An excerpt from my book, “Can God Really Speak Through a Pelican?” Chapter 3 – Becoming Me, Body, Soul AND Spirit (written several years ago)
At a very young age, I was embarrassed and ashamed of my overbite. I had an exaggerated fear of the doctor and the dentist, so I wouldn’t even consider braces. My father used his tactic of humor to try to make me consider going to an orthodontist. His jokes about my teeth hurt me deeply. Remember that your real enemy is Satan, who sets people up to give you messages to confirm lies that he has already placed in your heart.
I remember when I was around twelve years old, and my Girl Scout leader, who meant well, said to me, “Becky, you would be so pretty if you would only get braces.” That comment stuck with me my entire life. For years I never opened my mouth when someone was taking my picture. When I stood and talked with others, I usually had my hand in front of my mouth. Teasing from children at a young age didn’t help matters any either.
As I became an adult and birthed two children, I noticed that each year brought about three extra pounds. It was an everyday struggle to try to look the way the world said I should look. Some years I would be successful and other years I would fail. But it was a constant battle that was on my mind 24/7.
I want so desperately to see women free in this area. We do not have to listen to the world, the media and what others think. As I grow in this area, (hopefully not physically LOL), I am learning to find the weight that is ideal for me. Beth Moore shared a story in her “Fruit of the Spirit” Bible study which spoke volumes to me. I will paraphrase this story. Her point was, “It is not your size that matters but your freedom.” She told a story about a young former beauty queen who had been every size from a 4 to a 14. She said she was not free when she was a size 4 or a size 6 because she had to watch every bite that went into her mouth. She then said she was also not free when she was a size 14. I was miserable. I had to find the size where I could experience my freedom. A size in between the 4 and the 14 is where she is living with satisfaction. I absolutely love that story.
I’m learning to love me in my body. It is a very dangerous and hurtful thing when we compare ourselves to others. Self -hatred is fatal! We must accept our bodies as they are, love ourselves and actively reach for the appearance we would like to achieve. But as we actively reach for a certain appearance, we must know that it is our desire– not our expectation or demand– that we achieve this look. Demands and expectations produce frustration and anger and can actually set us up for failure. Desires help us to relax and reach for our goal. We must keep our minds renewed every day with truth, which tells us that our size does not determine our worth.
There could be people in your life that you need to forgive for teaching you that you must look a certain way to be acceptable. Tim loved my body very much, yet he often made comments about never being married to a big woman. This hurt me deeply, making me feel fearful and insecure. Since learning his identity in Christ he has apologized and he has been forgiven.
Were there people in your life who sent you negative messages about your appearance? Will you choose now to forgive them and ask God to help you embrace your body as it is at this moment? Again, this does not mean that you can’t continue to reach for a different appearance. It just isn’t life or death to you. And it doesn’t determine your worth if you reach it or not reach it.
More recently God did a huge work in my heart in this area of appearance. I was in a discipleship class on Tuesday evening that we help teach. The topic that evening was grief and loss. The alternate teacher asked us to draw a timeline of our lives and record the losses that we have experienced. Losses included so much more than just a death in the family. You could have the loss of a childhood or a dream. I recorded my losses and knew I had experienced a lot of grief in my life.
The following morning I had my six-month appointment with my dentist. I was going to see his new partner for the first time. It was a lady whom I immediately liked. She was very personable and easy to talk to. After she did her examination she said, “Rebekah, have you ever considered braces?” I said, “Oh yes! After years of getting over my fear of the dentist, I saw an orthodontist once. He examined me and then proceeded to tell me his diagnosis: he wanted to do surgery. This would involve breaking my jaw and wiring my mouth shut for eight weeks. He told me that it would change my looks a lot.” It didn’t take me very long to realize that I wasn’t up for this endeavor. Not to mention that our insurance would pay for braces for my children but not for me.”
When I shared my story with this new dentist she said, “Oh Rebekah, I wish you had sought out a second opinion.” She began to share with me the benefits of braces from a dental health perspective and highly encouraged me to check into the possibility of braces. My next thought was, “I’m going to be forty-nine years old next May. It’s too late. And there is no way we can afford this.”
I didn’t verbalize my thoughts to her but I noticed tears were beginning to fill my eyes. She became so enthusiastic about my chance to get braces. She gave me two referrals and my X-rays to take with me. I walked out of her office stunned. The thoughts continued, “Rebekah, there is no way you can afford this. Tim is getting ready to quit his job to do full time ministry with you.” Another part of me became excited at the possibility of a life-long dream taking place.
I got in my car and called Tim to tell him about my appointment. Before I knew it, deep sobs were coming from the depths of my heart. This dentist had opened up a wound that had been closed for years. I realized I was grieving. I had a loss I had never considered. The loss of having straight teeth and being able to smile unashamedly.
As I’ve stated so many times before, God amazes me by His faithfulness and His concern over every detail of our lives. I left the dentist’s office to head to my Beth Moore class, “Breaking Free”. The class was about beauty. Beth said, “God veiled His beauty so He could unveil your beauty.” I thought, okay God, I can’t believeYou are “going there” today of all days. She went on to talk about God’s favor. She went to the Hebrew word and taught us that the word favor meant “God wants to make you feel special”. He wants to do you a favor. I was trying hard to hold back the tears in class.
I asked, “God, would You really do this for me? How in the world could this be happening in my life now?” I then went home and checked my e-mail and to my surprise, I had a devotional e-mail from John Eldredge that used the same verses that Beth used, talking about our beauty. Coincidence? I just can’t believe it is. I do not at this moment know what God is going to do with all of this. But I do know He cares deeply about our losses and our hearts. I am actively seeking God to help me accept myself as I am in my appearance, and at the same time remain open to facing and achieving my deep desires. (TO BE CONTINUED)