Thursday, May 9, 2013

I'll Take the Ugly

I have been battling a chronic illness for almost 2 years.  

I have been battling vanity, fear of man and self-pity for 35. 

Charm is deceitful.....

 Beauty is vain.....

I grew up worried about my appearance. I pretended like it didn't matter, but it did.  I desired approval.  As a Christian I knew what really mattered.  I wanted to be inwardly beautiful; but I often wanted outward beauty more.  I was convicted by the Holy Spirit during high school, and in my early twenties my thoughts began to change. I knew that the Lord was transforming me when I began to care less about the world's focus, approval and praise.  It didn't happen over night, but as time went by there was less obsession about myself and more genuine concern for others.  

Time marched on and soon I was married and a young mama to several children.  At one point I felt this struggle with vanity was behind me, completely.  One day; however,  I realized it was still there.  Just redirected.  What once took aim at the "world" was now hitting much closer to home.  There was a flicker in my mind, a quick doubting thought - something I KNEW was a lie: I was suddenly worried that my husband no longer desired me.  Satan loves to whisper those lies.  He had lost his battle in getting me to fear the world, so he repackaged his scheme to make me fear losing my husband - or at least losing his approval and desire.

Now let me interject here for a moment:  I have an amazing husband.  He has NEVER given me a reason to doubt his interest, commitment, love, attraction,  fidelity or ANYTHING else!  He loves the Lord and he loves me.  But, Satan hates happy marriages and attempts to damage them whenever possible.

I soon found myself thinking in a different way.  I would look in the mirror and begin to see lots of things I'd like to change,  instead of asking God to show me what my husband sees.  Instead of asking the Lord to show me what He sees.  What I needed to learn was how to let go of my fear in this area and allow God to work. It took time.  How quickly everything had gone from joy to worry!  I had to pray and ask for the Lord to give me wisdom, to grant me discernment, to give me the ability to BELIEVE my husband when he called me beautiful.  I needed to take "every thought captive" (2 Cor. 10:5).  I had to resist the devil and his lies. I prayed that God would continue to mold me into the woman that my husband would continue to desire both outwardly AND inwardly.  Thankfully, our God answers these types of prayers!

Fast forward another 5 years or so.  I'm sick.  I've been sick for almost 2 years now and I will likely remain sick for the rest of my life, although we certainly hope for health.  I am so thankful that my fears and issues with physical appearance have been dealt with.  Notice I did not say ERASED, but dealt with.  In the years between my struggle with all of this and today I have grown so much closer to the Lord.  His timing is perfect and he led me through that battle at just the right time to prepare me for where we are today. Because now the outward appearance is changing.  There really isn't anything I can do about it.  Either from the illness itself, surgical scars or side-effects from the medications I'm on - things are a-changing.  Add to that just typical changes which come from aging and we do indeed see that "beauty is vain". 

Once each week I'm taking a medication that makes me feel exhausted and gives horrible circles around my eyes, like I got punched or something.  Daily, I take another that makes me puffy, swollen and causes weight gain. Add on various pain killers and other stuff, and well, you get the picture.  So here's the change physically (and yes, make-up would normally help but I'm trying to keep it real for you):

Yeah, I know - it's ugly.  Let's just face the truth.  These drugs beat me up and they make me look beat up.  The wearing out of our bodies physically is a reminder of sin, and sin isn't pretty.  But I have to keep the right perspective: it's my SICKNESS that is ugly, not ME. And, it is the lie Satan whispers to try and make me feel unlovable that is ugly, not ME.  

The physical changes aren't always pretty, but they CANNOT  change what is beautiful - I'm secure in my value in Christ.  I'm secure in my marriage.  My husband loves me and desires me and he will continue to - not because of what I look like, but because of who I am and who he is in Christ.  The fact that I belong to Christ is beautiful.  The marriage we share that glorifies Christ is beautiful.  The family we are raising to honor Christ is beautiful.  The woman my children will grow up knowing as mama is much more beautiful now than before - despite what the world may see.

The enemy does still whisper   shout his venomous lies but my spirit is now ready in defense.  
He says - "ugly".

I say, "So?   I'll take the ugly - and Christ will transform it into beautiful."

for "we do not lose heart.  Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison..." (2 Cor. 4:16-17)


  1. I love your heart...and yes, you are beautiful inside and out!
    "Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her:
    "Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all."
    Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates. " Proverbs 31:28-31

  2. Caryn is gorgeous, inside and out. The one thing that has frustrated me over the 13 years of marriage is that Satan attacks her (and a lot of other women) in this area. For the "guys" of the world, beauty is tied to a specific set of visual cues, like a big chest, nice legs, etc. But for a Christian man (and I mean a truly God-fearing Christ-following man) the visual becomes inter-meshed with the spiritual. To see her scars is a thing of beauty because I know she is fighting for the Lord and to me, that is the most beautiful thing of all.

    My goal is to see my wife as God sees her: beautiful. Everyday as I take every thought captive I hope I grow closer to that goal. -Caryn's husband

  3. Caryn, you are beautiful - made in the image of Christ and a Mama on a road/journey created by God. Oh, sweet friend - thank you for sharing this here at the Ultimate Mom! You indeed are an ultimate Mom and I know all women struggle with this. I am not on medicine, but am witnessing changes in my own appearance and like you, I want to begin seeing what my husband sees....and the woman Christ created.

  4. Caryn,

    You are beautiful and created in the image of Christ. Your journey is hard - something I watched my Mom travel. Many women (probably all women) struggle with their appearance, as age progresses....well, our beauty does fade on the outside most of the time. But, what radiates from the inside, that is true beauty! Thank you for sharing (not sure if my other message went through so I wanted to leave another one, please forgive me if it is a duplicate)

  5. Thank you Rebecca! Your comments are so encouraging to me (so I decided to post both of them! ha!). Thank you for allowing me to share some of my story through your site. I hope it will be an encouragement to some of your readers.



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