Living Untouched in a Retouched World
I remember the feelings I had when I first saw these words sprawled across two opposing pages in a magazine. I remember my heart jumped a little in my chest and tears immediately sprung to the surface. My head was trying to tell my heart that I was seeing things but my heart knew the truth: I was witnessing something I had longed for so deeply, in so many ways, for so very long. But the primal freedom my soul felt deep down quickly turned to panic. What were they thinking not retouching any images in their magazines? I realized that the very thing I long for in every area of my life is the very thing that scares me to the core.
Our hearts ache to live untouched in this world, to live in the vulnerability and genuineness of who we are at the deepest, most intimate level. But there’s more. Yes, we want to be ourselves. Yes, we want to quit having to show up perfect and pretty and put together. Yes, we want the freedom to show our flaws and our inadequacies. But stifling our cries for freedom is our need to be “okay.” We want to be real but we need to be okay. We want to be unique but we need to fit in. We want to show our vulnerable side but we need to know others will love us no matter what. We want to live untouched but to do so rips the comfortable, touched-up rug right out from underneath our feet.
So how do we live an untouched life in a world that values perfection? I look at this magazine and long for the entire world to follow suit. How cool would it be to know that everywhere you go and everyone you see is real? There is a great sense of relief in flipping through pages and pages of untouched beauty. Because the pictures are not touched up or changed, there can be no perfection. We can open the magazine without the pressure to compare ourselves to a status we could never attain.
Whether it's a perfect picture in a magazine or the way we perceive a ‘perfect’ friend, we are always comparing ourselves to pictures of people that are incredibly touched up. In reality, there is no such thing as perfection--not in magazines--not in real life. Everyone has cellulite. Everyone struggles in relationships and parenting. Everyone has secrets they cringe at the thought of becoming public. Everyone. So no matter what you struggle with, that one thing that makes you different and unworthy of the title of perfection, someone else is probably struggling with the very same issue right now. And by living untouched and sharing yourself with the world just as you are, you will be living in the freedom your heart so longs for. And, in turn, you are giving the gift of freedom to the world.
Is it really okay not to be perfect? Am I seriously asking this question? Yep. And I bet somewhere deep down, you ask it too. In my world it feels safe to strive for perfection. Oh, I know I will never be perfect in any sense of the word, but there is just something about trying that feels incredibly in control and satisfying. I always felt very different inside--perhaps the squished down artist in me that always felt too much and not enough all at the same time. So I guess I knew that to strive for perfection in the area of “Have It All Together” would be kind of funny--like you would see right through this if I merely opened my mouth. But thankfully there were other areas of my life where my flaws were more easily hidden. You know those places….the ones that seem to satisfy your longings to be loved and needed and approved of? Those places that if carefully attended to morning, noon and night, seem to bring control and a sense of “okay-ness” to your life? These are the scariest, most slippery of slopes and if left unattended can turn a life of freedom into a life of slavery at best. But I know...to give this up, to admit your frailty in this area, to quit striving and give in to reality….it is terrifying. I am not sure exactly what it will feel like for you to give this up but I know for me it is something I have to do every single day. But it gets a little easier and a little less scary every day. I have to remind myself daily that to be real I cannot live retouched. I long to have relationships built on honesty and vulnerability and trying to appear perfect in any area really puts a damper on this kind of intimacy. And the more you surround yourself with people who see you for who you are and who think you are okay, the more okay you will feel. Find your team! Find those people who cheer you on when you feel less than or defeated. Find the friends who love you for who you really are--even the parts of you that are far from perfect. Be the kind of friend who calls out that kind of freedom in others.
And finally, and most importantly, know this: YOU WERE CREATED VERY INTENTIONALLY BY A GOD WHO TOOK GREAT CARE TO MAKE YOU EXACTLY HOW HE WANTED YOU TO BE!!! Yes, I am shouting this! It has taken me my entire life to even begin to be okay with who I really am untouched. I think the root of this revelation is finally understanding how all of my perceived flaws and things about myself that I can't stand are things that God can and will use for good in my life and the lives of others. Every single thing about us is purposeful. So that thing you’re hiding behind….that thing you wish was not there but if it has to be there you are going to pretend it is perfect and beautiful so you work to make this happen 24 hours a day...this could be the one thing that draws someone to you. This could be the area of your life where God wants to draw you closer to Him. He loves to take our brokenness and turn it into beauty. So be the you that He made...the you that will bring freedom not only to your life but to those around you. Live untouched!
PS: I know you want this magazine, so here it is:
DARLING MAGAZINE Darlingmagazine.org It is definitely coffee table beautiful! Thank you to the women brave enough to be truly seen by the world.