So I’m aware that there are certain flaws about myself that I want to change. I was thinking about how I only have two more years before I’m twenty, and how much of how your life goes which is determined by what you do from the time you are sixteen to the time you are twenty. So basically I want to iron out some flaws in my character before I turn twenty. The first one I want to think about is how I think of myself.
Most of you can probably tell, even from reading my poetry, that I am very self-conscious. This is not a thing I want to be. I don’t want to think about myself awfully much. I especially don’t want to think and worry about my body all the time. But often when I look in the mirror, I see things I dislike about myself and spiral into hating what I see, which is neither healthy nor pleasant. It’s also kind of proud.
The thoughts behind this post were inspired by a video on Youtube by Malinda Kathleen Reese entitled I didn’t look in the mirror for 5 days. I highly recommend watching it.
So what she says, roughly, is that when she didn’t look at a mirror, she wasn’t comparing herself to any set of standards at all, and the negative thoughts were all from comparing herself to societal standards. She wasn’t thinking of her body at all–she did not love it, she did not hate it, it was just a reality.
And so coming from the viewpoint of Christianity I considered this, until I realized that our faces aren’t for us at all. Our bodies are not for us. They are us, but they aren’t for us. We use them every day, to work and to play and to help others. But we weren’t born with mirrors in our hands to see them.
They aren’t ours to look at. What they’re intended for is for other people. Our faces help other people identify us. Our bodies help us help other people. Our eyes cannot, without a mirror, see our own faces. Our eyes can’t see and don’t register most of our bodies unless we’re really trying to look, in fact.
Our bodies are not our own to change. Our eyes, our skin, our smiles aren’t for us; they are things we have so we can give the gift of seeing them to others.
I think this is the main problem with makeup. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing–it’s just a thing. It can be good, or bad, but it has problems. And this is the main one I see. It treats our faces like they’re meant for us to look at or like or change. It focuses on what you like or don’t like, not on actual truths.
The other thing is that our faces and bodies were given us by God. Whether we like them or not, he was the one who made them and entrusted them to us. They’re ours to take care of, certainly. We can decorate them and take pleasure in them–but they aren’t something we made or something we can change (apart from plastic surgery, and I don’t advocate starting with a new face because you don’t like the one you’ve got).
And lastly, of course our faces and bodies aren’t perfect. We don’t belong on earth. We belong in heaven, and our bodies and souls aren’t ready for that yet. We will be glorified in heaven, we are told. Our imperfections will melt into perfections and our bodies and faces will be as God intended them to be. But heaven is not full of mirrors. In heaven our faces are still for others, not for us.
So what I’ve been trying to do is recognize this. God made my face. If he made it with flaws, well, thank you God because that is a help toward humility if I can accept it! If he made it with beauty, well, thank you God because you made that for everyone else to enjoy! If I see someone and start comparing my body and face to theirs, and I just have to say “Thank you, God, I love what you’ve done with them! Thank you, God, for knowing better than I do on this one!”
God does not take constructive criticism because he makes no mistakes. God does not need your input on how you look. You do not need your input on how you look.
Because everyone, ugly or lovely, is beautiful when you love them. Not necessarily beautiful to look at, but you wouldn’t change a thing about how they look. You love them and that makes them beautiful. My dad, who is going bald, is beautiful. My friend with strawberry blonde hair which I call pink is beautiful. My little sister with her quick temper is beautiful.
Love, after all, is the point of why we’re here. Not beauty.
The problem with makeup, with selfies, with plastic surgery, with comparing yourself to a model, is that it turns the focus inward.
Now, when you think about yourself, you are not yourself. When you are in a funk, are hating everything and most of all yourself, and thinking about and pitying yourself, it is not you, is it? You are not yourself, not the person you like to think of when you think of yourself, not the person anyone else would like to meet in you.
But when your focus is outward, you are most yourself. When you pray, for example, and all your focus is on God and if you incidentally think of yourself you laugh at yourself for it. When you help someone else. One of my friends was going through some really tough stuff recently. She was in so much pain and heart-break and had lost (though not to death) one of her dearest friends. I tried to help. I would hold her and tell her I was there as long as she needed me and she could call whenever and tell me about it when she felt comfortable to, not now if she didn’t want to. That was me. That was the me I want to be.
My little sister was sick, another time. She had thrown up and was just so tired so couldn’t shower to clean up the sick. So I carried her into the shower and held her and washed her. She was almost asleep and couldn’t even stand on her own. So I carried her the entire time. That was me. None of the focus was on me, or remotely on my body or face. It was all her, and that was the most me.
And if I’m imperfect, it’s just a sign that I’m not at home. This is not the body that I was meant to have because that body will be perfected.
So the thing to do is to laugh when I think of myself. Laugh at that thought about my waist. Laugh at that thought about the acne. Laugh at the thought about why am I not more like that person, and thank God that he made me as I am. Thank God for knowing better than I do. Remember that my ultimate responsibility is me. Take care of this body, don’t criticize it, make over this soul, don’t hate it, look after me and bring me home to heaven. That’s the goal.
It is important to be healthy, care for your skin, and eat well and exercise. But this should not be because of an obsession with yourself, but because you yourself are necessary to other things. Health is necessary to help others. Eating well can help avoid self-indulgence. Your body should be something you take care of because it is your responsibility. Your body is not the goal. Heaven is the goal, and the body is part of getting there because we are soul and body.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is the key is charity, not unselfishness. Unselfishness focuses inward; charity focuses outward. We are to love our neighbors as ourselves. So we are supposed to love ourselves. But our focus isn’t there. It isn’t in us. It’s okay to know we have qualities. We don’t have to hate ourselves or belittle ourselves. We just have to see our faults too, and most importantly not focus on that at all, because we don’t win races by looking at our feet, but at the finish.
So we win heaven by focusing on God, not our own selves.
I hope this makes some sense. This is not to be taken as criticism of anyone but myself, but if it helps you, I’m glad. I love you all; you are all beautiful and incredible beings; God bless you; and have an excellent and joy-filled day.