Wednesday, October 10, 2012

When I Was Eight

When I was in grade school, there was the cutest girl my class.  And it wasn't me.  She was skinny, she was popular, she was a cool kitty.  She was everyone's friend but mine.  She had an older sister who was showing her the ropes on how to succeed in this life and be great at the same time.

Her model of success and popularity became my grade school idol.  My sister and I had weekly competitions in our bedroom with those sisters.  We raced in our little make-believe-world-of-an-eight-year-old-girl.  I imagined that I could beat them in making our beds every Saturday morning.  My sister threw their names around as a motivator to be like them or better. And to beat them at everything in life.  I wanted that really bad as an eight year old.

I somehow decided all of her coolness traced back to her hairdo. Like that was the budding fount from which the life I wanted could sprout.

Yes, her hair.  Never mind the fact that it looked perfect every time I saw her at school on her perfectly shaped body.  Or that even in our grade school track-meets her hair bounced perfectly at the nape of her neck, tied in a pretty bow, never leaving it's boundaries and never flying all up in her face as mine often does.  Never mind that.

Her hair was always glamorous  perfect, and shiny.  And mine?  Well it was thick, dark and problematic.  It was unruly at best and I had embarrassing cowlicks.  Still do.  It was straight.  And my mom decided it was my best look for an eight-year-old to wear hair the pixie cut way...for years.  And I always had bangs.  So in my mind....I resembled a boy.  I had a boy haircut most of my school days.  And hated it.  And I hated myself.  And I was fat.  I was so far behind and last in the competition to become cool, or pretty, or liked.

But never mind the over-played reality that causes me to hit repeat in my mind's recorder.  
Yes, never mind reality.  

I set my expectation on the highest bar for acceptance.  And as an 8 year old girl, who was just looking for friends and to be liked, I hung my heart on unrealistic boundaries that still haunt me today.

Oh yeah, did I mention she was waaaay smarter than I was too?

It was all lies.  I know that now.

The other I often do, I thought back about my past as an 8 year old.  And I cried.  I cried over the fact that I was so lost in the land of approval.  I don't want to go back there.  God has given me new boundaries to follow.  The space between my expectations of how this once imperfect 8 year old girl is transforming into a beauty is one that God is still bridging.  My years of serious disappointment were staring me in the face as I looked over the rail of reality and saw my reflection.

"My beauty comes from within."  says God.  But God...what about?  (Fill in your own blank here).

The fact that I had a blank in this conversation brings me to the disappointment that I am not completely there and God still has some healing to do.  It's not about my bad haircuts, or my weight.  It's not about the not so perfect smooth skin on my face.  It's not about the perky smile that sometimes disappears.  It's about my heart feeling accepted and loved by a gracious God who loves me no matter what.  It's about me seeing how He sees me when I dare to look in the mirror.  It's about who He has created me to be and changing me into His likeness. It's not about how my reflection scowls back at the disappointed 8 year old who still sits freshly rejected on the school playground.  It's about knowing that I am loved by a Holy God who can handle my 8 year old disappointments.  

And it's about seeing God in what He has created.  It's about accepting myself as only He can.   It's about feeling God's approval and not the approval of others.  It's about time.

Since those grade school days, my hair has gotten better because I don't cut in a pixie style anymore.  I have lost some weight, gained and now losing it again.  My outside appearances can leave me disappointed as an 8 year old heart once held.  But those things can also be remedied.  

So I am burning this plow of disappointment, no more sowing the seeds of disapproval into my heart and focusing on God's approval and His only.  And I am dropping the expectation of my way-too-yearnings of being the prettiest or coolest kitty in town.  Literally,  I am not competing in the Ultimate Bed-Making-Race anymore.  I am God's royalty.

"You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord's hand, 
a royal diadem in the hand of your God." Isaiah 62:3

God, I am just me...who you have created.  May I see me as you see me...lovely and whole.  Pretty right down to my cowlick, creases, wrinkles, imperfections, and pesky dimples in the wrong places.  Remind me God of who I am.  May I see me as a wonderful masterpiece of your loving hand.  May I see your lovely places in me.

What eight-year-old expectations do you need to let go of?
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