Perfection

I’ve debated a million times whether to write this post or not. I don’t know how many people will read it, but it’s more for myself than anything — a way to say publicly “this is a struggle for me and it’s not the end of the world after all.”

I work with some of the most beautiful women I know. You know the type. Flawless skin, clothes that fit just right, jewelry that’s understated yet fashionable, and hair that ALWAYS looks good, even when she claims it’s dirty. You get the impression that even her mother doesn’t have an awkward picture of her. Shoes always fit the occasion, and she likely doesn’t own any “fat jeans.” She turns down chocolate and opts for raw vegetables.

I’ve been better about it lately, but sometimes I have what I call “off days.” Days when my confidence is shot, when my outfit doesn’t quite work and I generally feel icky. These are days that I could easily be jealous of the seemingly perfect women walking around, but it’s harder when they’re nice.

I’ve told Pete about my off days and he tells me I’m ridiculous. He calls me beautiful on a regular basis and says I look nice on the days I least expect it, but sometimes I have a hard time believing it.

I doubt there’s a female in this world who hasn’t wanted to look or be different in some way at some point in her life. If only I were taller, shorter, slimmer, curvier, had straight hair, curly hair, darker skin, lighter skin, etc., etc., etc. For me, my skin gives me the most grief. My mom, a few close girlfriends and Pete know the most about this. I’ve struggled with it since 6th grade and I feel like it’s high time the battle ended. Yet, here we are, nearly 15 years since the frustration began and I’m still complaining about it.

It’s not just that it’s oily or refuses to be clear. It’s the fact that I don’t want to look people in the eye because I don’t want to know what they’re thinking. It’s the way I try to avoid looking at people in sunlight because natural light makes it look worse. It’s embarrassing, frustrating and makes me want to peel my skin off and start over. I even debated skipping a trip to see family in TN a while back because I didn’t want them to see me.

Pete tells me I’m being silly, which I appreciate. It’s not like every day of the last 15 years of my life has been this way, but it’s always been up and down. If one more person tells me that oily skin makes me less prone to wrinkle, I might scream. I’d rather use an anti-wrinkle cream. (Sounds like the beginning of an adolescent poem.)

Then there’s my profile. I inherited my dad’s nose, which looks great on him, but not on me. I hate to see pictures of me from the side. My grandmother once tried to make me feel better by calling my nose “distinguished,” but I still wish it was different. … And I won’t go into the ugly veins on my feet and legs.

Several weeks ago, though, despite the insecurities and bitter diatribe, I was convicted. It started with a verse I read at work — one I’ve heard before but one I sought out again when feeling pretty low. It comes from 1 Samuel 16:7:

“The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

It’s pretty amazing to realize that the perfectly loving, perfectly wise God who made the heavens and the earth also made me, and that He doesn’t make mistakes. By beating myself down, it’s like beating down His creation, and, well, that’s just not cool. He loves me completely, unconditionally, no matter what my veins look like.

I still get self-conscious — that’s not going to change overnight — but here’s my end-of-year resolution: try to see myself in God’s eyes and hope that He avoids fluorescent lights, too. So what if I don’t like my profile? At least I have eyes to see myself. And who cares if my face gets shiny? I’ll steal the argument that I’m less prone to wrinkle. … I’m here, I’m breathing, I have legs to walk, a wonderful husband, and great friends and family who will always tell me when I’m being silly or ridiculous.

“I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well.”
– Psalm 139:14

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5 thoughts on “Perfection

  1. You really do not have ANY idea how very beautiful you are honey. You carry yourself well, speak with a “non-TN” accent 🙂 and are very accomplished. You have amazing natural beauty – something some people only wish for. Your eyes are a blue-green color, your hair always looks good no matter how you wear it. I think your skin is fine and so is your nose. You have a great body! I’m jealous by the way) and when you smile a great big smile – it’s like you are flying. Your quiet (but adventurous) spirit within you shines through and all that kindness, and gentleness just sets you free so when you smile you just fly. Don’t EVER think for a minute you are icky. Everyone has days like that but don’t worry over things like that. People don’t see what you see. You are so beautiful!!!! Love, Mom and Daddy

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  2. Pingback: One of the pretty ones | Blogging at Tiffany's

  3. So, I clicked from your newer post to read this original one. WOW. It’s like I’m reading something from my own head. My skin has caused me grief since puberty and I’m wondering when I’ll ever have “grown-up” skin. I am convinced that the reason people say I look younger than I am is because of the acne…I mean, surely a 36 year old wouldn’t have teenage pimples, right? I, too, feel so self-conscious and afraid for people to look at me. I’m sure I’ll go straight from acne to wrinkles with no time in between to enjoy nice, smooth, clear skin. But, your perspective is refreshing. Focusing on the things I do have is much better than focusing on what I want to change. And that bit of advice works beyond my physical appearance…when I’m wishing for someone else’s house or circumstances…how ungrateful can I be? God has given me this beautiful life, and I should do nothing but thank Him constantly. But, instead I focus on what I don’t have. Thank you for this convicting truth.

    PS – I don’t like my nose and profile, either!! Seriously, I think you invaded my brain. 🙂

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  4. I KNOW! I want “grown-up” skin, too. I always thought, “I’ll get to high school and it’ll get better.” That didn’t happen. Then I thought, “I’ll get to college and it’ll get better.” Nope. “I’ll get to my 20s and it’ll get better.” And here I am, 30 and still dealing with it.

    But, on a positive note, I’ve always thought you’re beautiful, Melanie! Really. When I wrote about all the beautiful women I work with, you’re one of them! I feel like women should tell each other that more often since women can be the first to size each other up.

    Side note: I feel like the things that bother us most, other people often don’t notice. I think you have lovely skin!

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    • Thank you so much, Tiffany! You have the best heart. Seriously. And just so YOU know, I often look at you and think, wow, her hair is always so perfect. And she’s so tall and has a perfect figure and is just so darn pretty! You make it seem so effortless to be so beautiful. And I have NEVER noticed your skin. Ever. It was so surprising to me that this is an issue for you. You’re right that we are probably the only ones who notice the flaws we are so self-conscious of. Let’s just focus on the fact that oily skin IS keeping us looking young. That’s what I tell myself when the breakouts are out of control…it’s okay because it will keep the wrinkles away. 🙂 Then eventually, it will look like Pete and Mike landed some young hotties in their old age. Ha!

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