Two years ago I remember removing my make-up and crying into the mirror that told me that my face would never be clear enough to expose. I choked it with concealer and foundation, applying power upon powder to prevent my mask from melting.
Each scar and pimple accused me, and arrested all thoughts of ever exposing my skin. “When they go, I won’t need make-up” I’d convince myself. But the scars faded, the spots cleared and still, I refused to reveal my face. My skin was my obsession and the idol that I longed to please, but it was never satisfied. It continually compared me to others, it told me to work harder, apply for longer, take endless pictures and post them online for affirmation. It demanded my energy and simultaneously sought to exhaust me: A car window, a shop mirror, a glass reflection; any opportune moment to receive affirmation from my appearance. A ferocious vanity and violent insecurity left me crying in my bed. The extent of the problem dawned on me once I began to place myself at risk. Fire alarms would go off within my university accommodation at dawn and I would remain in bed ready to allow myself to be consumed by the flames rather than revealing my face to my housemates. No one would see me without my eyebrows filled in, and if my bare face ever left the confines of my room I would refuse to look people in the eye if stopped to converse. My flesh longed for a compliment when I had a full face of makeup on and under countless makeup wipes my naked face had only night time to breathe. I didn’t wear make up for fun, I wore it for fulfilment that never lasted long enough.
But then something happened. Jesus found me.
I thought I knew Jesus, but then I truly found Him in a university kitchen and fell recklessly in love with my Saviour who had died for me on the cross. He told me that I should place my faith in Him being my foundation rather than the one I found in the shop. That He wanted me to be transformed by the renewal of my mind not my makeup. That my radiance came from my heart, not my highlight and that He would contour me into His image rather than the worlds’.
I decided that I wanted to give Him my all, to live a life devoted to Him. To go to war torn countries and preach the Gospel for the rest of my life. I wanted to be a missionary! “But where would you have access to makeup on the mission field in a war torn country?” I asked myself. “Won’t your husband more or less see you without makeup all the time? You don’t want to scare him do you?” Such thoughts warred in my mind to dissuade me from my purpose and quenched the voice God who had called me into a new life with Him.
It was clear that I was serving two masters. I would go to bed and dream of God crushing my eyebrow pencil. Again and again God would send me this dream and show me the scripture of Ezekiel 30:13 “I will destroy your idols.” I would see Jesus continually breaking my mascara and yet I would refuse to address the insecurity and hardened my heart to God’s voice. I feared to receive prophesies in case the Lord revealed to them my addiction to make-up and the safety I felt from having my eyebrows filled in. I sang songs at church about “surrendering all” but my heart knew full well that I had not surrendered all. Ezekiel 43:8 resounded in my head: “They put their idol altars right next to mine with only a wall between them and Me” Only with me there wasn’t even a wall, I had erected an idolatrous altar in my heart dedicated to worship my Make-up right in front of God and refused to let go. Make up waged a jealous war against God. It controlled my mind and tongue. Please understand this: Whatever you submit to will control your thoughts and this shall eventually manifest through the things you say. If you submit to the thoughts that tell you that you are ugly and weak you shall eventually begin to vocalise this and speak such things into existence. I found myself thinking about how ugly I was and eventually found myself reigning curses upon myself with my mouth “I look so ugly all the time,” “I look a complete mess,” “no man is going to want me.” I would run into the arms of the Lord and His truth and then give myself over to the lavish lies of the devil. I would spend intimate time in God’s presence, receiving peace about my image and clarity of who I was and then recoil into the den of the enemy that tormented my mind. Back and forth I went standing confidently in who I was in Christ only to lapse back into my insecurity.
The problem with vanity is that it is forever famished. Vanity is ever hungry and feeds off affirmation and the approval of man. People encouraged me and told me that I looked good without makeup and that fed my starved ego that yearned to be soothed. Their words subdued the yearning for man’s approval but it wasn’t the cure. Countless cosmetics purchased to keep my skin clear lest man’s opinion of my face changed. What I needed was to be secure and to receive my approval from something greater than man’s view. I needed something higher. I needed God, to break this. I repented for my idolatrous sin and the Lord who had been crying out for me comforted me with His love.
He told me to do a special type of fasting: He told me to fast from my reflection and from make-up. For one month I would not look at my reflection in the mirror and I would not wear a drop of make-up on my face. Instead I chose to look into a new mirror; the Word of God to see myself through the eyes of Jesus Christ. I went into the shower each day, closed my eyes whilst I brushed my teeth, I didn’t look in the mirror whilst I dressed myself and would be reading the Bible each day and night in between my university lectures. God showed me that I had believed a lie: I thought that constantly checking my reflection brought about wholeness but in fact I realised it had torn me apart. He showed me that my freedom was found by feeding myself on the Word of God. This burden that plagued my life would be driven out with the power of the Word of God, fasting and prayer.
Make up had crippled me, Jesus comforted me
Make up exhausted me, Jesus energised me
1. I wrote letters to myself about where this problem had stemmed from in my secondary youth.
(You must address the crux of the issue)
2. I spoke about the problem to my family and I declared my freedom from this addiction.
(You must be transparent with someone so you have people praying for you and/or encouraging you.)
3. I would listen to uplifting gospel messages and worship songs that taught me to love myself: Leah Smith: Beautifully Made
God who has loved me with an everlasting love, who is completely ravished by my inner beauty said to me; “You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes” Songs of Solomon 4:9. And He’s saying it to you.
I continued to looked into the scriptures and found a God who saw my beauty in my heart rather than my aesthetics. He told me “The LORD sees not as man sees; man looks at outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” 1 Samuel 16:7. God has healed me and I AM DILIGENT to guard my heart with the truth to ensure the situation doesn’t return 7 times worse. I am not against make-up, I still wear it however, I always check my motives behind my application, I want it to be fun not forced. Please ensure that you do the same:
Do you have to tell the whole world when you don’t wear makeup for a compliment?
Do you moan and joke about how your face looks without it?
Do you only post a snapchat picture when your face is done and cower away from the camera when it is not?
Do you pack your make up bag for safety?
Do you feel uncomfortable and forced to wear makeup if everyone else around you is wearing it?
Do you have to sneak off to apply make up to your face before people see you in the morning?
Do you have panic attacks if you know you will see people from your past without make up?
We must self-reflect and take these things to God!
I must guard my heart! About a month ago I found myself indulging on compliments about my appearance. Then I lost my make-up bag and was furious; my money had gone down the DRAIN and now I had no make-up to wear. Friends told me I didn’t need make up and I found myself feeling comforted by that. During prayer however, the Holy Spirit highlighted that He is my comforter, not man. This mishap was a miracle. I chose to continue going without make-up for another month and it became so natural that I continued for 2 and spoke at a public speaking event without any on with complete joy. I am so grateful for what the Lord has helped me to defeat. I am so thankful that I love the skin that I am in. Humbled to learn that my adornment is not outward but inward and blessed to be able to look at people straight in the face with and without blemishes on my face. However, the best blessing is having located where my worth comes from: Jesus Christ.
My Prayer for you: Lord, I pray for Your child, I pray they will not live for man’s opinion but for Yours. I pray that any hidden idols in their hearts may be exposed in the name of Jesus. That hardened hearts may be softened and convicted into repentance for anything that has exalted itself above You within their lives. I pray Your children learn to love you with all their mind, soul, heart and body and for addictions to break in the name of Jesus Christ.
Your Turn: Father, search me. I repent of my idolatry, reign supreme and have Your Lordship over my life. Take every part of me and break everything that is not of You whether I know it or not. Flood my mind with Your truth and the reality of what You have done for me on the cross. Remind me that no person or thing could have ever done for me what you did and therefore I cancel the lies of the enemy and pronounce You as my Lord.
Please if you have a friend who you know will benefit from this. Please show them Christian or not.
The Hush Series: Secrets of a Christian Heart Disclosed
This blog post is part of a new transparency series of blogs that I have launched, disclosing the sin throughout my walk with Jesus. Many people keep their flaws “hush hush” once in Christ, but I desire for Christians to understand the power in transparency, that I’m not perfect and how grateful I am for grace!
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