True Beauty is Scarred

“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 
Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” 1 Peter 3:3-4
 
True beauty is when our hearts reflect who God is in us. Recently, God has been working in me specifically on the topic of beauty. He revealed to me that I have been chasing the wrong things for the wrong reasons. He revealed to me that deep down inside I felt ugly, too flawed to be loved, scarred, rejected and unworthy. I did not know this about myself. 
 
Today, I relinquished my Mrs. Oregon International title. Don’t get me wrong, I still believe that pageants can offer women an amazing opportunity and platform to spread the love of Jesus and elevate their works in a cause they believe in. However, just like anything else in life, you can only be truly successful at something (and help build the Kingdom) if your heart is in the right place. Mine has not been in the right place for many years when it comes to pageantry and beauty. You see, in the very core of who I have been, I realized that I was using pageants as a way to make myself feel beautiful, accepted and worthy. I was so wrong. The root of what I believed beauty to be was warped. Yes, I am a Godly woman going through this struggle and it hasn’t been fun. It’s been painful and messy at best. I was working hard to get rid of my broad shoulders before the pageant, but in reality I should have been proud of these broad shoulders of mine. I get these shoulders of mine from my grandmother and mother, who are both amazing women who have worked hard to raise beautiful families and who set aside EVERYTHING to be that mother for their families. Both of these women worked hard for the people they love and I am PROUD to have been passed down their broad shoulders. I love looking at my mom’s hands because they are beautiful and show years of work, she doesn’t know that, but I secretly have always adored my mom’s little hands because they worked so hard for my sister and I. Well, her beautiful hands are connected to her beautiful shoulders.  A week ago I couldn’t look at my broad shoulders and embrace them, but this morning I did. 
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And do you see that scar on my stomach? That’s not a scar from a c-section, that’s a scar from a young and scared girl in her early 20’s, who had just had a ruptured cyst and lost a baby. I have been embarrassed of that scar all of my adult years because I was unmarried and pregnant when I got it. I struggled with that overwhelming sense of loss at a young age and I didn’t understand it. I was so young and felt so alone. Today, I am proud of this scar. It’s a scar from a battle of ruptured cysts that I have had my whole life. I have learned so much about life because of it. I have been both the scared, unmarried, 20-something-year-old experiencing pregnancy loss and the scared, married, 30-something-year-old experiencing pregnancy loss. 
 
Beauty is skin-deep and it radiates flaws that we carry. You see, our flaws are not mistakes, shameful or rejected. Our flaws are beautiful, spotless, and accepted by the One who took it all for us on the cross. Our flaws should be celebrated and embraced. I will never fit into what society calls beautiful, and that’s okay. I am my own beautiful. 
 
The past two years have been messy for me, but I’m so thankful to have a God who loves me in all of my mess, and for a husband who thinks I’m beautiful no matter what I’m wearing or if my eyebrows are crazy patches of hair!
 
I’m going to stop chasing what the world calls beautiful and start loving what’s already beautiful about me; my scars, my broad shoulders, my eye glasses for days, my messed up eyebrows that I can never fix right….. I’m chasing more of God and less of me. Then and only then could I ever participate in something like a beauty pageant. We can’t accept beauty until we know the true beauty we hold inside of ourselves!    
 
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” 2 Corinthians 4:16.

One Mistake Most Newly Pregnant Women Make When Announcing Their News to a Friend Battling Infertility

When I write this, I’m not trying to take away your joy as a pregnant woman!  It’s definitely an amazing time to celebrate.  Trust me, your infertile friends really do want to celebrate with you but there are some things that might make it just a tad bit harder on your gal pal who is battling infertility or pregnancy loss! I’m writing this so that you can still care for your girlfriend who is either infertile or maybe even going through grief from a pregnancy loss.

Let’s face it, not everybody knows what it is like to battle infertility or pregnancy loss. I’ve always said, this kind of grief is unique. Your girlfriend doesn’t expect the world to stop for her loss but woman to woman, shouldn’t we care just a tad bit more about one another’s heartaches?

“Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 12:15

Trust me, we WANT to rejoice with you but we need you to understand that certain things are a little bit heart breaking for us, so here are some tips to help you better love your friend WHILE in the midst of celebrating you!  The most common mistake newly pregnant women make when sharing their exciting news to a friend who is battling infertility or pregnancy loss, is not telling her separately.  Here are some steps to help you share this news with a heartbroken gal friend.

  1. Tell Her Separately – If you have a friend who has recently experienced pregnancy loss or even has been experiencing infertility, then tell her separately.  Don’t tell her among a group of others and certainly do not let her just randomly see it on social media.  Sometimes this is hard to gauge on who you should practice this with.  Not all women in your life who have experienced infertility or pregnancy loss need to be told separately, so I would say if this is a person you consider a good friend, a family member, a co-worker or somebody you see daily or even weekly.  Schedule a coffee date or dinner with her before your big announcement.  You don’t want to tell a woman who is experiencing this kind of heart ache with a group of people because it forces this woman to awkwardly pretend that her heart isn’t aching.  TRUST ME she is SO happy for you but she is human and this just reminds her that she hasn’t experienced this joy and she is forced to put a smile on and pretend her heart isn’t aching.  If you tell her separately, it allows you to share your heart and excitement while allowing her the respect to cry a little with you.  Trust me, she doesn’t mean to be sad but I’m sure as a woman experiencing the amazing joy of pregnancy, you can understand how sad it must be to not be able to experience what you are currently experiencing.  This will also allow an amazing bonding moment between you two.  It allows her to feel safe in being sad and allows her the privacy and space to feel free to both cry AND celebrate you simultaneously.  Trust me, she wants that.  If this is a woman who you aren’t necessarily close with but you either work with her and see her daily or maybe even go to church with her and see her weekly, I would encourage you to offer the same heart for her and tell her separately.  It might sound dramatic but it’s just such a HUGE way to love a woman who has experienced infertility and/or pregnancy loss.  You also don’t want her to just see it splattered on social media.  Finding out a good friend or somebody you see daily or even weekly is pregnant on social media just feels so…..icky.  Yes, I know it’s not about us…..but love and respect in this area can either be a part of her healing process or it can be a part of setting her back in her healing.  PLUS, it allows her to feel safe to celebrate you and love you through this amazing time in your life.  It does something to our hearts when we are blind sided in a group or via social media with a pregnancy announcement of somebody we are close to or see often.  All I’m asking for, is for you to love her and honor her heart.
  2. Don’t Apologize – Don’t apologize at all for being happy or for this amazing moment in your life! That’s not what we want! We just want to feel that emotional safety to celebrate WITH you while being realistic about our aching heart!!! Announcing a pregnancy is definitely not anything at all to apologize for, so don’t feel sorry one bit for telling us your exciting news!
  3. Express Your Excitement – It’s okay to express your joy in your new news! Express your excitement to your friend and express that you want her to be a part of your journey! Trust me, by telling her separately, you are telling her loud and clear that you love her and you want her to be a part of this season in your life!
  4. Show Understanding – Show your excitement but also show understanding that you know this might be a little hard for her.  Let her know that you want her to be a part of every step in your journey but that you understand if it’s hard on her.  A little understanding goes a LONG way and she is more liable to feel emotionally safer to be a part of all things new baby if she knows that you see her pain and you see her loss.
  5. Simply….. – Simply share your love for her, hug her and remind her that there is hope for her and her family.  This type of consideration really is simple.

Again, we know it’s not about us…..but if you want that friend to celebrate with you, she has to feel safe.  Remember that her heart is probably broken, spirit a little shaken and might be on that verge of depression.  If you love her, allow her to celebrate with you and by telling her separately, you are allowing that initial emotional paralysis to be a little bit more gentle on her heart.

We don’t want to take this moment from you, we truly want to ADD to it but realistically, it’s hard if we feel like our pain is invisible.  We don’t mean for this to be the case, it’s just reality!

If you ever have questions on how to support a friend who is experiencing pregnancy loss or infertility, please reach out to me! I’d be happy to help – I’ll be honest and loving!