Disclaimer: Makeup is not bad. God just had me fast makeup for 2 weeks because there are some yucky places in my heart that He needed to get to. I thoroughly enjoy makeup and jewelry and all things beauty. That's part of the heart of a woman - to cultivate beauty everywhere she goes! So rock your fancy jewelry and your lipstick, but just don't let those things define who you are!
I just finished a 2 week fast from makeup. And in fact, I guess it was so freeing because I'm well into week 3 and still haven't worn a single drop of makeup! No concealer, no powder, no mascara... not even tinted lip balm!
(okay, I actually wore makeup for the first time on Saturday night... but I started this post on Friday... maybe one day I will finish a post the same day I started it. One day ;) That mom life!!)
What prompted the fast was a crazy moment at the altar where God started stirring within me the idea of "loving thyself." I realized that if I was completely honest with myself, I truly did not love myself the way I should. I have struggled with my self-image since I was a little girl, but have been in denial about it because that is one of those things that just seems so elementary. I think we as women take pride in saying that we are confident. We don't want others to see our insecurities. But for me, the self-confidence can at times be more of a facade then anything.
So I felt like God was calling me to take away all the external things that bring me more security and let Him just work on a few things in my heart. I also refrained from posting to any sort of social media for the time being so that I would not be motivated by "likes" and comments.
Here are a few of the things the Lord taught me on my fast:
1. He showed me that I get far too much of my security from my appearance.
On Day 2 of the fast, I looked in the mirror and thought to myself, "Well, this is a waste of a cute outfit." As if because I wasn't wearing makeup I didn't 'deserve' to dress nicely? How wrong and unhealthy is that?!
The thought that I wrestled with over and over again during my fast was, "What if I get in a crazy accident some day and my face becomes distorted? Will I still love myself then? Will I deem myself worthy enough to get dressed up? Will I see myself as beautiful?" The truth is, beauty comes from the inside. God made each one of us with physical bodies that can be distorted in the blink of an eye. He made us with bodies that literally decompose with time. Our looks will fade, but our heart is eternal. Loving thyself based on appearances is shallow and unhealthy. This is such an elementary principle, but I have a feeling that there are lots of us who have this struggle.
Jesus commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves. So having a shallow and conditions-based love for myself can only mean that I will have a shallow and conditions-based love for others. If I can't look at myself in the mirror without makeup, with all my flaws revealed, and tell myself how lovely I am, then I will not be able to do the same for others, no matter how hard I try.
So what about you? How much of your self-worth comes from the way you look? It was embarrassing to me to realize how much shallowness I still have in my heart, but I'm believing God is going to continue transforming my mind and heart in this area!
2. He showed me that I see my flaws on a much larger scale than others see them.
On Day 2, I was walking into our small groups at the church, and I was literally praying that God would give me courage. It is one thing to fast from makeup and stay at home all day, but it is an entirely different thing to fast from makeup and go around other women. Then I felt like the Lord told me to look everyone in the eye, and not "apologize for not wearing makeup today." As I was walking into the church, I was shocked when I received compliments on how cute I looked that day. In fact, at the end of the fast, I had friends tell me that they didn't even realize that I wasn't wearing makeup.
What I felt like the Lord showed me was that I have got to stop focusing on my flaws. For too long I have felt like my flaws were written in giant Sharpie letters on my forehead. So often we as women immediately greet our friends in this way: "Hey friend! Excuse my messy hair today! How are you?" Is this true? Have you caught yourself doing this? And what is their typical response? "Oh girl, I think your hair looks beautiful!" Because the truth is, your friends are not focusing on your flaws. They would not have even noticed them if you hadn't said anything! You do not have giant Sharpie letters on your forehead. You do not have a megaphone shouting out your flaws when you enter a room. Your flaws are a part of you but they DO NOT define you.
Maybe you don't struggle with this in a physical sense. But what about in a spiritual sense? Many times we are given a leadership task, and we immediately disqualify ourselves. We may be given an opportunity to teach or speak or write, yet so often our first response is "I am not good with words" or whatever it is that you use as your excuse. Friends, once again, our flaws DO NOT define us. The areas in which we are so hard on ourselves are not even noticeable to others. God has put His goodness inside each one of us, and He equips us to do every good thing that He has called us to (Hebrews 13:21), flaws and all. So we have to stop focusing on and apologizing for our flaws!
3. He showed me that He does not want me to conceal my flaws.
Although God does not want us to focus on our flaws, He doesn't want us to conceal them either.
When I decided to do my makeup fast, I asked the Lord if I could at least keep wearing concealer (to which He said no!). You see, in the physical realm, we women get to use concealer to cover any blemishes that we may have on our faces. But what about our inner flaws and blemishes? Should we conceal those too?
God showed me that He desires for His girls to be raw and real. He desires for us to be open with one another and share our weaknesses. Too often we put our best faces forward and conceal our trouble spots. Too often we think that we cannot be used by God until He has gotten us through such and such season or dealt with this or that heart issue. Too many times in my own life I feel God prompting me to write about a certain area, but I don't feel like I should because it's still a problem area for me. We buy into the lie that we are only useful to God AFTER He gets us through a weakness. But what about the in between?
Right now I am struggling with several insecurities. I am believing that God is restoring my confidence more and more each day, but what if I waited until that day to write about it? According to Philippians 1:6, the good work that God is doing in me will not be complete until Jesus comes back, so if I keep waiting until I've attained 'perfection,' then I will never be used by God here! You see, God wants us to share our struggles while we are in the midst of them. People need to see and hear about our process. They need to understand that getting from Point A to Point B is not a hop, skip and a jump. Sometimes it's a 10-mile run. And sometimes it's messy and uncomfortable.
This past Friday I felt like a total failure. I yelled at my kids too many times, was selfish, missed my husband and honestly just didn't want to be a mom that day. It would have been very easy to post a picture to social media capturing some "perfect moment" or write up a blog post about how to keep your children entertained on a rainy day, but the truth is, I struggled that day. This mom thing can be so hard for me. I don't feel like it comes naturally to me. And I bet there are countless others of you who feel the same way. I love sharing about my sweet little kiddos, but it's not healthy to only display our good times and keep our hard times a secret! That's not reality.
The Enemy's greatest plan of attack is to isolate us. So if we keep our flaws to ourselves, not only are we isolating ourselves, but we are potentially allowing someone else to feel isolated because they think they are the only ones who struggle in that particular area. Don't conceal your flaws. People need to see the real you. They need to see how amazing you are and also how you struggle.
Some of the things I shared in this post are just embarrassing to me. Like I said, I feel like a lot of these insecurities are just so elementary. And it's certainly embarrassing to reveal my shallowness. But I don't want to conceal my issues. I want to be real with people. I want to write about my process and how God is transforming my life from the inside out so that His goodness is made evident. And that is what my hope is for this little blog here. That this can be a "makeup-free zone." That we can be open and honest with one another, celebrating the good, and encouraging one another in our weaknesses. God doesn't want us to focus on our flaws, but He doesn't want us to pretend we have it all together either. We have to learn how to accept ourselves as we are and allow ourselves to be used by God even amidst our weaknesses.
I love what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:9 - "But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weaknesses.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."
God is not waiting for us to get perfect in order to use us. It's scary and risky to let our imperfections show, but in reality, those imperfections are where God can display His glory and power the most.
Sweet reader, you are beautiful and lovely on your good hair days and your bad. You are beautifully and perfectly imperfect. And you are most certainly able to be used by God. Will you join me in living a "makeup free" life to those around you so that His power can be made perfect?