“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made!” Psalm 139.14
Psalm 139 is by far one of my most favorite Psalms and one of the most convicting.
You see, growing up, I hated my hair (among other things, but let’s start there). It was the bane of my existence.
It was wild and there were many days I feared it would never be tamed.
Blessed with natural volume, wave and curl…
Cursed with frizz, no thanks to humid Minnesota summers. I didn’t like summer either, but that’s beside the point.
My hair set me apart. It made me different.
And because I was different, I didn’t fit in.
I hated it and cursed it, every day.
Learning to genuinely like yourself is possible. Learning to have peace with yourself is possible.
In fact, the best foundation for changing something you don’t like about your body is accomplished when you learn to like yourself first. I’m not talking about just loving yourself. I’m talking about liking yourself.
Most of us get it backwards. We think, “If I can only change this one thing about my body/personality/looks/etc., then I will finally feel good about myself.” The problem with that is, even after you’ve lost the weight, get the nose job, get breast implants or liposuction, etc… the body hate does not go away. You move from that focal point to another and obsess over something else.
But how do we journey from body-hate to body-acceptance?
You first need to recognize the destructive power disliking your bodies has on your life.
Ask yourself questions like: “Do I avoid certain activities I am ashamed of my body/my hair/my face/etc.?” Think about what you spend on cosmetics, cosmetic surgery, personal trainers, diet plans, exercise equipment, etc. Are you afraid to go out in public without makeup? How many diets have you been on in the last year?
The solution isn’t found in fixing your body. It is found in fixing your mind.
“Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” Romans 12.2a
Hollywood and the fashion industry spin lies about what we should look like, how we should dress, act, etc., but they’re wrong.
That redheaded, freckle-covered girl from childhood was surrounded by lies and her mind was filled with thoughts like:
American Girl didn’t have a redheaded doll so that must mean that I’m not normal.
No one in my class has curly, red hair. I’m a freak.
My teacher doesn’t know what to do with my differences. Why?
And those lies eventually wormed their way into my heart to the point that I believed them. I couldn’t wait until I was a teenager and could make decisions on my own about maybe dying my hair a different color or maybe even straighten it.
But, in the fall of 1996, God used an illness and the events that followed to change the way I saw myself.
but come the fall of 1996, God used an illness and the events that followed to change the way I saw my hair.
Prior to Halloween, the last of which I would be allowed to go trick-or-treating, I became ill with flu-like symptoms. Those symptoms lasted the better part of 14 days. The doctors couldn’t diagnose what was wrong. Dehydration set in and I understood the meaning of real thirst for the first time. At one point, I couldn’t muster up the strength to move from the recliner I’d been “chained” to during that time and I really thought I wouldn’t live to see the next day.
Miraculously, I woke up one Saturday feeling better and very hungry. I ravaged an entire bag of Nacho Cheesier Doritos and felt no shame. I was twelve.
But it was the events that followed that illness (which they’ve now copped up to salmonella poisoning) that God used to give my adolescent self a huge wake-up call.
I had lost over 40 lbs. during my bout with that illness, leaving me incredibly weak, and since my body had been fighting that illness, my immune system didn’t know what to do with itself once I got better and, in turn, attacked my hair…much like chemo does to a cancer patient. I lost all of it.
As an adolescent walking around with a shaved head and wearing baseball caps because my parents couldn’t afford a nice wig, I was angry with God; I cried out him: Why?!
With the passing months, my hair slowly grew back – a shade darker and a lot more curlier.
And I hated it even more than I did prior to my illness.
I was met with silence during many of my why-moments, but there was one particular Saturday afternoon that I remember his still voice entering the quiet corners of my heart:
I gave you your hair, didn’t I?
Doesn’t it keep you warm during the long winter months in Minnesota?
Every good and perfect gift comes from me, Anita…remember that. I blessed you with this hair, the color and the curl…all of it, because I love you. So much. I have set you apart for myself. Before I formed you in the womb, before you were even born, I set you apart. You were never meant to look like anyone else. That was never my intention. You have been called by grace for so much more…
He gently nudged my heart with the truth and began to transform the way I saw myself.
No matter what the kids whispered at school…
No matter what the models on TV proclaimed…
I chose to not let those words bring me down. I knew what God thought of me. That was all that mattered.
God says that you can have peace in your soul no matter what your body, or your hair, looks like.
We need to choose to let his truth sink in and confront the lies that bombard us every day and once your mind is focused on his truth, your feelings about your body, your hair, your face, will change.
The day God shined his light on the lies I had believed, I slowly began to find and embrace my beautiful in when it came to my hair. It’s what I like and love most about the physical attributes I was given today.
And when it comes to the things I struggle with about myself now, I trust that God, in his goodness and in his timing, I will come to a place where I will find peace just as I did with my hair. I’ll find my beautiful and I will embrace it in such a way that it will ultimately give him glory.
© Anita J. Brands. 2014. Website: https://authentictruthseeker.wordpress.com/