You…the girl with the waist-length hair, long denim skirt, and downcast eyes. Trying on old clothes in a thrift store because new clothes are too “worldly” and “immodest”.
I was you once.
You…beautiful girl, hiding behind your walls; walls built to keep the evil world and influences out. Baggy, ugly clothes to hide your shape. Ashamed of the looks cast your way. I was you once.
You…standing there as your mom tells you that this dress or that skirt is unacceptable because it shows your budding womanly form which must be hidden at all costs because of it’s danger. Blushing at the critique of your body, casting longing, furtive glances at the other girls your age in the next dressing room having the time of their lives trying on cute, stylish clothing. Wishing you could be them, just for a little while, just to know what it’s like to feel normal. I was you once.
You…feeling like a freak show everywhere you go. Being ashamed of your feelings because you’re supposed to be a freak show…a “pecular people”. Different from “The World”. More pleasing to God then the rest of them. Not foolish like those girls in the next dressing room. I was you once.
You…telling yourself that the way you dress is more godly, more pure, that you’re better than other girls who dress like the world. Trying to convince yourself that you know better than they and God loves you more for dressing unattractively. Trying to stuff the pain that comes from being ashamed of your beauty and the evil it causes the poor men around you. Trying to tell yourself that this is your lot in life. Trying not to look longingly at the pretty things that you can never wear. Trying not to wonder what it would be like to feel cute for a change. Using pride as a wall to protect your hurting heart. And feeling guilty for it all. I was you once.
You…ashamed of your beauty, afraid of your shapliness, afraid of loosing your purity and taking some man’s purity because you didn’t dress modestly enough to keep him from noticing you. I was you once.
You…crying to God “why didn’t you make me a man?!” because you hate being a woman and having to hide and look ridiculous. Longing for the freedom to dress without wondering if a guy is going to lust after you and if it’ll be your fault or not. I was you once.
Anger, fear, shame, guilt, pride, helplessness, hopelessness, insecurity, and confusion, all hidden behind a shapless, ugly jumper and a heart shut off to keep from hurting. I know. I felt it once too.
You…do you know that you’re beautiful and that God made you that way?
Has anyone told you that being a woman is a wonderful thing, not something to be hidden or ashamed of?
Do you know that God loves you for who you are, not for what you wear? Do you know that’s it’s OK to be pleased with being beautiful? That’s it’s OK to want to be attractive and desirable? Do you know that you are not responsible for the purity of the male race? That is a burden far too heavy for any woman to bear. I long to take your hand and tell you these things. But I am just a stranger in a thrift store.
You…I look into your eyes for the brief moment they meet mine, and I see so much pain. I hurt with you, the little girl inside that wants to be beautiful, noticed, and desired. The little girl that’s been told all these things are evil and your heart is wicked for wanting them. The woman that feels ugly and thinks God wants it that way. And my heart breaks all over again.
You…God hears the cries of your heart. He wants to tell you you’re beautiful, that He made you that way, that He’s so very fond of you. That bondage to men’s rules was never His idea. That nothing you wear or don’t wear can make Him love you more or love you less. That, even if you are stuck in that bondage not of your own making for a time, your heart can be free from the lies that put you there.
Beautiful you. I was you once. Sometimes I still am. Because broken hearts can be hidden by both ugly and pretty clothes. And lies once embraced can be hard to let go of. So for just one moment in time, that moment you allow your heart to show through your eyes as you gaze at me, the stranger in the thrift store, let my smile tell you that you’re beautiful. And that I understand.
I pray you get a glimpe of God’s grace and His love for you in the eyes of a broken-hearted stranger.