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I’ve always considered myself to be a level-headed, pretty confident, self-assured girl. Sure, I have my insecurities and frustrations, but then, doesn’t everyone? It’s only been recently that I’ve started looking deeper into how I actually live out my life compared to how I think I do. An interaction with my husband really put this into perspective for me. I’m often asking him how something looks (something I always said I’d never do when I got married because no good can really come from it. Ha!). He always says “nice” or “fine.” Well, this most recent time I finally said, “I don’t know what those words mean! They don’t give me any sense of assurance!” And he said, “Sweetie, you’re beautiful! All the time, no matter what you’re wearing or doing, you are absolutely beautiful to me. Don’t you realize that?” And I heard myself say, “no.” And I was so sad. I realized that I think I have to do things to deserve to feel beautiful. I have to eat right and work out (always hit the calorie range! working out less than 4-5 times a week isn’t enough!). I have to pick out just the right outfit and get my hair to look a certain way and put on at least some make-up. I have to do SOMETHING to merit being called “beautiful” and allowing myself to believe it.

This realization rocked me. As I said, I’ve never really questioned my confidence. But now I’m beginning to ask, “Where did that confidence come from? Did it come from knowing that I always put thought into my appearance? Did it come from getting the good grades and the good job and the super awesome husband?” And I have to admit in my heart, that perhaps the answer to all of those questions is a resounding “YES.” I don’t think I’ve always been that way. But as I’ve become an adult and become influenced by those around me and by our culture in general, I think that those factors have gained more and more authority in my life.

So where does this leave me? Well, humbled. Slightly concerned. But also encouraged. Encouraged that even though I’ve allowed superficial things to give me confidence and even define me, I am reminded that that was just a mistake on MY part. That I still have worth and value when I take the superficial out of the equation. I knew this and I’m now reminded of it. In fact, it brings to mind one of my favorite passages of Scripture:

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2: 9-10)

If that’s not encouraging and reassuring and uplifting, I don’t know what is. Liking the way I feel in a dress in relatively fleeting and mostly meaningless. Living freely in the grace and power and love of God for others to see is my PURPOSE.