It's been a while since I've been in a big mall and this time as we walked through surrounded by stores and stores of ridiculousness, I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed. There was such an shocking array of sparkling, colorful merchandise, this overwhelming abundance of things that society defines as beauty. Stores and stores of manmade things, claiming to add to your beauty, to speak into your identity.
Don't get me wrong, I've been in malls time and time again. But, this time, something about it all just didn't sit well with me. It was if all I could see was a facade of what really existed. Nothing about that spoke beauty to me, and yet I couldn't help but feel compelled to feel like it should.
As I tried different accessories on, I would take a glance into the mirror in front on me. Mirror after mirror, I found myself looking at each one, trying to decide if I did in fact, actually like what I saw. Each time, my thoughts soon turned from the merchandise to the image behind it. "Maybe if I had put on make-up, maybe if I had fixed my hair, maybe if I wasn't wearing miss matched, worn out clothing... maybe then I would be more pleased with what I saw."
It was funny to sit here and have all these thoughts. You see, beauty and self-image are not things I have typically struggled with. Sure, I have those moments, as every woman does, where I wish I was a few inches taller, a few pounds lighter, and a few shades darker. But, I was fortunate enough to grow up in a home with a mother and a father who spoke so graciously over my identity. Parents who never asked me to be anything different than what I was. Parents that never opposed my tomboy stage of wearing gym shorts and a pony tail. Parents who loved without criticizing my identity.
Yet, here I was, letting the lies of Satan slowly creep in. Lies of my self worth, of my beauty, of my importance.
It was in that moment that I also realized that in just a few short weeks, that beast is exactly what I am going back to. It wasn't until walking back from that mall that I realized just how much freedom I have been walking in this year. I had almost forgotten what that bondage felt like. Bondage that exists so heavily back home. The idea that self worth can be purchased. That beauty is defined so strongly by materialistic things. I have spent a year walking in a new freedom of beauty, so much that I almost forgot how heavy, how fierce it was. And, here I was, four weeks away from returning... completely and utterly overwhelmed by it all.
As I stood on the street with my friend Stacey, praying, and just letting tears fall down my face, I realized that the struggle here was that my idea of beauty no longer coincides with the rest of the worlds. I was finally realizing how much my perspective has changed; how much my definition of beauty has changed. Back in the store, as my eyes tried to take in all of the glitz and glamour around me, I had realized that nothing in that store was beautiful. Beauty is no longer an accessory, or a piece of jewelry, or an article of clothing. Beauty is an African woman with her shaved head and handmade clothing; beauty is the smile on the face of a child running barefoot and filthy through the slums of a third world country; beauty is the prostitute wiping the makeup off her face, packing her bags, and reclaiming her self worth.
Now, this is not to say that I won't ever again wear girly accessories (in fact I have some pretty great earrings on today!) But, never again will those "things" define my identity, my beauty, my self worth. This year, I've seen the beauty of God, the beauty of his rawest creation. And I am part of that creation. You are part of that creation. We, in our simplest form, completely encompass the definition of true and absolute beauty, with or without any added glamour. It's time, my loves, to reclaim that beauty!