"Red loved the man at his feet and he loved the rain. But more than either he loved himself, even though the real him rarely measured up to the him he loved so much." -Skin
With summer here and the slight lull between finals and finding work I've found plenty of time to have my nose buried in a book. Currently I'm finishing up Skin by Ted Dekker and this is probably my fourth or fifth time reading it. I know people recommend books and it's sort of like a song in that they speak to you or they don't. He's known for writing suspenseful books that also make you think and actually consider your morals. He does it to me every time and I'm not sure how, but the basis of this book is that there are five people brought together by this killer and they are required to kill the ugliest.
I have always been fascinated by it.
We don't really hate ourselves. We hate ourselves now, but we love the unrealistic construction we think we'll be someday.
When I was younger and then a younger teen I think I idolized beauty, but my views and ideas were still only in the formative stage (or are ideas really ever out of it?). I grew up with a Christian faith and I was raised by a mother torn by self consciousness and yet so beautifully giving of her time and heart to others. I saw these two positive influences modeled for me and I tried very hard to give because you're supposed to. It's more than just giving though, it's giving because you love others. I was hurting, being a current sexual abuse victim and not the most popular kid at school (I swear I have friends at college ha!) and that was beauty to me. The world doesn't care though. Taking is beautiful to it.
You start to learn after enough times that beautiful people draw others like moths to a candle. If they aren't good or nice people, the candle may extinguish for a moment, but soon enough the moths are drawn back.
You do not have the opportunity to show you're beautiful unless your skin is.
I hated myself.
Pudgy and academic. Better at music than sports. Deeper thinking and creative. Talkative and silly. Too many of my extrovert personality traits clashing with my learned introvert ones. Sometimes, with a tumultuous home life and an unaccepting outside one you learn to harden your skin then you begin to mold it and shine it like glass.
Anorexia became my disorder of choice from the chaos and beauty became the all encompassing theme.
Still I was trying to scratch the surface.
I would ask God why I had such a big heart but was so ugly. When I would ask that I could feel a sadness that to this day I don't think was me.
I still have the notes from one day in church. The service was about God's compassion and that we must confidently believe that we deserve His grace and His love, that no sin or ugliness could ever stop Him from loving us if we only just come to Him. You must believe and submit yourself because not letting go slows you down.
I wrote this and a few lines of a poem:
God loves the UGLY, even me.
It's ugly, beautiful, vanity fair
Awaken this beast if you dare
Strip this heart, make it new
I've become too weak for what has ensued
There is my treasure, there is my heart
Striving for empty, back to the start
Now that I'm 22 beauty is more. I know people my age and older will still think of it as purely skin, but when I see pictures people post of thinspo or I see adds and commercials and everything else, I don't know if they're beautiful or not. Outside yes.
"What a lovely shell you have."
That's the compliment you give more or less.
If I don't know the person or don't know what they've done, their intent, see their eyes, how do I know they're beautiful?
I don't think I've looked at a girl in a while and felt envy because of her looks.
The people I have envied are good, generous, loving, caring, and love Jesus with all their heart. Love people with all their heart. They radiate beauty. It's as though a light has been put inside of them and it's so bright that it shines out.
"This is what he knew about people: few ever set aside their sweet helpings of self-delusion to taste the bitter paste of truth." -Skin
Ah, but that's the kicker, isn't it? It doesn't matter. We like this sort of beauty, but we tire of it because it is a process. You can't change your skin to have it. You can't shine that glass more because it's the heart, and that burns with the fire of life and desire and motivation and challenge and despair and love.
I chase this beauty endlessly and I will never attain it fully. That's perfection.
I tired endlessly of seeing girls trying to become this or that model, quoting Kate Moss. Let's go with something new.
That's why I feel so ugly though. No matter how unselfish people say I am or that I'm not mean or I'm not this or that, I am human. Humanity is gritty and dirty and ugly. What we do to others is gritty and dirty and ugly.
"'You became an officer because you don't believe you have an intrinsic worth.' she said softly, placing both hands on his knees. 'Since you have no value, you have to serve others to justify your existence?' ...So then if you're put in a position where you can't help others, such as this one, what does that make you?' Worthless. She had it right. But he didn't have the courage to be brutally honest, even now." -Skin
This excerpt hit me hard this time.
My worth is what I do for others. I will give and give then give some more because what am I worth?
I am ugly.
I am human.
Many many situations contribute to the belief that I'm worthless and I can't imagine how many times I've reinforced that same belief in others by careless words and actions.
Scrape off the surface.
Let's do something new.
For many of my followers, new and old, we struggle with eating disorders and I'm not telling you to give it up; I myself struggle with it. Mine has changed though, a more "pure" focus if you will. Trying to purify my heart, failing, and punishing. I know I need to cut myself some slack but I don't.
All in stride.
And I will try to let go and stop polishing my glass skin.
For now, I have a question and if you would like, you can answer it. I love hearing your thoughts and I love the perspective that everyone contributes. It definitely makes me think more. I also want to thank everyone that supports me when I struggle. This is what this community is for, I would say.
What is the skin you wear for everyone and what's underneath? What is YOUR idea of beauty and what is the false one you try to attain?
"Truth is, you are the light of the world. You are the joy of heaven. You are powerful, not helpless. You have infinite worth. Infinite. All you need to do is change the way you see. For those who have eyes to see, let them see." -Ted Dekker