I was a really cute little kid. And then…my adult teeth came in. And then, there was the tragedy of hairstyles. I went from being noticed to “looked over” or the butt of jokes. I won’t go into the unwise choice of getting pink tinted glasses in fifth grade!
After most of my childhood, getting braces, choosing some longer hairstyles, and wearing contacts, I started coming back around at the end of 8th grade. I remember the first time a boy showed interest in me. I thought “really? I am seen now?” It was surreal. It was weird. It boosted some confidence. I had spent my formative years developing my personality and my character, but those were often not “seen” by peers. As the great Sue-Sue Heck declared–“it’s not good to peak in 8th grade. We are developing character and are going to be awesome 30 year olds!” (Watch “The Middle,” and thank me later).
As a woman, there is so much emphasis put on being “seen” with hair, skin, body type, fashion, personality, personal brand, business savvy etc, etc, etc. Now, there’s a whole industry of “influencing.” It literally involves strategically finding more ways to be “seen.” It is addicting, exhausting, exhilarating and soul crushing. What happens when no one responds, when no one likes what you put out there? There will come a day for all of us that outward beauty fades and all that is left is the substance of the quiet building of character that is forged in the shadows and out of the limelight. That character and the things done in the shadows are what produce a legacy.
So, it leads me to ask…what am I focusing on? What are you focusing on? It may not be written goals, but it might be our thought life, our anxieties, how we compare ourselves to others. All of those thoughts lead to feelings which lead to behaviors. Left to our own devices and following the cultural noise, we can find ourselves empty shells that are shellacked and decorated on the outside while anemic, exhausted, hurting and lost on the inside.
There is a certain time window where women are considered worthy, and then…invisibility comes. I have experienced it…I cannot pinpoint the date. The first starts when people refer to you politely as “ma’am.” And then it moves to when you are considered as someone’s mom and they do not know your actual name or any details about your life. Then, there is a time that comes when you walk into a store or a room and feel as if you are a vapor. Ironically, the more wisdom and experience and deep thought you have, the less volume the world gives to you. This is the time you have the most to offer to encourage and to see others.
This disappearing leads to a crisis of belief. Where are we really looking for our worth? Where is it defined? How will we grieve it? Will we panic and claw and grasp or welcome it?
This year: I have more than COVID19 lbs–and that is fun showing up in person knowing people are thinking “oh dear, Jen has gained some stress weight!” Is my worth in how much I weigh? No, but in the scope of what this world tells you about who you are to be as a woman, it surely feels like it. I have shown my weakness in my RF business this year with the bare minimum of energy to give to it. I have shown my weakness in every area of my life. I am learning to deal with the war inside of a world-defined success verses my children’s needs and the needs of our family unit. Art has been an outlet for me, but I have minimal energy there, as well, to build and expand, etc. We are more than the sum of our productivity and the sum of being “seen” by the world.
Here’s what it comes down to:
Finding worth anywhere but the Lord is a chasing after the wind.
My heart hurts as I see women literally piecing together things to improve themselves–fillers, injectables, additions to their bodies, the next idea, the next reveal, the next relationship, the next house, the next redo, the next thing for our kids. There is nothing inherently wrong with those things, but we always need to ask why we are compelled to do them and what is the end to which we are looking. What problem do we think this is solving? What value is this adding? What do we think we are missing? Are we just the sum of our parts? Are we the sum of our opportunities or bank accounts? Are we the sum of the applause coming our way? How is this investing into others? What legacy are we leaving with this?
What do you notice about the picture above? The shellack or the life and hope in Christ coming through? May we learn and grow to be women who show their wisdom by showing their scars, by entering into other’s lives, by giving away Hope and Truth instead of teaching others the new method for hiding and covering and fixing.