After years of struggling with a negative self-image, the relief of not hating my reflection is hard to describe. I know that we, as Christians, are not supposed to focus on the outward appearance of a person, but it’s hard when the face that stares back at you every morning falls short on so many levels. I thought after the growth I experienced over the last year that items of the past would no longer affect me. I was wrong.
Today was National Sibling day according to Facebook. That’s a holiday that I wasn’t even aware existed until I signed up for an account on the social media giant. Each year, I see smiling pictures of my friends with their brothers and sisters. These photos range from adorable baby pictures to professional pics taken as adults. Some are serious some are silly, but all are accompanied with a sweet sentiment about how much they love their family. All except mine.
In an attempt to be funny, my sister posted a picture of me from seventh grade. The. Worst. Year. Ever. Possibly, the worst school picture ever (and it was a retake!). I remember the day when they handed everyone their school picture packet in English class all those years ago. Immediately, the cute kids started cutting the wallet sized pics and signing the backs before passing them out to friends. I didn’t receive a packet that year. I received two 5x7 pics with a small white sticker on the front that said “These pictures are unacceptable for use in the yearbook, retakes are required.” I was humiliated. It was written validation of what I already felt. I was hideous. No amount of positive words from my parents could convince otherwise. Why is everything such a drama in those years?
The retake wasn’t much better. It was a rainy day so my hair was flat and lifeless. Apparently, the only criteria the yearbook company used when banning photos was whether or not a person’s eyes were open or closed. Incredibly bad hair days weren’t enough to earn another retake so soggy, floppy hair made it into the yearbook.
Another rough part of getting retakes was that no one really cared about getting your pictures when they came in two weeks later. The novelty of getting small signed photos of your friends had waned, and it always felt a little awkward asking someone if they wanted your picture.
The gangly, snaggle-toothed girl that looked at me from the computer screen this morning brought up a lot of old memories. It was upsetting, unsettling, and embarrassing.
Suddenly, I wasn’t the confident adult anymore. I was the awkward adolescent again. Chagrined that my new friends might be looking at the horrible visage of my past. I actually worked myself up into a fit of angry tears and self-pity.
It took a bowl of ice cream and a warm shower to calm me down. I pouted around for a little while wishing I had a more loving and less annoying sister. Slowly, the humor of the whole incident hit me. I had let the insecurities of my past cloud my now again.
Does a picture from thirty plus year ago really need to upset me? Am I still so fragile and moody that a little good hearted ribbing hurts? Maybe.
God has given me a new perspective. The old me doesn’t even exist anymore, why should a picture from decades ago affect me? The truth is, it shouldn’t. My value isn’t in an ugly picture, my value rests in God’s grace.
When I succumb to these irrational moments of self-doubt and introspection, my focus isn’t resting on God anymore. My vision is never very clear when I look without my God glasses.
I am loved. It doesn’t matter how bad I once looked. It doesn’t matter what I once did. It doesn’t matter what happened to me. Nothing will ever change the fact that God loves me! I am treasured. He has my picture on his refrigerator (if he has one). So I am not going to be embarrassed about the ugly I used to be. I am going to embrace the lovely that He sees in me.
But next year my sister had better be prepared!
I am a Christian, a wife, a mom, and a part-time basket case who wants to be a full time writer.