i remember the nightgown i wore that day - the way it hesitated as i struggled to pull it over my knees so i could hide my head against the thoughts crashing against the edges of my heart. cracking one eye open, i could see the way my stomach folded over itself. i remember distinctly the voices growing louder and my face moving into a grimace.
that's disgusting, i thought.
well, it's probably because you're fat...which makes you disgusting. no one will want you, the voices said.
my heart squeezed and hot tears ran down my cheeks. i was interrupted then. a real voice - a human voice - asked why i was crying. wiping my nose with the back of my hand i sniffed and whispered, "because i'm fat."
the silence screamed and i could hear the voices laughing - i clenched my fists and dug my nails into the palms of my hands. please say something. please say i'm not. please say you think i'm beautiful and lovely and perfect just the way i am...
the voice sighed and i watched as words fumbled over themselves. a shrug of the shoulder. a look away.
"well then. don't eat the pies in the freezer."
my vision went blurry, my breath shallow. the lies grew to a deafening roar and i swallowed the rock lodged deep in my throat - the one keeping me from crying. i studied my hands and nodded. it's true, i thought. i noticed the awkwardness. i studied the shifting of topics. at seven years old, i bought the lie. i spent that evening awake in bed, begging God to make me skinny overnight.
i just want to be beautiful, i prayed.
and when in middle school i started learning about beauty within, about proverbs 31 and good Christian wives, my bitterness grew. sure, i covered it well. but inside? inside was a mess. inside the voices still raged - the questions of worth still shot down with laughter. it didn't help the kids at school called me big boned and white dog and garth from wayne's world.
i looked around at the other girls - the thin ones with long straight hair. the ones with painted nails and lip gloss who smelled like citrus-laced flowers. my feminine heart ached and i sat awkwardly on the sideline - journal in hand - the weird girl with kinky permed hair and well-developed curves.
can i go back to that day? can i go back to my seven year old self crying against the rock wall and hold her? i'd tell her she is lovely. i'd look her in the eyes and smile and mean it. i'd protect her from the others - the ones who brought pain she couldn't understand. i'd stand in front of my awkward pre-teen body while peers throw fiery word-darts. i'd raise an eyebrow at the name calling and whisper in her ear about the real truth. i'd tell her it's okay to feel bitterness and to take it to Jesus. i'd tell her He heard all those prayers begging for thin legs and He saw the tears of disappointment first thing in the morning.
i'd tell her the beauty He was forming no one could see.
and i'd remind her to hold on because Hope was there, holding on to her and that there would be days in the future where she'd look at herself and echo the disgust etched into her heart the past twenty years. there would be days where people close to her would tell her things like, you'd be pretty if you lost 30 lbs.
but again, those were days where she'd need to cling even tighter and close her eyes against the lies.
because if she closed her eyes long enough, He'd show her the beauty in her - the love, the grace, the tenderness. the way her hands fly across the keyboard and how the words He's given her make Him so giddy He dances. she'd see the way her lovelooks at her when she's not looking and know her insecurities and fears are useless. and i'd laugh at her wide eyes - because yes, someone finds her heart and keeps it safe. and then i'd look her in the eyes and tell her to breathe easy, because she's beautiful and lovely and perfect...just the way she is.