“You are the most beautiful when you are yourself.” I
did not understand what this statement meant and how to apply it to my life until my junior year of college. I lacked confidence as a teenager and looked to others to affirm my sense of beauty. I grew up going to a school that required uniforms, so I was not able me to choose my own clothing
style until I graduated. As a freshman at JBU, I experienced phases of questioning who would approve of my clothing style. There were days I stood in front of the mirror trying to find a flaw, and once I found one I then questioned how to please people who might not like me because of that flaw. Along with pleasing others with my appearance, there were other times I questioned if my friends would approve of an upcoming activity I wanted to participate in. My mind began to imagine all of the circumstances that could go wrong; including my friends disapproving my choice and not supporting me, and whether I was using my talents to glorify God, or to gain affirmation from friends.
After several years of processing who I was and whom I should be pleasing, I came to a few simple conclusions. With my clothing, there is no fashion police telling me what not to wear. I realized that I will not lose friends because they do not approve just of my style. When choosing an activity, it should not matter what my friends think because it’s something that I want to do Finally, I discovered that
by using my talents to gain affirmation, I was idolizing
the praise I would gain from my friends and not remaining focused on giving God the glory for blessing me with my talents. The curious part of it was that no one ever told me
my clothing, choice of activity or talent was not good enough; it was all in my head. In fact, my friends supported me in all areas because my choices reflect who I am and they value that.
As I grew deeper in my walk with the Lord, He revealed something to me: when I lay
a hand on a friend’s shoulder during worship to pray over them while I raise my other hand, I feel that I am the most genuine version of myself that I could be. I feel beautiful, not because of what I’m wearing, or because my friends have affirmed my action, but because I am speaking to God on behalf of my friend. When I get to have deep conversations, I gain something that is richer than a compliment about my clothes
or an activity I was in. When
I serve I feel as though I have gained something through giving. God admires my work, and through that I feel a sense of selflessness and contentment. I am doing what God has called me to do, which is to love other people through the good and bad, and to serve. Do looks and opinions matter? I would say to an extent they do. It’s nice when someone looks presentable, and it’s nice to have affirmation about an activity, but looks and opinions are not everything. My identity comes from God and God alone. Sure, I will thank someone for complimenting me, but I don’t seek affirmation from people above God. I seek affirmation from God above people. The greatest part of it all is that when I look to God first, I stop seeking affirmation, because God has already accepted me and given me worth. When I am myself,
I feel the most beautiful.
Hale is a senior majoring in family and human services. She can be reached at HaleJL@jbu.edu