Several years ago, I was in a pretty bad place. I came to a point of complete (self-diagnosed) depression. I could not recognize the beauty surrounding me, much less show God any gratitude for it.
In the middle of my low point, I went to spend several weeks with a group full of incredibly spirit-filled college students. Specifically, some incredible girls. And what should have been a time of refreshment and growth turned into one big pity party.
I inherited this Reese trait we call blinding competitiveness. It was a great help on the soccer field and the volleyball court (for the most part), but it has done me little to no favors in real life.
I just kept comparing myself to every other girl while I was there and making mental notes of their beauty, their successes, their senses of humor, their spiritual depth, their kindness, their leadership. And simultaneously noting how all of theirs trumped all of mine. As the summer ended, I was drowning in a sea of negativity, towards myself and everyone there. Because the way I felt was their fault too.
I prayed consistently that following year for God to restore in me a confidence in who He had already made me. I prayed that I be able to live in the truth that I am exactly as I should be — that my desire to be better or different is like telling my Creator his work isn’t good enough, that he got it wrong the first time.
But that’s a lie from the pits of Hell. I am beautifully and wonderfully made. And I am completely as I should be.
Throughout that period, God not only revealed to me my true worth, but he also showed me what I had missed out on AND what I had deprived others while floundering to find my identity.
What had been a summer of self-deprecation could have been an opportunity to stand in awe of the faith of other ladies my age and learn from their spiritual maturity and depth. It could have been an opportunity to obtain deep-rooted friendships. But the biggest blow came the moment I realized that instead of identifying all of those girls’ amazingness and hating them for it, why wasn’t I calling out the things I saw in them?
Why do we not tell other girls (I guess I’m more of a woman now… I’m a mom. That makes me a woman, right?) the ways that we see them being awesome. Why do we, instead, walk away in contempt and competitiveness and bitterness and jealousy and disappointment and… and… and… ? Why do we walk into a crowd of women and take mental notes? Why do girls become “guys’ girls” because they can’t get along with other girls? Why do I cringe at the idea of going on a women’s church retreat?
Secretly, (or maybe it’s not a secret…) women deeply value the opinions, compliments, and encouragements of other women. But sometimes we get stingy with positivity. We think things in our heads like,
“She’s beautiful. AND she has such a sweet personality. How is that fair?”
….but what if instead ….
“She’s beautiful. AND SO SWEET. I’m going to tell her that. That will probably make her feel so very good.”
If we are confident in the excellence of God’s creation (us), then we will be confident enough in our own beauty to boldly call out the beauty we see in others.
I’m not saying I’ve perfected this skill, but I really want to get better at it.
So. Let me start with you.
Holy miracle. God did an incredible work when he handcrafted you, cell by cell, hair by hair, freckle by freckle. You are a uniquely perfect puzzle piece that completes the world around you. God has a purpose for you and he gave you some wholly specific gifts to use for His purpose. Pursue it wildly, with your whole heart. Because you are the only you God created to do it. No one else.
Believe that in the deepest depths of your being, so that in-turn you can call out the beauty all around you. Especially, in us women.
Now go. You’re it.