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Friday, September 30, 2011

Insecurities.

It's heartbreaking to think that as many as 10 million women and girls suffer from either bulimia and/or anorexia. It is heartbreaking to think that over 1 million die of suicides every year and that 10 to 20 million suicides are attempted. It is heartbreaking to think that the people in this world somehow find a way to put others down, to make them feel out of place, to bury them in the ground and not let them grow or even see the sunshine because of imposed clouds of depression caused by others intentional or unintentional actions. It is heartbreaking to know that people suffer so much.

So much suffering is caused by insecurities that are imposed upon us, or self-imposed when compared to the media and beautiful, successful, astute, and illustrious people who are publicized before us around the globe. Every day we are confronted with their success and allure. How can we not compare? Were we not to compare, or have a reason to do so, wouldn't we be more content with our jobs? With our lives? With our looks? With our success?

I wish I could say that the world didn't have a hold on me. That I could handle my own without worrying about what people thought of me, what my appearence was, what my skills were...but that would be a lie. And I don't wish to be anything that I am not...nor to I wish to not be something that I am. Care to hear my litany of insecurities?

I hated my hair...my curls. I hated the fact that I couldn't brush my hair without looking like I had just electrecuted myself. I was vexed that all my friends had beautiful silky hair that you could run your fingers through with ease, whereas a hand couldn't get through mine without it being a bloody mess from the great tangle of a rats nest. I learned to straiten my hair at an early age, and learned how to concoct recipes of different types of shampoos and conditioners to find the perfect combination that make my hair somewhat tolerable.

I had the biggest gap between my two front teeth, an underbite and a crooked tooth on the side that needed to be twisted around to make it normal. This led to braces and that insufferable stage of youth where everything seems maladroit.

I came to a point where I stopped growing...in fact I never actually felt as though I started. My friends were all taller than me...which I suppose was okay as a girl, but at the same time...not really. I felt awkwardly short (being 5'2). Some kids say they suffered with gangling limbs and awkward spindly ligements that they had no idea what to do with. Me? No. I just had short, sqaut muscles that made me believe I had been exposed to gamma rays as a baby and must have turned into some perverted version of mini-Hulk. I had muscular calves and thighs and had a few nicknames as a result...

I also was under the impression that I had an enormous honker because a friend had, quite jokingly, told me that my nose was huge. Of course, she was saying that because my nose was the farthest thing from large, but in my head, I thought she was right and the more I agreed with her, the larger my nose became.

At one point, I became aware that my hands are unusually small. No, no. Insanely small. I'm not sure how I didn't grow into them...especially since I didn't grow that much in the first place it seems like.

But my goodness....don't you get to a point where you just want to scream!? Don't you ever get tired of thinking about all these things that seem wrong about you? Don't you get tired of always thinking about you? I know I do. I can't stand it. It's draining to hate so much about yourself.

There was a moment in my life, that somehow came together over time, where all the things I ever disliked about myself, were the things that made me, me. They were the things that I had come to appreciate, laugh about, and enjoy. I love being happy and free, and when I leave my hair alone, with no constraining or concoctions...they are fine. And I feel free and happy because I don't have to worry about it. Last year I had jaw surgery and my braces removed and now those painful memories of awkward braces, aren't so painful anymore. They're in the past, and they only lasted for that time. I will never have to worry about crooked teeth again. A funny thing is that my midline is actually off, and I have recently noticed in pictures that my mouth is very crooked (one side of my lip is higher than the other and my lips aren't even). But I don't care. That's who I am. There is still the issue of height...I'm 5'3 and not growing a centimeter taller. I'm content in that. My large muscles? Yes. Still there. Thanks to the genes from my papie. And they are all the better to support me as a rock climber, hiker, runner, kyaker, backpacker...all the things I love to do and I have the strength to do it and enjoy. My nose? Still there. But somehow not as big as I remember it... My hands? No matter how small they are, they will never be too small to help someone, to lend a hand, to place a hand to comfort somone, to do manual labor, to hold a hand... I am so thankful for every part of me. Sure, there are moments when I think, " Oh, it would be nice to look like that." Or, "I wish I could wear something like that...but it wouldn't look good on my body." It's okay. Seriously. It's more than okay. And I love those things about me. I would never want to be anyone else but me.

Perhaps it sounds like a Sunday school answer, but God gave me these things because He specifically wanted me to be a combination of all these parts. I am unique. So I've learned to let myself be. And that feels like acceptance. It feels like beauty.

There will always be insecurites about something....I have insecurites about life. But just like I have learned to appreciate my God-given looks, I know that I will learn to appreciate whatever God places in my hands (my oh-so-small hands, of course).

Don't ever feel as though you are not who you are supposed to be, that you are not how you are supposed to look. Don't ever let anyone tell you that you are not beautiful in your own right. You hold the key to your beauty, and it's what you choose to do with it that makes you truly captivating.

"You don't love a woman because she is beautiful, but she is beautiful because you love her."
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"Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent."
Elinor Roosevelt

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No one should feel as though they aren't enough, or they aren't alluring enough. Beauty comes from the eye of the beholder, and everyone views beauty differently.

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"For every beauty there is an eye somewhere to see it. For every truth there is an ear somewhere to hear it. For every love there is a heart somewhere to receive it."
Ivan Panin

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"Certain things catch you eye, but pursue only those that capture your heart."
American Indian Proverb

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p.s. Take a hint from the Indian.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

the Heart.


I always wonder each time before I write, whether the entry I am about to write will be words of some worth. Perhaps it is silly of me, but even though I like writing about the comings and goings in my life, I prefer to write words that I know hold weight in them - words that I can come back and read to find some small ounce of encouragement or wisdom. It that wrong to want my words to show wisdom? I just want meaning. I feel like I am forever seeking meaning and purpose in my life. A quote that is one of my favorites, and that I have quoted more than once in my journals, is the following:

"I wonder, do we all know where we belong? And if we do, in our hearts, why do we so often do nothing about it? There must be more to this life; a purpose for us all, a place to belong. Perhaps we are all refugees from something. But I see now, there is nothing to fear...that the world we hold onto, the lives we cherish, are apart of something greater, something more. It took me a lifetime to realize, we only have one heart, and we must be true to it."
 Beyond Borders
 
The more I think about working for the UNHCR, the more I think about people...specifically displaced persons around the globe, struggling. I immediately think of refugee camps aiding families and individuals whose houses were defaced, whose families were torn apart, whose lives have been scarred, whose very rights of being human were stripped from them by those who had no right to do so. And then I think of war torn Iraq and Afghanistan, of tattered Pakistan and the wet monsoons, of genocide and famine plagued Africa, of Red China and child armies, of conflict in third world India and Southeast Asia. These places, whose problems and turmoil are seen throughout the news....are they so much different from the rest of the world? Yes, they make me weak, they make me weep, they make me swell with contrition. But families in America have had their homes wrecked by drunken brawls and abusive tempers, their families torn apart by affairs, closed minds and endless courtroom officials pounding their gavels and splitting families apart, changing their lives forever, whether by right or wrong decision, and Americans (and every other nation around the globe) whose humanity is wrangled in some way or another by hurtful words, loss of jobs, witnessing death...experiencing life. We are all displaced person. We are all refugees from something. 

We have all lost home, true home, and have been trying to find our way back ever since. In a way, it is comforting to know that we are all wayward souls, searching for significance and meaning in this life. And yet, how hard it is to live when you are so dolefully lost. In this world, we strive to be found, to be at peace, to find a home, a refuge.

A home can never be an exact location - in fact it can never be a spot on earth. Neither can it be seen by the naked eye - it must be felt. Home is where the heart is, and that is why it is so hard to trace - Where are our hearts? I feel as though I lost mine long ago, and have never been able to find it. This heart of ours, this human heart, reverberating through our bodies, is one of the most powerful of things in this world, and yet one of the most vulnerable. Vulnerable because it is living and anything living must come to an end. Also vulnerable because it is such a curiously unprotected part of our body that beats ferociously, and yet can be ended so quickly and easily. Powerful in the sense that out heart is also our soul. And being out soul, it lives forever, reverberating through eternity, albeit separate from our human form. So this heart, this soul, this home, how are they to be found? We must search for them, of course, but where on earth do you begin to look for something so incredibly huge and also so unbelievably invisible?

"For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also"  
Matthew 6:21
 
My treasure is in helping others, and it is here that I am at home. Where is your treasure?