The other day I went to an esthetician to ask what could be done about this sudden breakout on my forehead, cheeks and chin. What is this horrible mess?? I asked her. Hormones? Stress? Allergies? What can you do about it? Laser? Peels? Treatments? She looked me straight in the eye and said, Honey, what you need to do is stop looking in the mirror. Stop looking at all that is wrong with you. Stop worrying about it. Stop focusing on it. Her recommendation? Spend quiet moments in reflection; spend time doing what you love. And dont look in the mirror. This seemed an odd thing for someone in a dermatologist office to say.
Of course I wanted her to give me a quick fix a pill, a peel, a prescription (Im not sure why Id already tried all that, and none of it worked!). What I didnt realize at the time is that she gave me the greatest prescription of all: a fast from the mirror. Permission to enjoy my life despite the imperfections. What she couldnt have known is that it would transform me completely.
In the last forty days, I have gotten ready for the day, then avoided the mirror at all costs. Ive had to adjust the rear view mirror in my car because I realized it was angled just so I could take quick glances at my forehead worrying about how I looked to people that day. Ive realized how much I glance at my reflection in windows, that I even look past people to do a quick check. As horrible as it may sound, Ive had to retrain myself to stop looking at me, and focus more on the world around me and people in my midst.
Instead of looking in the mirror in the morning, Ive looked into the Word. Instead of bowing my head in shame that I do not measure up to my own expectations, Ive bowed my head in prayer. During the day, Ive let the house go, Ive let my hair go, and Ive gotten down and laughed and played with my kids; at night, Ive crawled into bed to snuggle with my husband rather than agonize over my ever-changing reflection in the mirror. And whenever possible, Ive taken long walks with God, marveling over His creation. Patiently and lovingly, he has helped me take off that heavy cloak of always making sure I look okay, and has reminded me of how I look to Him above all else.
In the majesty of His creation, I have seen a new reflection. Like every tree, lake, mountain, and flower Hes made, we are each beautiful and unique by design. Every detail in us even that which we may see as a flaw has a purpose that we may or may not ever realize. He made us with painstaking love, precision and care; we are his hand-made treasures, his handiwork, his poetry in a world that desperately needs to see the beauty of God. When we get this, our identity rests not in what constantly changes like the mirror but instead in that which never changes: His love.
In the reflection of His Word, He has shown me that when my face is a mess and life is a mess and house is a mess, I am no less beautiful and valuable to Him than I am on a good hair day! We see this in Luke 7, when one of my favorite women of the Bible comes bawling at Jesus feet in front of a bunch of proud Pharisees. She is so hysterical and weighed down by her failings that she uses her hair to mop up the tears that she sheds on Jesus feet. While all the Pharisees shun her poor behavior, Jesus tells them in essence: I love this mess! I love this woman just as she is right now! (Go, Jesus!) He forgives her, blesses her with peace, and sets her free. We are not our imperfections. We are not our sins. We are not our failings, and we are not our flaws. We are His creations. His beloved. His daughters. Free to walk in His love, regardless of what we look like and what we feel like at this moment in time. And nothing can ever take that away from us.
Ever since I was a little girl, I have always felt that I had to be as beautiful as the women in magazines . . . and I have never seemed to be able to measure up to the worlds expectations. Having acne in my thirties has forced me to turn away from that destructive perfectionism, to come to grips with the fact that I will never be perfect and neither will anything in the world, save His love. Through this trial, God has broken my pride, humbled me, and ultimately drawn me to cling to Him for my identity. He has become the source of my beauty. He has become the source of my strength. He has given me a beauty of the heart: a ready laugh, a hope for the future. A beauty that grows stronger, not weaker, with time.
Oh, and by the way, after forty days of not looking in the mirror, I allowed myself to linger there a little longer last night and all I saw was my eyes. They were sparkling. I looked younger, happier . . . there was a light there that has been unearthed once again. People keep telling me how much better my skin looks. I wouldnt know. I assume its His love shining through me. It must some kind of . . . beauty beyond the mirror.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
At the age of 18, I was recovering from an eating disorder, cutting, and suicide when I read Jennifer Strickland’s book Girl Perfect and it changed my life. At the age of 33, as I travel the world reaching youth for the gospel, this is the only book I recommend to girls who are struggling. The Lord has truly anointed Jennifer’s words through her story, not only to address the struggles of today’s generation of girls, but also to walk them through the healing necessary for victory.
Jennifer is a captivating speaker. She keeps the listener hanging in wonder of what’s coming next! Her presentation is not only absorbing, it reveals the truth of God’s power to heal a wounded spirit.
Barbara Brown, Former Stonecroft Ministries Regional Representative, San Diego, CA
“The ‘P’ word [perfection] may be the heaviest burden women bear. All the misguided things we do to attain it can keep us away from what we need most – the unconditional love of God the Father. The Girl Perfect Study Guide gives you a map to the wholeness you were created for.”
Nancy Ortberg, author and former teaching pastor at Willow Creek Community Church
“The Girl Perfect Study Guide shatters the lies girls and women believe and points to the ultimate truth, which really does set us free. I am confident that this study will help thousands discover a beauty, purpose, and worth that truly lasts. Thank you Jen for exposing the ‘perfect life’ and inviting girls to experience God’s ‘perfect love.'”
Allie Marie Smith
Allie Marie Smith, Founder of Wonderfully Made
One of the best testaments to what Jennifer is doing for the young girls and women of today is a comment from my eleven-year-old granddaughter: “Grammy, I want to read this book and hear her again. She’s good and I learned a lot.” This is exactly what I experienced from a grown-up perspective when I was introduced to Jennifer Strickland’s amazing story. Read it and see if you don’t get the real story from an icon model and a powerful speaker of truth.”