Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Insulted (11/01/04)
TITLE: Beyond Appearance
By Debbie OConnor
LEAVE COMMENT ON ARTICLE
SEND A PRIVATE COMMENT
SEND ARTICLE TO A FRIEND
Now that I have reached my mid-thirties my lifestyle has changed quite a bit. Only church or a special occasion can inspire me to wear makeup. I fight for the Wal Mart special on shorts and wear my ten dollar Payless sandals for two straight years. I sometimes even color the parts that are wearing out with permanent marker (this really works, by the way - at least if the sandals are black). I always wear sleeveless shirts because I live in a place where it is still hot in November. I still occasionally highlight my hair, but since I stopped coloring it every six weeks I’ve discovered it is naturally curly. I don’t need the curling iron! Who knew?
When I was in my twenties I lived in terror of other people’s criticism. I couldn’t stand to be wrong. I had to be as gorgeous as possible. I had to do well in school and on the job. Every day was a fight for the elusive approval of others and the even more elusive self-acceptance.
I was a failure. I couldn’t please everyone all the time. I put on a show for others, but even when they believed my act I always knew the truth about me.
When I was in my twenties I was even crushed by perceived insults. If someone looked at me critically I worried. I was upset for years over my college boyfriend’s unsolicited assurance that he didn’t mind I’d gained a little weight. Now that I look back on it I think he really meant it as proof of his attachment to me. I couldn’t get past the slight to realize it.
Although I still don’t enjoy being insulted, I have grown enough as a person to be able to laugh at what would have really hurt me before. For example, one of the girls in the youth group I helped lead a few years ago called me “Big Mama.” Hardly a complimentary nickname, but because I knew Heather really loved me I laughed and embraced the moniker. After all, I was pregnant and becoming rather large! Another time a very slender coworker was describing a mutual acquaintance of ours as “really big and fat.” I said that I didn’t think she was that big, maybe about my size or a little smaller. My coworker nodded at me and said, “right, really big and fat.” I was stunned, but I have enjoyed retelling the story for laughs.
There are also the perceived insults to be borne with. I have noticed that salesgirls no longer rush to wait on me when I shop. In fact, they seem to eye me with some suspicion if I start looking at more expensive items. I guess Wal Mart doesn’t frequent Saks.
I don’t mind much. I am still me. I even occasionally enjoy a little dress up. However, I now realize my personal value has little to do with who others think I am or what I look like. I was created by God. He specifically designed me and placed me where I am at this time for His own good purpose. He loves me when I’m all dressed up and have been faithful to my workout, and He loves me in my Wal Mart shorts, sleeveless t-shirt, with wildly curly brown hair piled in a clip and no makeup in sight.
The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Sam 16:7b)