How I fell out of love with Beauty.
Have you ever fallen in love with someone who wasn’t good for you? A few years ago I fell in love – hard. I thought it was with this guy I met in college, who seemed wonderful. But soon enough it became clear: There was someone else. Night and day, this love consumed my thoughts and dreams. It haunted me, controlled me, promised illusions of great things, and broke me.
I called this love “Beauty.”
But it had many nicknames – Thin, Skinny, and Good Enough, to name a few. As the relationship with my college boyfriend grew sour, as he encouraged me in losing weight and compared me with other women, my love affair with Beauty grew stronger. Beauty promised to make me good enough, to make my boyfriend fall in love with me, to give me an intoxicating kind of power.
And I believed every single lie.
I’d never been fully content with myself; my face was too long, my stomach too curvy, and my sense of humor too dull. But until college, those insecurities never consumed me. I had an idea of who I was. I knew some of who God was. That was enough. Until the insecurities came at me with fury! They attacked me every moment of every day, leaving me in tears at night, begging God to make me beautiful. My boyfriend and I broke up eventually, but my love affair with Beauty only intensified, and my struggles with disordered eating nearly swallowed me whole. I lost far too much weight, but never enough to please Beauty. I got a new wardrobe, which was nice until I went out in public and saw what the “truly beautiful” girls were wearing. I was willing to do anything to make Beauty happy, and I did things that hurt my body. Things I never thought I would do, not in a million years. And yet none of it worked. The further I fell into the affair, the more broken I became. I lost myself so completely that I had no idea who I was anymore. Nor did I know who God was. All I knew was the perfect facade I wore at all times, the mask I wanted people to see of the girl who had it all together. But that wasn’t me. The real me was curled up in the fetal position, and numb all over. One day my dad walked over, took me in his arms, and said some of the most beautiful words I’d ever heard:
“Tiffany, I don’t love you because you’re good enough. I love you because you’re my daughter. And nothing can ever change that.”
My world was awakened, my thoughts clear for the first time in months, as I heard God saying the same thing to me: “Tiffany, I don’t love you because you’re good enough. I love you because you’re My daughter. You don’t have to try and impress Me or earn My love, like you did with your ex-boyfriend. You can’t ever earn My love; even your most perfect deeds are like filthy rags. So stop trying! Just come close to Me, let Me show you how much I love you. Let Me tell you who you are. Find yourself again … find yourself in Me.” The spinning stopped in the blink of an eye, and I saw a heavenly Father I’d never fully known. Not in all my life.
A Father who delighted in me – delighted even in my feeblest attempts to come closer to Him. A Father who rejoiced over me – just wanted to have me near Him. A Father whose love would never change – whose love would always remain, no matter what I did or where I’d been. I’d finally found a love in which I could rest.
Ending the love affair with Beauty was anything but quick and easy. It was one of the longest and most painful journeys of my life. I had to ask lots of people for help, particularly my parents and mentors, who walked with me through the brokenness over several years. But what changed me more than anything was a daily discovery of my Father’s love. Every time I just knew I’d blown it; when I’d turn and run for dear life… Each time He caught up to me, wrapped me in His arms, and said, “I don’t love you because you’re good enough; I love you because you’re My daughter. I just want you to stay close to Me.”
Along that journey I found myself. I know who I am because I know Whose I am – a daughter of the King. I no longer struggle with disordered eating. I like what I see when I look in the mirror, but it doesn’t matter so much whether or not others think I’m beautiful. My Father delights in me. Somehow that eclipses every other opinion.
I have a new love – a true love. A love that is for my good, not to hurt me. A love that heals me and makes me whole. A love that sets me free.
And all I want to do is give Jesus all I am. I want to live every breath for Him. Because when you see a love like His, surrender is the only response that stirs up from your heart. I am my Beloved’s, and He is mine.
And that is when freedom erupts.
Tiffany Dawn, is a 27-year-old author, speaker, and singer/songwriter. She shares her journey into freedom from struggles with body image and identity through “The Insatiable Quest for Beauty” book and seminar. With her master’s degree in music therapy, Tiffany serves as adjunct faculty at an online high school, where she teaches music classes, including “Intro to Songwriting.” Some of her favorite things to do are watch spy movies, take long walks, eat marshmallows, and grab coffee with her girlfriends.
[photo: Angelo Gonzalez, Creative Commons]