Since my husband’s death 2 ½ years ago, I feel like I have aged 30 years. I cringe at my own reflection. My eyes peering back at me know too much sorrow. My shoulders carry the weight of the world. My scars of loss are so apparent in my dark, under eye circles, my wrinkles, and my thinning hair. I desire a one way pass to the “Widow Repair Department.” This model isn’t intact anymore. In fact, this model screams defective. I realize that some of this is exaggerated out of proportion; nevertheless, to me, this is how I perceive myself. I am not Lisa anymore. I don’t recognize myself. Do you recognize yourself?
Puberty was a stage I would never want to relive. I dealt with the pimples, the glasses and the braces. The similar feelings of inadequacy that bombard my mind now don’t exist due to 12 blemishes on my face, but from the flaws in my soul where the non-belief resides. True beauty is not portraying the perfect model image like I was trained to do at modeling school or as I walked the runway. No, true beauty arises from the depths of despair, to the realization that I am a flawed person; yet, flawlessly fashioned.
During the 23 years of my marriage, I never fixated on my body image. I was myself, flaws and all. Throughout my marriage I felt completely loved and desired. However, since my beloved’s passing, my vulnerabilities and insecurities have emerged.
As my soul beckoned me to push through this self-deprecation, like a tune that just won’t leave your mind, numerous quotes appeared in arbitrary places. I walked into a store and the first thing I saw was a wooden sign with Lauren Bacall’s quote, “I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that.” The next store I went into displayed Lauren Hutton’s famous quote, “We have to be able to grow up. Our wrinkles are our medals of the passage of life. They are what we have been through and who we hope to be.”
Later that evening, as I was cleaning my home, I ran across a lesson plan that I had taught numerous years ago to a Sunday School group of 27 incredible, young ladies. They wanted to learn about my modeling days. I read to myself a section of the lesson which expressed how I felt about a modeling experience that transpired.
I was a small town girl, not accustomed to city life, or the vast array of onslaughts that attacked at my heart. I was just one girl amongst many. I wanted this dream; but, with grace and virtue. A constant voice riveted my being and my cellular make-up. “I made you, Lisa. I see your beauty, your potential weaknesses and I still find favor in you. Your name is engraved in the palm of my hand.”
Below that I had written one of my favorite verses: “Be beautiful inside, in your heart with the lasting charm of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God” 1 Peter 3:4. Then I had asked each one of them to write a paragraph explaining how they felt about their self-image and include positive attributes. Afterwards, I asked them to take that paragraph and turn it into a litany of thanksgiving and affirmation. Starting off by saying, “I praise you, Creator, for the ways that you have designed me…”
Losing my husband collapsed the foundation of my being. My body went through physical manifestations stemming from the harrowing stress. Gratefully, all these random findings and echoes of God’s love reminded me that beneath the surface, I am not damaged. I still recognize myself. I am still me, just changed and evolved.
If you are feeling unrecognizable, please clothe yourself with strength and dignity. Allow your loveliness to radiate. You are so beautifully and wonderfully made!
As always, please feel free to comment and/or share. I am so thankful that we have this venue to uplift, validate, and foster each other.
With Warmth and Blessings to You,
~Lisa Dempsey Bargewell
I originally published this blog post on November 12, 2014. I apologize that it is a repeat. I need to take a little break from writing new ones as I am currently dealing with health issues. Next Wednesday’s blog topic: “The Day I Lost My “Esprit”