Unfortunately, I grew up thinking that if I had worth, it had to do with how I looked. I wish that weren’t the case, but I believed this deep inside. I wasn’t a cute kid, hardly one you’d look at and say, “Wow, she’s striking.” I was homely, needy, and thin. I had dark circles under my eyes. (Vestiges of that still clings to me today, so I use concealer). Besides that, I was a fatherless girl, insatiably needy for male attention. I wanted to be noticed, and often felt overlooked.
Regardless of how I felt, sometime around puberty, attention came. That astounds me now, as I was gangly and terribly awkward. And I started that dance of fear, of longing for a daddy and looking for him on the face of boys my age. All I really wanted was for someone to hug me and say, “Everything will be okay.” I did not want to be kissed. Or looked at. Just held. Still, I worked hard at making sure my exterior attracted attention while a little bit of my soul died inside.
And yet, I searched for attention. Relished it. As I grew into myself in late high school and college, boys continued to notice. I spent time primping and flirting. I longed for a look, a tinge of interest. Anything that validated my worth or hinted at beauty.
Unfortunately, I was so damaged back then, I couldn’t receive genuine love—what I was actually looking for. Instead, I relied on my looks to conjure up “love,” yet I couldn’t allow any man access to my heart, so terrified I was to be known, and then hurt. Slowly, painfully, I began to grow into myself. I learned how to let go of that need to be seen, though it still haunts me.
Today I am loved deeply by a man who is handsome and amazing and smart and deep and spiritual. I revel in that. And yet, I still mourn losing my looks as I age. How uncanny is that? I should be embracing the wisdom that comes with age, the beauty of growing a more beautiful soul (thanks to Jesus’ interaction with my life). But I think there’s still that little girl inside me, equating my worth with how I look. And as I get older, I’m afraid.
Will I be loved? Will I have worth?
I have an assignment for you. Sometime today look yourself in the mirror. Don’t cringe or criticize. Instead, say a simple Thank You. Because, truly, you’re a beautiful creation, fashioned in love by God. Then ask God to create irresistible beauty inside, where it counts. In this moment, right now, you have a beautiful soul. Rest in that. Rejoice in that.
Q4U: When have you struggled most with your looks (yes, this question is for men too)? What has helped you gain perspective? What’s been your journey to wholeness?