As I was drafting my latest post for Beauty Rewrites, I shared what I had with the ladies who are part of the collaboration: Ludavia and Christina. Christina made an innocent little comment on it, asking why I used to be so careful to wear makeup every day.
On the surface, why is a simple question–one I thought the early draft of the post had answered. (It hadn’t.) So as I set about to answer her, my first thought was that I wore makeup because I wanted to be one of the pretty girls, and who doesn’t want that? I literally wrote that into my next draft of the post. But the more I thought about it, the less that answer sat right with me. It was a cop out. A deeper why lurked, one I wasn’t sure I wanted to fess up to.
That’s the thing about why. It can always go deeper.
Why did I want to look pretty? Because I wanted to be special. Then, the real question finally occurred to me: Why didn’t I feel special without makeup?
Armed with the right question, I arrived at a satisfying answer: I didn’t feel special without it because if I’m not pretty, there isn’t much to attract people to me. I’m quiet, shy, and struggle with small talk. I prefer to be alone, possibly because from a young age right up through high school, I suffered deep hurts at the hands of friends who got to know me and then chose to exclude and criticize me.
These are the kinds of hurts that I still feel in my sinuses and behind my eyes as I write about them now, about fifteen years and one week after graduating high school. I’ve been living with this hidden, tragic why for fifteen years (or more, more likely) without stopping to question it.
Why doesn’t always dredge up old hurts, but when it does, that pain is worth rooting out.
I can now face this motivation. I can overcome it. If Jesus could walk through this world with nothing about his appearance that would attract us to him, I can walk through it without relying on appearance, too. Jesus drew crowds because of his love, truth and peace. He was life-giving, and he now lives in me. His presence in and with me is how I ought to attract people now. He, and not the consolation of a nice reflection in the mirror, is how I must cope with the pain of rejection.
Whys power everything we do. They motivate us to put on makeup, dress a certain way, spend our money in particular places on particular things. Our personal whys attract and repel us from people and activities. They touch every area of our lives, often silently from deep within.
Leaving something this powerful unexamined allows enemy strongholds to take up ground in our hearts and minds.
We can’t tackle all the whys at once, and we might not be able to answer a why in one sitting, but with Jesus by our side, helping us examine our motivations and the hurts behind them (when there are hurts behind them), we can find healing. We can replace strongholds of hurt and lies with palaces of truth. We can go on to live happier, healthier lives in Jesus’s name and by his power.
It all starts with a simple question: Why?