by Torrie Sorge
Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space.
We all have something about ourselves we don't like. It's the thing that comes to mind when you stare at your reflection and sigh, "God, you almost got it right, except for…." You’re probably thinking of your thing right now. It's what we spend countless hours and endless amounts of money trying to change, ignore or hide.
I remember staring at my reflection as a teenager, desperate to “fix” what I saw. I wish I could say I stood with fierce confidence, knowing I was an incredible girl full of potential, gifts, intelligence, kindness, tenacity and determination. While all of those things were true, I only saw skin that was too brown and hair that was too frizzy. I was disappointed at God’s handiwork: a C+ at best.
Growing up in a Christian home and attending Sunday school, youth group, and a private Christian school meant I KNEW my Bible. According to Psalm 139:14, I was fearfully and wonderfully made, a truth that should have brought peace and hope. Instead, that verse was like gasoline on an internal hate-filled fire. The way I understood it, if God created me on purpose—a brown frizzy-haired girl in an all-white family in a predominantly white town—then He must not like me very much.
I spent the next thirty years sacrificing activities I loved and spending thousands of dollars to “tame” my curls and hide my skin. All in an attempt to hide the woman God created.
One of the beautiful things about God is that he never gives up on us. After thirty years of being ashamed, he graciously invited me to see myself through his eyes.
He started with my hair.
One day as I was getting ready for work I felt him whisper, “Will you wear it curly for me?” “Say what? God, you have to be joking! I hate my curls and don’t know how to style it,” I sputtered. He was gentle: “But will you do it for me?”
Fear gripped me as my mind began to spin. What products should I buy? How could I style it? What was God doing? Hesitantly, I found myself buying creams and gels while watching curl tutorials online.
At work, I desperately tried to look professional while feeling like a preteen styling her hair alone for the first time. I repeatedly snuck away to the bathroom when insecurity overwhelmed me. It took months before I could confidently wear my God-given curls.
That’s the thing about transformation: whatever God is asking us to trust him with, whatever he’s refining in us, takes time and grace. It’s going to be messy and uncomfortable. And there’s a pretty good chance we’ll slip back into old habits, routines and mindsets at times. But I discovered that God’s grace was enough. He poured out daily grace and encouragement as I faithfully stepped out in obedience. He still does.
Isn’t it funny the things God will use to draw us to Himself? Looking back, I see it was never just about hair or skin tone. It was about learning to see myself the way God sees me.
Imagine you created a one-of-a-kind piece of art. After finishing it, you stepped back and whispered to yourself, “Wow! What a masterpiece.” You give it as a gift but the recipient hides it in a closet or repaints or covers it because they feel it isn’t good enough. That’s what we do to God’s masterpiece when we choose to see ourselves as anything less than His most valuable treasure.
God meticulously chose every cell in our bodies. Yet, too often we look at our reflection and only see weaknesses we believe make us less valuable.
But what if…
What if the things we see as weaknesses are the very spaces God longs to shine through us?
Like Gideon… who was insecure, but God used him to secure military victory. Or Elizabeth… who was unable to have children, but God made her mother to John the Baptist and displayed his power.
God has a plan and purpose for each of us, but we limit Him when we choose to stay hidden. However, when we are willing to surrender, God is able to do more than we can imagine.
Today when I look in the mirror, my perspective is very different. I don’t see skin that’s too dark or hair that’s too frizzy. While I was trying to change my outside, God was longing to change me from the inside. I’ve learned to not only accept my appearance, but fully embrace it. Now when I look in the mirror I see warm, caramel skin that deepens in beauty when I spend time outside, surrounded by God’s creation and the joy of my family. I see a cascade of curls that have become a bit of a trademark.
Recently, I tried straightening my hair for the first time in years. Looking at myself was like looking at the old me. I’m a new creation and my curls are a representation of that for me. Today I’m able to agree with God that I’m not a mistake…I’m a masterpiece.
Torrie Sorge is a writer, speaker, and founder of Mixed.ology, an online community devoted to shepherding others learn to love their God-given blend. She loves creating safe spaces to have hard conversations so we can grow and learn from each other. Connect with Torrie at Mixed.ology and on Instagram.