The Word For This Is Beauty

The Word For This Is Beauty
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By Claire Buede

He knows every hair on our heads.

But I remember the first time I ran my fingers through my hair in the shower and a clump of hair fell out. From what I had heard growing up, growing some hair above your lip was pretty normal for a lot of women, but I didn't know what to make of the hair growing out of my chin or the unpleasant sideburns that began cropping up on the side of my face. I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) when I was 15 years old and hadn't had a normal cycle in over a year. Turns out, 1 in 10 women are diagnosed with PCOS. My blood work results said my androgen levels were through the roof, and all I could see was myself feeling less and less like a woman. But what I couldn't see when I was 15 was that I would be made whole through the "brokenness" of my body.

Starting at 15, I began to believe the lie that my worth came from my body. As I grew up, that lie manifested itself in different ways - insecurity about my appearance, reliance on make-up to feel decently about myself, and feeling unlovable because of the possibility of being unable to bear children due to my PCOS. I threw myself into relationships with boys hoping that I could make them like me - that maybe I could earn their love. I was just left emptier and emptier until in my emptiness I was finally forced to face how I truly felt about myself. Even after I met our Holy one, I still struggled to accept this seemingly unacceptable part of myself. Heck, I still struggle today to love myself because of my PCOS. But at some point along the way, between the frustrated tears as yet another clump of hair falls out, and the exhaustion of hoping against hope for a normal cycle after 7 months of nothing - somewhere in between the fears and the loss and the pain - I found the truth.

And that truth, that which is so hard to accept some days, is that for some reason, because of some providential purpose - this is how our good Lord made me. Not only did he make with broken ovaries and jacked-up cycles, but he delights in me this way. He loves the hell out of this woman, and her body, and her past, and her present, and her future, and most of all her heart. That, my dear friends, is what I've been overlooking all of my life - I've been so busy trying to have this perfect body that doesn't belong to me that I've forgotten to strive for a more Christ-filled heart. I've been so overcome by my past mistakes and the ways that I've found my identity in nothing more than my body, that I've completely brushed past the unalienable goodness of my own heart. I've been so busy saying "I'm sorry" for all my imperfections, that I've lost the ability to say "Thank you" for all my blessings.

A few months back, a dear friend of mine prayed over me as I cried in anger, feeling as if I was drowning in my own waves. I'll never forget what she told me: "Know that there is nothing wrong with you. Even your PCOS belongs to the Lord, and it's time that you reclaim it for Him." Too often we let the evil one use our "imperfections" to beat us down, and we blame it on ourselves. Maybe for you it's a physical condition, or a vice, or a fear - but whatever it is, no matter how overwhelming it may seem - our Jesus has already overcome. Whatever oceans you're sinking in, reclaim them for the one that "even the wind and seas obey" (Matt. 8:27). He "knows every hair on your head" (Luke 12:7), even the ones you've lost, and even the ones that grow in places they're not supposed to. There is nothing wrong with you. He made you good. And it is well.

Even if you don't believe that yet.