What do you want to look like?
As a woman in America in 2011, I feel like this question is the highlight of so many conversations I have been involved in. In our mall, my co-workers and I are often floored by the appearances of young woman (and men, believe it or not) who walk through our doors. The images that they project are often too mature for their ages, and sometimes give behavioral implications that tare hard to escape from. Certain dress codes are often indicative of certain lifestyle patterns. And this group of people who really aren't old enough to have made the decisions about what paths they will follow are already projecting them for everyone to see.
For a long time I was overly troubled with what I look like. I was not an exception to the self-consciousness that today's society feeds on. There was a time in my life when I chose not to acknowledge or embrace it. Then another time when I got overly involved in my looks. And I learned a very interesting lesson in those times.
No matter what I looked like, the people who mattered still perceived me the same way.
Don't misunderstand. I am not so naive as to believe that we are not stereotyped and considered within the first moments of meeting someone as their eyes focus onto us. But those initial judgements do not rule the thoughts of the people who I want to know. And those first impression looks, while sometimes they may be good, and while other times may not have been so good, have rarely hindered me from connecting with someone that I wanted to know.
But I am still concerned with looks today. Not the outward ones- the inward ones.
I know what I want my life to look like. I want to be the kind of person who is warm and welcoming to those in need. I want to be funny, and make people feel good about themselves at the same time. I want to be capable of letting things roll of my shoulders and of being centered by the very Messiah who has given me the desire to be anything at all.
I need an internal make-over. These are the looks that matter.
I want the traits that people see to be the kind of person who is seen and perceived not by clothes or shoes or make up, but by the heart. I want people to know me by my actions, my mindsets, my openness. Which means that there are things that I need to learn to change. Because while I know what I want to look like, my internal mirror is shaking it's head gently and revealing things that need to change for me to look the way I want to.
Because these are the perceptions that make me, and share my life, and my savior in me. And if they aren't right, then I certainly do not look my best.
It is a hard lesson to learn that people who truly dislike you do not dislike you because of your outward picture. Indeed, while it may hinder them from getting to know you, it is not the be all, end all. I'm not suggesting we all stop showering and start donning burlap sacks- instead, I am suggesting that while we should be ourselves, even in our dress codes, and be appropriate, that true dislike comes not from the outside appearance, but the perceptions of the inside.
So today, I am treating myself to a day of rest and relaxation inside my soul. All my worries can be dealt with in their time, but for the moment, I will focus on changing my heart to be peaceful with the peace that attracted me to the Lord in the first place. And this is just the beginning of making myself happy with my appearance- it may be a little challenging, but this is where it really matters. And in the end, I know that the Lord made me beautiful inside. Now it's time to let everyone else see it too.