I guess most people assume that when you come back from a vacation at the beach, you will have accomplished these things:
1-a savage tan
2-a relaxed, carefree attitude
I can say that I mostly accomplished one out of the two, which ain't too bad, all things considered. I relaxed at the beach. I didn't wear a watch or worry about the time (causing me to be late to family dinners a time or two), and I didn't follow a schedule. For me, that is pretty carefree.
I did not acquire a savage tan. Or any tan at all.
I do not tan.
I really wish I did. But I don't.
So why people feel the need to point this out to me, I can't quite figure out.
My ancestors are not from a part of the world where people have beautiful, dark complexions. They are (mostly--my grandma claims to have a direct line to Powhatan--yeah, the Indian--but this has never actually been confirmed) from Scotland and Ireland, where a long line of people just like me dealt with freckles and lighter than pale skin. My sister and I didn't inherit that bright red hair--we both have dark hair with red undertones, although I had light-ish strawberry blond hair when I was really little--but we both inherited that skin tone that will not accept any sort of tan whatsoever. I promise. No matter how much time I spend baking myself in the sun, my skin tone remains quite the same. I don't like it, but it is what it is.
People have always made comments about my skin. Like my whole entire life. I don't know why this is a subject at all, expect for maybe I've made it one out of exasperation in recent years. I've talked about it before. From the mean kids in third grade who told me I should get outside more to right now, it's been something people comment on fairly consistently.
Don't get me wrong. I really don't mind, for the most part. But occasionally, people will make comments that make me inwardly roll my eyes and shake my head, and even though I try really hard to roll with it (because it's not that big of a deal, right??), that insecurity starts to bubble up inside, and it overflows into thoughts, then actions, and before I know it I've taken what feels like 500 steps back, reverting to the old, insecure teenager who didn't feel she would ever measure up.
Where does the idea of beauty come from? Is it from pictures in magazines, or the movies, or TV shows? Or does it come from the gym, or from other people's comments? Or does it come from inside, from a standard that I've created on my own? I have read and written about beauty being on the inside, on accepting yourself and being your own kind of beautiful, but sometimes I don't even measure up to my own kind of beautiful, which leaves me feeling stuck, and kind of bad, and all sorts of confused.
There is a field behind my house that the owners use to grow hay. At the beginning of the summer, the grass is long and beautiful, blowing this way and that way, bending and rippling with the wind. Whichever way the wind blows, the grass goes.
Sometimes, I am that grass, and other people's opinions are the wind. That insecurity inside weakens my resolve, and I find myself bending to what other people think and say. Combined with my own internal negative conversations, it can lead me to a bad spot where I don't feel very good about myself, how I look, or who I am.
I shift my gaze from the only One who matters to the ones who don't, and I find myself drowning in a sea of long, waving grass, wanting to be something I'm not and hating myself for it.
People's opinions will always change, it's just the way we are. What was considered fashionable in the 1950's wouldn't cut it in 2014 (although I do love a vintage, high-waisted bikini), and basing my internal meter of measuring up on what other people think leaves me constantly needing affirmation.
This is a mighty struggle for me. It's why I talk about it so much. Maybe it is for you, too. Maybe you can relate, but on a different level. Maybe you have the whole darn thing figured out. (And if you do, then you should be writing this blog and not me.)
But a mighty struggle for me isn't too much for a Mighty God, who was fully God and yet fully human, vulnerable yet strong. And when I shift my gaze back to the only One who matters, things come back into focus, and I find my security not in my skin tone but in knowing what I've always known, but have forgotten from time to time--He thinks I'm beautiful.