In June we had the privilege of celebrating the marriage of our very own Stephanie! It was a beautiful celebration and Stephanie was beautiful.
As I reflect on that day, I remember the beauty and celebration, the joy and the celebration, the beautiful bride and glowing groom. Yet I am also aware of the pangs of sorrow and loss and loneliness for some that were there. For women, the desire to be wanted and found beautiful is buried deep in their soul, and for so many, this has not been fulfilled. As a young woman, I know all to well the pressure to have a boyfriend, to get married, and to start a family. At almost 30, the pressure just increases.
I have experienced that grief and sorrow. I was the girl that was overlooked by so many in high school. I am not the drop dead beauty; I am the girl who has always been overweight and average. I am also partially albino, so I have pale blotchy skin and have to wear glasses.. In the words of a recent movie, I felt like a DUFF – the designated ugly fat friend. While I was blessed with friends who did not see or treat me like that, this is how I saw myself.
I didn’t think that a boy could be interested in me and the pain of that belief was buried deep in my soul. Its roots went deep into the soil of my heart. And so, I pretended I didn’t care. I wore frumpy clothes, I refused to do my make-up, and I hid inside myself; all the while making people believe that I was confident and that I didn’t need a boyfriend and that I didn’t need to be beautiful. I lied to others and myself, but I could not get away from the desire to be beautiful and wanted. I fantasized about being tall and skinny and tan and having men who loved me and wanted me. I fantasized about a life of adventure and companionship. What a haunting belief I held, and it followed me into adulthood. I didn’t do any better in college, always under the guis of “focusing on my studies,” I alienated myself from men.
Yet the desire to be wanted and found beautiful could not be silenced and as I began to see that God had created me with this desire, I began to want relationship and began to open my heart to that desire. I opened the heart that had the deep rooted belief that I was unworthy and undesirable, and the two could not co-exist. In addition to the conflict going on, I began to see friend and family get married and start families. I felt the pressure to do the same and I wanted the same, but the belief that I was undesirable was still so deeply rooted in my soul, that I did not believe it possible.
So began God’s gentle assault on my heart, to dig out that lie and to transplant His truth. The truth that I am His and He desires me and wants the best for me. The truth that I am beautiful and lovely and that I am wanted by the most important person in the world, My Father, My Daddy, My God! I can’t say the lie is completely gone, because there are still remnants of it, but I now have a Gardner that gentle, yet sometimes painfully, pull those remnants out. He cultivates my heart and feeds me from His truth. And now, I can stand and say I am beautiful and desirable. I know where my worth and beauty come from. I look back at the wedding and remember the joy that I felt for out Stephanie and I celebrate the love of that day, I can focus on those wonderful things rather than on the lie at once controlled my life.
To all the ladies out there, young and old, who struggle in singleness and with the belief that you are not worthy, or that something is wrong with you, I want to let you know that there is a mighty God who wants to reach into you soul and show you His love and just how loved you are. He wants to cultivate the garden of your heart and remove the lies, so he can transplant his truth in your heart and soul.
And congratulations to Stephanie and her new husband Zach! We pray that your marriage would be blessed and that God would grow that love between the two of you.