by Gina Ellis
Not a morning person, I arose earlier than usual. In the bathroom half asleep, I looked at the sign on my bathroom wall, “Rise Up”, and prayed for the day. It was not a long prayer with fancy words, just a grateful heart with a simple request to help me show love to others and to have a safe commute downtown into the city.
Brushing my teeth and moving faster in my routine, I added my foundation fixed my hair, got dressed in a new summer dress with big flowers. There it was, my mother’s voice saying “Big girls shouldn’t wear big prints.” I squared my shoulders, and spoke out loud the truth, “You look pretty in this dress,” I told my inner critic and walked out the door with confidence.
Per usual, the morning commute was long with stop and go traffic on the highway. Not sure how, but I arrived early with plenty of time to spare. I rolled down my window and enjoyed the gorgeous sunny morning as I pulled out my phone. Filled up with joy from praising all morning, I sent a couple quick notes of encouragement to friends and family for their day.
Time to start the workday I thought, smiling to myself. As I started to exit the car, I took a glance in the rearview mirror as I opened the car door.
“Your makeup, you don’t have your face full on. Not pretty.” I heard my Mother’s statement from years ago. (Her voice is so frequent in my head it’s become my everyday experience.) My shoulders slumped. My joy diminished, I reprimanded myself. “That was what I should have been doing.”
Angry, I sat there having a discussion with myself as I pulled out my makeup bag. I added the jewelry. Mirror check. “Nope not enough, put on the makeup. I tell myself and begin the internal dialog. “Why? Stupid cultural expectations?! No, you’re not pretty enough without it.” I call myself out and stick up for myself, “Lie. Ok, you are pretty but you are prettier with it on.” I remain stubborn, “Maybe. Sometimes. I don’t want to.”
I started to exit the car again. “Ugh!” I pull the door closed, hard. I add the rest of the makeup, eye shadow, liner, mascara. I pause, still angry and now even angrier. Add the lipstick. Finished I throw myself back against the car seat. I take another breath and try to dispel the anger. Giving myself the best pep talk possible with wisdom I did not feel, “Staying stuck here will ruin my day and potentially affect those I interact with today. Choose this day who you will serve. Choose peace, hope, and love.”
I got out of the car, shut the door, and began to cross the parking lot. Confidence and joy regained with each step. I had just made it to the sidewalk when I heard a statement in my head. It was not a thought or internal dialog like earlier. It was my actual voice heard inside my head as a statement. “My mother cared more about her makeup than she did me.”
It took me by surprise, walking with such confidence, to be hit with something so below the belt that I didn’t have a “feeling” that went with it – just a sharp intake of breath like a strong punch in the gut. So strong that it took my breath away as I came to an abrupt stop mid-stride and physically felt my body move as if I had been punched.
God immediately joined me in my spirit right there in that moment with revelation before confusion could set in. I heard God tell me “That was a root from your childhood.” As I cautiously started walking again, God continued to unpack this hurt with me in the next 3 steps I took on that sidewalk. “Yes it hurt, it is a lie. You know that your Mother loved you more than make up. The truth is you were hurt that she was willing to spend time on her makeup routine but not with you.”
The truth sank in as I recalled that time of my life. Mom would spend all day sleeping and “having her coffee” until it was time to put her makeup on before Dad got home. She would choose to not go places, nor come to our school events, and even required us to walk home alone from school if leaving early due to sickness. She just wouldn’t leave the house without her face on, and it takes too long to put her face on…. It wasn’t about the makeup.
We as young girls often idolize our mothers. My mother talked a good line about self-esteem and not caring what other people thought. But her actions showed her true feelings. It wasn’t about the makeup.
All my life I have known this underlying current surrounding the very female experience of wearing makeup. The internal current contained muted feelings of self-worth that didn’t connect with my reality.
I was grateful for the Lord revealing this truth to me, unraveling the internal confusion around a daily ritual. This was a new experience for me, instantaneous acceptance, and healing work of the Holy Spirit. No confusion, tears, outrage or grief remained.
I believe God read my heart that day, a true desire to honor Him by loving others throughout the day. A desire to praise Him, to choose joy and give it away to others. So what did God do? He loved me. He built me up inside through healing years of self-deception. He encouraged me by sending people in my path throughout the day delivering compliments on that summer dress with the big flowers!
He walked those three steps with me in the morning. It wasn’t about the dress or the makeup. It was about truth transformation.
Such confidence we have through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3: 4-5, 16-18, NIV