Several years ago, I had laser surgery on both eyes as a preventative measure against narrow angle closure glaucoma. During the weeks of my procedure and healing, I had to wear my glasses during my waking hours and not use my contact lenses. Not so bad, right?
Well, not anymore. But, it wasn’t always that way … At age 11, my already coca-cola bottle thick glasses were upgraded to bifocals. Pretty tall order for a little girl who weighed just over 50 pounds. Not the accessory that I wanted to add to my daily wardrobe. It didn’t matter how pretty my frames were, no one could see them for looking at two eyes that appeared to be a “uni-eye”.
The fun really started when I wanted to start wearing makeup. Guess what makeup does — it enhances your eyes so they can look larger. I tried every way possible to get mine to look smaller. I prayed often for my eyes to be healed. If that wasn’t enough, I had overactive sebaceous glands and large pores. So add acne to my list of “how do you see me now” wonderment and you get the idea of what middle school and high school were like for me. I was blessed to have cool, name brand clothes. But, no matter how I wrapped it, the package that I presented caused people to stare and whisper.
There were many times that I came home in tears wishing I never had to go to school again. (I homeschooled my girls, probably, in part, to feelings that I carried from this point in my life). Fast forward to age 17 – I discovered benzoyl peroxide, got my braces off and found a doctor that would fit me for contact lenses. With an overall improvement in my appearance, and starting college, I was moving up from stay-to-myself-shy to Sheri-the-social-butterfly. Suffice to say, my life in college was much different than high school.
While pregnant with my oldest daughter, I prayed daily that she would have perfect eyesight, straight teeth, and clear skin. (I did pray for my middle and youngest daughters as well… God has abundantly blessed!)
Over the course of time, I learned that my self-confidence, self-esteem and self-worth were not necessarily better because I had evolved from my moth stage to the butterfly phase. Regardless of the outward changes, inside I still felt empty, unlovely and unlovable. I equated outward appearance with love and acceptance. What a disappointment to find this wasn’t the case at all. What a joy to find that the more I learned to lean on God, the more my mindset began to change.
At 22, after having grown up in church and spending some years being the prodigal, I got my business straight with God. At 39, I began doing a faith-based weight loss program, and during this season in my life I learned that God had been with me for all those years and was teaching me how to lean into Him to learn to do life well. Having lost my dad in a car accident at age 9, I missed out on the valuable male insight he may have provided about guys, dating, not compromising my values to feel loved, marriage, car repair, career paths etc.
I began to ask God for the abundant life His Word promises. This would take me on a journey that led me to value people without being driven by my desire for love and acceptance from them. I began to see myself as He sees me. I saw that I am beautiful and that every struggle I have faced has served to draw me closer to Him and to the understanding that He has seen me at my best and my worst and loves me unconditionally.
All the while, He was patiently teaching me to love myself. He sent little messengers along the way, like the little four year old girl who put her hands on my face and told me that I was pretty, that Jesus loves me, and when I get to heaven He would heal all the “holes” (acne scars) on my face.
So today, I can wear my glasses without feeling embarrassed. I smile when I touch my skin and find that as my daughter Rachel suggested, by eliminating foundation makeup and simply using a concealer as needed has caused my skin to actually improve.
Sometimes, I still ask God to heal my skin and eyes, because He is able to do so, if that is His best for me. Regardless, I am now happy behind my peepers, when I choose to wear them, and in my own skin. It probably helps me to be more intentional in my actions so that my inner beauty, the work that Christ has done in me, can shine through..
I am incredibly thankful for the ‘journeys’ that God has orchestrated to help me learn to see myself through His eyes and understand that His plan was for me to recognize that with Him, I am Enough!!