Behind all this make-up, there’s no one you know

I’ll warn you up front that you’re probably going to think that I’m fishing for compliments as you read this entry.

Get over it. I’m not.

That sounded harsh, but I’m being serious. I don’t want to find fifteen comments at the end of this post that all read something like, ‘awwwwww, but you’re great, don’t think that way, okay?!’ If you have insight to offer, please do. That’s why I have that comment link down there ‘ and I love reading what y’all have to say. But let’s not use that as a tool for building up my too fragile ego. Deal?

I wish I could articulate why the significance of outward appearances has been weighing so heavily on my mind lately, but I don’t understand it. All I can tell you is that I have been observing how concern for beauty (on the part of me and others) affects my life and how I handle myself.

I fear that I’m not going to come close to saying what I mean. Let me try to explain this to you.

I’m not one of those quick-shower-and-ready-to-go kind of girls. When I ready myself to face another day, it’s a full out event every morning, regardless of what I’m doing that day. I bathe, I moisturize, I pluck my eyebrows, and I do my make up. I will not leave my house without taking these steps.

In fact, it’s a rare day that I’ll leave the house in jeans and a t shirt. I don’t like wearing t shirts. They’re not dressy enough for me, and I am generally trying to look my best at all times.

But why? Why is it that I am constantly powdering my nose to reduce shine, even for just sitting around the apartment? When I glance in the mirror, I quickly evaluate myself and decide if I’m looking cute enough. Who am I trying to impress? Does anyone really care about how I look as much as I care?

I’m frustrated with myself. I fear that I’m placing too much weight on my outward appearance, and not enough on more important matters. I feel superficial and ugly in this, if you want to know the down and dirty truth. I don’t like this aspect of my personality.

I suppose insecurities lie at the root of the problem. All throughout my life, I have been compared to people around me, and without fail, I’ve been told that they’re more attractive than I. These evaluations haven’t been made by evil boys who were out to break my heart (a shocker, I know ‘ I’m not proclaiming the wickedness of men at all). Instead, I’ve been informed repeatedly by important women in my life that someone else is prettier than I am. So-and-so is always the gorgeous one, and I’m considered cute, at best. (Ordinary is a word used more often.)

Lest I blame others for my problems, I remind myself that I shouldn’t place too much weight on the opinions of others ‘ nor on physical appearance! (Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.) The Holy Spirit within me reminds me to busy myself in growing my character and studying the Word, but my flesh is all too excited when learning that my Mary Kay lady is having a 40% off sale. (Perhaps a new shade of blush would perk these cheeks up’.)

As I’ve pondered this particular hang up of mine, I wonder if it has any connection to another question that’s weighed heavily on me. I seem to be bonding more quickly with guys than girls lately, and that’s a phenomenon I don’t understand. I’ve always been closer to the women in my life than the men; in fact, up until the past few years, I’ve practically been frightened by the opposite sex. But suddenly, I find myself launching into entertaining conversations with them quite comfortably. How odd.

Or perhaps it isn’t. Again, I question my motives. Am I striving to build up my self esteem by gaining acceptance by men in an area where women have so often put me down?

Many of you know that flirtation has been an area of struggle for me in the past several months. This is perhaps the ugliest portion of my personality that I could reveal. I’m a woman, and therefore a successful manipulator. {Insert wry smile here.} I’ve discovered a knack for getting attention when I want it, and I hate it.

When the boys are flirting, I feel desirable ‘ whether the guy is actually interested in me or just messing around. I put on the coy act like it’s a second skin. It’s an attempt to come off sweet and innocent and cute as all get out, but when I step back and look at myself, I see so much ugliness.

(Again, the holy side of me argues with the flesh. One laments the situation and prays that the poor boys see my ugliness for what it is; the other nervously hopes that they’re thinking to themselves how great I am.)

I recognize this sin, yet I have the hardest time tearing myself away from it. Too often it takes place in private, where there is no accountability available except for from the object of my flirtation himself. What can I say? It’s fun. That’s what disappoints me the most.

If this sounds all too familiar to you, as you may be one of the boys I’ve flirted with, I apologize. I don’t need to offer anything with my words that I’m not willing to back up with my actions. Until I am willing to offer you my affections (should you even be interested in accepting them!), I need to cut it out.

I am longing for fellowship. The craving for women who I can share these struggles with is deep (but the women who have been closest to me in the past are hundreds of miles away). And you know, I truly love my brothers as well, and I love the insight that their perspective offers to me.

The love of people who see the ugliness of my sin and yet still consider me their friend amazes me. I’ve had a few reminders of such friendships lately, and what blessing they have been! I wouldn’t trade them for a quick ego boost. But these ridiculous attempts on my part to build up my self esteem ‘ I would love to bid them good riddance.

If you want my glory, you gotta to take my sin
If you want my future, you gotta to take my skin
If you want my heart, you gotta to take my blood
If you want my bed, you gotta to take my lust

–Derek Webb

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