Ugly because I'm overweight and my hair is turning grey and it's not as thick or dark as it once was. Ugly because my clothes don't fit properly and I can never find the right shade of lipstick and I'm always forgetting to pluck my eyebrows. Ugly because my nearest and dearest think I look better with a fringe when I've always wanted not to wear one. Ugly, because my skin which used to be so smooth and perfect with little aid from me is now lined and beginning to look as if it's a few sizes too big. Ugly because I'm short and dumpy - but not petite. Just plain old ugly.
Unworthy to have wonderful sons or beautiful daughters-in-law or Most Adorable Granddaughters. Unworthy (and a fraud) to have four books published. Unworthy to be team leader to an incredible team when I have no idea what I'm doing as a leader. Unworthy to have a husband who cares and is faithful and loves me despite having lived with me for over thirty years.
Unworthy to be loved.
I suspect I'll be somehow struggling with this at least for part of this new decade, but today there was a slight shift.
Today, not for the first time, I looked around at the other ladies in church and wondered why I am so different.
Why am I the youngest by at least a decade in the silver-haired brigade? Why can't I get over my aversion (fear?) to hair dye and just do it?
Why do I have no sense of style and never have anything to wear despite a wardrobe full of clothes? Why do my clothes all scream old-fashioned even if I only bought them a month ago? Why can I never seem to be able to bring myself to buy shoes even though for the past two summers I have admitted that I desperately need some white sandals?
Why, when I wear makeup, do I feel that I look more like a clown than a glamour girl?
Why do I have the longest hair by at least a foot of anyone over twenty one? Why can't I just cut it and be more like them?
Why, despite asking these questions, can't I change? Why, when I've even spent time and energy contemplating doing such things, something holds me back?
Why do I have to be like this?
Clearly, almost audibly, I heard the question Do you believe that I made you the way you are for a reason?
It's what we teach our children: God made you special; God made you for a reason.
But do we believe it? Did I believe it?
Does that include the way I feel about hair dye, my love for long hair, my disdain for fashion and fashion's rules? Does it include the way I look but also the way I am?
Do I believe it?
Tentatively, almost fearfully, Yes.
Even though no answer was forthcoming I was left with the distinct impression that I needed to start acting and thinking like I believed it, instead of railing against who and what I am. I needed to stop desperately wanting to be someone else or question why I am the way I am.
Later we went downstairs and I got to chat with someone I haven't seen in fifteen or more years. I was floored when she said, "You haven't changed at all. You still look as young as ever."
Really? With my grey hair that is unfashionably long for someone of my age? In the dress that made me feel so self conscious and wearing what The Most Adorable Granddaughter#4 described not so long ago as "old lady stockings"? Carrying several kilos that I don't need and feeling frustrated that I cannot successfully rid myself of said kilos? With no foundation and only the barest of makeup?
Perhaps she needs glasses. After all, in fifteen years our eyesight doesn't always stay the same.
Or perhaps God was showing me that my perception of myself is not based on reality. That the way I see myself isn't the way others see me - and more importantly, isn't the way He sees me.
If I can come to embrace this as truth then perhaps this new decade will indeed be the one where I learn to be comfortable with who I am.