I also struggle with a little thing called self confidence. Unfortunately, this is something that is typical nowadays for teenagers. When I was little, I had the typical innocent baby fat. Most kids do. However, as I got older, it refused to go away. It didn't help any that I hated going outside, ("House Mouse" was my nickname) and I wasn't very good at sports - oh, I tried; I had ballet, softball, baseball, tee ball, and soccer - but I didn't like any of it other than soccer, and that became too hard to manage as my siblings and I got older. So I just chilled inside and read my books and was as boring as all getup.
I was never huge, but about the time I entered high school - ninth grade - I started feeling pretty bad about myself. I still looked like I did when I was a baby, but just a few feet taller (seriously, just a few. Short. Short. Short.) It made me so upset. Nothing I could do could make that go away! On top of that came the beautiful time of life known as puberty. It was going around in my grade faster than a rumor, and everyone was changing. I hated it. My face was breaking out, I was always gross feeling, and I was still chubby! Ick, ick, ick!
I hated myself. All of the people who had once told me I was a beautiful little girl disappeared into the woodwork. Guys didn't like me - well, one did, but that's for another post. My friends were gorgeous compared to me - they had perfect makeup, and the coolest clothes, and were skinny, skinny, skinny. I didn't wear makeup. A perfect outfit to me was a basketball tee and my favorite pair of jeans with some Sneakers. I didn't even start carrying a purse until the eighth grade, for goodness sake! It seemed like one day we were all relaxing on the kickball field in fifth grade at the top of the world, and now we were in high school, and I was a freak. It got so bad that for a while, I convinced myself not to eat. I allowed myself the minimum amount of food possible to get by. No one noticed, I thought, because no one cared. Sure, I lost a few pounds. After a while, I realized what I was doing and tried to start eating normally again. It didn't work. My body was so used to eating that little amount of food that I would get sick if I ate more.
So, let's summarize here. Here I am, a chubby little high schooler, who felt like she had no friends, no looks, and felt like she was a million pounds. Worthless.
Sometime after junior year - past my awkward tenth grade phase and the horror that was my junior year of high school - I was sitting in my room, waiting for the beauty that is Whitehall summer youth camp. I had only been there once, and it was in third grade. I hated it; I was the picture of the pathetic little homesick girl. In fourth grade I was there for one day and had to have my dad take me home hours after signing me up. Sad, yeah. But anyway, here I am getting ready for this camp. I'm thinking, "Alright God. You've taken me for quite a ride these past few months. I'm single for the first time in a year and a half, I feel completely worthless, and I have absolutely 0% self confidence or self esteem or anything positive about myself. If you really want to help me out, show me something at Whitehall. Anything."
(Just a quick note here: If you ever say anything like that to God, prepare to get your mind blown. As in, Him showing you something and as soon as you realize it feeling like you just got Bible thumped across the face.)
Long story short, at Whitehall something amazing happened. I met people that I had always known - people in my church that I had seen every week twice a week but didn't really talk to, girls and guys that I had sat next to in youth but didn't talk to because I was shy - that quickly became some of the best people in my life. (Shout out to the wives!) These people understood me, understood what I was going through and did stuff to help me. They made me feel like I was worth something to them. And, of course, you can't forget about the guy that I met. He didn't realize it at the time, but when we met, I was a pretty broken girl. Those people that I met and had already known that showed that they cared, added with the somewhat awkward and creepy constant following of the guy who already thought I was great, made me feel amazing. Almost whole again.
However, that part was God's job, and boy oh boy did He do it well. God spoke to me that week at camp. He told me how I was His original masterpiece; that He knew me before I was even formed; and, most importantly, He died on the cross for...me. Broken, hurting, doubtful little me. As He was on the cross, I came across His mind and He smiled, knowing that I was worth it.
I was worth it.
It's been almost two years since then, and I haven't forgotten this. Sure, there are bad days - when my hair is awful (which it normally is,) my face breaks out, nothing looks good on me or I can't fit into something anymore - but the bad days don't hurt like they used to. I've learned to love who I am; it's been a slow process, but I'm getting there. This is the first year that I could wear a bikini and not feel like I should have a shirt and shorts over top of it. I lay in my back yard and tan, and don't feel self conscious. I'm not the skinniest thing, and I know I probably never will be. As long as I take care of myself, though, I know that I'll grow to love who I am. And even when I do have those bad days, sure, I want to cry my eyes out! But I know that there are people out there who are going through the same thing that I am, and that there are people that love me regardless if my shirt doesn't look good on me, or if my hair is so frizzy it's pointing three feet from my head. Above all, I know that God loves me for who I am, and that He made me this way. It may be a sick sense of humor in my eyes, considering the frizzy, messy hair; the slightly round, short, and stubby figure; face that occasionally breaks out and the smile that may not be blindingly white, but to Him, I'm an original masterpiece. His creation. He wanted me this way, and so that's how I am. Beautiful.
Your NR challenge for this post is this - realize your beauty. Realize that God formed you and wanted you a specific way, and so that's how you are. Realize that Jesus thought of YOU as he was on the cross, and He made the greatest sacrifice for you. Lastly, remember this: beauty doesn't last. Clothes fall out of style or fade. Weight comes and goes and it always will. However, true beauty and self confidence comes from knowing God's love.
Are you in?