Wednesday, February 20, 2013

beheld in a different Light: Why I Don't Call Myself Ugly


There is beauty everywhere, but so often we look through the eyes of the world, and we simply miss it...or maybe dismiss this beauty because it does not seem to hold up to the standards that our society has created.  But what if we take the words of Romans 12: 1-2 seriously and we get serious about not conforming to the patterns of this world, but instead, we let our minds be transformed by the Spirit.  What if we allow God to bend and mold us, what if we allow Him to touch our eyes so that we might see again in new light, what if we prepare our hearts to be astounded by what He has created?  What if we become astounded by ourselves, not with a sense of selfish pride, but with heartbeats of gratitude?  What if we let God's Word lavish our souls with wonder and amazement?  What if we believe Him when He tells us that we are beautiful and that we are His?
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Due to a sneaky loss of perspective in my mid-thirties I found myself sitting across from a psychologist or physician several times a month for five years. I had forgotten God (and me) and sought only thin until I was too sick to fix myself and had to have help. One of a psychologist’s most memorable questions was, “When did you first stop thinking of yourself as pretty?”

I gave him my best sixth-grader-eye-roll-and-snort. “I’ve never thought of myself as pretty.” He looked surprised, but I found the question ridiculous. I mean, I liked myself until I was about ten, but in a more general way than beautymy abilities in ballet, tree-climbing and reading bolstered my confidence. As I became aware of the world’s measures of beauty and accomplishment, my self-esteem plummeted - the scrawniness, mousy hair, glasses, braces, old jeans and generic sneakers worked together to tell me that I didn’t measure up. Pretty? Not by a long-shot.

At age thirty-five, I began listening to someone who defined pretty for me. This little voice (ED, for eating disorder) started as a whisper but quickly became a shout. He told me that if I just lost five pounds I would be prettier. I would measure up. I would be better than others. But five pounds went and I was still ugly. And five more pounds went and I was still dissatisfied with myself. In fact, I was miserable. I hadn’t particularly liked myself (inside or out) before I lost the weight, and I certainly didn’t like the woman I had become.

 I can honestly say that now, I have a positive relationship with myself.  No, I didn’t have plastic surgery. I haven’t had a skin or hair transplant. But yeah. I like what I see most of the time. I don’t automatically think ugly when I look in the mirror. And inside? I have grown into a stronger, more confident woman of God over the last eight years.  How?  I changed to whom I listened. I trained myself to ignore ED and the world and began listening to my husband, my doctors and God. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. If the creator of the universe made me, I not only possess some sort of beauty, but I am calling God a liar when I call myself ugly. My husband has been telling me for more than twenty years that I am beautiful, and once I believed God, I began to believe Chris. I used to obsess over my weight, my looks, my clothes, my mistakes, but believing God, really believing him, has freed my mind for much more healthy and important ideas.

How often do you feel disappointed in yourself? How many minutes of your day are spent lamenting about earthly measures? Freedom can be yours. Start listening to truth. You are wonderfully and fearfully made. I know that full well.


Kendal Privette is a wife, mom, teacher, runner and writer living in northwestern North Carolina. She is an eating-disorder survivor, and has a book, Full, chronicling her journey. Kendal's blog is, a spacious place.

28 comments :

  1. Thank you for sharing your story, Kendal. I love that verse from Psalms 139 -- it has always made me feel beautiful in God's eyes.

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    1. i have that verse on a post-it note on my mirror!

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  2. Amen. So often this is treated as a condition for just younger women and girls, but those lies can bombard us at any age. This I know too well, too. I am so glad you shared your victory!

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    1. Such truth here, Andrea. Lies can bombard at any age.

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    2. i felt extra specially crazy for having an eating disorder so late in life....but i've learned that SO many struggle with body image issues and eating disorders....

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  3. The aging thing has been the voice inside my head lately. Sagging, wrinkles, weight gain in areas I've never experienced, it's all making me sad. I needed your words. Thank you.

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    1. Shelly, I only see beauty when I think of you!

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  4. Oh, Kendal. I have met you in person and there is nothing ugly about you inside or out. You are a brave girl and I love your honesty and your candid way to share yourself with others.

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  5. Beautiful, Kendal. Honest and vulnerable - full of God's Truth. Just by looking at your profile picture above, I can tell that you are beautiful on the outside. But, I have always known by your words that you are beautiful on the inside. It's been a struggle for me to see my face and body age (I'm almost 59). But, instead of listening to lies, I choose to focus on this verse:

    "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." (Ephesians 2:10)

    Yes, fearfully and wonderfully made indeed!

    GOD BLESS!

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    1. It's amazing to compare ourselves to a masterpiece. But that is what we are -- even better than the Mona Lisa or the fields of lilies painted by Monet.

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    2. and you know, in that masterpiece verse, the word "masterpiece" means poem! oh, glory that makes me swoon....

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  6. rejoicing in your freedom, praying that we all find that moment of truth, pure love, pure light!

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  7. Thanks, Jen, for doing this series. And thanks to the lovely Kendal for contributing today.
    What a blessing. I love you both!

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    1. thank you jan. i'm excited about the whole series, too!

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  8. Bravery owns a truer form of beauty than what the eye beholds.

    -Bob

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    1. oh, what a lovely, lovely comment. thank you!

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  9. Kendal, even though I only know you in cyberspace...you are beautiful. Thank you for your honesty written here that I know will help so many people.

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  10. Thank you so much for linking up Kendall! Love when you share like this! GORGEOUS write!!!!!

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  11. I am very not used to you writing in sentences and with the correct punctuation, but you know, I like it.

    Oh, and as someone who has viewed you in real life, you aren't pretty, you are gorgeous.

    And that's what I have to say.

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    1. it looks weird to me, too! and thanks....

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  12. Thank you for sharing your story. I grew up with an anorexic mother and sister. I ate so as to avoid the competition to be the skinniest. I ate so that they would like me while they hated each other. And I ate because it gave them someone to feel superior to and that made them both happy. I am just realizing this, at 40, as I struggle with my own disordered eating.

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